March 20, 2015 — Read the week's best commentaries from bloggers at Ms. Magazine, the Huffington Post and more.
SEXUAL AND GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE: "Why are University Presidents Leaving Campus Rape Survivors Out in the Cold?" Caroline Heldman, Ms. Magazine blog: A "major factor among many" universities as to why "so little [has] been done" to address campus sexual assault is "failed leadership at the top of the academy," Heldman writes, citing a recent Inside Higher Ed survey that "reveals that [university] presidents are a key part of the problem." According to the survey, studies show that while "1 in 5 female students face sexual assault, only 1 in 3 college presidents agree with the statement 'sexual assault is prevalent on college campuses'" and 77% of them report that "their schools are doing a 'good job' addressing the problem," Heldman writes. Heldman writes, "The truth is that almost no schools expel rapists or take other basic measures to prevent assaults on their campuses due to institutional fears about being sued by perpetrators or losing alumni donations if a problem is exposed." Heldman urges college presidents to "[a]dmit there's a problem" and take action, such as by "establish[ing] an affirmative consent policy, institut[ing] an expulsion policy for students found responsible," "mandat[ing] ongoing annual bystander training" and working with law enforcement (Heldman, Ms. Magazine blog, 3/18).
What others are saying about sexual and gender-based violence:
~ "It's Time To Change the Narrative on Sexual Assault in Our High Schools," Malika Saada Saar, Huffington Post blogs.
CONTRACEPTION: "It's Still Pretty Hard for Women To Get Free Birth Control," Emily Cohn, Huffington Post: Women can still face out-of-pocket costs for birth control under the Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148) "because health care companies are allowed to dictate how you get your care, even if that conflicts with the original intent of the [ACA]," Cohn writes. Cohn explains that after she was charged $20 when picking up her birth control prescription, which she had previously obtained at no cost under the ACA, she called the National Women's Law Center and learned that insurers "are allowed to employ 'reasonable medical management techniques' to encourage customers to get care at a lower cost." For Cohn, the provision meant that she could order her birth control for free via mail, but her insurer legally could charge her for picking up her prescription at CVS. She writes that while the situation was "kind of a hassle" for her, it "will be more than a hassle" for women who "don't want to have birth control delivered because they don't want other people living with them to know they're using contraception." Cohn outlines several suggestions on how women can address potential charges on their birth control, but she concludes that "[t]here's still a lot of work women need to do to ensure that they get the legal protections they're guaranteed under the law" (Cohn, Huffington Post, 3/19).
What others are saying about contraception:
~ "'A Redneck Republican Wearing an IUD': Colorado Lawmakers Use Birth Control Earrings To Push for Family Planning," Jenny Kutner, Salon.
ABORTION RESTRICTIONS: "Louisiana Women May Have To Travel Even Longer Than You Think for an Abortion," Robin Marty, Care 2: Marty writes about how a contested admitting privileges law (Act 620) in Louisiana, if permitted to take effect, could close down all of the state's abortion clinics, noting that a study found that such a situation could increase the average travel time for Louisiana women to have an abortion from "58 miles each way ... to 208 miles each way." However, Marty explains "that would be the best case scenario." She writes that "[t]he researchers admit that the distances could be worse because of" 24-hour and 48-hour mandatory delay "laws in the nearby states ... which could cause a patient to need multiple trips," but she notes that the researchers did not consider "that because there are so few clinics, many are already at capacity and stretched to their breaking points as is." As a result, what "on paper" might be "a 200 mile drive ... could be over six hours long in just one direction," at which point "abortion is no longer an accessible choice for many of those who would seek it," Marty writes, adding that this "is just what abortion opponents intend" (Marty, Care 2, 3/18).
What others are saying about abortion restrictions:
~ "Wisconsin City Asks Gov. Walker To Remove Abortion Funding Bans," Liss-Schultz, RH Reality Check.
~ "Tennessee's Amendment 1 May Not Be Enough To Reinstate Unconstitutional Informed Consent Law," Imani Gandy, RH Reality Check.
ABORTION-RIGHTS ACCESS AND PROTECTIONS: "Four States That Are Actually Working To Protect Abortion Rights," Tara Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": Culp-Ressler writes that while "it can be hard to see any progress" in advancing abortion rights, given the growing number of state restrictions on the procedure, "[m]ore lawmakers than ever before are standing up to fight for reproductive rights, helping to pioneer a growing state movement to push for proactive legislation to safeguard abortion access." For example, Culp-Ressler notes that Oregon state lawmakers this year introduced "pro-choice legislation that would make the state the first in the country to ensure that every resident has coverage for abortion procedures under every form of insurance." Meanwhile, she writes that "the city of Madison," Wis., this week "unanimously passed a resolution affirming that it's critical to fund reproductive health care" and urging state lawmakers to restore "insurance coverage for abortion ... for public employees" and Medicaid beneficiaries. In addition, Oakland, Calif., lawmakers this week passed a "resolution [14-0614] denouncing sex-selective abortion bans" after San Francisco's Board of Supervisors approved a similar resolution last year. Further, Culp-Ressler also praises Washington state lawmakers for re-introducing a bill (HB 1647) this month "that would require insurers to achieve 'reproductive parity' and offer coverage for abortion services alongside other types of common women's health care" (Culp-Ressler, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 3/19).
What others are saying about abortion-rights access and protections:
~ "Cisgender Women Aren't the Only People Who Seek Abortions, and Activists' Language Should Reflect That," Cheryl Chastine, RH Reality Check.