October 9, 2015 — Read the week's best commentaries from bloggers at xoJane/Huffington Post blogs, the National Organization for Women's "Say It Sister!" and more.
ABORTION-RIGHTS MOVEMENT: "This Is What It's Really Like To Have a Late-Term Abortion," Lindsey Averill, xoJane/Huffington Post blogs: "As #shoutyourabortion trends on social media, encouraging women to shed their shame over having chosen abortion, I have my own story to tell," writes Averill. She shares the story of an abortion she had at 21 weeks of pregnancy, after the fetus was diagnosed with severe fetal anomalies. Averill writes that obtaining an abortion at past twenty weeks in South Florida can be difficult because she could not find a hospital in Florida that would provide abortion later in pregnancy and, "[d]evastated and heartbroken" by the news, she "couldn't imaging crossing a picket line and hearing people scream hate at" her if she visited a clinic. She writes, "I am lucky. I have the money to afford choices and people I could call ... Within twenty-four hours, I had an appointment to begin the procedure at 1pm six days later at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York, and a plane ticket to get there." Noting that she used to be "wishy-washy about late-term abortion," Averill writes, "I [now] will forever be a voice willing to fight for why late-term abortions must remain legal." She concludes, "The option for a safe late-term abortion was a blessing for me. I feel no shame about the choice I made and I would never make a different choice, not in a million years" (Averill, xoJane/Huffington Post blogs, 10/8).
What others are saying about the abortion-rights movement:
~ "Here's Why 11 Men Stand With Planned Parenthood, Because The War Against The Nonprofit Affects Everybody," Lauren Holter, Bustle.
~ "Pro-Choice Ohio Lawmakers Hit Back Against GOP Abortion Restrictions," Teddy Wilson, RH Reality Check.
ANTIABORTION-RIGHTS MOVEMENT: "Why the Attacks on Planned Parenthood Keep Failing," Terry O'Neill, National Organization for Women's "Say It Sister!": Despite conservative lawmakers' ongoing attacks on Planned Parenthood, the organization "is not going down" and likely "will be both better understood and more admired over the coming months," O'Neill, president of the National Organization for Women, writes. She notes, "It's already starting: a new poll shows not only Planned Parenthood enjoying widespread and deep support, but also politicians who support the organization," such as Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. O'Neill writes that conservative lawmakers' efforts are aimed not only at "smear[ing] Planned Parenthood, but sham[ing] women who terminate their pregnancies." Citing RH Reality Check, she explains that this "smear-and-shame campaign includes 'developing pseudoscience and making false claims, thereby trying to influence public opinion and legislation for purposes not supported by science and antithetical to public health.'" For example, she notes that crisis pregnancy centers and some antiabortion-rights laws insinuate that abortion is linked to mental health problems. However, research has shown "that 95 percent of women who had abortions felt it was the right decision, both immediately and over 3 years," O'Neill writes, adding, "In other words, all the untold dollars spent over all these years, lying to us about our reproductive health in order to make us regret abortion? Failed." Listing other examples of failed conservative efforts to limit abortion access and contraception, O'Neill concludes, "The reason why attacking women's access to reproductive health care brings so much failure is actually pretty simple: it goes against the fundamental values of equality, mutual respect, and human rights that our country stands for" (O'Neill, "Say It Sister!" National Organization for Women, 10/06).
What others are saying about the antiabortion-rights movement:
~ "Defunding Planned Parenthood Would Endanger Americans," Caitlin Callahan, National Women's Law Center's "Womenstake."
~ "Dems: GOP Won't Give Us Full Planned Parenthood Attack Videos," Emily Crockett, RH Reality Check.
