June 19, 2015 — Read the week's best commentaries from bloggers at the National Women's Law Center's "Womenstake," RH Reality Check and more.
ABORTION RESTRICTIONS: "Supreme Court Lets Doctors Practice Medicine, Not Politics," Rachel Easter, National Women's Law Center's "Womenstake": This week, the Supreme Court announced it would not "review the Fourth Circuit's decision striking down a coercive North Carolina law [SL 2011-45] that inserted politicians' views where they don't belong," Easter notes, calling the decision "good ... for women's health and the integrity of the doctor-patient relationship." According to Easter, the 2011 law "would have subjected every woman in North Carolina to an unnecessary and invasive procedure before she could get an abortion" and "forced doctors to prioritize the messages of anti-abortion politicians over good medicine." She writes that "[e]very court" that has heard a case on the law has "found it unconstitutional," and "[t]he Supreme Court's decision not to review the case leaves these earlier court decisions in place so the law will not go into effect," marking "a victory for North Carolinians and women everywhere" (Easter, "Womenstake," National Women's Law Center, 6/16).
What others are saying about abortion restrictions:
~ "When Will the Supreme Court Stop Avoiding Abortion?" Dahlia Lithwick, Slate's "Jurisprudence."
~ "Lawmakers Should Take a Walk in Her Shoes," Chavi Koneru, National Partnership for Women & Families' blog.
~ "NEWSFLASH: Texas Anti-Choice Law Targets Teens," Anita Little, Ms. Magazine blog.
GLOBAL: "Around the World, Women Are Forced To Justify Their Reasons for Abortion," Amanda Marcotte, RH Reality Check: Marcotte comments on a "fascinating op-ed" in the New York Times "about the pointless, aggravating, and insulting [approval] process that women in Israel have to endure in order to get an abortion," noting that similar requirements are imposed "in a lot of Western European countries." Marcotte writes that while these processes "rarely impede actual access to abortion," they "sho[w] that attitudes about abortion are actually shaped by attitudes about sex and gender roles," such as how "[w]omen are supposed to want babies, and if they don't, they're supposed to be apologetic and do penance for defying their 'natural' role." Further, while women in the U.S. currently "are protected from having to give their reasons for an abortion in the first trimester ... this idea that women should have to justify their desire to abort is baked right into the debate over abortion access in this country nonetheless," Marcotte writes. She calls on U.S. abortion law to reflect the complexity of women's lives "by acknowledging that a woman -- not a third party, not a politician -- is the expert in her own life and what she needs when facing an unintended pregnancy" (Marcotte, RH Reality Check, 6/17).
What others are saying about global abortion access:
~ "Not Only Voiceless, but Choice-less: The Impregnated Victims of Boko Haram," Akila Radhakrishnan/Kristina Kallas, Ms. Magazine blog.
CONTRACEPTION: "House Republicans Try To Zero Out Funding for Family Planning," Marcotte, Slate's "The XX Factor": "The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies just offered a budget proposal that would end federal family planning programs," Marcotte writes. According to Marcotte, the proposal would end funding for Title X of the Public Health Service Act -- "the only federal program dedicated solely to providing contraception and other preventive reproductive health services -- as well as other reproductive health care programs for low-income patients." Marcotte writes, "No doubt the word 'abortion' is going to be tossed around to justify this defunding effort ... but this is not about abortion," because "Title X funds do not and cannot fund abortion." Rather, "[t]his is about sex and sending the message that you shouldn't be having it for any reason but procreation," she writes. For example, she notes that the proposed budget "also cuts spending on sex education programs for teenagers by 81 percent, while doubling the budget for abstinence-until-marriage programs." Marcotte cites research that finds "mak[ing] contraception free or at least more affordable lower[s] the abortion rate," concluding, "If you sincerely care about preventing abortion, you should want to grow Title X so that no woman in this country skips using contraception because she can't afford it" (Marcotte, "The XX Factor," Slate, 6/16).
What others are saying about contraception:
~ "You Oughta Know: We've Been Fighting the Same Fight to Protect Title X for 20 Years," Sharon Levin, National Women's Law Center's "Womenstake."
~ "House Funding Bill Puts Family Planning, Public Health in Peril," Clare Coleman, Huffington Post blogs
~ "Breaking: IUDs Contribute Hugely To Reducing Unintended Pregnancies," Jenny Kutner, Salon.
ABORTION PROVIDERS: "JUSTICE, ACCESS, SUPPORT: A CONVERSATION WITH THE BOSTON DOULA PROJECT," Reina Gattuso, Feministing: Gattuso interviews Sarah Whedon, co-director of "the Boston Doula Project, the Boston manifestation of a national movement for 'full-spectrum' doula care -- or doulas who provide support across a full range of pregnancy experiences, including abortion." According to Whedon, the Boston Doula Project provides "free doula support for people who are having abortions, and ... train[s] people in those skills." In the interview, Whedon explained that such care "is compassionate, non-medical support," such as "physical support, emotional support, informational support, spiritual support, and sometimes practical support." Whedon added that such support is important both because it helps "kee[p] abortion safe and accessible and legal," but also because the holistic support provided by a doula for all of a woman's reproductive choices could help women "'be more bold about speaking publicly about the importance of abortion access" (Gattuso, Feministing, 6/17).
What others are saying about abortion providers:
~ "Focus on a Provider: Honor MacNaughton," Reproductive Health Access Project blog.