May 19, 2015 — Read the week's best commentaries from the Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress," RH Reality Check and more.
ABORTION RESTRICTIONS: "Texas Lawmakers Want Women To Present IDs Before They Get Abortions," Tara Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": Culp-Ressler writes about a measure (HB 3994) passed by the Texas House that would "make it extremely difficult for minors to obtain an abortion in a state that's already severely restricted reproductive rights." Among other restrictions, the "omnibus" bill would "requir[e] abortion doctors to assume that all of their patients are minors and request a government-issued ID to verify their age," Culp-Ressler writes, adding that the provision "threatens to pose an especially large burden for younger teens and immigrant women who may not have a drivers license." Culp-Ressler also describes how the bill would tighten a state law that allows pregnant minors to obtain a court's permission to have an abortion instead of obtaining parental consent for the procedure. Citing reproductive-rights proponents, Culp-Ressler notes that the "judicial bypass process is intended to serve as a safety net for vulnerable teens, and it's cruel to place even more restrictions on young women who are in difficult situations" (Culp-Ressler, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 5/15).
What others are saying about abortion restrictions:
~ "Which State Was the Worst for Women This Week?" Amanda Marcotte, Slate's "The XX Factor."
~ "South Carolina Republican: 20-Week Abortion Ban Isn't Harsh Enough," Nina Liss-Schultz, RH Reality Check.
~ "Anti-Choice Groups Try 'Texas Playbook' in Attempt To Block Health Care Access in California," Jessica Mason Pieklo, RH Reality Check.
TRAP LAWS: "Admitting Privilege Laws: A Solution in Search of a Problem," Stanley Henshaw, RH Reality Check: Henshaw outlines "what everyone should know about" legislation that requires physicians who provide abortion care to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. Specifically, he explains that abortions in the U.S. are "very safe" and that if a woman does need emergency services, she should "go to a nearby hospital, not to the one where the provider has privileges." Further, he notes that some hospitals "refuse to grant privileges to any physician who performs abortions" or refuse because the physician does not "reside near the hospital" or likely will admit fewer than one patient annually. Henshaw also notes that in some cities, such restrictions have "forced the only available abortion providers to close," which can lead to more "abortions occur[ing] later in gestation, when they are more risky and expensive." Noting that "[i]t's clear that admitting privilege requirements do not benefit women," Henshaw writes, "It is up to each of us ... to hold our lawmakers accountable when they try to distort the truth by saying admitting privileges are necessary for the health of women" (Henshaw, RH Reality Check, 5/15).
What others are saying about TRAP laws:
~ "Virginia Clinics Navigate Changing TRAP Law: 'I Feel Like I'm Digging a Hole Just to Fill it Back in,'" Liss-Schultz, RH Reality Check.
ANTIABORTION-RIGHTS MOVEMENT: "Exploiting the Black Family: A Divisive Campaign of the Anti-Woman, 'Pro-Life' Movement," Cherisse Scott, RH Reality Check: Scott, founder and CEO of SisterReach, writes about how the placement of "three anti-choice billboards" in underserved and "predominantly Black ... neighborhoods of Memphis, Tennessee ... represent[s] another attempt by the anti-choice movement to guilt Black mothers about their personal reproductive health-care decisions while pitting Black fathers against us." According to Scott, such billboards, used by antiabortion-rights groups since 2010,"com[e] at a time when Black people everywhere are forced to remind the world that Black lives matter, especially the quality of those lives." She adds that "these anti-woman, anti-choice supporters are nowhere to be found when advocates are working to change the lived conditions of Black communities." Further, the antiabortion-rights groups "forego consulting Black communities about what we need in terms of support or resources to change the daily conditions of our lives," Scott writes, noting that "80 percent of Black Americans believe abortion should remain legal." She adds, "If the anti-choice movement is actually concerned about Black lives, they will take the billboards down and instead re-route those resources into productive efforts to achieve the complete health and well-being of Black families in Memphis and throughout the country" (Scott, RH Reality Check, 5/15).
CONTRACEPTION: "Good News for Military Servicemembers Who Use Birth Control," Leila Abolfazli, National Women's Law Center's "Womenstake": "This year, the House and Senate versions of the [National Defense Authorization Act (HR 1735)] include provisions that would improve women servicemembers' access to birth control" by "provid[ing] comprehensive counseling and education about contraception," Abolfazli writes. In addition, she notes that the House version of the measure also "would ensure a woman servicemember has access to the birth control she needs at all times, particularly when she is deployed." Abolfazli explains that the provisions were "taken from a bill [S 358, HR 742] that Senator [Jeanne] Shaheen [D] and Representative [Jackie] Speier [D] introduced earlier this year." She adds that while "their tireless efforts" helped ensure the provisions were included in the NDAA bill, women's health supporters must "make sure these great provisions aren't taken out" of the final bill, and that the provisions are "working" if enacted. In addition, Abolfazli writes that advocates "need to make sure" additional contraceptive benefits from Shaheen and Speier's bill are included in next year's version of the NDAA (Abolfazli, "Womenstake," National Women's Law Center, 5/15).
LGBT: "Physicians' Group: Give LGBT People Full Rights -- It Makes Them Healthier," Jenny Kutner, Salon: Last "week, the American College of Physicians -- the second-largest group of physicians in the country, following the American Medical Association -- issued a position paper recommending specific approaches to improving LGBT health outcomes," Kutner writes. She explains that "LGBT individuals ... face worse health outcomes and disparities in care for a range of reasons," including "hurdles to acquiring insurance coverage" and "the social stigma that so often comes with coming out." However, she notes that while "opponents of LGBT rights have used health disparities to argue against 'leading a homosexual lifestyle' ... a significant proportion of American physicians agree that basic civil rights -- including legalized marriage equality -- can do wonders to reduce the strain on LGBT health." According to Kutner, ACP's recommendations echo that agreement, expressing support for marriage equality; inclusive definitions of family "regardless of ... legal or biological relationship"; and hospital policies that "allow all patients to determine who may visit and who may act on their behalf during their stay" (Kutner, Salon, 5/15).