September 2, 2014 — Read the week's best commentaries from bloggers at the Washington Post, The Nation and more.
WOMEN'S EQUALITY DAY: "Women's Equality Matters," Debra Ness, Huffington Post blogs: While Women's Equality Day commemorates the day when U.S. women "took a giant step toward equality by winning the right to vote," the change "was just one step on the long road to equality -- and we're not there yet," writes Debra Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women & Families. Women are "breadwinners in two-thirds of U.S. households" but also "remain our families' primary caregivers," she notes, adding, "Families, our economy and our country are suffering because the nation's workplace policies have failed to keep pace with these realities." She urges lawmakers to pass legislation such as the Family And Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act (S 1810, HR 3712) and the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (S 942), among other bills, which "would go a long way toward advancing women's equality and economic security" (Ness, Huffington Post blogs, 8/27).
What others are saying about Women's Equality Day:
~ "8 Things Women Couldn't Do on the First Women's Equality Day in 1971 -- And 6 They Still Can't," Emma Gray, Huffington Post blogs.
~ "Which States Ranks the Best and the Worst for Gender Equity?" Brigid Schulte, Washington Post's "She The People."
What others are saying about the reproductive-rights movement:
~ "'Moral Mondays' Movement Expands to 12 States for 'Moral Week of Action,'" Emily Crockett, RH Reality Check.
~ "The Price of Our Blood: Why Ferguson is a Reproductive Justice Issue," Katherine Cross, RH Reality Check.
SUPPORTING WORKING FAMILIES: "Illinois Commits To Protect Pregnant Workers," Emily Martin, National Women's Law Center's "Womenstake": Although "most women continue working throughout their pregnancies with no need for changes in their jobs, some -- particularly those in physically demanding jobs -- will need temporary adjustments to continue working safely," writes Martin, vice president and general counsel at NWLC. These women often "need only a simple accommodation -- like avoiding heavy lifting for a few months, being permitted to sit occasionally during a long workday, or staying off high ladders" -- but many employers refuse to accommodate their requests and "fire pregnant workers or push them onto unpaid leave," Martin writes. Other women continue working without accommodations, putting their health at risk, "because they cannot afford to lose their income," she adds. Martin applauds Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D) for signing a new law that "will protect pregnant workers in Illinois" and urges Congress to pass the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (S 942), which is pending in the House and Senate, to "require employers to reasonably accommodate pregnant workers who need it so that they can continue working safely through their pregnancies" (Martin, "Womenstake," NWLC, 8/26).
CONTRACEPTION: "'Hobby Lobby' Aftermath: Illinois Seeks To Expand Birth Control Access," Teddy Wilson, RH Reality Check: Wilson reports on new regulations proposed by the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services that aim to "directly address the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Hobby Lobby" by expanding access to contraception for low-income state residents. Wilson writes that the policy changes, scheduled to take effect on Oct. 1, "would increase Medicaid funding for health-care providers to provide" contraception, including doubling "[p]ayments for vasectomies and intrauterine devices." The new rules would also "requir[e] health providers that object to contraception to refer patients to providers that will provide contraceptive care," he writes (Wilson, RH Reality Check, 8/26).
What others are saying about contraception:
~ "The Awesome Idea That Led to a Huge Drop in Teen Births," Judy Molland, Care2.
~ "Why the Right Will Reject the Administration's Latest Birth Control 'Fix,'" Jessica Mason Pieklo, RH Reality Check.
HEALTH DISPARITIES: "Low Birth Weight Linked to Increased Risk of Diabetes in Black Women," Crystal Shepeard, Care2: Shepeard reports on research conducted as part of Boston University's ongoing Black Women's Health Study that found the risk of type 2 diabetes for black women "may have started at birth." She writes, "Researchers looked at 16 years of health data for 21,000 black women," finding that "[w]omen who had a low birth weight (less than 5.5 pounds) had a 13 percent increase of risk for developing type 2 diabetes later in life" and that "[w]hen the birth weight was even lower, the risk went as high as 40 percent." Shepeard notes that the study is "the first ... to highlight the association of low birth weight to type 2 diabetes." She adds that it "could be significant considering babies born to black mothers are twice as likely to have a low birth weight as those born to white mothers" and "have the highest incidence of low weight births among all racial groups in the United States," a "disparity [that] has persisted for decades" (Shepeard, Care2, 8/29).