April 24, 2015 — Read the week's best commentaries from bloggers from RH Reality Check, Care2 and more.
ABORTION RESTRICTIONS: "Human Trafficking Senate Compromise Will Deny Abortion Funding to Survivors," Emily Crockett, RH Reality Check: "Senators announced a compromise Tuesday [to] move two long-stalled legislative items: a human trafficking bill [S 178] that has been embroiled in a fight over abortion restrictions, and the confirmation of Loretta Lynch to be the nation's first Black female attorney general," Crockett writes. However, Crockett notes that the "compromise on the trafficking bill was a limited victory for pro-choice advocates" because while "[i]t stopped Republican efforts to expand the reach of the anti-choice Hyde Amendment," it also will "restric[t] abortion services for ... victims of sex trafficking." She explains that the deal created two separate funding pools to help survivors, one of which is funded by "fine[s] collected from convicted sex traffickers" and which "would no longer pay for any health-care services, instead going to things like law enforcement and legal aid for survivors." Meanwhile, the second pool will pay for survivors' health care needs via "community health center funds, which recently passed as part of a Medicare reform bill [HR 2] and are already prevented by Hyde from covering abortion services" (Crockett, RH Reality Check, 4/21).
What others are saying about abortion restrictions:
~ "Which State Was the Worst for Women This Week?" Amanda Marcotte, Slate's "XX Factor."
CONTRACEPTION: "Have (Safe) Sex This Earth Day," Jeffrey Hollender, Care2: Hollender, founder and CEO of Sustain Condoms, commemorates this year's Earth Day by discussing how "safe sex and climate change ... are two extremely important interconnected issues that most people don't put together." Hollender explains that a recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found "that population was one of the most important drivers behind global climate change." He notes that "we [have] had such a hard time connecting the dots" between overpopulation and climate change, however, Hollender explains, "most of the pregnancies in the world are unintended, unplanned or even unwanted." He writes, "Let’s educate and empower women to take control of their sexual and reproductive health so they can have better planned families," which his group believes "is a critical component to addressing the most pressing issues our world is facing" (Hollender, Care2, 4/22).
What others are saying about contraception:
~ "The Fighting Irish Shouldn’t Pick a Fight With Women’s Equality," Brigitte Amiri, American Civil Liberties Union's "Speak Freely."
'FETAL HOMICIDE' MEASURES: "Colorado Pro-Choice Advocates: Giving Legal Rights to Fetuses Doesn’t Protect Pregnant Wom[e]n," Jason Salzman, RH Reality Check: "Colorado pro-choice activists on Wednesday decried a bill (SB 15-268) introduced ... in response to a grotesque crime against a pregnant woman that would give 'personhood' rights to fetuses," Salzman writes. He notes that during a news conference before a hearing on the measure, "pro-choice advocates urged lawmakers to focus on measures to protect women from violence instead of giving fetuses legal rights that could be used to arrest pregnant women." For example, Salzman notes that Lynn Paltrow, executive director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women, asked, '"Why are we having a conversation about how many years is long enough (to incarcerate someone for destroying a fetus), rather than asking whether these laws do anything to deter violence against pregnant women, to protect pregnancies, embryos, and fetuses?"' Meanwhile, Salzman notes that other abortion-rights supporters said the state's current law against such crimes -- which "does not give legal rights to fetuses" -- already imposes "severe penalties" on individuals who illegally terminate pregnancies while simultaneously protecting pregnant women and medical professionals from prosecution (Salzman, RH Reality Check, 4/23).
D.C. ANTIDISCRIMINATION MEASURE: "A 'New Low'? GOP Tries To Block D.C.'s New Reproductive Health Law," Emily Crockett, RH Reality Check: The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Tuesday voted 20-16 to advance a measure that aims "to overturn a new law [Act 20-593] that would protect women in Washington, D.C., from being fired due to their reproductive health-care choices," Crockett writes. Supporters of the law, D.C.'s Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Act, cite "cases of non-Catholic women who become pregnant out of wedlock being fired from Catholic schools as an example of why the law is needed," Crockett notes, explaining that "[l]aws against gender discrimination or pregnancy discrimination don't always cover cases in which a woman's reproductive health choices run afoul of her employer's ideology." Meanwhile, the law's opponents, "which include the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops," have "claim[ed] that it would restrict religious freedom," Crockett writes. She notes that because the effort to halt the law is "unlikely to succeed," opponents have "urged House budget leaders to stop the new law by blocking funds to implement it" (Crockett, RH Reality Check, 4/22).
What others are saying about the D.C. antidiscrimination measure:
~ "It Won't Surprise You, But the House Wants To Allow Bosses To Fire Women for Their Personal Reproductive Health Decisions," Leila Abolfazli, National Women's Law Center's "Womenstake."
SEXUALITY EDUCATION: "It's Not Enough To Just Mention Condoms -- Sex Education Should Be Sex-Positive," Marcotte, RH Reality Check: "It's time to start advocating not just for contraception-inclusive or vaguely termed 'comprehensive' sex education, but to call it sex positive-education -- and to call the shaming, religion-based programs what they are, which is sex-negative," Amanda Marcotte writes. She notes that before the Obama administration decided to stop restricting federal sexuality education to only abstinence education, arguments against such programs "convinced the public that 'abstinence-only' doesn't work" to prevent sex, pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases, but "elide[d] the greater issue of whether or not abstinence-only should work." Marcotte contends that as a result, "conservatives just tweaked [abstinence-only programs] a little so that it's not technically abstinence-only and were able to keep the flame alive." She writes, "Maybe it's time" for abstinence-only opponents "to change strategies and stop playing defense," adding, "We want our young people to grow up looking forward to a future of fun, fulfilling sex, not to teach them that it’s a thing that they will probably do but should feel bad about" (Marcotte, RH Reality Check, 4/22).
What others are saying about sexuality education:
~ "One Woman Live-Tweeted Her Son’s Abstinence-Focused Sex Ed Class. Now Things Might Change," Tara Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress."
~ "We've Been Here Before: Congress Quietly Increases Funding for Abstinence-Only Programs," Nicole Cushman et al., RH Reality Check.