February 7, 2014 — We've compiled some of the most thought-provoking commentaries from around the Web. Catch up on the conversation with bloggers from RH Reality Check, National Women's Law Center and more.
WORKPLACE POLICIES: "It's Time For Paid Family and Medical Leave To Empower Working Women and Modernize the Workplace," Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Huffington Post blogs: A lot has changed in the American workplace since the Family and Medical Leave Act (PL 103-3) was enacted 21 years ago, Gillibrand writes, which is why she and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) have introduced the Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act (S 1810, HR 3712) to "modernize the workplace and finally implement Paid Family & Medical Leave for every U.S. worker." She adds, "The FAMILY Act is a commonsense measure whose time has come to modernize the workplace to reflect the changing face of the American family, so that finally, we can relegate having to make the choice between earning a paycheck and caring for a loved one to the dustbin of history where it belongs, a relic of a 'Mad Men' era gone by" (Gillibrand, Huffington Post blogs, 2/5).
What others are saying about workplace policies:
~ "Philadelphia Tightens Pregnancy Discrimination Laws," Tara Murtha, RH Reality Check.
~ "Fair Treatment One Step Closer for Pregnant Workers in West Virginia," Emily Werth, National Women's Law Center's "Womenstake."
~ "AOL Chairman Slashes 401K Benefits, Blames Two Women Who Gave Birth to Sick Babies," Igor Volsky, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress."
ABORTION RATE: "Why Anti-Choicers Can't Take Credit for the Falling Abortion Rate," Amelia Thomson-Deveaux, American Prospect: The decline in the U.S. abortion rate, documented in a Guttmacher Institute study earlier this week, occurred "in spite of anti-choice sentiment, not because of it," Thomson-Deveaux argues. She notes that birth rates fell along with abortion rates, suggesting that "[f]ewer women were seeking abortion because they weren't getting pregnant in the first place." The recession and "the resurgence of long-term contraceptives like the [intrauterine device]" also contributed to the decline, she writes, adding, "Ironically, conservatives are now fighting tooth-and-nail to keep insurance companies from covering the IUD, which they claim causes abortion," while simultaneously passing state laws to restrict abortion access. She concludes that it is "clear" that abortion-rights opponents' "goal is to end the procedure using whatever means they can -- at the expense of women's health, if necessary" (Thomson-Deveaux, American Prospect, 2/4).
What others are saying about the abortion rate:
~ "Are Abortion Foes Happy the Abortion Rate Has Dropped? Of Course Not," Robin Abcarian, Los Angeles Times' "The Takeaway."
ABORTION RESTRICTIONS: "Louisiana Health Officials 'Rescind' Abortion Rules Hours Before Hearing," Andrea Grimes, RH Reality Check: "Health officials in Louisiana announced Monday evening that they [were] 'rescinding'" new regulations for abortion clinics "the night before a scheduled hearing on the new rules, which, in part, would have mandated extensive physical refurbishments for outpatient abortion facilities with which no existing abortion provider would have been able to immediately comply," Grimes writes. According to Grimes, a Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals spokesperson said in a statement that state officials would "not hear testimony for or against the new rules" and instead would "reissue a revised rule and notice of intent at a later date." She notes, "Reproductive justice advocates who had already made their way to Baton Rouge for the hearing" instead held "a celebratory rally" (Grimes, RH Reality Check, 2/4).
What others are saying about abortion restrictions:
~ "Louisiana Reproductive Rights Supporters Rally Against Regulations in Baton Rouge," Grimes, RH Reality Check.
~ "Judge Temporarily Blocks Alaska Medicaid Abortion Restrictions," Jessica Mason Pieklo, RH Reality Check. ~ "Why Do We Have Unsafe Abortion in the United States?" Michelle Goldberg, The Nation.
SEXUAL VIOLENCE: "When 'He Wasn't Convicted' Doesn't Mean 'Innocent,'" Tara Murtha, RH Reality Check: Murtha uses Dylan Farrow's allegation that her adopted father, Woody Allen, sexually assaulted her as a child to explain how the criminal justice system is "built with laws designed to stop childhood sexual abuse victims from getting into a courtroom." Murtha writes, "Historically, statutes of limitations (SOLs) on childhood sexual abuse, the parameters for how long a victim has before criminal prosecution or a civil lawsuit, have been set so short that by the time an abused child becomes as adult, the option is gone." Murtha writes that even though many states are now "dragging out, or even abolishing, statutes to reflect what we are learning about how survivors process trauma," the changes often do not apply retroactively. She writes, "To trot out 'but he wasn't convicted' as definitive proof of innocence of child rape against the backdrop of this system amounts to willful ignorance, a cheap attempt to exploit what should be a sacred tenet of our legal system in an effort to dignify the rape culture myth that says victims are presumed to be lying until proven otherwise in a court of law -- and by the way, good luck getting there" (Murtha, RH Reality Check, 2/5).
What others are saying about sexual violence:
~ "What Would Make You Believe a Survivor of Childhood Sexual Abuse?" Andrea Grimes, RH Reality Check.
RELIGION: "It's Time To Talk," Sally Steenland, Huffington Post blogs: "Anti-choice voices have tried to monopolize morality and God, even as they increasingly jeopardize a woman's health by making it very difficult for her to get the health care she needs," writes Steenland, director of the Center for American Progress' Faith and Progressive Policy Initiative. "But last week marked a change in the public debate," when the "Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, or RCRC, launched the It's Time Campaign, which aims to promote respectful, thoughtful conversations around the country about religion and abortion, religion and sexuality and religion and justice," Steenland writes. She adds, "People of faith are strong, valuable allies in the fight for women's reproductive health and rights," and "[w]orking together, we can stop the blaming and punishment of women and create a society that truly respects women and the profoundly moral decisions they make regarding when and whether to become a parent" (Steenland, Huffington Post blogs, 2/5).
GLOBAL: "Liberia Can Elect a Strong Feminist Leader, But It Can't End Female Genital Mutilation," Eleanor Goldberg, Huffington Post blogs: Liberian President "Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, a Nobel Peace Prize winner and the first woman to be elected president of an African country, has long been heralded as a leading force in putting an end to civil wars and advancing the rights of women," but she has "remained uncharacteristically silent on the issue of female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) in Liberia," Goldberg writes. Goldberg adds that while "laudable gains have been made worldwide in reducing the number of FGM/C cases, Liberia remains one of the most difficult countries for advocates to permeate," mainly because the procedure there "is carried out by a powerful secret society called the Sande" that threatens to kill girls or their family members for opposing FGM/C. "While Sirleaf is expected to make a proclamation on Thursday to mark International Day of Zero Tolerance of FGM, advocates feel that they have had to shoulder too much of the burden of putting an end to the practice," Goldberg writes (Goldberg, Huffington Post blogs, 2/6).
What others are saying about global issues:
~ "Female Genital Mutilation: Crime Not Culture," Carina Kolodny, Huffington Post blogs.