January 8, 2016


"America and Reproductive Rights: Not Making the Grade,"Robert Walker, Huffington Post blogs: Walker, president of the Population Institute, writes about his organization's "annual 50-state report card on reproductive health and rights." According to the report, 19 states "received a failing grade and the U.S. grade fell from a 'C' to a 'D+,'" he writes. Citing the "physical and political" attacks on Planned Parenthood and the "political assaults on sex education programs," Walker continues, "It all adds up to a bad report card for 2015, and it could get worse in 2016 as Congress inches ever closer to cutting off funding for Planned Parenthood, slashing support for comprehensive sex education programs in the schools, and eliminating funding for Title X, the federal program of assistance to family planning clinics serving low-income households." For example, Walker notes that "[w]hile the White House and the Senate successfully blocked" House lawmakers' efforts to defund Planned Parenthood and Title X in 2015, "the efforts to cut funding are unrelenting," with conservative lawmakers sending another bill (HR 3762) targeting Planned Parenthood to President Obama earlier this month. He adds that in addition to state-level assaults on reproductive rights, "the physical assaults on family planning clinics ... are creating a climate of fear that will deter many women from accessing abortion and other services." However, "[t]he news is not all bad," Walker writes, pointing to the 17 states that "received a B- or higher and [the] four states (California, New Jersey, Oregon and Washington) [that] received an 'A.'" Nonetheless, Walker cites the increasing disparity in abortion access across the country, noting, "2015 was a bad year for reproductive health and rights in the U.S., but 2016 could be worse" (Walker, Huffington Post blogs, 1/7).

What others are saying about abortion restrictions:

~ "Symposium: Health-Justified Abortion Restrictions Are Not Exempt From Casey's Heightened Scrutiny," Dawn Johnsen, SCOTUSblog.


"Who's Teaching Sex Ed? And How Can We Do It Better?"Andrea Brand, Our Bodies Ourselves' "Our Bodies, Our Blog": Brand, a Planned Parenthood-certified sexuality educator, discusses the "limited sex education that is provided in public schools" and the need for accurate, comprehensive sexuality education. She highlights "community resources," such as Planned Parenthood's Get Real program, "a comprehensive curriculum ... for use in middle and high schools." Brand also discusses her personal efforts to begin "a girls group for the daughters of some of [her] friends," to "maintain an open dialogue with adolescent girls in a safe, informal environment." While Brand initially expected to hold five meetings, the group has met more than 24 times and is expected to educate the girls as they pass from 7th to 12th grade. "This model is easily replicated ... and it is completely flexible," Brand writes, highlighting an array of publicly available resources and encouraging "more facilitators -- more parents, guardians, grandparents, more trusted adults" to get involved (Brand, "Our Bodies Our Blog," Our Bodies Ourselves, 1/6).

What others are saying about sexuality education & contraceptive access:

~ "The Best & Worst Birth Control Laws in the United States -- Oregon Is the Latest To Join the List," Megan Grant, Bustle.

~ "Jennifer Lawrence Says She Used Planned Parenthood as a Teenager & Here's Why Stories Like Hers Help," Emily Lackey, Bustle.

~ "MTV May Be Partially Responsible For the Lowest Teen Pregnancy Rate in U.S. History, Plus 14 People on What Sex Ed Never Taught Them," Rachel Sanoff, Bustle.


"Advocates Push for Dignity in Supreme Court Anti-Abortion Law Case,"Jessica Mason Pieklo, RH Reality Check: "Opponents of Texas' HB 2 filed more than 40 amicus briefs with the Supreme Court on Monday detailing the devastation the massive anti-abortion omnibus bill and other similar policies have wrought on patient health and safety in the state," Mason Pieklo writes. Mason Pieklo outlines the "diverse coalition of groups and individuals" who submitted amicus briefs, noting that a common theme expressed by all the parties was that a woman's dignity is harmed by HB 2. According to Mason Pieklo, the word 'dignity' has "special constitutional meaning" and was a key concept in previous Supreme Court rulings on sterilization laws and on interracial and same-sex marriage. Further, she notes that Justice Anthony Kennedy, a likely swing vote in the lawsuit, has changed his jurisprudence on dignity since he ruled against abortion rights in his "2007 decision inGonzales v. Carhart." She points to Kennedy's arguments in "last summer's landmark marriage equality decision, Obergefell v. Hodges," in which he "relied heavily on the notion that [state-level] bans [on same-sex marriage] ... create significant harm to the dignity of LGBTQ people who wish to marry." In addition, Mason Pieklo writes that "hundreds of women shared their personal stories of [benefiting] from abortion" in the amicus briefs because "[p]ersonal stories also go a long way for Justice Kennedy." She concludes by expressing her belief that abortion-rights supporters' "strategy of appealing to Justice Kennedy and the dignity doctrine through personal stories and detailed analysis of the various harms caused by anti-abortion laws [will] pay off" (Mason Pieklo, RH Reality Check, 1/6).

What others are saying about the abortion-rights movement:

~ "Abortion-Rights Advocates May Have Finally Found a Way To Regulate 'Crisis Pregnancy Centers,'" Nora Caplan-Bricker, Slate's "XX Factor."