April 12, 2016
"This one-liner from Cecile Richards captures our feeling on the Republican war on women," Lauren Holter, Bustle: Holter writes about Planned Parenthood Federation of American President Cecile Richard's interview last week with Fusion news anchor Alicia Menendez. According to Holter, Richards during the discussion "summed up her feelings on [conservative lawmakers'] war on women in one simple sentence: 'I'm just honestly so sick of men telling us what to do with our bodies.'" The statement speaks to the "issue of conservative politicians limiting women's access to health care and reproductive services" and "feel[ing] more qualified than women and their doctors to make [women's] health care decisions," Holter writes. She notes that a "total of 396 anti-abortion bills were introduced across the country in 2015, 57 of which were enacted across 17 states, meaning the pervasiveness of [conservative lawmakers targeting women's health care] reaches far beyond the presidential race and even Congress." Holter continues, "[T]he war [conservative lawmakers] have waged on women's rights is really about telling women what to do -- taking away an entire gender's autonomy. While [conservative lawmakers] tout religious and moral reasons for limiting abortion access, it all boils down to this simple principle." This "recent surge of anti-abortion legislation seems to contradict [conservative lawmakers'] basic ideologies of small government and personal privacy," Holter adds, noting, "Nothing's more invasive than deciding what goes on in a woman's uterus." According to Holter, Richards during the interview also demonstrated her frustration with "men think[ing] that they have the right to dictate women's choices" by stating, "'The people of America don't like it when politicians put their own personal politics ahead of people's health.'" Holter concludes, "Above all else, reproductive rights are simply about giving women power over their own lives. No matter how you feel about abortion, feminists can agree that women deserve to decide their own life choices without unsolicited input or prodding from men" (Holter, Bustle, 4/11).
"Pregnancy, drug use, and why prison is not the solution," Marianne Mollmann, Huffington Post blogs: A New Hampshire bill (S 515) that would "redefine opioid use or addiction in 'custodial parents,' including pregnant women, as child abuse is making its way through the legislature, despite vocal objection from the state's medical community," Mollmann, a senior researcher with Physicians for Human Rights, writes. According to Mollmann, the bill comes as state lawmakers "increasingly seek to hold women criminally responsible for not having healthy pregnancy outcomes." She notes that since the start of 2016, "at least eight state legislatures have introduced bills to redefine legal personhood as starting at 'fertilization' or 'conception.'" She explains that while such "personhood" bills are medically unsound and logistically impossible to implement, supporters of "punitive pregnancy-related provisions have ... successfully advocated for the growing surveillance of pregnant women from marginalized or stigmatized communities through social services, and in particular through medical providers." Mollman cites documentation by National Advocates for Pregnant Women that shows a "growing arsenal of state laws that treat drug use and addiction in pregnant women as a form of child abuse." She writes, "Because health care providers in all states must report child abuse to the authorities, this reframing forces doctors and nurses to breach patient confidentiality for pregnant women who admit to struggling with drug use or addiction. The predictable result is a breakdown in the therapeutic relationship at best, and at worst, a reluctance to seek care at all for the women who arguably need it the most." Mollman notes, "Many of these bills are pushed through without consulting the medical community, which is the case for the bill currently pending in New Hampshire," adding that medical professionals are expected to "testify to [the New Hampshire bill's] predictably disastrous effects on the provision of addiction treatment and child welfare." She explains that while "both child abuse and drug addiction are serious matters, which require appropriate state support," efforts to "redefine drug use or addiction as child abuse in pregnant women ... disregard the medical and psychological needs of both abused children and pregnant women." Mollman contends, "Advocates of such legislation are attempting to transform the fiction of fetal personhood into law by appropriating the problem of child abuse and punishing pregnant women in need of treatment for substance dependency or addiction." She concludes, "Whether the conversation is about ... abortion, treatment for substance use disorder, or any other medical intervention, decisions about care are best made by the patient in private consultation with her doctor" (Mollman, Huffington Post blogs, 4/11).