July 7, 2015 — Read the week's best commentaries from bloggers at RH Reality Check, The Christian Century's "Then & Now" and more.
ABORTION RESTRICTIONS: "How Do You Make a Safe Abortion Any Safer?" Dan Grossman, RH Reality Check: "Rather than making abortion safer," the omnibus antiabortion-rights law in Texas (HB 2) "may actually compromise the health of Texas women," Grossman writes. Grossman explains that "[a]bortion as currently practiced in the United States is very safe," with Texas' abortion statistics showing that in 2013 "less than 0.03 percent of procedures reportedly had a serious complication." Further, he cites research showing that, contrary "to the stated objective of HB 2," there is "no evidence that abortion care was intrinsically safer when performed at an [ambulatory surgical center] as compared to a non-[ambulatory surgical center] clinic." In addition, he notes that the closure of clinics under the law "is leading to an increase in second-trimester abortion[s]," which are "still very safe," but "are associated with a higher rate of complications compared to those done in the first trimester." The closures also could increase the rate of women trying "to self-induce their abortion" (Grossman, RH Reality Check, 6/30).
What others are saying about abortion restrictions:
~ "A Slew of Anti-Choice Laws Take Effect Today," Teddy Wilson, RH Reality Check.
ANTIABORTION-RIGHTS MOVEMENT: "When Christian Abortion Providers Are Targeted for Harassment," David Cohen/Krysten Connon, The Christian Century's "Then & Now": "Over the past four years, we have interviewed almost 90 abortion providers around the country about their experiences being individually targeted by abortion opponents, and we learned that abortion providers are frequently targeted for [harassment] based on their faith," Cohen and Connon write. "This type of harassment flips the script of common beliefs about abortion in this country," they explain, noting, "Many abortion providers draw on their religion as motivation for being involved in abortion care, and many anti-abortion extremists then harass and terrorize those providers using the provider's religious belief as the basis." Cohen and Connon highlight several relevant cases, including most notably the 2009 murder of George Tiller, an abortion provider in Wichita, Kan. However, the authors note that "[a]lmost all abortion providers persist despite the harassment and terrorism they face," and "[m]any religious providers explained how their faith is part of the reason they continue" (Cohen/Connon, "Then & Now," The Christian Century, 7/1).
What others are saying about the antiabortion-rights movement:
~ West Virginia Women Speak Out About Extremist Anti-Choice OB-GYN," Sharona Coutts, RH Reality Check.
CONTRACEPTION: "The Caya Diaphragm -- What You Need To Know To Prescribe or Obtain it," Margaret Polaneczky, The Blog That Ate Manhattan: "A new diaphragm has become available in the United States -- It's called Caya, and it's available in a single size and by prescription only, and is designed to be used with a nonoxynol-9 contraceptive gel," Polaneczky writes. According to Polaneczky, the contraceptive method was developed by the not-for-profits CONRAD and PATH in a collaborative "respon[se] to the needs of women for easy to use, effective, non-hormonal, user controlled contraception." Evaluations of Caya found it "not only to be equally effective to currently marketed diaphragms, but also easy for women to learn to insert and remove," Polaneczky writes. She calls it "a great option for women unwilling or unable to use hormonal contraceptives or the [intrauterine device], and who are motivated enough to use a method with every act of intercourse," as well as women who are breastfeeding, "who may especially like the hormonal-free aspect" of Caya. Polaneczky details how to maximize the diaphragm's efficacy, adding that the method costs $85 -- plus the additional cost of spermicidal jelly -- and can be obtained with a prescription from clinician offices, and local and mail-order pharmacies (Polaneczky, The Blog That Ate Manhattan, 7/3).
SEXUALITY EDUCATION: "This Is How We Are Spending Billions on the Sexual Mis-Education of America's Youth," Erica Hellerstein, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": "In April, Congress quietly increased Title V abstinence-focused funding for the first time in the program's nearly two-decade tenure ... provid[ing] Title V with an additional $50 million over a period of two years," Hellerstein writes. "The funding hike is troublesome to comprehensive sexual education advocates, many of whom critique abstinence-focused programs for reinforcing harmful stereotypes and spreading misinformation about sexual activity," she writes, citing particular concern about an "'abstinence-focused' curricula" developed by Choosing the Best that "reach[es] upwards of four million students in at least 44 states." Hellerstein notes that the "recent increase in Title V funding was implemented despite the consistent conclusion of both scientific research and Congressional reports that abstinence-only programs don't meet their stated goals" and that "revealed that some abstinence-focused programs contain information that is patently false." According to Hellerstein, abstinence-only proponents in response to such scrutiny have rebranded their materials as "'evidence-based'" and "'medically accurate'" in order "to hold onto federal funding." As a result, "American taxpayers who want to invest their money in [comprehensive sexuality education] programs that have been proven to work continue to see an ideologically driven imposition of programs that have no track record of success, under the false pretense of being evidence-based," Hellerstein writes, citing research showing U.S. residents' support for effective sexuality education (Hellerstein, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 7/1).
What others are saying about sexuality education: ~ "Why We Can Still Learn From a '70s Sex-Ed Comic," Kat Kucera, Ms. Magazine blog.