May 1, 2015 — Read the week's best commentaries from the National Partnership for Women & Families, RH Reality Check and more.
ABORTION-RIGHTS MOVEMENT: "Millennials Lead a Texas-Sized Movement for Reproductive Health, Rights and Justice," Adriano Perez, National Partnership for Women & Families' blog: Perez, a campus organizer at the University of Texas at El Paso for the Texas Freedom Network, writes that "[o]ne of the issues millennials are organizing around is the continuing legislative assault on reproductive health care, including access to abortion care" in Texas. According to Perez, "Texas legislators have proposed more anti-abortion legislation -- at least two dozen bills -- than legislators in any other state," spurring "a coalition of progressive organizations across the state ... to launch" the "Trust. Respect. Access." campaign. According to Perez, the effort intends "to restore trust in Texans to make their own reproductive health care decisions, respect for health care professionals' judgment and access for all people to the full range of reproductive health care in Texas." Perez writes, "The journey to a better Texas, in which access to reproductive health care is a reality for all Texans, is an uphill battle. But we love our state more than we're angered by our legislature -- and we're in it for the long haul" (Perez, National Partnership for Women & Families' blog, 4/29).
ADOLESCENT HEALTH: "Colorado's Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program Works, and That's Why Conservatives Want to Kill It," Amanda Marcotte, RH Reality Check: Marcotte writes that an "interesting political battl[e] over reproductive health-care access is currently going down in Colorado," where conservatives "are trying to kill ... an experimental program launched in the state in 2009 [that] has resulted in a shocking 40 percent drop in the teen birth rate and a 35 percent drop in the teen abortion rate." According to Marcotte, conservative lawmakers' efforts to kill the program are less about the state's budget and more "about the escalating battle over contraception access, both in Colorado and in this country as a whole." Specifically, conservatives in the state "are using this battle to beta-test various arguments against any future attempts, on any level, to make it easier for women to get affordable long-term contraception," she writes. The situation shows how "conservatives are willing -- eager, even -- to keep the teen pregnancy rate sky high on the slim hope that doing so might scare someone, sometime out of having sex," she writes, adding that the "fate of this little initiative in Colorado could determine the shape of reproductive health care for generations to come" (Marcotte, RH Reality Check, 4/28).
What others are saying about adolescent health:
~ "New Study: HPV Vaccine Prevents Host of Teen Health Issues," Martha Kempner, RH Reality Check.
CRIMINALIZING PREGNANCY: "Michigan Continues Trend of Investigating Miscarriages as Murder," Robin Marty, Care2: "Despite claims that abortion opponents [have] no interest in investigating miscarriages, once again it appears that is exactly what is happening ... in Michigan as authorities appear to be looking for grounds to set ... another precedent for criminalizing bad pregnancy outcomes," Marty writes. She explains that the state is holding a woman named Kimberly Pappas "for murder because she went into premature labor at work" and allegedly "cut the umbilical cord, put the fetus in a plastic bag, and then placed it inside her desk." Specifically, according to Marty, Pappas is being charged "with felony murder, premeditated murder and first-degree child abuse" because prosecutors are "saying [the fetus] had been born alive." Marty writes, "What is most disturbing however is that Michigan shows ... [it is] eager to prosecute a delivery as a murder if the child fails to survive," noting that the state "waited nearly a month for an autopsy report to 'prove' the baby took a breath in order to press charges, and the mental health of Pappas since then held no weight to [the state]" (Marty, Care2, 4/28).
What others are saying about criminalizing pregnancy:
~ "Purvi Patel To Appeal Conviction: 'Feticide Is an Extreme, Extreme Proposition," Jenny Kutner, Salon.
INSURANCE COVERAGE: "Obamacare Requires Birth Control Coverage. But Some Insurers Are Ignoring the Law," Pema Levy, Mother Jones: A report released this week by the National Women's Law Center revealed that "many" health insurance plans are "not actually providing cost-free access to the full range of birth control options required under the" Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148), Levy writes. According to Levy, NWLC found that 33 "[o]f the more than 100 insurance providers surveyed" on state and federal marketplaces over a two-year period "are not complying with [the] birth control coverage requirement." Further, Levy notes that NWLC also found "violations 'related to maternity care ... breast-feeding support and supplies, genetic testing, well-woman visits, prescription drug coverage, care related to gender transition for transgender individuals, chronic pain treatment, and certain pre-existing conditions." The report suggests the issue "is 'systemic nationwide,'" Levy writes, adding that NWLC calls on "regulators to more closely monitor [marketplace] plans" and "proposes that insurance plans be made open to public comment so that advocates can review the plans and point out any violations before regulators certify the plans" (Levy, Mother Jones, 4/29).
ABORTION RESTRICTIONS: "Montana Governor Vetoes Telemedicine Abortion Ban," Teddy Wilson, RH Reality Check: Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D) has vetoed a telemedicine abortion ban bill (HB 587) that "would have prohibited a medical practitioner from providing or attempting to provide an abortion on a pregnant woman or prescribing abortion-inducing drugs, except while in the physical presence of the woman," Wilson writes. Wilson notes that in vetoing the bill, Bullock said "'elected officials ... should all be working together to expand access to health-care services in Montana'" and added the proposed telemedicine ban was among several bills that "'seek to do just the opposite, particularly for women and families living in the more rural part of our state.'" Wilson adds that Bullock also signed a bill (HB 606) that "will protect access to reproductive health care in the state" by "creat[ing] a special revenue account for funding Title X, a federal program devoted to helping low-income people access family planning services." According to Wilson, Bullock said of the bill, "'A woman's reproductive health shouldn't be subject to political whims of the Montana Legislature'" (Wilson, RH Reality Check, 4/29).
What others are saying about abortion restrictions:
~ "Which State Was the Worst for Women This Week?" Marcotte, Slate's "XX Factor."
~ "Colorado GOP's Fetal Homicide Bill Based on Legislation Promoted by Anti-Choice Group," Jason Salzman, RH Reality Check.