August 4, 2015 — Read the week's best commentaries from bloggers at Mother Jones, RH Reality Check and more.
ADOLESCENT SEXUAL HEALTH: "The HPV Vaccine Prevents Cancer. So Why Aren't Most Teens Getting It?" Gabrielle Canon, Mother Jones: "According to [the] latest National Immunization Survey, released by [CDC] Thursday, around 60 percent of teenage girls and 78 percent of teenage boys haven't received all three of the recommended doses of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, which helps prevent reproductive cancers and genital warts caused by the virus," Canon writes. "[M]any parents are deciding to pass" on the vaccine, Canon notes, citing a 2013 study that found "the reasons most cited [by parents] included unwarranted fears about vaccine safety and disbelief that their kids would be sexually active." Further, Canon notes opposition to the vaccine among some conservative lawmakers, writing that "[d]espite [its] proven safety and effectiveness, the vaccine has become a politically divisive issue." Canon writes that the NIS survey found "big gains in some parts of the country" -- such as Illinois, Montana, North Carolina and Utah -- but she also cites Anne Schuchat, assistant surgeon general and director of CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Disease, who said in a statement on the report that more needs to be done "'to protect the next generation from cancers caused by HPV'" (Canon, Mother Jones, 7/31).
ABORTION-RIGHTS MOVEMENT: "Texas Pro-Choice Groups Help Navigate an Anti-Choice Landscape," Andrea Grimes, RH Reality Check: "A coalition of Texas groups have come together this summer to launch two new efforts intended to help residents access legal abortion care and to communicate more broadly about Texans' families, their lives, and their reproductive decisions," Grimes writes. According to Grimes, the "pro-choice efforts come as state lawmakers conduct politically motivated 'investigations' into fetal tissue donation programs and Texas abortion providers look to the Supreme Court for relief from the state's omnibus anti-choice law." One effort, "[a] joint effort between NARAL Pro-Choice Texas and the Lilith Fund, NeedAbortion.org," is "a one-stop clearinghouse for facts about where to get an abortion in a tumultuous legal landscape" as well as "information about how Texas' growing web of anti-choice laws affect people who need the procedure." Meanwhile, another effort called Illuminate RJ -- a collaboration between NARAL, the Texas Freedom Network and Shift -- is "an art and activist project meant to tackle abortion stigma and reproductive justice issues." Citing Heather Busby, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, Grimes writes that the initiative is "a creative -- rather than expressly political -- approach" to the topics. According to Grimes, Illuminate RJ will serve as "a way for Texans to talk about a full spectrum of experiences with reproductive issues with personal, artistic expressions 'instead of chants and slogans and protest signs'" (Grimes, RH Reality Check, 7/31).
What others are saying about abortion rights:
~ "4 Ways To Tell Congress To Not Defund Planned Parenthood & Defend Women's Health," Hope Racine, Bustle.
ANTIABORTION-RIGHTS MOVEMENT: "Planned Parenthood and the Politics of Conservative Resentment," Amanda Marcotte, RH Reality Check: "[T]he multi-week assault on Planned Parenthood's funding kickstarted by hoax videos made by an anti-choice group called the Center for Medical Progress isn't really about abortion," but rather "about trying, in any and every way possible, to make it harder for low-income and young women to access sexual health care," Marcotte writes. According to Marcotte, this strategy ultimately is "part of a larger conservative attempt to use 'abortion' -- and other gambits like 'religious freedom' -- as cover to make healthy sexuality a luxury for the wealthy and inaccessible to everyone else." For example, Marcotte notes that conservative lawmakers' response to the videos has not been to restrict "the use of fetal tissue for research," but instead "to attack contraception funding"; that many of the conservative lawmakers who are "attacking Planned Parenthood support fetal tissue research"; and that conservative lawmakers' response to the videos "is part of a larger pattern of targeted attacks on contraception." However, Marcotte writes that conservative lawmakers are careful not to frame the issue as an attack on individuals' personal choice but rather "refram[e] this issue in terms of politics of resentment" by "insinuating that someone else, someone 'less deserving,' is getting something for 'free' or having some kind of fun that you don't get." She writes, "In the end, this is just like every other attack on insurance plans or health-care centers that make contraception affordable: It's about undermining access to that care and reserving healthy sexuality as a privilege for the well-off, instead [of] a right for us all" (Marcotte, RH Reality Check, 8/3).
POLITICS AND ELECTIONS: "Republicans Repeatedly Voted To Use Aborted Fetuses for Scientific Research," Tara Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": Although conservative lawmakers "have a long history of targeting" Planned Parenthood, "the specific focus on" Planned Parenthood's fetal tissue donation program "is new," Culp-Ressler writes, citing a measure (S 1881) to defund Planned Parenthood that was proposed in the wake of several misleading videos targeting the organization's fetal tissue donation program. According to Culp-Ressler, "just a few years ago, the practice of donating fetal tissue for research purposes enjoyed broad bipartisan support -- including from some of the [conservative lawmakers] who are currently calling to crack down on Planned Parenthood." For example, she notes that "in 1993, members of Congress on both sides of the aisle voted to legalize fetal tissue research, even in cases when the samples were obtained from legal abortion procedures, when they approved the National Institutes of Health Revitalization Act," and "a bipartisan majority indicated support for the practice" several more times during the 1990s. While conservative lawmakers have claimed that the defunding effort does not specifically target fetal tissue research, Culp-Ressler notes that "the political campaign against Planned Parenthood could have big consequences." She writes that "while Congress likely won't have the votes to officially strip funding from Planned Parenthood, the national conversation may reinvigorate efforts to target family planning networks on the state level" (Culp-Ressler, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 8/3).