February 17, 2015 — Read the week's best commentaries from bloggers at Mother Jones, Salon and more.
CONTRACEPTION: "Hobby Lobby 2: Inside Republicans' Plan To Kill America's Most Effective Anti-Teen-Pregnancy Program," Nick Baumann, Mother Jones: A Colorado bill (HB 15-1194) that would continue a program that helps improve access to long-acting reversible contraceptives for "low- and moderate-income women" could be "scuttle[d]" by "abortion politics" and the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby ruling, Baumann writes. "[T]he program has been, by most measures, a huge success," Baumann explains, noting that rates of teen pregnancy and abortion have dropped since the program was implemented, and that between 2010 and 2012 the program has saved "Medicaid between $49 million and $111 million." However, he writes that the funding measure is facing opposition from some conservative state lawmakers who believe that intrauterine devices "can cause abortions" by preventing the implantation of a fertilized egg, "the same belief that led to" the Hobby Lobby lawsuit. Baumann notes that IUDs work by preventing fertilization and that doctors "define abortion as the termination of an already implanted pregnancy" (Baumann, Mother Jones, 2/11).
STIs: "Sorry Again, Anti-Vaxxers: HPV Vaccine Works, Doesn't Lead Young Women To Have Crazy Unsafe Sex," Jenny Kutner, Salon: A new study that found that "women with the HPV vaccine are not more likely to contract sexually transmitted infections as a result of unprotected sex ... is in keeping with earlier studies that show the HPV vaccine does not turn teens into sex-crazed loons," Kutner writes. She adds that Anupam Jena, the lead author of the study, said concerns about risky sexual activity are "'not something to automatically dismiss.'" However, she notes that Jena said such behavior "has more to do with" whether physicians tell young women "about the health risks associated with unprotected sex" than with women receiving the HPV vaccine (Kutner, Salon, 2/10).
ACCESSING REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH CARE: "Access to Paid Sick Leave is Vital for Those Seeking Reproductive Health Care," Christen McCurdy, RH Reality Check: "[T]he lack of paid sick time available across the country means that if a worker needs time to address reproductive health needs -- including prenatal or abortion care -- she may have to risk her livelihood or her paycheck to do so," McCurdy writes. For example, McCurdy notes that as state abortion restrictions increase, there is a greater "likelihood that patients seeking an abortion need time off work." Similarly, she writes that a survey from the National Partnership for Women & Families found that pregnant women who are planning to carry their pregnancies to term can face difficulty requesting changes in their work schedules or time off for prenatal appointments or other reasons related to their pregnancies. However, McCurdy notes that "[t]hings are changing ... albeit slowly," with several cities and states proposing or implementing paid sick leave laws and the Obama administration calling on Congress to reintroduce and pass the Healthy Families Act, which "would guarantee seven days of paid sick leave per year for regular employees at U.S. companies with more than 15 employees" (McCurdy, RH Reality Check, 2/11).
INCARCERATED WOMEN'S RIGHTS: "Report Finds 'Shockingly Substandard' Reproductive Health Care in New York Prisons," Zoe Greenberg, RH Reality Check: Greenberg discusses the findings of a "damning report released [last] week by the Women in Prison Project at the Correctional Association of New York" that "finds that the quality of reproductive health care in the state's prisons is 'shockingly substandard.'" Greenberg writes that the report "details consistent violations of the state's anti-shackling law, severely limited access to birth control, lack of trauma-informed clinical care, and a routine denial of basic hygiene items like sanitary napkins and toilet paper." Further, she writes that the report "reveals dozens of ... reproductive health-care violations," including how "[w]omen often face long delays in accessing gynecological care behind bars, and dismissive doctors when they are finally seen." Greenberg writes that the report includes several recommendations, including "developing trauma-informed care," "enforcing the 2009 anti-shackling law" and "invest[ing] in alternatives to incarceration" (Greenberg, RH Reality Check, 2/13).
ABORTION RESTRICTIONS: "Repro Wrap: D&E Bans are Just Grandstanding and Other News," Robin Marty, Care2: Marty discusses legislation in Kansas (SB 95), Oklahoma (HB 1721) and Missouri that abortion-rights opponents say would ban a certain abortion procedure called dilation and evacuation, effectively "stop[ping] abortion at a minimum of two months prior to viability." Marty notes that the National Right to Life Committee is working with lawmakers in multiple states to introduce the model legislation simultaneously and amend the bills, which suggests they are not trying to pass legislation so much as "chang[e] public perception on abortion." Marty touches on several other antiabortion-rights efforts, including a "personhood" amendment in Montana, 20-week abortion bans in South Carolina, West Virginia, Ohio and New Mexico, and a 72-hour mandatory delay bill (HB 1409) in Oklahoma, among others (Marty, Care2, 2/13).
What others are saying about abortion restrictions:
~ "It's Only February and There are Already 100 New Anti-Abortion Bills," Natasha Vargas-Cooper, Jezebel.