November 7, 2014 — Read the week's best commentaries from bloggers at Slate, Salon and more.
PERSONHOOD MEASURES: "Personhood: Coming to a City Near You," Robin Marty, Slate's "XX Factor": "'Personhood' -- the granting of legal rights and protection from the moment a sperm penetrates an egg -- has once more failed to pass any popular, statewide votes," with voters rejecting such measures "in Colorado, where backers tried to disguise Amendment 67 as a fetal homicide law," and "in North Dakota, where supporters attempted to portray that state's [Measure 1] as just a constitutional change to strengthen anti-abortion state restrictions already in place," Marty writes. Nonetheless, personhood "advocates remain undaunted" and are now focusing on county- and city-level measures, she adds. According to Marty, "moving to a city-by-city strategy" allows personhood supporters to "target just the places where actual abortions are being performed" (Marty, "XX Factor," Slate, 11/5).
ABORTION RESTRICTIONS AND ACCESS: "Tennessee's Extreme Anti-Choice Amendment Puts Abortion Further out of Reach in the South," Katie McDonough, Salon: While "[v]oters in North Dakota and Colorado overwhelmingly rejected personhood measures that would have stripped women of their constitutional rights by giving legal protections to fertilized eggs," Tennessee voters approved a measure (Amendment 1) that "will potentially have equally devastating consequences for women," McDonough writes. The measure removes from the state constitution "language affirming a woman's right to privacy in making decisions about her pregnancy and giving lawmakers even more power to restrict abortion," McDonough explains. She notes the "consequences could be devastating for Tennesseans, but also for others from neighboring states" with abortion restrictions that require women "to cross state lines to access basic care" (McDonough, Salon, 11/5).
CONTRACEPTION: "Americans Across Party Lines Think We Should Talk More About Birth Control," Tara Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": "Support for contraception transcends party lines, with 82 percent of Democrats, 80 percent of Independents, and 70 percent of Republicans agreeing that anti-abortion lawmakers should work to expand access to birth control," according to a survey published Thursday from the National Campaign To Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, Culp-Ressler writes. Further, Culp-Ressler notes that "about eight in 10 adults surveyed said they think more people would use birth control if Americans were comfortable talking openly about it -- including information about the different types of contraceptive options and their various health benefits." Culp-Ressler writes that the findings demonstrate "why the National Campaign is preparing for its second annual 'Thanks, Birth Control' Day next week," a social media campaign that "will be an opportunity to encourage people to speak up about how using birth control has changed their lives" (Culp-Ressler, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 11/6).
POLITICS AND ELECTIONS: "Congress Has Changed, But Our Priorities Haven't," Nina Besser, International Women's Health Coalition's "Akimbo": While the new Congress will "presen[t] a more difficult landscape for sexual and reproductive health and rights ... [the International Women's Health Coalition] will continue to urge Congress to permanently repeal the Global Gag Rule, ensure funding for global reproductive health care and efforts to combat child, early, and forced marriage, and fix the unfair ban that prevents Peace Corps volunteers from accessing abortion services," Besser, a program officer at IWHC, writes. "Progress is possible," she adds, noting that there was "strong bipartisan cooperation in 2013 when Congress came together to pass the 2013 reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act [PL 113-4]." She urges the Obama administration to take several executive actions to advance these goals, including "reinterpreting the Helms Amendment, which has created barriers for women in developing countries ... from accessing safe, legal abortion services" and "fulfill[ing] the mandate of [VAWA] and develop[ing] a comprehensive strategy to end child, early, and forced marriage worldwide" (Besser, "Akimbo," IWHC, 11/5).
ABORTION STIGMA: "Stigma Makes People Reluctant To Tell Loved Ones About Their Abortions, Says Study," Renee Bracey Sherman, RH Reality Check: Women who have had abortions "often hesitate to tell more than one or two trusted family members, partners, or friends" because of abortion stigma, Sherman writes, citing a new study published in Sociological Science that found that one-third of women kept their abortion a secret from people with whom they usually share personal matters. Bracey Sherman adds that abortion stigma perpetuates a "cycle" that leaves "those who have sought abortions to feel abandoned or isolated" and "those who aren't supportive of abortion without a real perspective on the issue -- effectively locking attitudes on reproductive rights in something of a stalemate." To change this pattern, she urges people to talk more openly about their reproductive health experiences, support those who have had abortions and "respect those who trust us with their stories" (Bracey Sherman, RH Reality Check, 11/4).