July 14, 2015 — Read the week's best commentaries from bloggers at Bustle, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress" and more.
ABORTION-RIGHTS MOVEMENT: "Artist Leah Hayes' 'Not Funny Ha-Ha: A Handbook for Something Hard' Lets Those Who Get Abortions Know They're Not Alone," Suzannah Weiss, Bustle: Weiss writes about a new comic book, written by Leah Hayes, that aims to normalize abortion by "present[ing] real talk about abortions with friendly, accessible dialogue and narration and engaging illustrations." According to Weiss, abortion "is rarely discussed publicly" even though, "[b]y some accounts, one third of women or more end up having abortions at some point in their lives." She writes that this "dearth of stories about abortions in pop culture -- especially ones that are not politically charged -- can leave women who undergo the procedure feeling alone, when in reality, they are not." Weiss outlines the book's plot, which details both the emotional and practical experiences of "23-year-old Mary and 31-year-old Lisa, who decide to have abortions, one medical ... and one surgical." After providing some sample pages of the book, Weiss concludes that the "story is comforting if you've been in Lisa's or Mary's situation, a life-saver if you find yourself there in the future, and informative if you're curious about what a third of women go through" (Weiss, Bustle, 7/10).
ANTIABORTION-RIGHTS MOVEMENT: "The 5 Most Absurd Arguments Made Against Women's Choice at the Right to Life Convention," Kira Lerner, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": Writing about the National Right to Life Convention, Lerner details the "five most absurd arguments" made by conservative presidential candidates "to justify their efforts to take away a woman's access to an abortion and to place more barriers between a woman and a safe and legal abortion." For example, she writes about how Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) "compared the pro-life cause to women's suffrage and the abolition of slavery," while former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Penn.) claimed that science demonstrates life begins at the moment of conception, even though "the medical community has long been in agreement that fertilization does not mark the beginning of pregnancy." Meanwhile, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) contended that "[t]he anti-choice movement can only stop 'one women at a time,'" despite the National Right to Life strategy of "chip[ping] away at women's rights through legislation both on the state and national level." Further, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (R) praised the declining abortion rate without acknowledging the role of affordable contraception, and former neurosurgeon Ben Carson contended that ultrasounds made women change their minds about abortion, despite studies demonstrating it does not have an effect on most women (Lerner, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 7/12).
ABORTION STIGMA: "This Study Should End the Debate About Whether Women Regret Having Abortions," Tara Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": "According to a new study that tracked hundreds of women who had abortions, more than 95 percent of participants reported that ending a pregnancy was the right decision for them," Culp-Ressler writes. Overall, the study found women's "[f]eelings of relief outweighed any negative emotions, even three years after the procedure." According to Culp-Ressler, the study's "findings contradict the notion that women experience negative mental health effects after ending a pregnancy, as well as the idea that later abortions are more psychologically traumatic." She adds that while "there's no scientific evidence to support the idea that abortion is linked to a greater risk of mental health problems, this framework is often used to justify passing additional restrictions on the procedure," including mandatory counseling laws in at least seven states that require women hear unsupported claims about "abortion's negative psychological consequences" (Culp-Ressler, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 7/13).
ABORTION RESTRICTIONS: "Advocates Fight To Keep Tuscaloosa Abortion Clinic Open," Jessica Mason Pieklo, RH Reality Check: "Reproductive rights advocates filed a lawsuit in federal court Friday" over an Alabama admitting privileges law (HB 57) "to prevent the sole licensed abortion clinic in Tuscaloosa," the West Alabama Women's Center, "from being forced to shut down," Mason Pieklo writes. According to Mason Pieklo, "three of Alabama's five licensed abortion clinics ... filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality" of the law after it was passed in 2013, and a court order temporarily blocking the law "remains in effect today." The new lawsuit, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Alabama, contends that the law is unconstitutional, noting that "[t]he only hospital in Tuscaloosa is unwilling to grant" the clinic's provider, William Parker, admitting privileges, "for reasons unrelated to his competency" and "no OB-GYN in the Tuscaloosa area is willing to serve as the clinic's outside covering physician, due to anti-choice sentiment and fear of being publicly associated with an abortion clinic," Mason Pieklo writes. As a result, the clinic "risks closing," she explains, adding that the clinic "provid[es] about 40 percent of abortions in the state, and is one of only two clinics in Alabama where women who need second-trimester abortions can obtain care" (Mason Pieklo, RH Reality Check, 7/13).