September 25, 2015 — Read the week's best commentary from bloggers at the Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress," Bustle and more.
ABORTION RESTRICTIONS: "How the Supreme Court Could Destroy Reproductive Rights in One Term," Ian Millhiser, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": The "Supreme Court term that begins next month is likely to do more to determine how much control women have over their own bodies than any term since the justices decided Roe v. Wade," Millhiser writes. For example, he notes that if the Supreme Court interprets its 2007 ruling in Gonzales v. Carhart to uphold Texas' contested admitting privileges and ambulatory surgical center requirements, "it is unlikely that much, if any, of Roe will survive -- as states will be free to restrict abortion so long as they are creative enough to come up with some sort of explanation for the restriction that claims it will have some positive impact on women's health." He also notes that the Supreme Court will rule on "just how deeply Hobby Lobby will cut into women's ability to obtain birth control coverage" when it likely considers a case over the federal contraceptive coverage rules' accommodation process for not-for-profits that hold themselves out as religious. Further, Millhiser notes that the high court might also consider a third case, Stormans v. Wiesman, which "concerns a Washington law that permits individual pharmacists to refuse to fill a particular prescription 'so long as another pharmacist working for the pharmacy provides timely delivery,' but that does not generally allow the pharmacy itself to refuse a prescription 'even if the owner of the pharmacy has a religious objection.'" Millhiser writes, "If the justices take the Stormans case, they could potentially write Hobby Lobby's standard into the Constitution itself," which "could give sweeping rights to religious objectors who do not want to comply with state law, while also making it impossible for Congress to roll back the Hobby Lobby decision through ordinary legislation" (Millhiser, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 9/22).
What others are saying about abortion restrictions:
~ "April Salazar's Abortion Story Is Exactly Why 20-Week Abortion Bans Are Completely Inhumane -- VIDEO," Josephine Yurcaba, Bustle.
ABORTION-RIGHTS MOVEMENT: "Jack Antonoff & Planned Parenthood Show How Important the Organization Is to Both Women & Men in a Fun Way," Allyson Koerner, Bustle: "Like his girlfriend Lena Dunham, fun. singer Jack Antonoff is teaming up with Planned Parenthood and Refinery29 to not only prove how beneficial the organization is, but to also show that the nonprofit offers options for both women and men," Koerner writes. According to Koerner, "The Grammy-winning singer filmed a video produced by Dunham for the Her Shorts video series from Planned Parenthood and Refinery29, which shows him trying to write a song about the services Planned Parenthood offers men," featuring "Alex Karpovsky from Girls, actor and comedian John Early, and Saturday Night Live's Sasheer Zamata." Koerner explains, "Though the skit is lighthearted, they're trying to make a serious point: Planned Parenthood offers care, services and information to men, women and children." She notes that the video's timing coincided with the House's passage of a bill (HR 3134) defunding the organization, concluding, "Through this video, Antonoff hopes that others will listen and see just how important Planned Parenthood is to our nation" (Koerner, Bustle, 9/22).
What others are saying about the abortion-rights movement:
~ "Bill Nye on Reproductive Rights Emphasizes the Need To Stop Telling Women What To Do With Our Own Bodies -- VIDEO," Emma Cueto, Bustle.
~ "Phoebe Wahl's 'GRAY AREA' Zine Honors the Complexities of Unplanned Pregnancy & Shows Why Planned Parenthood Is so Important," Suzannah Weiss, Bustle.
RELIGION: "A Catholic Hospital Says It's 'Evil' for Me To Get my Tubes Tied," Jessica Mann, Daily Beast: "Next month, my doctor will put me to sleep to deliver my third child via C-section, and there's a chance I may never wake up," Mann writes, explaining that because she has brain tumors, delivering vaginally or undergoing anesthesia potentially could kill her. She writes that her doctors recommended she undergo tubal ligation after the c-section "to mitigate the risk," since she will already be in surgery. Her hospital, Genesys Regional Medical Center, "denied [Mann] this routine procedure" because it is sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, whose Ethical and Religious Directives for Health Care Services forbid the procedure. According to Mann, the hospital denied her request for the procedure twice, even though her "situation should be allowed under church teaching." Noting that other birth control options are too risky with her condition, Mann writes that she is "due in less than a month" and if the hospital does not reverse its decision today, she and the American Civil Liberties Union "plan to file formal complaints with the Civil Rights Department and a state agency" (Mann, Daily Beast, 9/23).
