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Blogs Comment on Challenging Maine's Medicaid Abortion Coverage Ban, Need To Update Clinic Protection Laws, More

Blogs Comment on Challenging Maine's Medicaid Abortion Coverage Ban, Need To Update Clinic Protection Laws, More

December 11, 2015 — Read the week's best commentary from bloggers at American Civil Liberties Union's "Speak Freely," RH Reality Check and more.

ABORTION RESTRICTIONS: "Abortion Access -- No Matter How Much Money You Make," Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, American Civil Liberties Union's "Speak Freely": Kolbi-Molinas writes about ACLU's lawsuit against Maine's ban on Medicaid coverage for abortion care. According to Kolbi-Molinas, "32 states and the District of Columbia exclude abortion coverage from otherwise comprehensive benefits" in their Medicaid programs. Meanwhile, 17 states "provide abortion coverage in their existing Medicaid plans with state funds," and ACLU's latest lawsuit aims to make Maine the 18th state to provide such coverage. She writes, "[T]ime and again, we hear the (hollow) refrain -- 'no taxpayer funding for abortion' -- as if that somehow sets these bans apart from other laws designed to prevent a woman who has decided to have an abortion from having one, such as mandatory delay laws and sham laws that force clinics to shut down." According to Kolbi-Molinas, "Public insurance bans are government-imposed barriers to abortion access, the same as any other restriction that makes it difficult or impossible for women to obtain abortions." She concludes, "A woman has a right to make her own decision about whether to end a pregnancy without politicians withholding the resources she might need to make that decision -- like Medicaid funding, if she qualifies for it," and withholding such benefits "from the people who qualify for them and need them is dangerous and wrong" (Kolbi-Molinas, "Speak Freely," American Civil Liberties Union, 12/10).

What others are saying about abortion restrictions:

~ "State of The States: Abortion Access in 2015," Women's Law Project blog.

~ "Whole Woman's Health v. Cole: The Tightening Relationship Between Due Process and Equal Protection," Rachel Easter, National Women's Law Center/American Constitution Society blog.

CLINIC VIOLENCE: "Colorado Shooting Underscores Existing Laws Not Sufficient To Protect Abortion Providers," Jessica Mason Pieklo, RH Reality Check: The recent shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado demonstrates that "even with federal protections and the state-level policies that mirror them, we don't have the law enforcement tools to end a culture of anti-choice violence," Mason Pieklo writes. She explains that the uptick in abortion-rights violence in 1993 "sparked Congress to pass the Freedom of Access to Clinics (FACE) Act [PL 103-259] in 1994," which "makes it a federal crime to use force, the threat of force, or physical obstruction to prevent individuals from obtaining or providing reproductive health-care services" and "provides for civil remedies for blocking access to abortion facilities." According to Mason Pieklo, the FACE Act has "helped push back against the wave of violence that took place in the mid-1990s," but it does not clearly define what qualifies as a threat and its reach typically is determined by "the political will of whichever administration happens to be in place." Mason Pieklo outlines ways in which the response to clinic violence could be strengthened, such as if the federal government opts to charge the Colorado clinic shooter "with a FACE Act violation," or if the Department of Justice begins "to treat the targeting of abortion providers as acts of domestic terrorism." Meanwhile, she notes that the lack of a "uniform method for [federal] agencies to address" antiabortion-rights violence, coupled with a lack of guidance from federal courts, "means Colorado Springs presents an opportunity to provide additional protections for patients and providers: a kind of FACE Act reboot." However, she writes that bolstering the FACE Act could be difficult given the current political environment, which tosses "reproductive rights advocates ... between conservative legislative and elective vitriol that results in mass clinic closures, Supreme Court interference, and outright fatal violence." She concludes, "Right now, the only course of action is for abortion providers and patients to try and weather that storm. But as Colorado Springs made clear, that is a fatal demand we have no moral right to make" (Mason Pieklo, RH Reality Check, 12/8).

What others are saying about clinic violence:

~ "The One Detail About Robert Lewis Dear That Nobody Is Talking About (And Really Should Be)," Josephine Yurcaba, Bustle.

SEXUALITY EDUCATION: "Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards Discusses Sex Education," Cecile Richards, Quora/Huffington Post blogs: Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Planned Parenthood Action Fund, answers several questions about sexuality education posed during a "These Questions" session on the knowledge-sharing network Quora. Richards writes that sexuality education should begin in elementary school, explaining "that 'sex ed' [does not] refe[r] only to talking or teaching about sexual behavior," but rather "is an important way children and teens can learn positive, healthy interpersonal relationship and communication skills." She notes, "Sex ed is about giving young people accurate information and the resources and skills they need to make responsible decisions and stay healthy -- there's no age limit on that." Richards also describes what she believes the "ideal sex education system [would] look like." She explains that "well-designed and well-implemented sex education programs ... can decrease sexual risk behaviors among teens, including delaying sexual intercourse, increasing condom and birth control use, and reducing the number of sexual partners and frequency of sex." She writes, "Ideally, sex education would be taught each year in schools from kindergarten through 12th grade -- it would be medically accurate, nonjudgmental, LGBTQ-inclusive, and -- like all school subjects -- would teach information and skills that are age-appropriate, reflect best educational practices, and build on students' learning each year" (Richards, Quora/Huffington Post blogs, 12/9).

What others are saying about sexuality education:

~ "CDC Gives U.S. an F for Sex Ed," Samantha Allen, Daily Beast.