March 7, 2014 — We've compiled some of the most thought-provoking commentaries from around the Web. Catch up on the conversation with bloggers from "ThinkProgress," Slate and more.
ABORTION RESTRICTIONS: "Three More Abortion Clinics Forced To Close in Texas: 'This is a State of Emergency,'" Tara Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": "Three more reproductive health care facilities in Texas have been forced to permanently close in the wake of a new state law [HB 2] that imposes stringent restrictions on abortion providers," Culp-Ressler writes, noting that the "clinics are located in communities with high rates of poverty and uninsurance, leaving many vulnerable Texas women with no ready access to reproductive services." The clinics' closures -- which include two run by Whole Woman's Health, the "largest independent abortion provider" in the state -- bring the total number of abortion clinics in the state to just 19, compared with 44 in 2011, according to Culp-Ressler (Culp-Ressler, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 3/6).
What others are saying about abortion restrictions:
~ "After Racially Charged Debate, New Abortion Restrictions Pass Alabama House," Amanda Marcottee, Slate's "XX Factor."
~ "One Woman's Case Against 20-Week Abortion Bans: 'Prevent Women From Living My Tragedy,'" Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress."
SEXUAL VIOLENCE: "Alabama Report Makes it Clear How Brutally Women Are Treated in Prison," Robin Marty, Care2: "[A] recent investigation into the prison system in Alabama" showed that some inmates' access to "tampon[s] or toiletries may rely on whether or not a woman is willing to have sex with a guard in exchange," Marty writes. She cites a New York Times article that suggests the "'war on drugs'" has been responsible for "putting so many behind bars, especially women." Marty explains, "With more women being put in jail, and no new jails being built, that leads to the obvious problem of overcrowding, lack of resources and lack of oversight," which, according to a federal report, creates "a rampant 'culture of deprivation and abuse.'" These issues "stem from the use of male guards, which is seen to lead to the sexually abusive nature of many of the allegations of misconduct and injustice at the prison," which have included sexual assault and the "brutal" treatment of pregnant inmates (Marty, Care2, 3/5).
What others are saying about sexual violence:
~ "Activists Erect a Monument to Rape Survivors on the National Mall," Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress."
~ "New Study Finds That Drinking Doesn't Cause Sexual Aggression, Predators Target Drunk Women," Maya Dusenbery, Feministing.
~ "Kirsten Gillibrand's Sexual Assault Bill SNAFU," Eleanor Clift, Daily Beast.
ABORTION PROVIDERS: "Nation's First Birthing Center/Abortion Clinic Opens in Buffalo. This Is Huge," Marcotte, Slate's "XX Factor": Buffalo Womenservices, "the nation's first-ever birthing center/abortion clinic has opened in Buffalo, N.Y.," marking a "step forward in the necessary integration of abortion into other forms of OB-GYN care," Marcotte writes. "Having a single place to go for all your pregnancy needs instead of sorting patients out depending on their preconceptions about outcome is just plain common sense," she writes, adding, "Being able to go to the same doctor to give birth and have an abortion at different times in your life is likely comforting for patients," particularly if patients are not sure about what "to do about a pregnancy." Marcotte writes that separating abortion clinics from other women's reproductive health care has "had the negative effect of stigmatizing abortion patients by walling them off from all the other patients seeking OB-GYN care" (Marcotte, "XX Factor," Slate, 3/6).
What others are saying about abortion providers:
~ "Montana Abortion Provider Severely Vandalized, Is Closed Indefinitely," Teddy Wilson, RH Reality Check.
