August 18, 2015 — Read the week's best commentaries from bloggers at the Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress," Mother Jones and more.
RELIGION: "Faith Leaders: 'A World Without Planned Parenthood Would Be Disastrous,'" Jack Jenkins, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": "Faith groups are speaking out about their support for Planned Parenthood, offering a prayerful defense of the national women's health organization after a series of misleading videos sparked a movement to end its federal funding," Jenkins writes. He notes that "as the U.S. Senate readied to vote on" defunding Planned Parenthood," a group of more than 50 faith-based organizations signed on to a letter urging the Senate to end the push to defund Planned Parenthood, proclaiming 'a world without Planned Parenthood would be disastrous for many women and their families.'" Jenkins further cites the letter, which reads, "'Our organizations share a faith-centered commitment to the most marginalized and the most vulnerable of our society, including those with limited financial means or those who live in areas with limited access to healthcare and related services ... For many, Planned Parenthood is their only source of medical care.'" According to Jenkins, the letter's "signatories represent a small portion ... of pro-choice people of faith, an oft-overlooked group that has existed for decades," such as Catholics for Choice, DignityUSA, Jewish Women International and the Unitarian Universalist Association. He writes that these faith-based organizations "have spent years championing women's health," and some "also recently met with the White House to advocate for providing abortion services to women who endure rape in war-torn areas" (Jenkins, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 8/14).
ABORTION RESTRICTIONS: "A Judge Just Handed Abortion Supporters a Huge Win in the Deep South," Becca Andrews, Mother Jones: "Last week, a federal judge in Alabama blocked a regulation [HB 57] that might have closed the state's largest abortion clinic for good," Andrews writes. Andrews explains that the clinic, West Alabama Women's Center in Tuscaloosa, closed in January because it could not get admitting privileges or contract with a physician who had admitting privileges. According to Andrews, "The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on the clinic's behalf challenging the requirement, and on August 13, US District Judge Myron Thompson issued a temporary restraining order putting the clinic back in business," ruling that " the closure of the clinic put an 'undue burden' on women who were forced to travel longer distances to obtain abortions." The Tuscaloosa clinic was one of two clinics in the state "to provide second-trimester abortions up to the state's 20-week legal limit," Andrews notes, adding that "it performed 40 percent of the state's abortions" in 2013, and, after its closure, "the closest clinic in Huntsville saw a 57 percent increase in women seeking abortions." Andrews cites evidence Thompson used in his decision, including how "the increased distances and the additional strain on the state's remaining clinics forced women to delay abortions until their pregnancies were past the 20-week limit"; concern "'that women will take their abortion into their own hands'"; and a "'severe scarcity of abortion doctors ... nationwide and particularly in the South'" (Andrews, Mother Jones, 8/18).
What others are saying about abortion restrictions:
~ "Draconian Abortion Laws Kill Women and Girls," Erika Guevara Rosas, Huffington Post blogs.
STIs: "HPV Myths -- BUSTED," Margaret Polaneczky, The Blog That Ate Manhattan: "There's an awful lot of misinformation out there about [the human papillomavirus] and the HPV vaccine," writes Polaneczky, a physician, debunking eight myths she finds herself "having to continually address" with her own patients. For example, she explains that "90-95% of the time, HPV infections clear without any treatment" and that Pap tests for women with persistent HPV can "detect and treat precancerous lesions ... years before they become invasive cancer." However, she also notes that women who have received the HPV vaccine should still undergo Pap tests because while the vaccine protects against over "70% of all cervical cancers," there are still other "cancer-causing subtypes." Polaneczky also cites research refuting claims that the HPV vaccine is dangerous, that it is a "scam" and that it "causes sexual promiscuity." Further, she advises people with HPV on how to "help [their] immune system clear the virus" and counsels patients to check with their doctor to ensure they are receiving an FDA-approved HPV test. Finally, Polaneczky writes that while the HPV vaccine "is only FDA-approved up to age 26," it is still very effective for an older patient who has "had very few sexual partners and [has] never been infected with the HPV strains targeted by the vaccine or had genital warts" (Polaneczky, The Blog That Ate Manhattan, 8/17).
ANTIABORTION-RIGHTS MOVEMENT: "GOP Lawmakers Cut Planned Parenthood's Medicaid Funds, Despite Federal Warning," Teddy Wilson, RH Reality Check: Conservative "lawmakers in five states have now moved to defund Planned Parenthood by banning the organization from receiving payments from the Medicaid program, despite warnings from the federal government that doing so is against the law," Wilson writes. According to Wilson, the "governors in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana and Utah cancelled Medicaid contracts with Planned Parenthood," while lawmakers in New Hampshire "recently voted to end a $640,000 contract with Planned Parenthood of Northern New England." However, Wilson notes that HHS last week "issued a warning ... that efforts to defund Planned Parenthood by cutting the reproductive health-care provider from the Medicaid program likely violat[e] federal law," because according to HHS spokesperson Ben Wakana, "'[l]ongstanding Medicaid laws prohibit states from restricting individuals who have coverage through Medicaid from receiving care from a qualified provider.'" Wilson cites Wakana further, noting, "'By restricting which provider a woman could choose to receive care from, women could lose access to critical preventive care, such as cancer screenings.'" Meanwhile, "[i]nvestigations in Georgia, Florida, Indiana, Massachusetts, and South Dakota have found no evidence of wrongdoing on the part of Planned Parenthood," Wilson writes (Wilson, RH Reality Check, 8/17).
What others are saying about the antiabortion-rights movement:
~ "Investigations Into Planned Parenthood Are Falling Totally Flat," Tara Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress."