March 13, 2015 — Read the week's best commentaries from bloggers at the Huffington Post, Feministing and more.
ABORTION PROVIDERS: "Thank God for Abortion Providers," The Rev. Harry Knox, Huffington Post blogs: Harry Knox, president and CEO of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, writes about his appreciation for people working in abortion care who, despite ongoing harassment from abortion-rights opponents, continue to "risk their lives to make sure that those of us seeking an abortion are met with compassion and love." For example, Knox writes about how George Tiller, an abortion provider and RCRC board member, was "threatened, harassed, attacked, and finally murdered because he offered compassionate abortion care," while Willie Parker, who "similarly provides compassionate abortion care as a matter of faith," has also "been the target of harassment." Knox writes that while "shame" sometimes "kills new health care workers' ambitions to provide compassionate abortion care" and "whispers in the ears of doctors telling them they are not needed ... the spirit of compassion calls healthcare workers to selflessly serve patients," "[t]he spirit of justice sustains them as they endure harassment," and "[t]he spirit of abundance provides us with such caring and dedicated professionals, whose work helps heal lives and the world" (Knox, Huffington Post blogs, 3/10).
What others are saying about abortion providers:
~ "#PROUDTOPROVIDE: Reflections on National Day of Appreciation for Abortion Providers," Physicians for Reproductive Health, Feministing.
~ "5 Women Explain Why They Became Abortion Providers," Robin Marty, Cosmopolitan.
~ "Working at Pink House, Mississippi's Last Abortion Clinic," Samantha Allen, Daily Beast.
HUMAN TRAFFICKING BILL: "Senate GOP Tries to Restrict Abortion Services for Human Trafficking Victims," Emily Crockett, RH Reality Check: Conservative senators "slipped anti-choice language into a bipartisan, broadly supported human trafficking bill [S 178], outraging Democrats who are blocking further amendments to the bill until that language is taken out," Crockett writes. She notes that while the bill's lead sponsor, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), said the provision is "nothing more than the status quo," it "would actually expand the Hyde Amendment" by "making its restrictions [on public funding of abortion] permanent and applied to" funds that aren't taxpayer dollars. Further, she writes that while Congress typically "adds the restrictive Hyde Amendment every year to appropriations bills," the new conservative proposal "would set the policy in stone for at least five years" by restricting a fund used "for victims' services and anti-trafficking law enforcement" that does not involve any taxpayer money. Meanwhile, Crockett writes that the Senate is considering another human trafficking measure, from Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), that "would help ensure that victims of human trafficking aren't subject to criminal prosecution" (Crockett, RH Reality Check, 3/11).
What others are saying about the human trafficking bill:
~ "Anti-Choice Senators Playing an Underhanded Game," Kierra Johnson, The Hill's "Congress Blog."
SEXUAL HEALTH: "Twitter Changes Sexual Health Ad Policy, Reinstates Condom Retailer's Account," Crockett, RH Reality Check: "Twitter has tweaked" its "confusing, inconsistent rules about 'sexual content' in ads" and "finally" lifted its advertising ban on condom retailer Lucky Bloke, Crockett writes. According to Crockett, Lucky Bloke and several other "condom companies and sexual health campaigns last year said Twitter had blocked them from advertising about condoms and safer sex" under its advertising rules. A Twitter spokesperson said the website has clarified its ad policies and specified that ads "'for non-prescription contraceptive products such as condoms and spermicides, and ads for personal lubricants, now fall under our health and pharmaceutical products and services policy.'" Crockett writes that the change was welcomed by "advocates who were frustrated by the stigma that the old policy seemed to show -- marginalizing condoms as 'adult' material instead of an important public health issue" (Crockett, RH Reality Check, 3/10).
'BUFFER ZONE' LAWS: "Pro-Choice Win: Federal Court Upholds Pittsburgh Buffer Zone," Jessica Mason Pieklo, RH Reality Check: "A federal judge in Pennsylvania last week upheld the enforcement of a Pittsburgh ordinance that establishes a 15-foot buffer zone around abortion clinics," Mason Pieklo writes. According to Mason Pieklo, the ruling is "the first federal court decision to examine the constitutionality of abortion clinic buffer zones after last summer's Supreme Court decision in McCullen v. Coakley ... struck down a Massachusetts buffer zone law." She writes that in the latest ruling, the judge "noted the history of anti-choice violence that had plagued the area and concluded that the ordinance did not violate protesters' First Amendment rights." However, Mason Pieklo notes that attorneys for the plaintiffs said they are considering an appeal and that the "ruling did not dismiss all of the protesters' claims," meaning that elements of the case will continue to trial (Mason Pieklo, RH Reality Check, 3/10).
PREGNANT WOMEN'S RIGHTS: "'Marlise's Law' Would Give Pregnant Texans Advance Directive Rights," Andrea Grimes, RH Reality Check: A Texas bill (HB 3183) "would give pregnant Texans and their families the same end-of-life decision-making rights as non-pregnant people" by "striking a line from a [state] ... statute that requires pregnant people [to] be kept on mechanical support against their advance directives," Grimes writes. She explains that the bill responds to a case in which a pregnant Texas woman, Marlise Muñoz, "was kept on mechanical support at the state's insistence for two months after she was declared brain dead in 2013," despite having "been clear that she never wanted to be kept alive by machine," because "Texas law does not allow medical professionals to 'withdraw or withhold life-sustaining treatment ... from a pregnant patient,' even if it goes against [the patient's] previously stated instructions." Meanwhile, Grimes notes that a conservative lawmaker "has filed a bill [HB 1901] that would strengthen the existing law by appointing attorneys for the fetuses." According to Grimes, HB 1901 "has been referred to Texas' House State Affairs committee," while "'Marlise's law' has yet to be assigned to [a] committee" (Grimes, RH Reality Check, 3/12).