July 28, 2015 — Read the week's best commentaries from bloggers at Bustle, The Nation and more.
ABORTION-RIGHTS MOVEMENT: "5 Ways To Stand With Planned Parenthood and Its Unfaltering Support Of Women's Rights," Madhuri Sathish, Bustle: Although antiabortion-rights lawmakers are trying to defund Planned Parenthood in the wake of two misleading videos featuring Planned Parenthood employees discussing fetal tissue donation, "supporters won't let Planned Parenthood be defunded without putting up a fight, and rightfully so," Sathish writes. She notes that the organization does "incredibly important work, and defunding it would have consequences that extend far beyond the abortion services it provides," such as "prevent[ing] millions of Americans from accessing their family planning resources, sex education programs, and other reproductive healthcare services." She adds, "Right now, it is crucial that we stand with Planned Parenthood -- it supports a lot of marginalized people who otherwise would not be able to access the type of services it provides." Sathish outlines several ways to support Planned Parenthood, such as submitting a letter to Congress asking lawmakers "to protect women's health," tweeting about "the importance and value of Planned Parenthood" with the #StandWithPP hashtag, signing a petition in support of the organization, donating to Planned Parenthood, or volunteering at a local chapter to help with administrative tasks and advocacy. "At the very least, do not be passive," Sathish writes (Sathish, Bustle, 7/25).
What others are saying about the abortion-rights movement:
~ "Planned Parenthood Continues To Provide Care, No Matter What," Joan Malin, Huffington Post blogs.
~ "Why I Donated Fetal Tissue After my Later Abortion," Katie Lyon, Time.
GLOBAL: "Women and Girls Raped in Conflict Need Abortion Care -- but the US Is Standing in Their Way," Barbara Crossette, The Nation: "Over more than four decades, the Helms amendment" -- which bars the use of U.S. funds for abortion in global family planning services -- "has been reinterpreted, reinforced, and expanded in American aid policy to the point of rising to a violation of internationally recognized rights of women," Crossette writes. In response, the New York-based Global Justice Center earlier this month "sent a letter to President Barack Obama on behalf of more than 50 international organizations asking for executive action to nullify the effects of the Helms amendment and honor the Geneva Conventions, which demand nondiscriminatory medical treatment in war zones," according to Crossette. Citing GJC Founder and President Janet Benshoof, Crossette notes that, "[b]y barring abortion for rape victims in conflict areas, where rape or forced impregnation are acts of war and war crimes, the US position is universally considered discriminatory." Further, Crossette writes, "Because the United States is the largest global aid donor, its prohibitions against supporting or counseling about abortion hampers the work of providers of medical care internationally by nongovernmental organizations as well as United Nations agencies." According to Crossette, advocates are urging the White House to act on the issue, even though it traditionally has been reluctant "to press the issue for political reasons or even to acknowledge that the most vulnerable women of the world may deserve a higher priority" (Crossette, The Nation, 7/24).
What others are saying about global issues:
~ "India Blocks Abortion for Raped Child," Nina Strochlic, The Daily Beast.
CONTRACEPTION: "A Win for Washingtonians, a Win for Patients' Rights," Erika Hanson, National Women's Law Center's "Womenstake": Washington state residents "won big last week when the [9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals] held that pharmacies can't deny patients needed medication," regardless of the pharmacists' religious objections, Hanson writes. She notes, "The Ninth Circuit rightly considered the potential harmful effects on patients' health that could result from allowing pharmacies to refuse to dispense prescriptions and held that Washington's rule ensures that patients have 'safe and timely access to their lawfully prescribed medications.'" According to Hanson, the "[r]uling isn't only important for Washington," but also for individuals in other states where similar "[p]harmacy refusals have been happening." She writes, "Evidence presented to the Ninth Circuit showed that ... pharmacists and pharmacies have refused to fill a wide range of medication including diabetic syringes, insulin, HIV medications, emergency contraception, and Valium," which not only "threaten[s] patients' health," but also "can leave patients feeling shamed and humiliated." She concludes, "As the Ninth Circuit pointed out, the Washington rule protects all of these patients from the potentially harmful effects and humiliation of being denied their medication, especially when administration of the medication is time-sensitive, as with many HIV medications, emergency contraception, and miscarriage treatment" (Hanson, "Womenstake," National Women's Law Center, 7/27).
What others are saying about contraception:
~ "Obamacare Is Saving Women Big Bucks on Contraception," Emma Niles, Ms. Magazine blog.
RELIGION: "Pope Francis Is Not a Feminist: Why Catholicism's Liberal Icon Falls Far Short on Women's Issues," Kathleen Geier, Salon: Geier responds to a piece in the New Republic by Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig, which praises Pope "Francis's feminism," contending, "To label Francis a 'feminist' ... twists the meaning of the word beyond all recognition." She counters "Bruenig['s] misleadin[g] claims that the ideas about family planning Francis expresses in his climate change encyclical are consistent with feminism," noting that "neither that nor any other Vatican document supports key feminist goals such as a woman-centered, rights-based approach to contraception." According to Geier, Bruenig's article "does not engage" with data showing that "an estimated 225 million women in developing countries would like to prevent pregnancy but are not using birth control, for reasons that include lack of access and religious prohibitions against contraceptive use" and that a "lack of contraceptive access is associated with significantly elevated rates of AIDS/HIV, as well as some 290,000 pregnancy-related deaths each year." While Geier agrees with Bruenig for lauding Francis's "statements condemning capitalism and global poverty and championing economic justice," she notes, "Bruenig seems unaware that one of the keys to reducing global poverty and promoting economic development is strengthening women's agency -- including their reproductive agency." Geier concludes, "It's long past time for Francis to start listening to his Church -- and for his fans on the left to stop defending the indefensible" (Geier, Salon, 7/26).