September 29, 2015 — Read the week's best commentary from bloggers at RH Reality Check, Huffington Post blogs and more.
ABORTION RESTRICTIONS: "Lawsuit Asks Oklahoma Supreme Court To Block Anti-Choice Omnibus Bill," Jessica Mason Pieklo, RH Reality Check: The Center for Reproductive Rights filed a "lawsuit directly with the Oklahoma Supreme Court to permanently block enforcement of SB 642," which CRR argues violates a "provision of the state constitution that requires every act of the legislature address only one subject," writes Mason Pieklo. "Advocates argue SB 642 violates the single subject rule by encompassing four different subjects," she notes. According to Mason Pieklo, the law, which is scheduled to take effect on Nov. 1, includes a provision that bolsters prohibitions on assisting minors in accessing abortion care and another provision that requires clinics to submit fetal tissue from abortions performed on minors age 14 or younger to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation. A third provision "requires the Department of Health to establish policies and procedures" for inspections related to complaints or licensing and allows "warrantless searches of abortion providers," Mason Pieklo writes, while the last provision "establishes broad criminal and civil penalties as well as civil liability for violation of a broad swath of abortion statutes." Mason Pieklo writes that CRR's lawsuit is the "seventh time in five years" that the organization has challenged abortion restrictions in Oklahoma. She notes that the state Supreme Court last year "temporarily blocked" a "Texas-style clinic shutdown law" (SB 1848), while a state court "permanently blocked ... restrictions [HB 2684] on medication abortion last month" (Mason Pieklo, RH Reality Check, 9/25).
What others are saying about abortion restrictions:
~ "Is Public Debate on Abortion Pointless?" s.e. smith, Care2.
ANTIABORTION-RIGHTS MOVEMENT: "Under Pressure From Anti-Choice Lawmakers, University of Missouri Ends Admitting Privilege," Teddy Wilson, RH Reality Check: "The University of Missouri, capitulating to political pressure from anti-choice Republican state lawmakers, will discontinue hospital privileges for a physician who in July allowed the Planned Parenthood clinic in Columbia, Missouri to be licensed by the state to resume abortions," Wilson writes. Wilson explains, "State law requires that a physician have admitting privileges at a hospital that offers" ob-gyn services, and the hospital must be "located within 30 miles of the facility in which the abortion services are being performed." According to Wilson, MU Health Care in December granted "Colleen McNicholas, a physician at the Columbia Planned Parenthood clinic," another type of privilege called "'refer and follow privileges,'" which allowed the clinic "to apply for renewal of the license to offer abortion services." However, Wilson notes that executives at MU Health Care now have "voted unanimously to discontinue 'refer and follow'" privileges categorically beginning Dec. 1. Laura McQuade, CEO and president of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, said, "'MU Health Care's decision puts politics above patients and is also a violation of longstanding federal law that prohibits discrimination in the extension of staff or other hospital privileges based on opposition to abortion'" (Wilson, RH Reality Check, 9/28).
What others are saying about the antiabortion-rights movement:
~ "The 5 Biggest Lies You've Been Told About Planned Parenthood," Chris Ostendorf, The Daily Dot/Salon.
~ "There Are Thousands of Clinics That Could Replace Planned Parenthood, Right? Nope." Becca Andrews, Mother Jones.
CRIMINALIZING PREGNANCY: "Alabama's Chemical Endangerment Laws: Where the War on Drugs Meets the War on Women," Katherine Koster, Huffington Post blogs: Citing ProPublica's investigation of child chemical endangerment laws in Alabama, Koster notes that while "[t]he criminalization of drug use during pregnancy as 'fetal endangerment' is not a new revelation ... the extent to which pregnant women are being criminalized for drug use is." According to Koster, "ProPublica found that 479 women have been charged for drug use during pregnancy under Alabama's Chemical Endangerment Act since 2006," nearly twice the number of women charged under fetal endangerment laws nationally. Further, the investigation also "revealed class profiling, rampant inconsistency in how the law was applied between counties, and charges filed against women using medication they were prescribed." Koster writes, "While seemingly a fringe issue, the criminalization of drug use during pregnancy is an important intersection -- where the war on women meets the war on drugs." She explains that "laws that extend child neglect and abuse laws to 'fetal endangerment' are a serious affront to Roe v. Wade." Meanwhile, "drug screenings without patient knowledge or consent have turned prenatal care (especially in inner-city and low-income clinics) into a kind of 'stop-and-frisk' checkpoint for legal and illicit substances in pregnant women's blood and urine -- something that not only violates medical ethics but also prevents pregnant women who use drugs from seeking medical care," she writes (Koster, Huffington Post blogs, 9/25).
