June 26, 2015 — Read the week's best commentaries from bloggers at the Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress," Bustle and more.
ABORTION-RIGHTS MOVEMENT: "The 'Abortion Drone' Is Bringing Women a Safe Way To End an Early Pregnancy," Tara Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": "A coalition of reproductive rights group[s] is re-purposing drone technology with a new goal in mind: Expanding women's access to a safe method of ending an early pregnancy," Culp-Ressler writes. According to Culp-Ressler, "The world's first 'abortion drone'" on Saturday will deliver packages of medication abortion from Germany, where abortion is legal, "to Poland, where women are subject to some of the strictest abortion laws in the world." The delivery effort is being led by "Rebecca Gomperts, who founded the nonprofit organization Women on Waves to find creative ways to expand access to medication abortion." The flight is intended to make "more of a symbolic statement than a practical difference," and Gomperts' goal is to "spark a broader conversation about the lack of abortion rights in Poland -- as well as potentially expand the use of new technology in the other countries that are more well known for their restrictive laws," Culp-Ressler writes. Culp-Ressler adds that while "countries have been gradually expanding women's access to" medication abortion, the U.S. "has been moving in the opposite direction" (Culp-Ressler, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 6/24).
REPRODUCTIVE JUSTICE: "These 15 States Got a Failing Grade for Reproductive Rights," Sarah Sloat, Bustle: "While the country as a whole was awarded a meager C, 15 states received 'failing grades' for their stance on reproductive health rights," according to the Population Institute's 2014 report card, Sloat writes. The report card "judged the nation and each state on a four-part criteria: effectiveness, prevention, affordability, and access." Sloat notes that while "a falling teen pregnancy rate and increased access to reproductive health care via the Affordable Care Act [PL 111-148] raised the U.S. grade this year from a C- to a C, the harsh measures against reproductive choice and sex education in many states leaves much to be desired from the country as a whole." Sloat lists the 15 states with failing grades -- including Alabama, Idaho, Indiana and Kansas -- and explains how they have fallen short on reproductive health care, such as by failing to require comprehensive sexuality education, imposing abortion restrictions and opting not to expand Medicaid under the ACA (Sloat, Bustle, 6/22).
INSURANCE COVERAGE: "Roberts Court Once More Rules in Favor of the Affordable Care Act," Jessica Mason Pieklo, RH Reality Check: "The Supreme Court on Thursday ruled the Affordable Care Act [PL 111-148] does not prevent tax subsidies from going to help poor and middle-class people buy health insurance in states that have refused to set up insurance exchanges under the health-care reform law," Mason Pieklo writes. She explains that the case, King v. Burwell, centered on wording in the ACA that plaintiffs claimed barred U.S. residents from using tax subsidies to purchase health care coverage off of the federal insurance marketplace. According to Mason Pieklo, Chief Justice John Roberts in the majority opinion rejected the plaintiffs' "'interpretation because it would destabilize the individual insurance market in any State with a Federal Exchange, and likely create the very "death spirals" that Congress designed the [ACA] to avoid.'" However, the ruling "does not mark the end of conservatives' legal challenges to the ACA," Mason Pieklo writes, adding, "More than 40 challenges to the birth control benefit's accommodation process are pending in federal courts, with at least one request before the Supreme Court to intervene in those challenges" (Mason Pieklo, RH Reality Check, 6/25).
What others are saying about insurance coverage:
~ "Drawing on Lessons Learned To Improve Open Enrollment for 2016," Lauren Birchfield Kennedy, National Partnership for Women & Families blog.
CONTRACEPTION: "The 'Dangers of Contraception' Revisited," Robert Walker, Huffington Post blogs: Walker discusses how conservative lawmakers have taken action on "'dangers of contraception' rhetoric," noting that the "House Appropriations Committee this month has taken up arms against Title X, the federal program that has been supporting family planning clinics serving low-income communities for nearly half a century." He adds that while "[t]his is not the first time that the House has tried to ax Title X ... this time around the Senate could easily concur." Further, he notes that the "House and Senate Appropriations Committees are also taking dead aim at sex education in schools," with the House proposal "eliminat[ing] all funding for the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program" and the Senate bill cutting program funding by 80%. In addition, the House proposal also would cut funding for international family planning and reproductive health programs by $150 million, "eliminat[e] all funding for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and reinstat[e] the Global Gag Rule, which bars U.S. foreign assistance to family planning providers who advocate for abortion rights." Walker questions why conservative lawmakers treat contraception as if it is "'dangerous,'" but he concludes, "The war on contraception, whatever the motivating fears or concerns, is not just rhetoric" (Walker, Huffington Post blogs, 6/24).
What others are saying about contraception:
~ "Joining Team IUD," Patrice Bendig, Huffington Post blogs.
FEDERAL BUDGET PROPOSAL: "The Wrong Way," Debra Ness, Huffington Post blogs: A fiscal year 2016 House funding proposal for the Departments of Labor, HHS, Education and related agencies "ignores the public's priorities, misdirects precious resources, and demonstrates contempt for programs that show promise or have track records of success," Debra Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women & Families, writes. She adds that the proposal "prioritizes ideology over good governance, at the expense of the public good." Ness notes that the budget "would end -- not cut, but end -- the federal family planning program" that provides preventive health services, such as cancer screenings and contraceptives, to low-income women, "who would otherwise go without reproductive and other health care." In addition, the proposal would "slash funds for comprehensive, medically accurate sexuality education programs that have been proven to work," while "increase[ing] funds for programs that promote abstinence-only-until-marriage, even though research has shown, time and again, that they don't," Ness writes. Further, she notes that the measure would undermine preventive care coverage under the Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148) and "continue the discriminatory Hyde Amendment," among other damaging provisions (Ness, Huffington Post blogs, 6/25).