April 28, 2015 — Read the week's best commentaries from bloggers at RH Reality Check, Care2 and more.
ABORTION RESTRICTIONS: "House GOP Poised To Revive 20-Week Abortion Ban," Emily Crockett, RH Reality Check: "[D]espite recent high-profile political fights over abortion restrictions in other bills, House GOP leaders are announcing their intentions to revive ... a nationwide abortion ban after 20 weeks' gestation," Crockett writes. According to Crockett, "The new version of the ban is likely to include changes to [a] controversial rape exception" included in the 20-week ban (HR 36) introduced earlier this year. Specifically, Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.) -- who had "helped bring down the bill in January over concerns that its terms for rape exemptions were too harsh on victims" -- said the new legislation "would no longer require rape victims to report their crime to the police ... to qualify for a legal abortion after 20 weeks," Crockett writes. However, Crockett notes that "pro-choice advocates say ... the rape debate is a red herring that ignores the reality of women's health needs and the unconstitutionality of 20-week abortion bans." She adds that regardless of whether Congress approves the bill, President Obama has threatened to veto such legislation (Crockett, RH Reality Check, 4/24).
What others are saying about abortion restrictions:
~ "Women's Political Aspirations and Reproductive Rights Remain Destructively Tethered," Michele Goodwin, Huffington Post blogs.
~ "North Carolina Republicans Pass 72-Hour Waiting Period Bill," Nina Liss-Schultz, RH Reality Check.
ABORTION-RIGHTS MOVEMENT: "5 Women Who Are Helping Normalize Abortion," Lindsay Patton, Care2: Patton highlights five famous women working to normalize abortion, noting that while "abortion should be a common topic that we can freely discuss," it is an experience that "many feel the need to hide, despite the number of women who go through the procedure." For example, Patton writes about musician Nicki Minaj, who wrote a song that mentioned the abortion she had in high school, and former talk show host Sherri Shepherd, who "opened up" about her abortion when she spoke out against a Texas law requiring ultrasounds before an abortion. Patton also writes about comedians Chelsea Handler and Margaret Cho and singer Kathleen Hanna, all of whom have discussed their experiences with abortion and have helped to generate discussion about the topic (Patton, Care2, 4/24).
ABORTION PROVIDERS: "How Anyone Who Works at an Abortion Clinic Becomes a Target for Violence and Harassment," Tara Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": Culp-Ressler discusses a new book, "Living in the Crosshairs: The Untold Stories of Anti-Abortion Terrorism," which "attempts to detail the scope of anti-abortion harassment present in clinic staffers' everyday lives." She writes that the book "argues that, although most Americans don't realize it, many of the people who work in the field of abortion are living in a state of heightened fear and anxiety because targeted harassment" by individuals opposed to abortion rights "follows them everywhere." Culp-Ressler writes that the book, based on interviews with more than 80 clinic staff members across the U.S., found that physicians who administer abortions "can find themselves the subject of threats," as can clinic administrators, nurses, volunteers and "their loved ones." According to Culp-Ressler, the book contends that such harassment is a form of terrorism and that more U.S. residents, including law enforcement officials, need to be aware of it to help prevent it (Culp-Ressler, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 4/27).
MATERNITY CARE ACCESS: "Delivery Deserts: A Reproductive Justice Challenge Beyond Abortion Access," Gigi Dejoy, Feministing: Dejoy writes about how as "[labor and delivery] wards continue to shut down or centralize across the country, maternity care is becoming scarcer and" the distances that women have to travel for such services "are growing longer." For example, she notes that as of last year, less than 50% "of rural women nationwide lived within 30 minutes of a hospital offering perinatal services." Dejoy argues that the absence of labor and delivery wards in these areas, which she calls "delivery deserts," "put[s] mothers and children at risk, and ... limit[s] the choices women are able to make about their pregnancies." She writes, "This reality needs immediate attention by health care professionals and policy-makers. It is a bipartisan issue; this is about saving the lives of mothers and children, as much as it is about access to comprehensive reproductive health care for all" (Dejoy, Feministing, 4/27).
SEXUALITY EDUCATION: "When Sex Ed Discusses Gender Inequality, Sex Gets Safer," Julie Beck, The Atlantic: Beck writes about a new study that found that comprehensive sexuality education "should include gender and power dynamics." Specifically, she notes that the study, published in International Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, "reviewed evaluations of 22 sex-education programs" and found that 80% of the 10 programs that included one or more lessons on gender and power "saw significant decreases in pregnancy or [sexually transmitted infections] compared with a control group." By contrast, only 17% of the 12 programs that did not have a lesson on gender and power had similar outcomes. "Other studies back up the need for this kind of education," Beck writes, noting that "[w]omen who report having less power in their relationships than their male partners have higher rates of HIV infection and other STIs, and young men who adhere to traditional concepts of masculinity are less likely to use condoms" (Beck, The Atlantic, 4/27).