CRIMINALIZING PREGNANCY: "Alabama Hospitals Are Quietly Drug Testing New Mothers -- Without Their Consent," Nina Martin/Amy Yurkanin, AL.com/Salon: "In Alabama, a positive drug test can have dire repercussions for pregnant women and new mothers," but "the hospitals that administer those drugs tests ... are exceedingly reluctant to disclose their policies to the public" or to patients, Martin and Yurkanin write, citing an ProPublica/AL.com investigation. According to the authors, "ProPublica and AL.com began investigating hospital drug-testing policies as part of an investigation into Alabama's chemical endangerment law, the country's toughest law targeting drug use in pregnancy." They write, "Since 2006, the law has been used to charge nearly 500 women with endangering their [fetuses]" and, "[i]n many cases, law enforcement officials cited hospital-administered drug tests as probable cause for arrest." According to Martin and Yurkanin, "Forty-two of the 49 hospitals that deliver babies in Alabama declined to answer an AL.com/ProPublica questionnaire about testing policies," and "[o]f the seven that did respond, three provided only partial information." Meanwhile, "[i]n six consent forms obtained from patients and a handful of hospitals ... drug testing is specifically mentioned in only two" and "[n]one indicate that positive results can trigger arrest and prosecution under the Alabama chemical endangerment statute," the authors write. Further, 56 "of the 110 women who responded to the reader survey said they had no idea whether they'd been drug tested." Outlining the legal background behind the drug testing of pregnant women and infants, the authors cite Sara Ainsworth, director of legal advocacy for the National Advocates for Pregnant Women, who said that hospitals' failure to inform "their patients about what their drug-testing policies are, particularly when those results are used to involve law enforcement in their patients' lives, that is an unconstitutional act" (Martin/Yurkanin, AL.com/Salon, 10/7).
What others are saying about criminalizing pregnancy:
~ "These Salvadoran Women Went to Prison for Suffering Miscarriages," Margaret Knapke, The Nation.
RELIGION: "Why a Group of Clergy Are Blessing an Abortion Clinic," Alex Zielinski, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": Zielinski writes about the Rev. Laura Young and other religious leaders, who on Thursday "bless[ed] Preterm, a local abortion clinic in Cleveland, Ohio," where abortion rights are "especially threatened," Zielinski writes. Zielinski explains that the group of religious leaders "hopes their blessing will protect the facility against the kind of abuse stemming from preachy protesters, as well as encourage the strength and bravery of those providing and relying on its services," and they hope to bless clinics in other states. Zielinski notes that while "Christianity has been predominantly used as a tool to discredit pro-choice arguments ... a growing number of religious leaders and organizations have been diligently advocating for women's health care -- especially when it comes to access to abortion." For example, Zielinski writes that "more than 50 faith-based organizations signed a letter urging the Senate to preserve Planned Parenthood's federal funding" after misleading videos targeting the organization were released this summer. According to Zielinski, "Young also spends her time answering calls on an 'all-options' counseling hotline run by clergy members," which "is jud[g]ment-free," as opposed to "other religious organizations that use the guise of counseling to discourage women from getting an abortion" (Zielinski, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 10/8).
What others are saying about religion:
~ "Holding Out For a Hero? Don't Count on Pope Francis," Oliva Kuncio, Huffington Post blogs.
PREGNANT WOMEN'S RIGHTS: "Shackling of Pregnant Prisoners Could Soon End in New York," Zoe Greenberg, RH Reality Check: "A bill [A 6430] that would end the practice of shackling incarcerated pregnant women in New York is making its way to the governor's desk, after receiving overwhelming support in the state assembly and senate," Greenberg writes. She explains that while the state "in 2009 passed a law banning the use of shackles on incarcerated women during labor, delivery, and recovery" -- a practice also "widely denounced by the medical community" -- "there have been widespread violations of the ban across New York" since the law's enactment. According to Greenberg, 23 of the 27 women who "gave birth while in state corrections custody in the five years after the ban was passed ... were shackled in violation of the law." Further, she notes, "The shackling of pregnant women in prison is legal in 28 states." Greenberg explains that the new bill "expands the protections granted in the 2009 law, extending the ban on shackling to include the entire pregnancy as well as an eight-week postpartum period." In addition, the bill "requires corrections officials to report any instances of shackling to the governor and state legislature each year" and "prohibits correctional staff from being in the delivery room during birth" (Greenberg, RH Reality Check, 10/8).