October 2, 2015 — Read the week's best commentary from bloggers at RH Reality Check, Slate's "XX Factor" and more.
HYDE AMENDMENT: "The Hyde Amendment and Beyond: The Conservative Attack on Reproductive Health Care That Just Won't Quit," Jessica Mason Pieklo, RH Reality Check: "This week marks the 39th anniversary of the Hyde Amendment, the federal appropriations ban on Medicaid reimbursement for most abortions," Mason Pieklo writes. She adds, "This summer will also mark the 35th anniversary of Harris v. McRae, the Supreme Court decision that ruled the Hyde Amendment's restrictions constitutional, enshrining into law the idea that it is completely permissible for Congress to discriminate against poor people when it comes to reproductive health-care access." Mason Pieklo explains that in order to rule that the Hyde Amendment was constitutional, the high court "advanced what has become a familiar mantra in opposition to reproductive rights: Just because a federal right to abortion exists doesn't mean the government is obligated to pay for it." According to Mason Pieklo, this argument is "an inherently dishonest way to think of how our fundamental rights work -- one that depends on ignoring the realities of structural inequality." Mason Pieklo contextualizes the Hyde Amendment among other antiabortion-rights efforts, including a recently proposed bill (HR 3495) that "would allow states to exclude providers from Medicaid based on ideology like a moral or religious objection to contraception and abortion, or a declaration that a fertilized egg is a person." She writes, "HR 3495, by granting states the power to discriminate against health-care providers based on ideology, could do to contraceptive services under Medicaid what Hobby Lobby did for contraception coverage in the private sector: subject the right to access it to conservative veto," essentially ending "reproductive health care grounded in science ... for poor women" (Mason Pieklo, RH Reality Check, 9/30).
What others are saying about the Hyde Amendment:
~ "Who the Hyde Amendment Really Hurts," Atima Omara, Huffington Post blogs.
ANTIABORTION-RIGHTS MOVEMENT: "The Planned Parenthood Hearing Shows How Out of Step Republicans Are With America," Amanda Marcotte, Slate's "XX Factor": The congressional hearing on Tuesday targeting Planned Parenthood might give "the impression that there's some kind of national uprising against the existence of affordable women's health care," Marcotte writes. According to Marcotte, conservative lawmakers during the hearing "repeatedly excoriated" Planned Parenthood and provided "a laundry list of things that [conservatives] felt should be funded instead of low-cost birth control and [sexually transmitted infection] treatment." She writes, "The message was clear: Taxpayer-funded gynecological care is an illegitimate use of government funding." However, "[i]n the real world, affordable gynecological care is mainstream and even virtuous, although (gasp) it allows women to have sex with fewer risks to their health," she writes, citing research showing that the majority of U.S. residents support Planned Parenthood. According to Marcotte, "Tuesday's hearings were a confirmation that the attacks on Planned Parenthood are a proxy for the larger religious-right movement to reverse the sexual revolution brought to Americans by feminism and reliable contraception," but these attacks are not "dissuading [the public] from their enthusiasm for affordable contraception that makes stress-free recreational sex possible." While conservatives "might make some gains, defunding women's health services here and there and sneaking abstinence-only programs back into some schools ... the larger culture war over sex" is one conservatives "lost long ago," she writes (Marcotte, "XX Factor," Slate, 9/30).
What others are saying about the antiabortion-rights movement:
~ "Watch: Seth Meyers Fact-Checks That Chart at the Planned Parenthood Hearing," Maya Dusenbery, Feministing.
~ "WATCH: Every Single Time a Republican Interrupted the President of Planned Parenthood Today," Sam Reichman/Jessica Winter, Slate's "XX Factor."
~ "Sorry, House GOP, but Planned Parenthood's Cecile Richards Makes an Average Salary," Christina Cauterucci, Slate's "XX Factor."
~ "Planned Parenthood Doesn't Need 'Other Services' For Its Existence To Be Justified," Elizabeth King, Bustle.
~ "Why I Stand With Planned Parenthood," Anna Waletzko, Huffington Post blogs.
~ "Reminder: The GOP Crusade Against Planned Parenthood Is Built on Outright Lies," Bob Cesca, Salon.
~ "Planned Parenthood's Activities Are Completely Legal, And Republicans Are Proving It," Tara Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress."