PREGNANT WORKERS' RIGHTS: "This is What Discrimination Against Pregnant Workers Looks Like," Bryce Covert, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": "Employers frequently vilify pregnant workers and rely on stereotypes in order to justify firing them, according to an analysis of discrimination lawsuits," Covert writes. The researchers analyzed "closed case sex-based discrimination case files from the Ohio Civil Rights Commission between 1986 and 2003, plus as extra handful from 2007 to 2011," all of which had been verified or "were deemed to have a preponderance of evidence suggesting that discrimination really had taken place," she explains. The researchers found that about 60% of employers fired pregnant employees for "poor performance or attendance or claiming that a worker voluntarily quit," although the "feedback usually didn't surface until have pregnant workers informed their managers of their situation," Covert writes. She notes that while employers were occasionally "on the right side of the law" when pregnant workers were "pushed out because they [couldn't] get an accommodation," that situation "has begun to change ... with new laws that require adapting the needs of a pregnant worker so long as there is no undue hardship [in] eight states and New York City" (Covert, Center for American Progress' "Think Progress," 2/28).
SEX EDUCATION: "Abstinence-Only Education Doesn't Work -- I Know From Personal Experience," Beth Leyba, Huffington Post blogs: "Abstinence only education, purity culture, and the 'Modest is Hottest' campaign are dangerous and damaging," writes Leyba, an activist and writer who says she bought into her abstinence-only education "hook, line and sinker" but became pregnant as a teenager. She writes that her activism against abstinence-only education "is calling out a system of oppression which is a deliberate means of withholding information that young people have a right to know, and the statistics have shown that it does not work and in fact leads to higher rates of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, as kids who are only taught abstinence are less likely to use contraception and condoms when they begin having sex." She continues, "Abstaining from sex is the best way possible to avoid pregnancy or [STIs]," but it cannot "be presented as the only [option], and young people should be armed with the necessary information should hormones and perfectly natural urges prevail, as they almost always do" (Leyba, Huffington Post blogs, 3/4).
GLOBAL ISSUES: "The Man Who Made the Period Safe for the Women of India," Emily Bazelon, Slate's "XX Factor": "My hero of the week is Arunachalam Muruganantham, the man who made the period safe for the women of India," Bazelon writes, adding that his is a "tale of an inventor's obsession, in the face of ostracism, and it ends in triumph, with Muruganantham's simple, low-cost machine for the production of cheap, clean pads that can replace the dirty rags, sawdust, leaves, and ash women were using to absorb their menstrual flow." She notes that his work marks a "true public health advance" and that after winning a national innovation award, his machine has spread to 1,300 villages and given women a means of employment, as well as safety. Praising his success and that of Argentinian car mechanic Jorge Odón, who invented a machine that eases delivery during obstructed labor, Bazelon concludes by asking, "And other than the pill for men, what would our wish list be for what they could do next?" (Bazelon, "XX Factor," Slate, 3/5).
CONTRACEPTION: "Ricki Lake And The Rise Of The Birth Control Truthers," Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": Culp-Ressler discusses a planned documentary, "Sweetening the Pill," produced by former talk show host and women's health activist Ricki Lake, which espouses the supposed dangers of hormonal birth control methods and advocates for the fertility awareness method. The documentary is based on a similarly titled book, which has been criticized for not fully evaluating the scientific research on hormonal birth control methods and overemphasizing the efficacy of FAM, rather than the real-life effectiveness. Culp-Ressler writes that while some experts agree with the point that women need more complete information about their birth control options, "[s]ome of the medical professionals who spoke to ThinkProgress flatly refuted the idea that women are getting pushed onto the pill in cases when there's a better option available to them." Some experts noted that the attention given to negative stories about birth control in the press can overshadow the benefits it has for many more women (Culp-Ressler, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 3/4).
What others are saying about contraception:
~ "The Science of Female Condoms: The Future of Sex?" Emily Anthes, Gizmodo.
~ "Arizona's Anti-Gay Bill Lives on in Hobby Lobby," Jeffrey Toobin, The New Yorker's "Daily Comment."
~ "How Hobby Lobby Supporters Talk About 'Religious Liberty': 5 Outrageous Quotes That Show It's All About Sex," Katie McDonough, Salon.