August 11, 2015 — Read the week's best commentary from bloggers at Bustle, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress" and more.
CONTRACEPTION: "4 Arguments Against the Government Paying for Birth Control & How To Totally Shut Them Down," Josephine Yurcaba, Bustle: Some individuals "believe that Planned Parenthood should be shut down by virtue of the fact that it uses any federal funds for the general reproductive healthcare of women," a claim that essentially boils down to "whether the government should subsidize birth control," Yurcaba writes, outlining four possible responses to arguments against subsidized contraception. For example, in response to claims that using subsidized birth control suggests a lack of personal responsibility, Yurcaba notes that "women who are actively seeking effective birth control, even if they can't afford it, are being responsible" rather than having unprotected sex. Further, she counters claims that subsidizing contraception will lead to subsidies for unrelated products, noting that subsidizing birth control "falls under the healthcare category." Yurcaba also points out that subsidized birth control will save money in the long term, as it curbs the number of unintended pregnancies, and she refutes religious objections to contraception, citing the separation of church and state and noting that such objections have "no basis in healthcare or modern science" (Yurcaba, Bustle, 8/4).
ABORTION RESTRICTIONS: "Anti-Abortion Activists Trying To Pretend Women in Texas No Longer Have Right To Choose," Tara Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": Texas throughout "the past several years ... has made national headlines for passing particularly harsh restrictions on abortion that have shuttered dozens of clinics, sparking a complicated legal battle that threatens to make its way up to the Supreme Court," Culp-Ressler writes. Citing abortion providers and abortion-rights activists in the state, Culp-Ressler writes this "rapidly changing landscape" has "created a serious knowledge gap among the real people who live in" Texas, with some residents unsure about whether clinics are open or whether the procedure is legal. Further, according to NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, "crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) that work to dissuade women from choosing to end a pregnancy ... now outnumber abortion clinics" in the state, making their "misinformation tactics ... even more effective," Culp-Ressler writes. In response, abortion-rights groups such as the Lilith Fund, NARAL Pro-Choice Texas and Shift have "launched a comprehensive website" that "details everything a pregnant person may need to know about accessing abortion services in" Texas, such as directions to open clinics, resources on funding assistance for abortion care and an outline on Texas' abortion laws (Culp-Ressler, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 8/9).
What others are saying about abortion restrictions:
~ "Repro Wrap: Alabama Special Session Shows 'Pro-Life' Is Subjective," Robin Marty, Care2.
~ "Judge Blocks Oklahoma Medication Abortion Restriction -- Again," Jessica Mason Pieklo, RH Reality Check.
ANTIABORTION-RIGHTS MOVEMENT: "Planned Parenthood Investigations Uncovering No Wrongdoing," Teddy Wilson, RH Reality Check: Investigations into Planned Parenthood sparked by a series of misleading, secretly filmed videos that depict organization officials discussing fetal tissue donation "have shown Planned Parenthood didn't violate any laws," Wilson writes. Specifically, he notes that conservative "lawmakers in states around the country have called for investigations and hearings, and inquiries have been announced in Arizona, Indiana, Florida, Kansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Ohio, and Texas," as well as South Carolina and Tennessee. However, he notes that some lawmakers -- Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) and Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) -- have pushed back or refused to investigate the organization. Meanwhile, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey (D) "last week announced that her office found no evidence that the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts is operating a fetal tissue donation program," while "[a]n Indiana State Department of Health investigation into Planned Parenthood-affiliated reproductive health-care clinics in the state found them in compliance with the state's fetal tissue regulations" and an investigation in Florida "did not find any evidence that fetal tissue was being sold illegally" at clinics in the state, Wilson writes. Separately, he cites concerns expressed over the group behind the videos, the Center for Medical Progress, whose "deceptive tactics, ideological agenda, and connections to radical and violent anti-choice activists" have been questioned and notes that the group "is also the subject of two lawsuits" (Wilson, RH Reality Check, 8/6).
What others are saying about the antiabortion-rights movement:
~ "University Caves to Anti-Choice Pressure, Suspends Fetal Tissue Acquisition From Some Vendors," Jason Salzman, RH Reality Check.
ABORTION-RIGHTS MOVEMENT: "I Had an Abortion at Planned Parenthood -- and I'm Not Ashamed," Alexis Rhiannon, Salon: Rhiannon writes about her experience obtaining an abortion at Planned Parenthood -- a decision she has "never regretted ... for a second since" -- noting that the organization "supported [her] at a time when [she] desperately needed it, and [she] want[s] to support them now." Rhiannon notes that when she had her abortion in 2012, she "didn't have to convince" Planned Parenthood that she "deserved their respect and kindness," nor did she have to apologize. She adds that while she "was sure of [her] decision" to have an abortion, she felt scared immediately prior to the procedure. Rhiannon noted that while she expected her "feelings to be dismissed ... instead, the doctor who'd introduced herself as the woman completing the surgery ... told [Rhiannon] it was OK and reached her hand up to hold [Rhiannon's] as [Rhiannon] went under." Rhiannon concludes by thanking Planned Parenthood for her abortion, adding that she "stand[s] with" Planned Parenthood because Planned Parenthood "stood with" her (Rhiannon, Salon, 8/10).
SEXUALITY EDUCATION: "John Oliver Creates the Perfect Video to Help With America's Lack of Sex Education Standards," Inae Oh, Mother Jones: Oh discusses a segment on the latest episode of "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver," in which Oliver lambasts the "'weird patchwork system'" of sexuality education in the U.S. According to Oh, "[i]n the United States, sex education is legally mandated in only 22 states, with just 13 requiring that information to be medically accurate." She writes, "The lack of accurate information, combined with educators' continued efforts to avoid the issue altogether, has major consequences for young people across the country." She adds that "the effects can be alarming: In Mississippi, where sex education deems homosexuality a crime and condom demonstrations are banned, the state ranks second in teenage pregnancy, with a third of all babies born to teenage mothers." She cites Oliver, who in the segment said, "'There is no way we'd allow any other academic program to consistently fail to prepare students for life after school. And human sexuality, unlike calculus, is something you actually need to know about for the rest of your life'" (Oh, Mother Jones, 8/10).