September 8, 2015 — Read the week's best commentary from bloggers at RH Reality Check, Slate's "XX Factor" and more.
REPRODUCTIVE JUSTICE: "We Trust Black Women To Stand Up, Speak Out, and Lead," Monica Simpson, RH Reality Check: In light of the upcoming 2016 election, Monica Simpson, of SisterSong, calls on lawmakers to stand with black women "in the fight for health and dignity ... or move out of our way." According to Simpson, "Black women are less likely to have access to reproductive health care, including effective methods of contraception, abortion, or annual gynecological exams and other health screenings." In addition, black women "are also at an increased risk of death or severe complication during pregnancy and childbirth"; "face poor health outcomes for breast, cervical cancer, diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease"; and account for the majority of "women diagnosed with HIV," she writes. Simpson explains, "There is a real health crisis for Black women in this country that is only exacerbated by an organized attempt to strip us of our rights and our bodily autonomy." Simpson notes Trust Black Women, an initiative SisterSong launched more than five years ago to "demand that we each be able to make important moral decisions for ourselves, our families and our communities," now is working to "grow and expand to make sure that the voices of our transgender family and friends are not left behind." She writes, "SisterSong and our partners and allies are committed to trusting Black women, telling the truth about our lives, and demanding that decision makers either stand with us or get out of the way" (Simpson, RH Reality Check, 9/2).
What others are saying about reproductive justice:
~ "Attacks on Reproductive Justice Are Attacks on Women of Color," Leslie Watson Malachi, Huffington Post blogs.
~ "Family Planning, Sex Education Resources Could Empower Marginalized Groups -- So What Gives?" Justine Izah, RH Reality Check.
CONTRACEPTION: "D.C. Judge Says Employers Can Exercise 'Moral' Objections to Birth Control Coverage," Amanda Marcotte, Slate's "XX Factor": "[A]nti-contraception forces have secured a new victory in the district court for the District of Columbia," now that "Judge Richard Leon has ruled that the March for Life, an anti-abortion organization that organizes a yearly march against legal abortion in D.C., can cut off contraception coverage not for religious reasons, but for 'moral' objections," Marcotte writes. She explains that March for Life, which "holds itself out as a nonreligious organization," framed its objection to all forms of contraception other than sterilization and the diaphragm "in terms of abortion, making the same tedious and utterly false argument that some kinds of contraception are equivalent to abortion." Marcotte cites legal expert Ian Millhiser, who explains that "the decision is 'hard to follow' due to its use of pretzel logic, including the argument that religious exemptions to laws discriminate against nonreligious employers." Marcotte adds that while the ruling is unlikely to "hol[d] up on appeal," it is "an important one because it blows the doors off the claim that anti-choice objections to contraception coverage are about 'religious liberty' or 'religious conscience.'" She writes that the lawsuits over the Affordable Care Act's (PL 111-148) contraceptive coverage mandate mirror abortion-rights opponents' "'incrementalist' strategy," with each such lawsuit "trying, bit by bit, to expand the power of employers to stop women from obtaining affordable contraception" (Marcotte, "The XX Factor," Slate, 9/1).
ABORTION RESTRICTIONS: "Texas Abortion Clinics Take Their Appeal to the Supreme Court," Maya Dusenbery, Feministing: "Pro-choice advocates and abortion providers in Texas have filed a formal petition asking the Supreme Court to hear their case against the anti-choice restrictions [HB 2] that threaten to close all but ten of the state's clinics," Dusenbery writes. According to Dusenbery, "If SCOTUS takes up the case, it will be the first time it's heard an abortion-related case since 2007," when it upheld a ban on a certain type of abortion procedure, "and pro-[abortion rights] groups have been somewhat hesitant to go before the court since." She writes, "Not only would [HB 2] close 75 percent of the abortion clinics in the state -- affecting thousands of Texans a year -- but the lower court that upheld the law declared that it didn't pos[e] an 'undue burden' on the right [to] choose because the state claimed that it 'furthered women's health' -- and that there was no need to actually determine whether that claim is valid. (It's not, as every medical authority has confirmed.)" She writes, "If the court doesn't step in, there's apparently no legal limit to the kind of nonsense anti-choice lawmakers can pass under the thin guise of protecting 'patient safety' and Texas-style laws will likely become a template for making abortion technically legal but utterly inaccessible in other [conservative] states. However, she notes that a ruling against the antiabortion-rights law "could put a stop to the continued spread of 'sham laws' that have literally no other purpose than to shut down clinics" (Dusenbery, Feministing, 9/4).
