May 8, 2015 — Read the week's best commentaries from bloggers at Slate's "The XX Factor," RH Reality Check and more.
SEXUALITY EDUCATION: "One in 15 Students at a West Texas High School Has Chlamydia," Amanda Marcotte, Slate's "The XX Factor": An incident "in rural West Texas" in which 20 cases of chlamydia were confirmed among a group of 300 high school students is "the least surprising thing ever," Marcotte writes. She explains that "the combination of a repressive culture and a small population where everyone is up in everyone else's business all the time makes it hard for people -- especially teenagers -- to take necessary precautions against disease transmission: getting tested, communicating openly with partners, obtaining condoms." Further, according to Marcotte, "The area's repressive attitudes toward sex are illustrated in the school's sex education program, which takes up three days in the fall semester and, of course, is focused on abstinence." She writes that the media attention around the incident "might finally embarrass locals enough to consider changing their ways" when it comes to sexuality education instead of insisting on a "chlamydia-friendly strategy of telling kids to wait until marriage" (Marcotte, "The XX Factor," Slate, 5/5).
What others are saying about sexuality education:
~ "New Orleans Students Could Soon Have Accurate Sex Ed Information," Martha Kempner, RH Reality Check.
CONTRACEPTION: "Colorado's Top Doctor Seeks Funds for Pregnancy-Prevention Program Rejected by GOP," Jason Salzman, RH Reality Check: "Days after Republicans in Colorado's [S]enate voted down funds for a successful teen-pregnancy prevention program, Colorado's chief medical officer has vowed to find donors to continue the program," according to media reports, Salzman writes. He notes that Larry Wolk, CMO and executive director at Colorado's Department of Public Health and Environment, said the agency is working with private foundations to fund the program and already has garnered some "'preliminary interest.'" The program's success "has caught the eye of foundations in Colorado and nationally ... in part because Colorado is the only state in which more than 20 percent of young women attending Title X clinics used long-acting reversible contraception (LARC), like intrauterine devices," Salzman writes, drawing on Wolk's assessment. Overall, Salzman notes that the program is "credited with reducing teen pregnancies by about 40 percent and teen abortions by 35 percent" during its initial "five-year test phase." However, Wolk has warned that if the initiative cannot find funding, the program's "success in reducing teen pregnancy could easily be reversed," Salzman writes (Salzman, RH Reality Check, 5/6).
ABORTION RESTRICTIONS: "Oklahoma Governor Signs 72-Hour Waiting Period Bill," Teddy Wilson, RH Reality Check: "Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) signed a bill [HB 1409] into law Wednesday mandating that a person seeking an abortion must wait 72 hours for the procedure," making it "the fourth state in the country -- joining Missouri, South Dakota, and Utah -- with a 72-hour" mandatory delay, Wilson writes. Further, Wilson notes that the law, which takes effect on Nov. 1, also requires physicians to share "so-called informed consent materials" with patients. Wilson cites concerns of several reproductive rights advocates, including Amanda Allen, state legislative counsel at the Center for Reproductive Rights, who said, "'The message that this [law] really sends is that the [Oklahoma] Legislature and the government are second-guessing a woman's ability to decide for herself." Wilson adds that similar bills "have been introduced in state legislatures nationwide to create or increase [delays] before a woman can seek abortion care" (Wilson, RH Reality Check, 5/6).
What others are saying about abortion restrictions:
~ "Colorado Democrats Defeat Fetal 'Personhood' Legislation," Jason Salzman, RH Reality Check.
~ "California Lawmakers Won't Allow Insurers To Opt Out of Abortion Coverage," Nina Liss-Schultz, RH Reality Check.
TRAP LAWS: "Virginia Attorney General: Abortion Clinics Don't Need To Comply With TRAP Regulations," Liss-Schultz, RH Reality Check: Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring (D) has issued a legal opinion stating that "Virginia abortion clinics don't have to comply with the harsh targeted regulation of abortion providers (TRAP) regulations" that "threate[n] to shut down all of the state's 18 clinics," Liss-Schultz writes. She explains that the 2013 regulations, which are currently under state review, require "clinics performing five or more first-trimester abortions per month to conform to the same architectural standards as hospitals." According to Liss-Schultz, Herring's predecessor, Ken Cuccinelli (R), had said the rules would "apply to all abortion clinics, not only clinics yet to be built," meaning that "established clinics ... would have to renovate or risk closure." However, Herring's opinion reverses that interpretation and "allow[s] current clinics to essentially hold tight while the rules are amended," she writes, adding that clinics -- which currently all have waivers exempting them from the rules -- also "will no longer need to re-apply for waivers after their year of exemption is over" (Liss-Schultz, RH Reality Check, 5/5).
ABORTION PROVIDERS: "'Abortion. Yeah, We Do That.' -- A Look Into a New Model of Abortion Care in the US," Christopher Purdy/Melissa Grant, Huffington Post blogs: Purdy, president of DKT International, and Grant, vice president of medication abortion provider carafem, write about how their carafem clinics are working to increase "quality of care so our clients can have a comfortable and efficient visit" while also aiming to "normalize[e] and de-stigmatiz[e]" abortion. For example, they write that the clinics are "offering same day and next day one-hour appointments with weekend and evening times, guaranteeing quality one-on-one time with a clinician, offering 24/7 telephone, online chat and text opportunities to ensure full communication and connection and emphasizing integrated technology." In addition, they note that carafem's advertising campaign aims to "lif[t] the curtain off abortion care and openly tal[k] about women's options in their reproductive lives," including via "a strong web presence" and advertisements on public transportation (Purdy/Grant, Huffington Post blogs, 5/7).
RELIGION AND REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH: "Antiabortion Groups Vow To Keep Firing Women for Using Birth Control, Even Though It's Illegal," Jenny Kutner, Salon: "A number of antiabortion groups have taken a defiant stand against a recent Washington, D.C. law [Act 20-593] that bans organizations from discriminating against employees on the basis of their reproductive health choices, and have reserved the right to fire women for using birth control or having abortions," Kutner writes. According to Kutner, roughly six antiabortion-rights organizations on Tuesday released a joint statement in opposition to the law, "criticiz[ing] [it] as a violation of religious freedom, despite the fact that some of the groups are not religious organizations." However, Kutner explains that the law -- which supporters "have touted ... as a response to the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision" -- "merely ... makes it illegal to retaliate against people for their private reproductive health decisions by taking away their jobs" (Kutner, Salon, 5/7).