February 6, 2015 — Read the week's best commentaries from bloggers at the New York Times, RH Reality Check and more.
CONTRACEPTION: "Contraceptive Coverage for Women in the Military," Dorothy Samuels, New York Times ' "Taking Note": Samuels writes about legislation (HR 742, S 358) proposed in Congress this week that "would make the full range of F.D.A.approved contraceptive methods available with no co-pay to the millions of women who rely on the military for their health care, including dependents." She notes that such coverage is already the case for "civilian federal employees and required in most health insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act [PL 111-148]." Samuels explains, "While active-duty military currently have no cost-sharing for prescriptions, service members not on active duty and dependents must pay a portion of the cost of birth control obtained outside a military treatment facility." She adds that the legislation "would also improve access to emergency contraception for survivors of sexual assault and the quality and accessibility of family planning counseling services" and "require military health facilities to stock 'a broad range' of contraception methods." However, she flags that no conservative lawmakers have sponsored the measure so far, adding, "The question now for [conservative lawmakers] is whether their ... antipathy to supporting contraception access extends to disrespecting the contributions and sacrifices of women serving their country in the military" (Samuels, "Taking Note," New York Times, 2/5).
OBAMA BUDGET PROPOSAL: "President Obama's 2016 Budget Draws Praise, Criticism From Women's Health Advocates," Emily Crockett, RH Reality Check: Crockett highlights several positive proposals in President Obama's 2016 budget, including measures that would expand "paid sick and maternity leave," "fund evidence-based teen sex education" and "increase funding for Title X family planning programs" by $13.5 million, to $300 million. In addition, she says that advocacy groups also praised the inclusion of a provision that would end "the ban on Washington, D.C., using its own funds to pay for abortion coverage through Medicaid -- which it has year after year despite annual Republican moves to put the ban back into place." However, Crockett adds that women's health advocates criticized Obama for not reversing "the Hyde Amendment -- which has prohibited federal funds from covering abortion care except in cases of rape, incest, or life endangerment since 1976." She notes that 20 House lawmakers who support abortion rights had called on the president last month to not include the amendment in his budget (Crockett, RH Reality Check, 2/3).
What others are saying about Obama's budget proposal:
~ "Budgeting Away Women's Reproductive Rights," Georgeanne Usova, American Civil Liberties Union's "Blog of Rights."
CRIMINALIZING PREGNANCY: "Indiana Woman Found Guilty of Feticide and Neglect for Having a Miscarriage," Maya Dusenbery, Feministing: Dusenbery describes a recent trial involving an Indiana woman's miscarriage as an example of how "giving 'personhood' rights to fetuses" through laws that hold women "accountable" for pregnancy outcomes "means that every miscarriage must be treated as a potential crime." According to Dusenbery, the woman, Purvi Patel, faces a maximum sentence of 70 years after a jury found her guilty of "two mutually contradictory charges -- feticide and felony neglect," even though the prosecution "was unable to prove that Patel took" pills to induce abortion and "the only evidence that the fetus had been born alive ... was weak." Further, Dusenbery writes that if Patel did take medication abortion drugs, "it's likely because Indiana has made getting a legal abortion very difficult." She notes that "only four cities in Indiana have abortion clinics" and that "women must submit" to mandatory delays and biased counseling before they can obtain the procedure (Dusenberry, Feministing, 2/5).
ABORTION RESTRICTIONS: "Codifying Racial Injustice: The Hyde Amendment and H.R. 7," David Grimes, Huffington Post blogs: Grimes, former head of CDC's Abortion Surveillance Branch, writes about how "[t]he Hyde Amendment and H.R. 7," a bill recently approved in the House that would codify the Hyde Amendment, "punish America's poor." Grimes explains that the amendment "has prohibited use of federal Medicaid funds to pay for abortion, with the rare exceptions of rape, incest and life endangerment" since the 1970s. He discusses how the amendment disproportionally affects low-income and minority populations, noting that African-Americans and Hispanics are more likely than whites to have low incomes, rely on Medicaid health benefits, experience unintended pregnancy and require abortion services. The amendment and bill essentially "establish a two-class system of medical care" by "[d]epriving large numbers of citizens equal access to constitutionally-protected health care," Grimes writes, adding that President Obama has pledged to veto the bill (Grimes, Huffington Post blogs, 2/4).
What others are saying about abortion restrictions and access:
~ "Montana Supreme Court Says State Can Defend Parental Involvement Statutes," Jessica Mason Pieklo, RH Reality Check.
~ "It's Already Difficult To Get an Abortion at Missouri's Only Clinic. This Bill Might Make It Harder," Megan Thielking, Vox.