April 3, 2015 — Read some of the week's best commentaries from bloggers at Raising Women's Voices, New York Magazine and more.
MEDICAID EXPANSION: "Helping Women Stuck in the Coverage Gap," Raising Women's Voices: The Affordable Care Act's (PL 111-148) Medicaid expansion has helped to "ensur[e] coverage and access to care for low-income people," but "around three million vulnerable women are in the coverage gap" between eligibility for Medicaid and for tax credits to help purchase coverage in the ACA's marketplaces, according to RWV. The post notes that while the ACA allows states to expand Medicaid eligibility, "conservative political opposition" in more than 20 states "has prevented Medicaid from being expanded to those who need it most." As a result, "[w]omen in the coverage gap may go without needed reproductive and primary care, due to insurmountable affordability and accessibility barriers," according to RWV. The blog adds that "it is critical that advocates concerned with the health of women and low-income families provide visible public support for the Medicaid program and demonstrate how it is contributing to the health and well-being of their state's residents" (RWV, 4/2).
PREGNANT WOMEN'S RIGHTS: "Here's What Happens When Pregnant Women Lose Their Rights," Alex Ronan, New York Magazine's "The Cut": The sentencing of Indiana woman Purvi Patel to 20 years in prison under Indiana's "feticide" law "sets a dangerous precedent and could scare pregnant women from seeking medical assistance," Ronan writes. Ronan notes that while the 1979 statute "was meant to provide legal recourse when pregnant women are injured or killed by third parties, like abusive partners," and "was never meant to criminalize pregnancy or stigmatize abortion ... it's done both." Ronan adds that while Patel's case and a 2011 Indiana case might be seen "as outliers in an overly zealous and conservative state ... the criminalization of pregnancy ... has ramped up significantly in the past decade" and "[c]riminalizing miscarriages has become a way to punish women suspected of self-abortion." Ronan concludes, "[G]etting pregnant shouldn't mean losing your rights" (Ronan, "The Cut," New York Magazine, 4/2).
What others are saying about pregnant women's rights:
~ "Deprived of Care, Incarcerated Women Suffer Miscarriages, Stillbirths, Ectopic Pregnancies," Sharona Coutts/Zoe Greenberg, RH Reality Check.
ABORTION AND THE MEDIA: "A Character on Grey's Anatomy had a Post-20-Week Abortion: Where's the Discussion?" Marya Torrez, Feministing Community: Torrez questions why feminist bloggers have "ignored" a storyline about abortion in a recent Grey's Anatomy episode, even though they "often urge greater coverage of abortion in mainstream media and have committed a lot of attention to this issue in the past." Although "obtaining a post-20-week abortion was made to appear much easier than it generally is in real life, the show portrayed this event as it is likely to happen to real women and couples," she writes. In the episode, the character April Kepner, a surgeon and "devout Christian who had frequently expressed her anti-choice viewpoints," and her husband "made the heartbreaking choice to terminate a wanted pregnancy due to severe issues with the fetus that meant the baby would be unlikely to survive and would be in constant pain if he did," Torrez writes. Meanwhile, in the real world, anti-choice lawmakers are making it increasingly "difficult for women like April to make the decision that is right for themselves and their families," she notes, adding, "Someone needed to stand up and say, 'When people support 20-week bans, they're making it impossible for women across the country to get the care that they need.' April's story showed that" (Torrez, Feministing Community, 3/30).
CONTRACEPTION: "What Do Millennials Really Think About Abortion and Birth Control?" Robin Marty, Care2: A recent Public Religion Research Institute poll of millennials shows that they are "standing firm in opposition to their parents' attempts to teach them that sex should only exist inside marriage, birth control isn't a thing they need to worry about, and that abortion is the greatest of moral failings," Marty writes. According to the poll, "only 35 percent of millennials believe that abortion is morally wrong," she adds. Regarding birth control, Marty notes, "The progressiveness of millennials is even more obvious," with "85 percent of all millennials believ[ing] that contraception is morally acceptable -- at least in some circumstances" and "a mere nine percent consider[ing] it morally wrong." Marty suggests that "one of the most interesting findings ... is the fact that millennials are very supportive of sex ed classes being a part of their schools," explaining that respondents support "classroom based sex-ed four to one" (Marty, Care2, 3/31).
ABORTION-RIGHTS PROTECTIONS: "New York Legislators Move To Strengthen Abortion Rights," Nina Liss-Schultz, RH Reality Check: "New York state lawmakers are moving forward with legislation to codify a person's right to abortion, moving state law in line with the federal standard outlined in Roe v. Wade," Liss-Schultz writes, describing a bill (AB 6221) that "would change state law to allow abortions after 24 weeks in cases of both life endangerment and health." While the federal standard established under Roe "protects abortion in all cases until viability and after viability in cases where the pregnant person's health or life are endangered," New York's existing law -- adopted in 1970, three years before Roe -- "allowed later abortions only to protect a pregnant person's life." AB 6221 has passed in the state Assembly but could face opposition in the conservative-held Senate, according to Liss-Schultz. However, if it becomes law, "New York would become the eighth state in the country to codify abortion in line with federal standards," she adds (Liss-Schultz, RH Reality Check, 3/31).