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Blogs Comment on Threats to Abortion Providers, 'Criminalizing Surrogate Pregnancy,' More

Blogs Comment on Threats to Abortion Providers, 'Criminalizing Surrogate Pregnancy,' More

February 11, 2014 —We've compiled some of the most thought-provoking commentaries from around the Web. Catch up on the conversation with bloggers from "ThinkProgress," RH Reality Check and more.

ABORTION ACCESS: "Working as an Abortion Doctor in the Town Where Dr. Tiller Got Shot," Robin Marty, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": "Last April, [Cheryl] Chastine was identified as one of the new abortion providers who would be working at South Wind Women's [Center], the newly opened reproductive health care center that stood in the place of Dr. George Tiller's former clinic," Marty writes. Within months, Chastine had to part ways from her private practice in Oak Park, Ill., which had been forced to change locations because of protesters, Marty notes, adding that Chastine in September received a letter from the wife of the founder of the Pro-Life Action League, which the doctor described "as an announcement: We know where you live. You're not safe anywhere." However, Marty writes that in its efforts to "convince her to stop providing abortions," Pro-Life Action League has "had the opposite effect," making South Wind Chastine's "number one priority" and strengthening her commitment to the cause (Marty, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 2/7).

What others are saying about abortion access:

~ "BREAKING: South Dakota Bill a 'Backdoor' Attempt To Ban Abortions Near 20 Weeks," Teddy Wilson, RH Reality Check.

~ "Anti-Cloning Law Would Allow Healthcare Providers To Deny Reproductive Care," Crystal Shepeard, Care2.

SEXISM: "5 Ways Our Society Unfairly Punishes Women For Their Sexuality," Tara Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": "'[P]urity culture' -- essentially, the assumption that women need to remain chaste, and present an image of modesty to the outside world -- is deeply ingrained in American society," Culp-Ressler writes, noting that this "approach to female sexuality has far-reaching consequences." For example, women who work at private religious institutions "are more likely to get fired for having sex outside of marriage" than their male colleagues and "[w]omen's access to basic health care services is consistently called into question," she writes, adding that "[y]oung women are blamed for our teen pregnancy rate" and the onus for "avoiding men's gaze[s]" is placed on women and tied to the way they dress. "Our societal assumptions about women's purity and chastity are directly related to rape culture," which she concludes is "evident every time a rape victim attempts to come forward and is met with blame and harassment instead of support and trust" (Culp-Ressler, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 2/10).

PREGNANCY: "Worlds, and Wombs, Collide in Kansas Bill Criminalizing Surrogate Pregnancy Contracts," Patricia Williams, The Nation: "In late January, Kansas State Senator Mary Pilcher-Cook [R] introduced a bill that would have criminalized the use of surrogate contracts in pregnancy and imposed a $10,000 fine and up to a year in jail for anyone participating in such a transaction," Williams writes. She notes, "If the bill hadn't been body-slammed into the dust by some of the sillier statements of its chief proponent ... the discussion might have garnered more attention." She argues, "[T]o try to criminalize surrogacy is a bit like trying to criminalize contraception or abortion, in that it comes too close to criminalizing sexuality, libido, intimacy," concluding that "we should resist that first gesture toward criminalizing all who do not adhere to the way things have always been" (Williams, The Nation, 2/5).

What others are saying about pregnancy:

~ "Misconceiving Reproduction," Nanette Fondas, Ms. Magazine blog.

~ "Maternal Age and Congenital Anomalies," Margaret Polaneczky, The Blog That Ate Manhattan.

WORKPLACE POLICIES: "What AOL's CEO Got Right About Childbirth in America," Igor Volsky, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": Although AOL's CEO was widely criticized last week for blaming changes to the company's employee benefits on health care costs for two employees' "distressed babies," Volsky writes that the controversy helps shed light on how "[e]xpensive pregnancy and child care has become a national crisis." Volsky notes, "America spends the most on childbirth but experiences some of the worst outcomes," adding that "the U.S. ranks last out of 130 industrialized nations in the world for rate of preterm birth ... and lag[s] far behind other wealthy nations in other indicators of maternal health." Volsky says the Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148) "may actually reduce the overall price tag of premature births by providing more women with access to preventive and maternity care, as well as by increasing access to contraception coverage to avoid unwanted pregnancies in the first place" (Volsky, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 2/10).

What others are saying about workplace policies:

~ "We <3 NYC for Protecting Pregnant Workers," Lindsey O'Brien, Ms. Magazine blog.

~ "Unequal Enforcement of 'Morality Clauses' Scrutinized After Catholic School Fires Teacher for Becoming Pregnant," Katie McDonough, Salon.

CONTRACEPTION: "3 Ridiculous (But Very Real) Attacks on Birth Control," Marty, Care2: Although opponents of contraceptive coverage claim that "[i]t's not birth control they oppose, ... it's just having to pay for it," Marty writes that "[t]he reality is, lawmakers, egged on by anti-choice constituents and religious leaders, want to end birth control access, and they'll use any ploy they can think of." She cites three examples from state and national politics that show how some conservatives support restricting access to contraception, often by tying it to abortion (Marty, Care2, 2/8).

What others are saying about contraception:

~ "New York Times Publishes Discredited Arguments About Emergency Contraception," Jodi Jacobson, RH Reality Check.

~ "America's Plan B Problem: The Contraception Misinformation Epidemic," Laura Kiesel, Salon.

~ "Yes, Birth Control Can Raise Risk of Blood Clots; So Does Pregnancy," Lisa Aliferis, California Report's "State of Health."