August 28, 2015 — Read the week's best commentaries from bloggers at the Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress," American Civil Liberties Union's "Speak Freely" and more.
CONTRACEPTION: "Anti-Birth Control Employers Still Denying Women, Ignoring Obamacare Disclosure Requirements," Ian Millhiser, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": Millhiser writes that the "real impact" of the Supreme Court's decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby "is still up in the air," noting that "the Supreme Court has thus far gone out of its way to ignore the unanimous consensus among federal appeals courts who say that employers must comply with the Obama administration's current rules." He explains that the Hobby Lobby decision "contained language strongly suggesting that an alternative method of ensuring that workers have access to birth control ... would survive Supreme Court review," and "[t]he Obama administration's current rules call the Supreme Court on this bluff, implementing the very same accommodation that the Hobby Lobby opinion implied to be legally acceptable." However, shortly after ruling on Hobby Lobby, "a majority of the Court granted temporary relief to a religious college that objected specifically to the fill-out-the-form accommodation in an order that remains in effect today," Millhiser writes. Similarly, he notes that the high court stayed a ruling from the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that upheld the accommodation, while the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals stayed its own ruling affirming the accommodation pending "the Supreme Court's final disposition of the case." Millhiser concludes, "Until the Supreme Court releases its hold over these cases, the unanimous consensus among federal courts of appeals means very little at all. It is also an ominous sign for supporters of reproductive health that they will have a harder fight ahead of them in the Supreme Court than they have thus far faced in the courts of appeal" (Millhiser, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 8/25).
ANTIABORTION-RIGHTS MOVEMENT: "Lawmakers Are Convinced That Women Are Having Abortions For The Wrong Reasons," Tara Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": Lawmakers who oppose abortion rights "seek to restrict abortion from all angles" and "[n]ow, a new battleground is emerging: Anticipating why a woman may choose to have an abortion, and then outlawing ending a pregnancy for this particular reason," Culp-Ressler writes. For example, "first-of-its-kind legislation [HB 135] currently up for debate in Ohio would prohibit a woman from having an abortion because she found out her fetus has a Down syndrome diagnosis," she writes, adding that the measure likely will be approved this fall. According to Culp-Ressler, the bill -- like restrictions in other states "that prohibit women from ending a pregnancy based [on] the characteristics of her fetus," such as race or sex -- come from Americans United for Life, a group that writes antiabortion-rights model legislation and "shops [it] around to conservative lawmakers." Meanwhile, "[o]pponents of Ohio's proposed bill are expressing concern that it would position abortion doctors as gatekeepers, requiring them to determine whether their patient is seeking an abortion for a reason deemed acceptable by the state legislature," Culp-Ressler writes, noting that physicians who break the proposed law "could face felony charges, possible jail time, and the loss of their medical license." She adds that, according to abortion-rights supporters, such bills aim to "ultimately play into larger narratives about who is allowed to have an abortion" (Culp-Ressler, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 8/25).
What others are saying about the antiabortion-rights movement:
~ "Anti-Choice Group's Latest Video Misleads on 'Intact' Fetuses," Teddy Wilson, RH Reality Check.
~ "Planned Parenthood Fights to Keep Medicaid Funding in Louisiana," Jessica Mason Pieklo, RH Reality Check.
~ "How Anti-Abortion Activists Uncover Details About Women's Personal Medical Procedures," Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress."
ACCESS TO CARE: "Catholic Hospital Caves Under Threat of Lawsuit and Approves Woman's Procedure," Elizabeth Gill, American Civil Liberties Union's "Speak Freely": "Under the threat of a potential lawsuit, a Catholic-affiliated hospital in California's largest hospital network made an unexpected move," authorizing "a previously denied doctor's request to perform a post-partum tubal ligation," Gill writes. Gill explains that Rachel Miller, a patient at Mercy Medical Center, decided she would like to have a tubal ligation "after she gives birth ... in late September." However, the hospital denied a request from Miller's physician to perform the procedure, noting that the hospital "operates under binding 'ethical and religious directives' issued by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops," which prohibits "sterilization for the purpose of contraception." According to Gill, the hospital "agreed to grant an exception" for Miller after ACLU submitted a letter warning of a possible lawsuit, but "there remains a clear conflict between the best interests of patients and the directives of the Catholic hospital system." Catholic hospitals in the U.S. "are increasingly ubiquitous ... and they are often the only health care option for women," Gill writes, adding, "[A]s long as Catholic hospitals are allowed to apply the ethical and religious directives, many women will be denied care because Catholic bishops are telling medical professionals how to operate" (Gill, "Speak Freely," American Civil Liberties Union, 8/25).
ABORTION-RIGHTS MOVEMENT: "Even if You Haven't Had an Abortion, You Owe Planned Parenthood," Katha Pollitt, The Nation: Pollitt calls on men and women who have benefited from Planned Parenthood and other abortion clinics to express their support for the organization, citing the recent attacks on Planned Parenthood, legislation aimed at closing down "[i]ndependent clinics all over the country," and the harassment and stigma that can deter new providers from entering the field and prevent women from accessing care. Acknowledging that not all women can safely share their abortion story, Pollitt reiterates her call to "women for whom the stakes are nowhere near so high," writing, "Don't all political movements, at some level, ask people to get out of their comfort zones and be a little brave?" Further, not "only women who have had abortions have a responsibility here," Pollitt writes, adding, "If you or your child or your boyfriend (8 percent of Planned Parenthood's patients are men) ever visited a Planned Parenthood clinic for birth control or [sexually transmitted infections] treatment, you owe them," as does anyone who "ha[s] sex without intending pregnancy" or benefited from "postponing childbearing." She explains, "[U]ndergirding all of those choices is the ready availability of birth control and abortion" (Pollitt, The Nation, 8/27).