January 23, 2015 — Read the week's best commentaries from bloggers at the New York Times, Huffington Post and more.
ABORTION RESTRICTIONS: "Abortion Bill Bait-and-Switch," Dorothy Samuels, New York Times' "Taking Note": After House Republicans changed their plans to "pus[h] through a brazenly unconstitutional measure [HR 36] to prohibit almost all abortions 20 weeks after fertilization" on Thursday, they "could have decided then and there to use the floor time more constructively," Samuels writes. However, instead of "passing a bill that actually supports women and families, or legislation focused on creating new jobs, or just about anything else," they chose to select a bill (HR 7) that "would erect new barriers to women who might seek an abortion" and "effectively bar millions of Americans from using their own money to buy health plans that include abortion services," Samuels notes. She writes that "like the proposed 20-week ban, it contains a highly limited exception for life-endangering situations, and none to protect a woman's health." She also flags that "[a] core provision would deny tax credits to small businesses that offer health plans including abortion coverage, aggressively discouraging businesses from offering such plans and departing from established tax principles by treating tax benefits as the equivalent of public spending for abortions" (Samuels, "Taking Note," New York Times, 1/22).
What others are saying about abortion restrictions:
~ "Republicans Face Showdown With Religious Right Over Dropped Abortion Bill," Sarah Posner, Religion Dispatches.
~ "Mayhem in the House of Representatives," Leila Abolfazli, National Women's Law Center's "Womenstake."
ROE V. WADE ANNIVERSARY: "8 Women on Why Roe v. Wade Has Mattered So Much to Them," Catherine Pearson, Huffington Post blogs: In observance of Thursday's "42nd anniversary of the 1973 Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, the landmark ruling that affirmed women's right to obtain a legal abortion," Pearson highlights the stories of eight women who describe the impact the ruling has had on their lives. Debra Hauser -- executive director and president of Advocates for Youth, a sexual health advocacy group -- noted that "[t]elling these stories is a personal action that becomes quite political." The women touch on how the choice to have an abortion is solely a woman's, access to abortion continues to be a problem for many women, some women are "not ready for children at all" and the right to abortion enables women to control their futures (Pearson, Huffington Post blogs, 1/22).
What others are saying about the Roe anniversary:
~ "To Abortion Clinic Operators and Patients, the Erosion of 'Roe' is a Stark Reality," Shelley Abrams, RH Reality Check.
RELIGION: "The Pope Tells Catholics Not To Breed 'Like Rabbits' but Refuses To Endorse Contraception," Amanda Marcotte, Slate's "XX Factor": Last weekend, "Pope Francis criticized the tradition -- usually encouraged by the Vatican -- of Catholic couples having large broods." She explains that the pope said, "'Some think that ... in order to be good Catholics we have to be like rabbits.'" However, Marcotte continues, "[d]on't get too excited. The pope did not just endorse contraception." Instead, he "argued that there are ways to avoid both contraception and excessive childbearing." Marcotte notes that the pope "didn't elaborate," likely "because there are not, in fact, 'many, many' ways that the Catholic Church allows women to prevent pregnancy" (Marcotte, "XX Factor," Slate, 1/20).
GLOBAL: "#HelmsHurts: President Obama Must Act Now," Serra Sippel, Huffington Post blogs: President Obama this year "will have to fend off efforts to undermine Roe and protect women's rights," but "there is one area where the President does not need to rely on Congress to act: helping women and girls who survive rape in conflict" by clarifying the 1973 Helms Amendment, Sippel writes. She explains that while "[u]ltimately, we want to see the elimination of this wrong-headed provision, which bans U.S. funding for abortion overseas as a 'method of family planning' but does not prevent U.S. support in the cases of rape, incest, or life endangerment," Obama "can take executive action now and make it clear that it is the policy of the U.S. government to support access to health care that includes abortion for women and girls globally who survive rape or incest, or whose lives are endangered by a pregnancy" (Sippel, Huffington Post blogs, 1/21).