February 10, 2015 — Read the week's best commentaries from bloggers at Mother Jones, "ThinkProgress" and more.
CONTRACEPTION: "Expand Access to Contraception for Military Women and Families," Hannah Rimar, National Partnership for Women & Families blog: Recently introduced legislation (HR 742, S 358) that would require the military's health plan to cover contraceptive counseling and all FDA-approved contraceptive methods without copayments would be "an important step forward" in improving "health and well-being" for women and families in the military, writes Rimar, health program assistant at the National Partnership. She notes that the measure, introduced by Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), would "bring the military health insurance program's contraceptive coverage policies in line with other employer-based insurance plans." In addition, she writes that the bill would "requir[e] the Department of Defense to develop a uniform standard curriculum for family planning education programs for all servicemembers" and improve "access to emergency contraception for survivors of sexual assault." Rimar adds that meeting women's "reproductive health care needs is essential to ensuring military readiness and mission accomplishment" (Rimar, National Partnership blog, 2/3).
What others are saying about contraception:
~ "Today's Intriguing News About New Contraception Options," Kevin Drum, Mother Jones.
ABORTION RESTRICTIONS: "As Republicans Win Fights Against Abortion Rights, They Just Want To Go Further," Tara Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": A recent Gallup poll has found that "[t]he percentage of Americans who say they're satisfied with the current abortion policies in the United States has dropped to the lowest point in more than a decade," writes Culp-Ressler, noting the decline was "largely driven by people who think the country's abortion laws should be even stricter." Specifically, she notes that the poll found that "[a]bout 24 percent of dissatisfied Americans want even stricter [antiabortion-rights] laws, compared to the 12 percent of people who want to loosen the country's laws in this area." Further, she writes that the poll found "just 21 percent of GOPers favor the abortion policies in place," with the percentage of "Republicans who say they're satisfied with the current state of abortion laws ... steadily dropping since [President] Barack Obama was elected in 2008," even though "it has actually gotten harder to get an abortion" since his election. The trend of increasing abortion restrictions "shows no sign of abating," Culp-Ressler writes, noting that abortion-rights opponents are increasingly "push[ing] to ban later abortions on both a state and national level" and that experts expect existing abortion restrictions to become even tighter (Culp-Ressler, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 2/9).
What others are saying about abortion restrictions:
~ "20-Week Abortion Ban Defeated in Virginia," Nina Liss-Schultz, RH Reality Check.
~ "GOP Lawmaker Emphasizes Rape's Silver Lining," Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress."
~ "Is Abortion 'Child Abuse'? South Dakota Could Make It So," Robin Marty, Care2.
PREGNANT WOMEN'S RIGHTS: "New Texas Plan Would Assign Lawyers to Fetuses," Tara Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": Culp-Ressler writes that a Republican lawmaker in Texas "is preparing to introduce ... legislation that would appoint legal representation for fetuses" in cases where there are "disputes over whether pregnant women should remain hooked up to [mechanical] support." She explains that such a case "sparked considerable controversy" in the state last year, when the family of a pregnant woman was "prohibited from removing" her from mechanical support because of a state law that "stipulates 'a person may not withdraw or withhold life-sustaining treatment' from a patient who is carrying a fetus." While the family sued and won on the grounds that the woman "was legally deceased," the issue could "return to the forefront" with the "impending legislation," Culp-Ressler writes. She cites a 2012 report from the Center for Women Policy Studies, noting that "Texas is one of 12 states that allows doctors to disregard pregnant women's end-of-life wishes" (Culp-Ressler, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 2/9).
SEXUAL AND GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE: "The U.S. Female Genital Mutilation Crisis," Nina Strochlic, Daily Beast: Despite a federal and state "crackdown" on female genital mutilation since the practice was outlawed in 1996, "new numbers show that these measures have done little to stanch the skyrocketing rate" of FGM in the U.S., Strochlic writes. She cites a new report from the Population Reference Bureau, which found that the number of girls who might have undergone or are at risk of FGM has "more than triple[d]" from 168,000 in 1997 to 507,000 in 2013. However, she notes that the data might seem "ambiguous" because it has been "virtually impossible" to get "solid numbers on how frequently FGM is actually practiced in the U.S." According to Strochlic, activists are asking government agencies to "create a bottom-up approach to information gathering," given that those "most in the know -- local teachers and healthcare providers -- must be involved to paint an accurate picture" of the situation and are best positioned to help "stanch the practice." She adds that two lawmakers have launched a "federal effort" to address the issue by "announc[ing] new legislation that will force the government to create a strategy" to protect U.S. girls from FGM (Strochlic, The Daily Beast, 2/6).
What others are saying about sexual and gender-based violence:
~ "Calling on Health Workers To Mobilize To End Female Genital Mutilation," Nafissatou Diop, Huffington Post blogs.