December 18, 2012 — We've compiled some of the most thought-provoking commentaries from around the Web. Catch up on the conversation with bloggers from the Daily Beast, RH Reality Check and more.
CONTRACEPTION: "Bobby Jindal's Silly Proposal for Over-the-Counter Birth-Control," Allison Yarrow, Daily Beast: Women's health advocates "aren't buying" Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal's (R) endorsement of nonprescription oral contraceptive sales, which they say is "shortsighted and intended solely for Jindal's own political gain," Yarrow writes. Many advocates argue that Jindal's plan would undermine the Affordable Care Act's (PL 111-148) contraceptive coverage requirements because it "outlin[es] no strategy for insurance to pay for the over-the-counter pills, or worse, it would have women shell out money for what they are poised to get for free," Yarrow states. For example, she notes that activist and author Cristina Page said that Jindal's proposal assumes that all women need the same type of contraception -- birth control pills -- and ignores intrauterine devices and other methods (Yarrow, Daily Beast, 12/14).
What others are saying about contraception:
~ "Domino's Pizza Founder Latest To Try and Block Contraception Mandate," Jessica Mason Pieklo, RH Reality Check.
MICHIGAN: "What Republican 'Soul-Searching'?" Michael Keegan, Huffington Post blogs: Despite Republicans' "talk of post-election 'soul-searching,' there doesn't appear to be any self-examination going on among those currently clinging to their seats in Congress and state legislatures," People for the American Way President Keegan writes. He cites Michigan, which recently passed "extreme anti-choice" legislation (HB 5711), as a primary example of the recent "right-wing rampage." He continues, "Anybody who was paying the least bit of attention to this year's elections would have noticed that two of the things voters find most repugnant about today's GOP is its blind allegiance to big corporations and its enthusiasm for regulating women's health," adding, "Apparently the Republican Party wasn't paying attention. Or is just too beholden to the interests of the Corporate and Christian Right to care" (Keegan, Huffington Post blogs, 12/14).
What others are saying about Michigan:
~ "Michigan House Sneakily Passed the Country's Most Extreme Anti-Abortion Bill Early This Morning," Katie J.M. Baker, Jezebel.
ABORTION BANS: "Rick Perry: Legislature Will Work Out Punishment for Women Seeking Later Abortions Under Proposed Ban," Andrea Grimes, RH Reality Check: Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) recently voiced support for legislation that would ban abortion in the state after 20 weeks of pregnancy, but his office said it will be up to the Legislature to determine if there are any exceptions to the ban and punishments for those who violate the measure, Grimes writes. She quotes Amelia Long -- president of the Lilith Fund, a not-for-profit that helps women find funding for abortion care -- who said that a 20-week abortion ban "unfairly burdens people that are already experiencing some of the worst problems in their lives." Grimes concurs, "Indeed, how compassionate is it to suggest that an unemployed mother of two, a student looking for waitressing jobs who found herself pregnant at 20 weeks after an unsuccessful medical abortion, should pay a fine or serve jail time?" (Grimes, RH Reality Check, 12/17).
SERVICEWOMEN: "The Time Is Now To End Discrimination Against Our Servicemembers," Rep.-Elect Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Huffington Post blogs: The current ban on the use of military health insurance to cover abortions for servicewomen who are sexually assaulted "is discrimination, plain and simple," Duckworth writes, adding that Medicaid and other federal health insurance programs include the coverage. "The insurance-coverage ban places an undue financial burden on female service members and military dependents," she continues, pointing out that rates of sexual assault in the armed forces are highest among women who earn the least. Lawmakers in the coming weeks will have an opportunity to end this policy by approving the National Defense Authorization Act (S 3254, HR 4310), with an amendment to allow abortion coverage for servicewomen in cases of rape and incest, Duckworth writes, adding, "We owe our servicewomen nothing less" (Duckworth, Huffington Post blogs, 12/14).