RELIGION: "One Women's Rights Supporter Points Out What We Can't Forget About Pope Francis," Kylie Cheung, Bustle: "On Friday, Alexander Sanger, a board member of the International Planned Parenthood/Western Hemisphere Region and grandson of Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger, shared an important criticism of Pope Francis' perspective on abortion rights and family planning," saying Pope Francis "'has taken a back seat when it comes to reproductive health and women's rights,'" Cheung writes. According to Cheung, "Pope Francis' understanding of the role of contraceptives and abortions is no longer an accurate reflection of the modern lifestyles of the female members of his Church," and, "[a]s Sanger pointed out, the Pope should acknowledge this, and also be more receptive to the changing values and needs of women around the world." Cheung explains that "Pope Francis himself has criticized the Church's '(obsession)' with the issue of abortion, and taken progressive stances that are refreshing with the religious right increasingly propagating extremist ideas in America," but "as he continues to use his powerful influence in American politics to advance the idea that abortion and family planning are sins or simply fails to discuss women's rights at all, he can hardly be viewed as an ally to women." She writes, "Sanger's message is critical as it reminds everyone, not only the Pope and the Church, that we should listen to modern women and their needs before dismissing them in favor of arguably outdated interpretations of Scripture" (Cheung, Bustle, 9/28).
What others are saying about religion:
~ "The Pastoral Is the Political: Let's Stop Hyde-ing," Harry Knox, Religion Dispatches' "RD Blog."
ABORTION-RIGHTS MOVEMENT: "Today, We Fight Back," Cecile Richards, Huffington Post blogs: "Today is National Pink Out Day, when millions of people will stand up to support Planned Parenthood and fight back against baseless attacks on reproductive health care," writes Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Planned Parenthood Action Fund and Planned Parenthood Votes. According to Richards, Planned Parenthood supporters today will "attend one of the nearly 300 rallies and events happening across the country ... wear pink clothes to work or change their Facebook or Twitter profile image" or might "get free sexually transmitted infection testing that Planned Parenthood is offering in 28 cities." She explains, "All of them have the same message: We know exactly what Planned Parenthood does for millions of people in this country, we will not let those committed to ending abortion access in this country use fraud and deception to cut millions of people off from high-quality preventive care, and we will not stand for this relentless assault on reproductive health care." Richards adds, "It's a message I'll be delivering on Capitol Hill, when I testify this morning in front of one of four committees officially investigating Planned Parenthood." Richards outlines several talking points for Planned Parenthood supporters, including that the continually growing organization "is fully focused on providing health care and sex education"; that the latest campaign against Planned Parenthood is not "new -- and [it's] totally false"; that the campaign "is really part of an extreme political agenda to ban abortion and deny patients the ability to go to Planned Parenthood"; that polls show that U.S. residents "overwhelmingly suppor[t] Planned Parenthood and oppos[e] this extreme agenda"; and that "[t]his fight is about women, men, and young people across this country whose access to health care is at stake" (Richards, Huffington Post blogs, 9/29).
What others are saying about the abortion-rights movement:
~ "#ShoutYourAbortion Rejects Stigma," Mindy Townsend, Care2.
~ "Woman's Response To Defunding Planned Parenthood Is Incredibly Powerful," Lara Rutherford-Morrison, Bustle.
GLOBAL ISSUES: "Illegal Abortion Is a Maternal Health Crisis," Christine Charbonneau, RH Reality Check: On Sept. 28, "the Global Day of Action for Access to Safe and Legal Abortion, we at Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands (PPGNHI) are reminded that legal abortion is critical to improving maternal health and reducing maternal mortality around the world," writes PPGNHI's Christine Charbonneau. She explains, "Unsafe abortion is a maternal health crisis in countries where abortion is illegal or difficult to access, leading to 47,000 preventable deaths each year, according to the World Health Organization." Charbonneau cites Guttmacher Institute data that show "there are 85 million unintended pregnancies globally" every year, and in areas "where abortion is illegal, women without resources risk unsafe [abortion] methods" that "lead to ... eight maternal deaths every hour." She adds, "Millions of women who survive these unsafe procedures suffer serious -- if not permanent -- injuries." Further, Charbonneau points to Guttmacher research that shows "unsafe abortion reduces women's productivity, increasing economic burdens for poor families; causes maternal deaths that leave 220,000 children motherless annually; and creates long-term health problems." However, "[r]ecent changes in abortion laws in several countries have irrefutably demonstrated that access to legal abortion improves health outcomes," Charbonneau states, noting that "Nepal has nearly halved its maternal mortality ratio" since the country legalized abortion and that the number of abortion-related deaths per year in South Africa dropped 91% "after abortion laws were liberalized in 1997." Charbonneau concludes by citing PPGNHI's co-sponsorship of the upcoming Human Right to Family Planning Conference, from Oct. 9 to Oct. 11, which "will explore the relationship between the right to health and family planning, including abortion, and improving universal access -- globally and locally" (Charbonneau, RH Reality Check, 9/28).
What others are saying about global issues:
~ "Australian Women Can Get the Abortion Pill Via Phone Call Now, but Could That Ever Happen in the United States?" Liz Posner, Bustle.