September 12, 2014 — We've compiled top comments from key stakeholders in women's health, including remarks on laws that protect pregnant workers from discrimination, the debate over how to implement the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby ruling and more.
"This makes common sense not just for maternal and child health, but as good, sound economics." -- Delaware Sen. Bethany Hall-Long (D), co-sponsor of legislation (SB 212) that will ensure pregnant workers in the state can receive reasonable accommodations to help them stay on the job during their pregnancies. Delaware joins a growing list of states and localities that have bolstered protections against pregnancy discrimination in the workplace in the last 18 months ("She the People," Washington Post, 9/8).
"[The rule] is unconstitutional because it imposes an undue burden on the right of women throughout Texas to seek a pre-viability abortion." -- U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel, blocking enforcement of a provision of a Texas antiabortion-rights law (HB 2) that would have required abortion clinics to meet the same building, equipment and staffing standards as ambulatory surgical centers, forcing many clinics to close. Even "if the remaining clinics could meet the demand," the effects of long travel times and additional restrictions would be akin to a "complete ban on abortion," Yeakel said. Texas has appealed the ruling (New York Times, 8/29).
"In other words, the fight over which among millions of corporations can assert religious protections has only just begun." -- Steven Davidoff Soloman, a law professor at the University of California-Berkeley, predicting a prolonged debate over how regulators should define "closely held corporation" under the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby ruling. HHS, IRS and the Employee Benefits Security Administration in August began soliciting comments on how to define the term as it pertains to which private business will be allowed to assert religious objections to offering contraceptive coverage ("DealB%k," New York Times, 9/2).
"['Feticide' laws] not only unconscionably (and arguably unconstitutionally) restrict a woman's right to abortion but tread dangerously close to criminalizing pregnancy as a whole." -- Daily Beast columnist Sally Kohn, on state laws that allow criminal charges against women for allegedly causing the death of their fetuses. She argues that increased use of these laws and similar statutes to prosecute women makes it "increasingly obvious to anyone paying attention that the supposed quest to protect fetuses is quite plainly and simply a war on the women who carry them" (Daily Beast, 8/27).
"While the [Iowa] board of medicine claims it is acting to protect women's safety and health, its true purpose is to prevent women from receiving an abortion if and when they need one." -- Planned Parenthood of the Heartland Chief Operating Officer Penny Dickey, on a state judge's ruling that the board of medicine has the authority to ban the use of telemedicine to administer medication abortion (Des Moines Register, 8/19). PPH has asked the Iowa Supreme Court to stay the lower court ruling (Women's Health Policy Report, 9/2).
"[W]e're no closer to a global norm on sex education. We might even be further from it." -- Jonathan Zimmerman, a history and education professor at New York University, in a Washington Post op-ed on how "sex education has stalled" worldwide, even as "girls' education has expanded steadily" since a United Nations convention endorsed equal education access for girls in 1994. Zimmerman notes that the 1994 meeting "envisioned preparing youths to be autonomous sexual beings" and "demanded 'reproductive rights'" for adolescents of both genders (Washington Post, 8/31).