February 13, 2014 — Our monthly quote round up compiles notable comments from key stakeholders in women's health. Today, we feature quotes on the "buffer zone" and contraceptive coverage lawsuits before the Supreme Court, as well as new women's health research.
"[I]t's important to get beyond the storytelling and recognize this case for what it is: not a grandmother's tale but a vehicle in a nationally designed effort to get the Roberts court to reopen settled questions concerning abortion." -- New York Times op-ed contributor Linda Greenhouse, on a Supreme Court case testing the constitutionality of a Massachusetts "buffer zone" law. In both that case and challenges to the federal contraceptive coverage rules, opponents of the measures are promoting false narratives to distract from the real issues at stake, she argues (New York Times, 2/5).
"Providing insurance coverage for a woman who uses it to obtain contraceptives no more implicates an employer in her decision than does the payment of her salary, which can also be spent on birth control." -- A Los Angeles Times editorial, arguing that it would be a "mistake" for the Supreme Court to strike down the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act (PL 103-141) when it rules on lawsuits from businesses that oppose the federal contraceptive coverage rules (Los Angeles Times, 2/4). The editorial argues RFRA when "[p]roperly interpreted ... doesn't require the court to weaken the contraceptive mandate" (Women's Health Policy Report, 2/6).
"America's women deserve better than eight Republican men trying to dictate and control the most intimate medical decisions in their lives." -- House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), lambasting an all-male House Judiciary subcommittee for refusing to let a female lawmaker testify against an antiabortion-rights measure (HR 7) ("Healthwatch," The Hill, 1/9). The bill would, among other provisions, bar federal tax credits to individuals who purchase health plans that include abortion coverage, as well as small businesses that offer such plans to their employees (Women's Health Policy Report, 1/10).
"The Supreme Court is going to have the opportunity again and again and again this year and next year to see if they want to take a look again at their jurisprudence on abortion rights." -- Center for Reproductive Rights President Nancy Northup, after the Supreme Court declined to review Arizona's 20-week abortion ban (HB 2036), which was blocked by a lower court (It's All Politics," NPR, 1/13). Abortion-rights advocates said that the justices' decision suggests they are not interested in revisiting Roe v. Wade at this time, while abortion-rights opponents said the decision will build momentum for their cause (Women's Health Policy Report, 1/15).
"We found absolutely no benefit in terms of reduction of deaths from the use of mammography." -- Epidemiologist Anthony Miller, lead author of a 25-year study on whether mammograms helped prevent breast cancer deaths in Canada (Los Angeles Times, 2/11). The study found that 22% of cancers detected by mammograms were overdiagnosed, meaning they were slow-growing, would have never harmed women and were treated unnecessarily (Women's Health Policy Report, 2/12).
"We reaffirm our steadfast commitment to protecting a woman's access to safe, affordable health care and her constitutional right to privacy, including the right to reproductive freedom." -- President Obama, in a statement commemorating the 41st anniversary of Roe v. Wade ("The Oval," USA Today, 1/22). On that same day, House Republicans at the annual March for Life pledged to pass antiabortion-rights measures this year (Women's Health Policy Report, 1/23).
"In the most tragic way possible, [Marlise Munoz's] case is forcing us to confront the reality that in far too many places, women are literally seen in the eyes of the law as vessels whose primary function is to produce more offspring" -- NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue, writing about Munoz, who was kept on life support for weeks against her family's wishes because of a state law that prohibits withholding or withdrawing "life-sustaining treatment" from a pregnant patient (The Nation, 1/10). A state district judge in late January ordered the hospital to remove Munoz from life support, ruling that the law did not apply because Munoz was brain dead and, therefore, legally dead (Women's Health Policy Report, 1/29).