April 15, 2014 — We've compiled some of the most thought-provoking commentaries from around the Web. Catch up on the conversation with bloggers from the Huffington Post, Care2 and more.
PREGNANCY AND CHILDBIRTH: "6 Things Your Ob-Gyn Won't Tell You (Unless You Ask)," Napala Pratini, Huffington Post blogs: "Expecting mothers, or even women looking to get pregnant, should know the right questions to ask to find the highest-value pregnancy [care] provider," Pratini writes. She outlines six such questions, including asking about an ob-gyn's statistics on past deliveries, such as cesarean section rates; whether he or she works with midwives; the ob-gyn's emergency availability; the practice's policies on high-risk pregnancies; how patient medical records are kept; and an ob-gyn's practices to promote mother-infant bonding (Pratini, Huffington Post blogs, 4/14).
ABORTION-RIGHTS PROTECTIONS: "It's Time To Pass the NY Women's Equality Act, Tenth Point Included," Madeline Ruoff, Huffington Post blogs: In his 2013 State of the State address, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) "announced long overdue plans to bring the Women's Equality Agenda, now the Women's Equality Act, into law," but the measure has never made it out of the state Legislature, Ruoff writes. Ruoff explains that while the measure's "first nine points are relatively uncontroversial," the 10th point, "which ensures a wom[a]n's reproductive freedoms," has drawn opposition in the state Senate. She adds that while the "left is being chided for refusing to split up the bill and just pass the first nine points without argument," the bill without the 10th point "significantly weaken[s]" the other nine because "social and economic equality is impossible without reproductive freedom." Ruoff writes that "it's time [to pass] the Women's Equality Act once and for all, with all 10 points included" (Ruoff, Huffington Post blogs, 4/11).
VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN: "Sexual Assault is a Crime Against Women's Health," Nancy Lee, Huffington Post blogs: According to CDC statistics, "about one in five women has been raped in her lifetime, and more than one in three has experienced other forms of sexual violence," writes Lee, director of the Office on Women's Health at HHS. Those figures "are shocking," Lee states, adding, "For those of us who work in women's health, they strengthen our resolve to prevent sexual assault and reduce the pain of the victims." She highlights President Obama's creation of the "White House Task Force to Protect Students From Sexual Assault, which will identify and share evidence-based best practices with high schools, colleges and universities to help them better protect students and support those who are assaulted." She also notes that the Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148) gives insured women "access to a comprehensive set of preventive services, including screening and counseling for interpersonal and domestic violence, without having to pay a co-pay or deductible" (Lee, Huffington Post blogs, 4/14).
What others are saying about violence against women:
~ "For Some Woman Immigrants, Fear of Sexual Abuse is a Constant," Esther Yu-Hsi Lee, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress."
~ "Speaking Out on Men's Role in Preventing Sexual Assault," Kevin Powell, Huffington Post blogs.
CRIMINALIZING PREGNANT WOMEN: "While One State Wants To Criminalize 'Bad' Pregnant People, Another Goes After 'Bad' Mothers," Robin Marty, Care2: A Tennessee bill (SB 1391) would "charge a pregnant person with criminal assault for using drugs while pregnant, following the tide of other states that have created new charges specifically and solely focused on those who are carrying a pregnancy to term," Marty writes. The bill could potentially harm "babies who may be denied care because of a mother's fear of arrest and the pregnant person worried about criminal penalties" and also cause "pregnant people [to] seek out abortions rather than give birth." Marty notes that such legislation is quickly expanding across states and being extended to even after birth, such as in South Carolina, where a breastfeeding mother "is being charged for 'involuntary manslaughter and unlawful conduct toward a child' after her child died of a morphine overdose." Marty writes, "What all of these laws and cases underscore is that via our legislatures and our criminal system we are, in essence, seeking to punish women for not protecting their children, from egg stage to infant" (Marty, Care2, 4/11).
What others are saying about criminalizing pregnant women:
~ "Tennessee Legislature Passes Bill Criminalizing Pregnancy," Amanda Marcotte, Slate's "XX Factor."
ABORTION RESTRICTIONS: "America's Abortion-Free Zone Grows," Marty, Daily Beast: From "the western border of Idaho to the eastern borders of North and South Dakota ... the total number of cities that offer any form of abortion access can be counted on just two hands," Marty writes. She adds, "Montana used to be an oasis in that abortion desert, with four clinics in four different cities offering both surgical and medication abortion options, but not anymore." After "an apparent pro-life vandal destroyed the abortion clinic in Kalispell, Montana," last month, the state has just two abortion clinics, a "crisis of access [that] affects not just Montana residents but thousands of women in neighboring states," Marty explains. She concludes, "Now, the question becomes how to reverse this trend and bring more care and choices back to the state" (Marty, Daily Beast, 4/14).
What others are saying about abortion restrictions:
~ "Awful South Carolina Bill Would Extend 'Stand Your Ground' to Fetuses," Callie Beusman, Jezebel.
~ "Virginia Bishops Use Medicaid Stalemate To Call for New Abortion Funding Restriction," Erin Matson, RH Reality Check.
~ "TRAP Laws and the Emptying of 'Roe,'" Jessica Mason Pieklo, RH Reality Check.
SURROGACY: "Is Preventing Surrogacy Feminist? No, It's Anti-Choice," Matson, RH Reality Check: Citing a Kansas Senate hearing in January about a bill "that would make surrogate parents, gestational carriers, and anyone who assists them liable to up to a $10,000 fine or imprisonment of one year," Matson writes, "it's important to debunk the idea that criminalizing surrogacy should be part of the feminist project." She adds, "The assault on surrogacy, as well as fertility treatments in general, is yet another piece of the right's battle against reproductive self-determination." She argues, "Women don't need to be protected from themselves," adding, "They certainly don't need to be thrown in jail for harvesting their eggs or seeking assistance with infertility." Marty concludes, "Indeed, family is what you make it. That's a beautiful thing, and that's feminist" (Matson, RH Reality Check, 4/11).