What others are saying about abortion restrictions:
~ "Nebraska Republican Wants To Ban Second-Trimester Abortion Procedure," Teddy Wilson, RH Reality Check.
RELIGION: "Memo to Pope Francis: Women Who Have 'Resorted' to Abortion Don't Need Forgiveness," Marcotte, RH Reality Check: Pope Francis' letter last week, which "downgraded the level of sinfulness of abortion," shows that Francis "appears to be adopting the narrative concocted by American anti-choicers in recent years: that abortion needs to be banned to protect women, who are simply too stupid and childish to be trusted with important decisions such as when and if to have children," Marcotte writes. She notes that while Francis "can say he meets women [who] were hurt by abortion all he likes ... the empirical evidence shows that nearly all women who get one feel it was the right decision for them, even years after the fact." Marcotte writes that Francis in the letter seems "skeptical of the idea that women naturally want more sex than they want babies" and "frames abortion as something that women only resort to under pressure." According to Marcotte, this "fantasy" -- pushed, to varying degrees, by conservative lawmakers, "crisis pregnancy centers ... anti-feminist activists, anti-choicers pretending to be feminists, anti-choice doctors, and now the Pope" -- "ignores the fact that most women who have abortions are already mothers ... that married women have abortions" and "that there's a ten-year gap between the average age of first intercourse and average age of marriage." Most significantly, Marcotte writes, the Pope's letter "ignores the fact that women really are the best authorities on their own lives," and they "do not need to ask forgiveness for knowing what [they] want and making decisions within the framework of [their] lives" (Marcotte, RH Reality Check, 9/2).
ANTIABORTION-RIGHTS MOVEMENT: "The Planned Parenthood Arson is an Outrage Because We Could Have Seen it Coming," Samantha Allen, Daily Beast: Allen writes about a recent arson at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Pullman, Wash., noting that "the most frightening thought about the crime isn't the possibility that the arson was directly motivated by the anti-abortion protests stirred up by [the Center for Medical Progress'] undercover video campaign, it's the thought that this is simply ... business as usual." She explains that the arson, which is still under investigation, followed a recent antiabortion-rights protest outside the clinic, which itself was spurred by CMP's misleading video series targeting Planned Parenthood. However, Allen cites the National Abortion Federation, noting that "there have been 186 arsons committed against abortion providers since 1976" and "approximately 40 bombings over the same time period," including one at a Planned Parenthood clinic about an hour and a half north of the Pullman clinic. She writes that while "it is easy to speculate that this latest arson could have been provoked by" CMP's misleading video series, "[t]he history of anti-abortion arson is a long and sordid one" and "this could have simply been the Pullman center's time." She touches on several other antiabortion-rights attacks, including a recent fire at a Wisconsin Planned Parenthood clinic and a 2007 firebombing of a clinic in New Mexico. Meanwhile, she notes that CMP has ties to Operation Rescue, an extreme antiabortion-rights group whose senior policy advisory, Cheryl Sullenger, previously was jailed for plotting to bomb an abortion clinic in California (Allen, Daily Beast, 9/5).
What others are saying about the antiabortion-rights movement:
~ "Rick Scott’s Office Caught Manipulating Reports on Planned Parenthood Investigations," Marcotte, Slate.