National Partnership for Women & Families

Around the Blogosphere

November 20, 2015


"The High Cost of Reproductive Coercion," Atima Omara, American Prospect: While "contraception can be transformative," it "can also be used as a tool to abuse and control women" through what is known as "contraceptive coercion, or birth control sabotage -- and it's more widespread than you think," Omara writes. According to Omara, the National Domestic Violence Hotline "defines reproductive coercion as what happens when one partner strips the other of the ability to control his or her own reproductive system," such as by "sabotaging birth control methods" or "forcing a partner to continue a pregnancy or have an abortion against her will." She cites research showing that reproductive coercion occurs "[o]ften enough ... to arouse concern among advocates, health-care providers, and policymakers alike" and "can hit lower-income women particularly hard." Omara touches on the difficulties of legislating the issue, citing a Michigan "'abortion coercion' ban (HB 4787, HB 4830)" that "seemed like a step in the right direction until [conservative legislators] rejected all amendments ... that would have also made it a crime to coerce a woman not to have an abortion and force her to carry a pregnancy to term against her will." Futher, she writes, "Legal remedies have also hit roadblocks," noting that the U.S. legal system does not "distinguis[h] between consenting to sex or sex acts and consenting to sex acts without contraception" and "focus[es] instead on 'generalized consent.'" There is "no single legal group [that] focuses specifically on prosecuting reproductive coercion in the U.S.," Omara writes, adding that while "[t]his dynamic might change if policymakers on both sides of the aisle worked together on the issue ... the swirl of issues complicating reproductive coercion -- domestic violence, poverty, reproductive rights -- present built-in political challenges" (Omara, American Prospect, 11/17).

What others are saying about sexual and gender-based violence:

~ "Study: Grassroots Feminism Is The Best Strategy For Combating Gendered Violence" Kim Milan, Feministing.


"Anthony Kennedy's Right to Choose," Dahlia Lithwick, Slate 's "Jurisprudence": "Ever since the [Supreme Court] announced on Friday -- after eight years of silence on the issue --that it was going to hear a major abortion case, all eyes have been fixed on Justice Anthony Kennedy," who "will certainly be the decisive vote in Whole Woman's Health v. Cole this summer," Lithwick writes. She explains that some abortion-rights supporters "are heartened by the fact that Kennedy voted to grant a stay preventing" the parts of the Texas law (HB 2) at issue in the case "from immediately going into effect." However, Lithwick also notes that "many court watchers note that Kennedy is not a fan of abortion and that it's a mistake to believe he teeters at the center on this issue." Lithwick touches on "Kennedy's paternalism in Gonzales v. Carhart, his last major abortion opinion, in 2007," in which he wrote that "'it seems unexceptionable to conclude some women come to regret their choice to abort the infant life they once created and sustained.'" She writes that while "Kennedy clearly believes that vulnerable women should have lots of information and hedge against any possibility of future regrets in making their difficult choices ... it strains credulity to imagine that he will happily accept the argument that the best way to ensure that brooding, uncertain women make good decisions is to ensure that they cannot make any." Further, "even if the choice-affirming Justice Kennedy doesn't have much confidence in the powers of Texas women to make good choices, it's hard to imagine that he would be perfectly sanguine about the fact that the 'health reasons' offered up by the state to justify the new regulations in no way correlate to better health outcomes," she writes. Lithwick concludes, "So perhaps the hardest question for a Justice Kennedy who believes that autonomy rests in the power to make wise, well-informed choices will be whether he is willing to tolerate transparently pretextual rationales for the Texas rules, under the guise that legislatures always know what is best for maternal health" (Lithwick, "Jurisprudence," Slate, 11/17).

What others are saying about the Supreme Court:

~ "Evil Laws -- The Texas Abortion Case," Bennett Gershman, Huffington Post blogs.


"The Rise Of Self-Abortions In Texas Prove We're Now Fighting a Pre-Roe Battle," s.e. smith, Bustle: Citing a new report that found up to 240,000 Texas women might have tried to self-induce abortions, smith writes, "[W]hat's going on in Texas shows us that pre-Roe conditions aren't something that could happen if can't defend abortion rights. They show us that they're already happening, and the question is not so much how we can retain the rights we have and slowly claw back horrific legislation, but how we can reclaim abortion access." Smith explains that "[a]bortion is functionally illegal and/or inaccessible in multiple U.S. states as a result of" targeted regulation of abortion providers, or TRAP laws. According to smith, "When combined with continuous terrorist attacks against abortion clinics, providers and patients alike are terrified to be involved with abortion services." Smith notes that while "[l]ack of access to abortion may not be the same thing as outlawing it ... it has a similar effect": Women "are forced underground if they want to terminate pregnancies" when abortion care is illegal or when they "cannot access legal abortions due to TRAP laws, terrorism, or other barriers." Noting that the Supreme Court has agreed to review parts of Texas' antiabortion-rights law (HB 2), smith writes, "The issue isn't necessarily whether Roe is in a state of erosion, but whether the new cas[e] hitting the Supreme Court can affirm abortion rights, reiterating what the court said" in Roe v. Wade (smith, Bustle, 11/19).

What others are saying about abortion restrictions:

~ "The Number of Self-Induced Abortion Attempts in Texas Reveal We're on The Wrong Side of History," Hope Racine, Bustle.

Read more blog updates