June 16, 2015 — Read the week's best commentaries from bloggers at the Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress," Salon and more.
ABORTION-RIGHTS MOVEMENT: "Why Are Abortion Foes Still Surprised When Pro-Choice Women Have Babies?" Tara Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": "Pro-choice women are taking to the internet to make the point that it's very possible to both support legal abortion rights and choose to become a parent," Culp-Ressler writes. She explains that abortion-rights opponents "are sometimes under the impression that being pregnant is incompatible with being pro-choice," particularly "when prominent reproductive rights supporters decide to start families." Culp-Ressler cites a project that aims to dispel this notion, the "Pregnant, Parenting, and Pro-Choice" blog, which "provides a platform for reproductive rights supporters to submit photos of themselves during their pregnancies -- and explain why making the decision to become a mother actually fits into their larger worldview about giving every individual the tools they need to plan their own family." She concludes by quoting project participant Farah Diaz Tello, who explains that she is '"pro-choice because [she affirms] the humanity and dignity of all pregnant people in deciding whether they carry a pregnancy to term, how they give birth, and whether they parent the child they give birth to'" (Culp-Ressler, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 6/12).
CONTRACEPTION: "OB-GYN Kathleen Morrell Explains the Benefits of Laws Allowing Women To Get Birth Control Over-the-Counter," Jenny Kutner, Salon: Kutner interviews New York-based ob-gyn Kathleen Morrell about the pros and cons of over-the-counter birth control in California -- "which will begin allowing pharmacists to prescribe" birth control in a few months -- and in general. According to Morrell, "the major pro" regarding California's law (SB 493) "is that ([OTC] birth control) just increases access, specifically when it comes to the pill" and "would potentially have a positive effect on the never-changing unintended pregnancy rate in this country." Further, she said "involving the pharmacist" in prescribing contraception "could ... potentially allow for a woman's health insurance to cover it" rather than making "birth control ... just be [OTC], period," which could require women to pay out of pocket for their contraception. Noting the importance of "protections for cost," Morrell said, "We don't just want stuff over-the-counter ... we want people to have insurance coverage for it." Making birth control available over the counter without insurance coverage "doesn’t mean it's accessible." Morrell acknowledged that physicians might be "concerned" about women using such access "to replace preventative care," but she said "[w]omen are smart, and [physicians] should trust them to know what's right for them, and ... being a barrier to their contraceptive needs is [not] the right way to go as providers" (Kutner, Salon, 6/13).
What others are saying about contraception:
~ "How Contraception Transformed the American Family," Martha Bailey, The Atlantic.
ABORTION RESTRICTIONS: "Roberts Court Refuses To Hear North Carolina Forced Ultrasound Case," Jessica Mason Pieklo, RH Reality Check: "Reproductive rights advocates scored a major victory Monday" after the Supreme Court rejected an appeal from North Carolina over a blocked state law that would require physicians to perform an ultrasound and "display and describe the ... image" to a woman, even if "the patient objects," Mason Pieklo writes. According to Mason Pieklo, a federal court "preliminarily blocked the law" in 2011, and it was later permanently blocked by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2014, when the three-judge panel ruled the "law violates the First Amendment rights of physicians by forcing them to deliver politically motivated communications." North Carolina lawyers appealed the decision to the Supreme Court, which denied the review, "mark[ing] the second time the [high court under Chief Justice John Roberts] has refused to step into the fight over mandatory ultrasound laws" (Mason Pieklo, RH Reality Check, 6/15).
What others are saying about abortion restrictions:
~ "Repro Wrap: The End of Abortion Access in Texas and Other News," Robin Marty, Care2.
CPCs: "The Constitutionality of Anti-Abortion License Plates is up for Debate," Emma Niles, Ms. Magazine blog: Across the country, states sell license plates with the words "Choose Life," and "most of them raise money for anti-abortion organizations" Niles writes. Citing a Guttmacher Institute report, Niles explains that "currently 28 states ... allow these types of plates, and out of those states 15 allow the money raised to go directly to anti-abortion organizations." However, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in May "ruled that 'Choose Life' license plates are unconstitutional because they are 'patently offensive' speech" and the DMV acted within its discretion when it refused to issue them. Similarly, "an appellate court in North Carolina upheld a judge's ruling that the 'Choose Life' license plate was unconstitutional because although the DMV allowed the plate, it had rejected designs with messages like 'Trust Women' and 'Respect Choice,'" Niles writes. According to Niles, "[t]he number of states with 'Choose Life' programs has risen over the years, so these types of cases may soon become more common" (Niles, Ms. Magazine blog, 6/15).
SEXUALITY EDUCATION: "LGBTQ Youth Deserve 'Real Education' About Sexuality," Gloria Malone, RH Reality Check: Data on pregnancy rates for lesbian, gay and bisexual youth, as well as recent outbreaks of sexually transmitted infections, "show widespread need not only for comprehensive sexual health education, but LGBTQ-inclusive sex ed in particular," Malone writes. She points to a study in the American Journal of Public Health that "found that New York City youth who identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual were more likely than heterosexual-identifying youth to experience a pregnancy." Further, "curricula in half the states in this country stress abstinence," she writes, noting that "since these students are not prepared for sexual encounters, there have been a number of outbreaks of various STIs nationwide." According to Malone, "Because sexual health education is geared toward a hetero- and cis-normative audience, LGBTQ youth are not receiving the information they need to protect themselves from all sexual activities and to enjoy the wanted experiences they do encounter." Urging a "complete overhaul of the sexual health education in the United States," Malone voices support for the Real Education for Healthy Youth Act (HR 1706), which "calls for sexual health education to discuss healthy relationships, reproduction, sexuality, and consent in addition to safer sex information with LGBTQ-inclusive language" (Malone, RH Reality Check, 6/12).