ACCESS TO CARE: " Fighting for Emergency Care for Pregnant Women at Catholic Hospitals," Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, American Civil Liberties Union's "Speak Freely": On Thursday, the American Civil Liberties Union "announced a lawsuit against one of the nation's largest Catholic health care systems, for imposing religious rules on its staff that prevent doctors from performing an abortion in emergency cases involving miscarriage or other pregnancy complications -- even when a woman's life is at risk," Kolbi-Molinas writes. According to Kolbi-Molinas, Trinity Health Corporation runs more than 80 hospitals nationwide and requires them to "abide by the Ethical and Religious Directives," which "prohibit a doctor working at a Catholic hospital from terminating a woman's pregnancy even when the failure to do so puts her health or life at risk." She adds, "These directives are written by Catholic bishops, not licensed medical professionals, and should not dictate how doctors practice medicine, especially when it violates federal law." Kolbi-Molinas explains that at one of Trinity's hospitals in Michigan, "at least five women who were suffering from miscarriages" were denied emergency abortions in violation of the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act, which requires providers to give "pregnant women appropriate emergency care, including an abortion when the circumstances warrant." She writes, "As U.S. hospitals become increasingly affiliated with religious organizations, the health of American women is threatened by the refusal to provide medically appropriate and often times lifesaving services," adding, "Legally and morally, saving a woman's life and health must be every hospital's first priority" (Kolbi-Molinas, "Speak Freely," American Civil Liberties Union, 10/1).
What others are saying about access to care:
~ "Badass Young Women with Disabilities Create Sexual Health Guide," Verónica Bayetti Flores, Feministing.
~ "Why Reproductive Health Can Be a Special Struggle For Women With Disabilities," Alex Zielinski, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress."
~ "Jersey City Becomes First City in New Jersey to Offer Trans-Inclusive Health Benefits," Barbra Siperstein, Huffington Post blogs.
CONTRACEPTION: "America's First Birth Control Clinic Opened a Century Ago, in Brooklyn," Ellen Freudenheim, Huffington Post blogs: "Nearly 100 years ago feminist and nurse Margaret Sanger opened the nation's first birth control clinic" and "from Sanger's activism, the movement that today is represented by Planned Parenthood emerged," Freudenheim writes. According to Freudenheim, authorities shut down Sanger's clinic after "just nine days" and arrested Sanger, who was "providing sex education and birth control information -- verbally, and to clients who came to the clinic of their own volition." Freudenheim explains that Sanger opened the clinic "to challenge the Victorian 'Comstock law,' a gag law" that "categorized information about abortion, family planning, and contraception as 'obscene' ... setting a precedent for suppression of birth control materials," which in turn "reinforced what we today call 'barriers to care.'" Freudenheim writes, "Sanger's insights are as fresh today as they were then: without reproductive rights, women have no shot at real freedom or gender equality in the workforce, politics, advancement or educational attainment." Freudenheim concludes by quoting Jean Baker, author of "Margaret Sanger: A Life of Passion," who said, "'The connection'" between Sanger's efforts in 1916 and lawmakers' current effort to defund Planned Parenthood "is government intrusion ... It speaks compellingly to the problem women have today: to establish birth control and abortion and abortion as, simply, women's rights" (Freudenheim, Huffington Post blogs, 9/30).
GLOBAL ISSUES: "The U.S. Steps Up for Women and Girls: Now What?" Serra Sippel, Huffington Post blogs: Sippel discusses several recent "breakthroughs" for women and girls in September, including the U.S. government's announcement "that it has officially adopted 'sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) and will refer to 'sexual rights.'" According to Sippel, this decision "is an expression of the U.S. government's support for the rights of individuals regardless of sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity" and also an "expression of the right of individuals to decide freely on matters related to sexuality and reproductive health." In addition, she writes that "the Obama administration announced new investments to dramatically reduce new HIV infections in women and girls aged 15-24 in sub-Saharan Africa." Further, Sippel notes that "the U.S. was among the 193 nations that ratified 17 new global goals ... including establishing a stand-alone goal to promote gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls." While praising these breakthroughs, Sippel also cites a new report -- coinciding with the "20th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women and Girls held in Beijing, China" -- that "examines gaps in the U.S. government's implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action" and "provides a roadmap for how the U.S. can further the advancement of women's rights overseas and at home." She lists several areas for improvement in the U.S. and abroad, including ending the shackling of pregnant women, increasing access to publicly funded family planning services and ending "forced marriage and female genital cutting," among other goals (Sippel, Huffington Post blogs, 10/1).