What others are saying about religion:
~ "An Open Letter to Pope Francis," Gina Messina-Dysert, Huffington Post blogs.
~ "Pope Extends His Support to Nuns Fighting Against Obamacare's Birth Control Coverage," Tara Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress."
ANTIABORTION-RIGHTS MOVEMENT: "Illegal Abortion Is Dangerous, Birth Control Works, and Other Inconvenient Truths for Pro-Lifers," Katha Pollitt, The Nation: Pollitt rebuts several antiabortion-rights arguments made by "New York Times columnist and anti-choice conservative Catholic" Ross Douthat. Pollitt first debunks Douthat's arguments in favor of criminalizing abortion, pointing out how most residents in Ireland, where abortion is illegal, support "liberalizing abortion laws"; how abortion in the U.S., if made illegal, would harm women's health; and how an abortion ban would "weigh most heavily on low-income women." She also counters Douthat's claim that "birth control does not prevent abortion," explaining that "numerous socially conservative states have high abortion rates" and that his cited statistics on the high rates of abortion in states with "'liberal attitudes about birth control'" fail to account for other factors, such as sexuality education and access to reproductive health care. Lastly, Pollitt refutes Douthat's suggestion to help low-income women with limited policy proposals, such as tax credits. Douthat "doesn't begin to grasp the situation of someone with a crisis pregnancy," Pollitt writes, adding, "We should get rid of poverty to make people's lives better, not to justify more forced births." Pollitt concludes, "We should provide birth control to all -- not as a grudging trade-off against abortion rights, but to give girls and women more freedom to shape their lives" (Pollitt, The Nation, 9/24).
What others are saying about the antiabortion-rights movement:
~ "What a Government Shutdown Over Planned Parenthood Would Cost Women and Families," Alicia Gurrieri/Katherine Gallagher Robbins, National Women's Law Center blog.
CONTRACEPTION: "15 Years On, Conservatives Are Still Trying To Kill the Abortion Pill," Molly Redden, Mother Jones: "A decade and a half after mifepristone came on the market, abortion foes are blocking its progress with a vengeance," Redden writes, noting, "The attacks on mifepristone come in two varieties: those that ban telemedicine, and those that force women taking the abortion pill to spend more travel time and money." She explains that telemedicine abortion care, which "has allowed mifepristone to be part of a sweeping change in abortion access for thousands of rural women," has been prohibited in 18 states since 2011. Meanwhile, the other strategy to restrict medication abortion "require[s] doctors to follow the original, FDA-approved guidelines when prescribing mifepristone" even though the newer, evidence-based, off-label "regimen is far more reliable with fewer unpleasant side effects." Despite "years of data [that] show abortion pills to be exceedingly safe ... abortion foes have been so successful in limiting the abortion pill that a decade and a half after the drug was approved, women having abortions in the United States are much less likely to use mifepristone than many of their foreign counterparts," Redden writes. Further, she notes, "The burden is compounded in states that also force women to wait a certain amount of time between their initial visit to an abortion provider and the day of the procedure," requiring a woman to take up to "four in-person trips to the doctor for a medica[tion] abortion" (Redden, Mother Jones, 9/25).
SEXUALITY EDUCATION: "How Did the Rate of U.S. Teen Pregnancies Become the Highest in the Developed World?" Saundra Pelletier, Huffington Post blogs: Pelletier, CEO of WomanCare Global, writes about how her organization "is launching an exciting, purposefully provocative educational campaign with actress/activist Jessica Biel" to improve sexuality education in the U.S. and help stem the number of unintended pregnancies. According to Pelletier, "'If You Don't Tell Them, Then Who Will?' is a campaign focused on encouraging women and girls to get educated about their bodies." Pelletier explains that WomanCare Global's "historical platform has been focused on developing markets and helping women in the poorest countries get access to safe, affordable, sustainable reproductive healthcare products," which can "dramatically improv[e]" the lives of women and boost the global economy. "This brings me to my main point: knowing what I know about women in developing markets, I was surprised that so many women and girls in the [U.S.] experience issues relating to the lack of education and or knowledge of where to go for right information about how their bodies work," Pelletier writes, adding, "This obviously impacts their choices or, worse, paralyzes them from making choices at all." The new campaign aims to address that lack of knowledge and "launch a million conversations that destroy the notion that women's health is a taboo topic," she writes (Pelletier, Huffington Post blogs, 9/24).