October 30, 2015 — Read the week's best commentary from bloggers at Bustle, Medium and more.
ABORTION RESTRICTIONS: "When Will SCOTUS Rule on HB2, Texas' Strident Anti-Abortion Law? The State Is Sneakily Chipping Away at Women's Rights in The Meantime," Josephine Yurcaba, Bustle: It is "unclear" when the Supreme Court will consider the legal challenges against Texas' omnibus antiabortion-rights bill (HB 2), but "the state has continued to sneakily curtail or invade the rights of women since the [Supreme] Court issued" a stay on the contested parts of the law, Yurcaba writes. According to Yurcaba, "Because of the confusion surrounding which Texas clinics have closed their doors" under various HB 2 provisions, "two clinics in El Paso, Texas, have reported that women appear to be crossing the border for do-it-yourself abortions." This has led to some women who obtained medication abortion drugs in Mexico contracting infections and seeking out treatment at clinics in Texas and New Mexico. Yurcaba notes that "abortion clinics often don't have admitting privileges at a hospital ... because the complication rate of abortions is so low," but complications reported from these women could foster "the dangerous misconceptions surrounding abortion in Texas." Meanwhile, state officials have as part of their efforts to defund Planned Parenthood ordered the organization's clinics to submit "thousands of patient documents concerning patients billed to Medicaid who had had abortions where any part of the fetus was removed and preserved for research use," Yurcaba writes, noting that "Planned Parenthood officials have said the move is a total violation of patient confidentiality." She writes, "Pro-choice organizations say that because Texas can't make abortion illegal, it's doing everything in its power to make it inaccessible" (Yurcaba, Bustle, 10/29).
ANTIABORTION-RIGHTS MOVEMENT: "Let's Call Clinic Violence What it Is: Domestic Terrorism," NARAL Pro-Choice America, Medium: The increase in "anti-choice violence" against Planned Parenthood in the wake of a series of misleading videos targeting the organization is "nothing new -- [it's] part of a very long history of violence from an extreme minority," NARAL Pro-Choice America states. NARAL cites figures from the National Abortion Federation, which found that there have been eight murders of clinic workers in the U.S. since 1993; "17 attempted murders of clinic workers ... since 1991"; more than "6,900 reported acts of violence against abortion providers since 1977, including bombings, arsons, death threats, and assaults"; and over 19,000 "reported acts of disruption, including bomb threats, hate mail and harassing calls since 1977." NARAL explains that "highly charged, false, and misleading anti-choice rhetoric leads to a climate where violence against abortion providers is tacitly condoned and passively encouraged." Such a violent climate can deter providers from abortion care, further limiting women's access to the procedure; mark another cycle of violence in the abortion-rights movement's "long history of violence"; subject more U.S. women to protesters outside of abortion clinics; and place abortion patients, providers and their families under threat. NARAL calls out such violence as acts of "domestic terrorism" and calls on readers to sign a petition asking the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate such tactics (NARAL Pro-Choice America, Medium, 10/14).
RELIGION: "The Clergy Hoping To Shatter The Divide Between Religion And Abortion Rights," Alex Zielinski, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": Zielinski writes about research from the Religious Institute that counters the "perceived disconnect between religion and abortion rights." According to Zielinski, "the study found that the majority of religious Americans (excluding evangelicals) support legalizing abortion, and that more religious women get abortions in their lifetime than those who don't affiliate themselves with a religion." Further, it found that "nearly 90 percent of the country's religious population uses some form of birth control that isn't 'natural family planning,' the non-hormonal method of tracking women's monthly cycles that's sanctioned by the Catholic Church." However, Zielinski also notes that the study "found that morality alone is the key piece missing in reproductive rights advocacy," with a "majority of people support[ing] legal abortion" and "a majority also believ[ing] that abortion is not morally acceptable." Relatedly, the study noted that "[o]f those surveyed, 100 percent of foundations and faith-based organizations and 89 percent of secular organizations agreed it was important for the reproductive health and justice movement to better engage religious leaders and people of faith," Zielinski writes. Zielinski speaks with religious and faith leaders about how clergy and reproductive health clinics can address religion as part of reproductive health care, noting that the effort is particularly important given abortion-rights opponents' continuing efforts to use religion to restrict women's right to the procedure (Zielinski, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 10/28).
CONTRACEPTION: "GOP Lawmaker: Colorado Officials Are 'Science-Deniers' for Reporting IUDs Reduce Abortions," Jason Salzman, RH Reality Check: Colorado "Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt [R], a vociferous opponent of abortion rights, called Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) officials 'science-deniers'" after they "released data last week showing teen birth and abortion rates have dropped nearly 50 percent from 2009 through 2014," Salzman writes. According to Salzman, the gains come from "a program that provides free or reduced-cost intrauterine devices (IUDs) and other long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) to teenagers and low-income women." Salzman quotes Klingenschmitt, who claimed that the LARCs provided through the program were taxpayer-funded abortifacients, a claim that counters "the widely accepted scientific definition" of pregnancy. Salzman explains that "pregnancy occurs after a zygote (fertilized egg) implants in the uterine wall, and because these methods of contraception work prior to implantation, they do not cause abortions." However, Salzman notes that despite the program's "unmitigated success, state [conservative] lawmakers defunded the pregnancy-prevention program." According the latest state data, the program has distributed "36,000 IUDs and implants," to Colorado residents, "raising the use of such contraception from 4.5 percent of the clinics' clients in 2009, when the program started, to 29.6 percent in 2014 (compared to 7.2 percent who use IUDs and implants nationally)," Salzman writes. According to Salzman, the program has "procured more private funding to run a scaled-back program for another year" (Salzman, RH Reality Check, 10/27).
GLOBAL ISSUES: "Why Did China Start a One-Child Policy? The Controversial Decision Will Have Long-Lasting Effects," Hope Racine, Bustle: Racine explores the motivations and results of China's one-child policy in light of the nation's recent announcement that "now parents can have two children." According to Racine, China enacted the one-child policy in 1979 amid concerns that the nation's economy could not keep up with a rapidly expanding population, which at the time was at about 972 million. However, she notes that "while the Chinese government boasts that the policy prevented an estimated 400 million births, the policy went even further in impacting the population and culture, in a way that officials likely did not expect." According to Racine, "China is still the most populous country in the world, with a population of 1.36 billion," but now "[i]ndividuals aged 25 to 54 years make up over 45 percent of the population, while individuals aged 0-14 make up just 17 percent." This "means that within several decades, the majority of the population will [be] beyond childbearing and working age," Racine writes. While China loosened the policy in 2013 amid "concerns over a rapidly aging population," Racine notes that "the cultural damage was done," with one child being "the societal norm." She notes that "eliminating the policy is a good start," but that "it will still take decades for the nation's population to level out again." Further, she notes that the new, two-child policy still represents "a frightening level of government control in terms of reproductive health and choices," adding, "As long as citizens have to apply to have children, a country can never have true reproductive freedom" (Racine, Bustle, 10/29).
What others are saying about global issues:
~ "Working Together To Make Public Spaces Safer for Women and Girls," Holly Kearl, Women's Media Center.