April 7, 2015 — Read some of the week's best commentaries from bloggers at RH Reality Check, Care2 and more.
SEXUALITY EDUCATION: "When It Comes to Abstinence-Only Education Battles, Let's Fight Anecdotes With Anecdotes," Amanda Marcotte, RH Reality Check: A Texas lawmaker's recent comments about his personal experience with abstinence until marriage "perfectly encapsulates why exactly it's so hard to kill ... abstinence-only ideology off completely: Because the argument that it could work somehow gets confused with the idea that it will work or even that it should work," Marcotte writes. She explains that Texas Rep. Stuart Spitzer (R) -- during debate over a plan to divert funding from an HIV-prevention program to abstinence-only sexuality education -- said his goal is "for everybody to be abstinent until they're married," adding, "What's good for me is good for a lot of people." Marcotte writes that although research has shown that abstinence-only sex ed is not effective, "[t]he problem is that anecdotes are often more persuasive than data." Therefore, "the best way to kill off abstinence-only education -- and similar movements trying to ban abortion and restrict contraception -- is to really embrace the power of the anecdote," she argues (Marcotte, RH Reality Check, 4/3).
ABORTION RESTRICTIONS: "Repro Wrap: It's Not 'Motorcycle Vagina,' But North Carolina's at It Again," Robin Marty, Care2: After enacting a "massive omnibus anti-abortion bill" (SL 2013-366) in 2013, North Carolina lawmakers are "at it [a]gain" with a "plethora of anti-abortion restrictions all bundled up in one tidy package [HB 465] [that] the sponsors claim is necessary for 'protecting women's health,'" including a 72-hour mandatory delay, Marty writes. Meanwhile, Arkansas is adding controversial "[a]bortion reversal" language to a 48-hour mandatory delay bill (HB 1578), mirroring a provision in a new Arizona law (SB 1318) that will require doctors to tell women the medically unproven claim that a medication abortion can be reversed, Marty continues. She also touches on reproductive rights news from other states, as well as a new Guttmacher Institute report that found that "states have introduced literally hundreds of anti-reproductive rights and health bills so far this year" (Marty, Care2, 4/3).
What others are saying about abortion restrictions:
~ "'They Want the Judges' Heads on a Plate': Texas GOP Wants To Shame Courts Helping Teen Victims of Abuse Access Abortion," Katie McDonough, Salon.
RELIGION: "Bishops' Policy for Immigrant Teenagers: Sorry You Were Raped, but We Won't Help You," Brigitte Amiri, Washington Post's "PostEverything": Amiri writes that while "the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops receives millions of dollars from the federal government to provide care to the surge of children and teenagers who have crossed the U.S. border alone ... the bishops refuse to provide teens with critical reproductive health care -- such as emergency contraception and abortion -- as required by U.S. law" and stipulated in their contract. USCCB has "a long history of using religious beliefs to block vulnerable populations from accessing reproductive health care," Amiri writes, noting that the bishops "[m]ost recently ... made their position crystal clear in an appalling letter to the federal government objecting to a new regulation that requires groups serving unaccompanied immigrant teens to provide access to [EC] and abortion." Amiri writes that her "team at the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit" on Monday seeking previously requested documents from the federal government "about how often religious organizations refuse to provide reproductive care -- and what measures teen refugees and immigrants are forced to take to get that care." She writes that while "[r]eligious freedom is a fundamental right ... it doesn't give the bishops license to impose their beliefs on others and cause them harm by denying them medical care" (Amiri, "PostEverything," Washington Post, 4/6).
LGBT: "Losing My Lege: Transgender Visibility Lobby Day Sparks Surprising Response From Capitol Staffers," Andrea Grimes, RH Reality Check: Grimes reports on Equality Texas' Transgender Visibility day of lobbying, during which more than a dozen "trans and queer Texans and allies ... spent the day telling capitol staffers their own deeply personal stories in the hopes of showing who could be affected by proposed legislation." Specifically, they lobbied against four state bills "that would punish trans and queer Texans for using the restrooms that are appropriate for them but that some other people -- very likely total strangers -- feel they shouldn't use," even though "it is trans, queer, and gender non-conforming people who are more likely to be abused or harassed for using a public bathroom, not cis[gender] people." Meanwhile, they also lobbied in support of a bill (HB 2058) that would "codif[y] the process by which trans people can obtain identification documents, a currently undefined and ambiguous process that allows judges -- either arbitrarily, or because they seek to discriminate against trans people -- to refuse to grant the court orders required for updated drivers' licenses and birth certificates" (Grimes, RH Reality Check, 4/3).
ANTIABORTION-RIGHTS MOVEMENT: "When Anti-Choicers Co-Opt #BlackLivesMatter," Anita Little, Ms. Magazine blog: "[H]ow race can intersect with gender to create a treacherous site of oppression for black women who seek abortion care" is a largely "unexamined" situation, Little writes. She explains, "Due to socioeconomic factors that stem from poverty, black women experience much higher rates of unintended pregnancy ... and accoun[t] for nearly a third of all U.S. abortions." According to Little, "Black women are already culturally cast as irresponsible, and anti-choicers rely on these stereotypes to shame black women who get abortions." For example, she touches on some of the "manipulative campaigns" that "go as far as to repurpose the social media battle cry #BlackLivesMatter by saying a war is being carried out against black youth, but inside the bodies of their mothers, not in the street." Little contends that "[t]o accuse black women who get abortions of genocide and place them on the same spectrum as history's mass murderers is the ultimate demonization," adding that it is "increasingly important to trust black women" given how "anti-abortion laws disproportionately impact low-income women of color" (Little, Ms. Magazine blog, 4/6).