March 10, 2015 — Read the week's best commentaries from bloggers at the Huffington Post, Law Students for Reproductive Justice and more.
INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY: "This International Women's Day, Stop Attacks on Women's Health," Hal Lawrence, Huffington Post blogs: Lawrence, executive vice president and CEO of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, commemorates International Women's Day by examining the state of women's health globally and in the U.S. He writes that women around the world face "overwhelming shortages of care," with "more than 280,000 women d[ying] every year due to complications in pregnancy and childbirth." Meanwhile, Lawrence notes that women in the U.S. also are facing "attacks on [their] access to care," such as how the King v. Burwell lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148) "threaten[s] to cut short [the law's] improved access to coverage, leaving millions of American women without the ability to stay healthy and prevent both illness and unintended pregnancy." He touches on several other "attacks on health" in the U.S., including how "some of the most effective methods of birth control, like intrauterine devices and implants, have been misrepresented and criticized" and how antiabortion-rights "lawmakers seeking restrictions on needed abortion care" are making "safe, legal abortion less safe" (Lawrence, Huffington Post blogs, 3/6).
CONTRACEPTION: "Access to Contraception an Issue for Female Servicemembers," Elise Foreman, Law Students for Reproductive Justice's "Repo Repro": Foreman writes about recently introduced federal legislation (HR 742, S 358) that "would ensure that [contraceptive] options available through the Affordable Care Act would be available through the military's healthcare plan, TRICARE." She notes that currently, "certain methods are left off the list of covered birth control methods" in TRICARE, "even though service women are at higher risk for unplanned pregnancies." Foreman argues, "Impeding access to contraception for American service women denies not only their reproductive rights but similarly places additional barriers on their ability to perform their duties effectively" (Foreman, "Repo Repro," Law Students for Reproductive Justice, 3/6).
ACCESS TO CARE: "Bipartisan Bill in Congress Would Send More OB-GYNs to Underserved Rural Areas," Emily Crockett, RH Reality Check: "A new bipartisan bill [HR 1209, S 628] introduced in Congress last week aims to improve access to maternity care in rural and underserved areas" by "identify[ing] which areas of the country have maternity care shortages and help[ing] send OB-GYNs to those underserved areas," Crockett writes. The bill, called the Improving Access to Maternity Care Act, was introduced by Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Reps. Michael Burgess (R-Texas) and Lois Capps (D-Calif.), with support from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. The bill would create a new maternity care designation in the National Health Service Corps, which "offers doctors scholarships and loan repayments in exchange for serving two-to-four years in areas with provider shortages," Crockett writes. She notes that with the new designation, NHSC would "identify areas with maternity health provider shortages, and ... send specialists to those areas" (Crockett, RH Reality Check, 3/9).
ABORTION RESTRICTIONS: "Abortion Bans Are Putting Women Behind Bars," Tara Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": As the result of abortion restrictions, women around the world, including in the U.S., are being arrested "based on the way their pregnancies ended, providing hundreds of well-documented cases of women being imprisoned for the crime of seeking reproductive health care," Culp-Ressler writes. She discusses such cases in Bolivia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Malaysia, Mexico, the Philippines and the U.S. For example, she writes about how the "increased scrutiny around women's pregnancies" has led to several arrests in El Salvador, where abortion "can carry a sentence of eight years in prison" and "[w]omen accused of inducing a miscarriage can even be charged with 'aggravated assault against a family member,' a different crime that can land them in prison for up to 50 years." Similarly, Culp-Ressler notes that pregnant women in the U.S. increasingly face "the threat of prosecution" if they use drugs, if they purchase medication abortion drugs online or if they are accused of "seeking to harm their fetuses by attempting suicide, using illicit drugs, or even falling down the stairs" (Culp-Ressler, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 3/9).
What others are saying about abortion restrictions:
~ "West Virginia Republicans Override Their Governor To Pass 20-Week Abortion Ban," Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress."
'BUFFER ZONE' LAWS: "Judge Upholds Pittsburgh Buffer Zone in First Federal Ruling Since McCullen," Women's Law Project blog: "A federal judge has upheld the constitutionality of a 15-foot buffer zone ordinance that protects health care facilities in Pittsburgh," the blog states, adding that the decision "is the first federal ruling on the constitutionality of a clinic buffer zone since" the Supreme Court's decision in McCullen v. Coakley, which involved a Massachusetts law. According to the blog, U.S. District Court Judge Cathy Bissoon in her ruling denied five abortion-rights opponents' request for a preliminary injunction to block enforcement of a Pittsburgh "buffer zone" ordinance. Specifically, Bissoon "held that the protesters were unlikely to be able to prove that the Pittsburgh ... ordinance was unconstitutional" under the McCullen decision, WLP writes. According to WLP, Bissoon "dismissed all of the protesters' claims except for an allegation that a police officer did not enforce the law evenhandedly, which could not be resolved without additional evidence" (Women's Law Project blog, 3/9).