December 1, 2015 — Read the week's best commentary from bloggers at Slates' "Medical Examiner," the American Constitution Society blog and more.
CLINIC VIOLENCE: "Anti-Abortion Terrorism Must Be Stopped," Jennifer Conti, Slate's "Medical Examiner": "As news continues to unfold about Friday's Planned Parenthood shooting in Colorado Springs, one thing is clear: Domestic terrorism remains unchecked," Conti, a physician, writes. She notes, "In 2015 alone, there has been unprecedented harassment from anti-choice extremists, including most recently, a series of slanderous manipulated videos used to attack Planned Parenthood's fetal tissue donation programs." She notes, "When women are too scared to seek medical care for fear of being shot on the way to clinic, we are in crisis mode. This is beyond bullying and this is no longer simply a politicizing issue ... How far does this have to play out before we can stop pretending that abortion care is not real health care?" According to Conti, "Since 1977, there have been eight murders, 17 attempted murders, 42 bombings, 186 arsons, and thousands of incidents of criminal activity associated with U.S. abortion clinics ... not includ[ing] what happened in Colorado Springs." She continues, "As a physician, I worry about patients. I worry that women will be too scared or intimidated to seek the medical care they deserve and need. I also worry about the men and women who work daily to maintain access to reproductive health care: clinic staff, legislators, advocates." Noting that "the point of terrorism" is "to incite fear and paralysis," she writes that the "solution is strength and bravery in numbers, and it's a more accurate depiction of abortion in the media," as well as "government accountability." Conti concludes, "Anti-choice terrorism can be stopped. When it's recognized for what it truly is, and when preventing it is given enough support on both sides of the aisle, this can be stopped" (Conti, "Medical Examiner," Slate, 11/28).
What others are saying about clinic violence:
~ "Sorry, Conservatives, but There Is Nothing Surprising About Anti-Choice Terrorism," Amanda Marcotte, Salon.
~ "None of This Is Normal," Maya Dusenbery, Feministing.
~ "Candidates Finally Comment On Shooting, Continue False Attacks on Planned Parenthood," Katie Valentine, Center for American Progress' ThinkProgress.
~ "The Link Between Anti-Abortion Rhetoric and the Planned Parenthood Attack," Michelle Goldberg, Slates' "DoubleX."
~ "How the Phony Planned Parenthood Videos Degraded the Abortion Debate," Joan Walsh, The Nation.
ABORTION RESTRICTIONS: "Whole Woman's Health v. Cole and the Future of Abortion Rights," B. Jessie Hill, American Constitution Society blog: The case "Whole Woman's Health v. Cole, which will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court this [t]erm ... may well be the most significant abortion case in 24 years," Hill writes. She explains that since "establish[ing] the 'undue burden' standard for evaluating the constitutionality of abortion restrictions in 1992 in Planned Parenthood v. Casey ... the Supreme Court has largely declined to speak further on the meaning or scope of the undue burden standard." Hill notes that the "vagueness of that standard ... opened the door for states to continually pass new and ever more restrictive regulations on abortion," including "a new kind of restriction -- restrictions adopted in the name of protecting women's health but really aimed at reducing access to abortion." According to Hill, the Supreme Court in Whole Women's Health "will decide the constitutionality of a Texas law [HB 2] that imposes onerous requirements on abortion providers -- namely, that doctors providing abortions have admitting privileges at a local hospital and that abortion clinics conform to the requirements for 'ambulatory surgical centers.'" Hill writes that the legal challenge "presents essentially two fundamental questions regarding the 'undue burden' standard. First, is the sweeping impact on abortion access in Texas itself enough to constitute an 'undue burden,'" and "second, if the impact of the law alone is not enough, does the law constitute an undue burden because it imposes obstacles to obtaining an abortion without serving any real or legitimate state interest?" She concludes, "If the undue burden standard is to mean anything, surely it means the state cannot shut down clinics for essentially no reason at all," adding, "If the Casey standard is going to stay around for another couple of decades, the Court must vindicate it in this case" (Hill, American Constitution Society blog, 11/25).
What others are saying about abortion restrictions:
~ "Will Pseudoscience Undo Roe v. Wade?" Jay Michaelson, Daily Beast.
~ "As SCOTUS Steps Into Fight Over Clinic Closure Laws, Another Appeals Court Rules They Should Be Blocked," Jessica Mason Pieklo, RH Reality Check.
GLOBAL ISSUES: "Doctors Agree: Ireland Banning Abortion Is Endangering Women," Steve Williams, Care2: "An open letter signed by 838 doctors and health specialists from 44 countries calls on governments to stop preventing health professionals [from] providing women the health care they need" and "tell[s] lawmakers that abortion bans are putting young women and adults' lives at risk," Williams writes. Williams writes that the "letter has taken on special significance for campaigners in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland." He explains that "Northern Ireland has the harshest criminal penalties in Europe for midwives or healthcare providers who facilitate an abortion," while the "Republic of Ireland also has a ban on abortion that offers few exceptions." Williams adds that "Ireland is the only European country to have a ban on abortion written into its constitution and so actual access is perhaps even more difficult and most women, unless they are literally looking at fatal complications due to their pregnancy, will be denied care." He writes, "There is extra significance in the timing of this letter too," noting that "Northern Ireland Health Minister Simon Hamilton has faced heavy lobbying from so-called pro-life groups to resist calls to clarify abortion laws that, they fear, would lead to greater exemptions." According to Williams, "The guidance won't legalize abortion, but it could prove to be one step along the road to recognizing women have the right to decide what they do with their own bodies." He writes that in the meantime, "the ongoing legal situation in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland may serve as an example of how disingenuous anti-abortion groups are being when they say restricting abortion will not lead to women being sent to prison," noting that "prosecutions have already happened in the United States, despite abortion being legal" (Williams, Care2, 11/29).
What others are saying about global issues:
~ "Pope Francis Should End the Ban on Condoms," Justin Lynch, Slate's "Medical Examiner."
ABORTION IN THE MEDIA: "Hollywood Adopts Abortion," Melissa Grant, Huffington Post blogs: Grant, vice president of the abortion provider carafem, writes on the significance of an abortion being performed on the ABC drama "Scandal," noting that the realistic depiction of the procedure "is a step in the right direction in terms of changing the dialogue" about abortion. She explains, "Scandal took the biggest leap in recent history by featuring a one-minute abortion procedure involving [protagonist] Olivia Pope ... which marked the first time since Roe vs. Wade was passed in 1973 that a main female TV character underwent the procedure." Grant notes that the scene "was not all that dramatic, which is the exact point we are trying to make about abortion." She writes, "One out of three American women will undergo an abortion during their lifetime. It is a more common procedure than the current dialogue would lead you to believe." She suggests that people "watch the actual clip ... from Scandal, and then think hard before ... say[ing] something insensitive, ignorant or political about abortion the next time [they] are in the company of three, or more women." Grant writes about her own experience of founding carafem with Christopher Purdy, who "traveled the world and studied how abortions were handled in other countries" before coming to the conclusion that to improve abortion care in the U.S., "the dialogue about abortion needs to continue to change." She concludes, "[N]ow Hollywood is helping us change the dialogue" (Grant, Huffington Post blogs, 11/27).
What others are saying about abortion in the media:
~ "Anyone who Opposes Abortion for Rape Survivors Should Watch This Jessica Jones Scene," Christina Cauterucci, Slate's "XX Factor."