DOCTOR-PATIENT INTERFERENCE: "Major Medical Societies Call for End to Legislative Intrusion Into Women's Medical Care and Decisions," Andrea Friedman, RH Reality Check: Friedman, director of reproductive health programs at the National Partnership for Women & Families, highlights a recent New England Journal of Medicine commentary by several medical groups criticizing legislation that interferes with the physician-patient relationship in reproductive health care. Organizations representing tens of thousands of physicians have endorsed the article, and state medical associations across the country also "have been taking up the cause, openly opposing harmful laws," Friedman notes. "These statements are a sharp rebuke to legislators around the country busy passing laws that interfere with women's health care," she continues. "Anti-choice lawmakers often try to argue that these laws promote women's health and protect women from bad decisions," Friedman writes, adding, "But the reality is just the opposite; they harm women by taking the important decisions about their individual care away from them and their doctors and instead put them in the hands of politicians" (Friedman, RH Reality Check, 12/14).
MATERNAL HEALTH: "High Maternal Mortality Rates for Black Moms Still a Mystery," Belle Taylor-McGhee, Ms. Magazine blog: "[W]hen you ask why black women in the United States die from complications of pregnancy at three to four times the rate of other ethnic/racial groups, the answer is usually the same: 'We simply don't know,'" Taylor-McGhee writes. She points out that data collection on maternal mortality rates varies from state to state, adding, "The harsh reality is there is no national standard or federal requirement on reporting maternal deaths and scant national data." However, several states and CDC are collaborating on ways to improve data collection, she adds (Taylor-McGhee, Ms. Magazine blog, 12/17).
What others are saying about maternal health:
~ "Poverty Poses a Bigger Risk to Pregnancy Than Age," Philip Cohen, The Atlantic.
2012 IN REVIEW: "2012: The Year in Gender," Sarah Seltzer, Jewish Daily Forward's "The Sisterhood": Seltzer writes that 2012 was marked by several "high-profile battles over women's health," beginning with a "major kerfuffle" between the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Susan G. Komen Foundation, and "soon thereafter, as if underscoring the point that standing up for women's health shouldn't be a political liability," the Obama administration affirmed that most health plans would be required to cover contraceptive services without consumer cost-sharing under the Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148). She adds that discussions about pregnancy discrimination and maternity leave "hit the headlines over the summer," while "[e]lection season brought feminist stars" -- including Sandra Fluke and Michelle Obama -- "to the fore." The election season also saw a "litany of out-of-left field rape comments that, on election day, ended up resulting in a giant backlash at the polls," Seltzer writes. She is looking forward to a "fresh start in 2013, a year which hopefully will feature very few high-profile political scandals involving the word 'rape'" (Seltzer, "The Sisterhood," Jewish Daily Forward, 12/17).
PAY EQUITY: "The 'Mommy Penalty,' Around the World," Catherine Rampell, New York Times' "Economix": "Around the developed world, women earn less than men by a sizable margin: as of 2010, about 16 percent less when employed in similar full-time jobs," Rampell writes, citing a recent report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. She notes, "Women with children, though, experience a far larger wage gap, a phenomenon known as the 'mommy penalty.'" The U.S. is "on trend with developed countries overall: in the United States, the median childless, full-time-working woman of reproductive age earns 7 percent less than the median male full-time worker," she writes, adding that "[f]or women with children, the wage gap more than triples, to 23 percent" (Rampell, "Economix," New York Times, 12/17).
Debra Ness, publisher & president, National Partnership
Andrea Friedman, associate editor & director of reproductive health programs, National Partnership
Marya Torrez, associate editor & senior reproductive health policy counsel, National Partnership
Melissa Safford, associate editor & policy advocate for reproductive health, National Partnership
Perry Sacks, assistant editor & health program associate, National Partnership
Cindy Romero, assistant editor & communications assistant, National Partnership
Justyn Ware, editor
Amanda Wolfe, editor-in-chief
Heather Drost, Hanna Jaquith, Marcelle Maginnis, Ashley Marchand and Michelle Stuckey, staff writers
Tucker Ball, director of new media, National Partnership