January 25, 2013 — We've compiled some of the most thought-provoking commentaries from around the Web. Catch up on the conversation with bloggers from Ms. Magazine, RH Reality Check and more.
WOMEN'S REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH AFTER 2012 ELECTION: "Women Spoke -- Will Lawmakers Listen?" Marcia Greenberger, Huffington Post blogs: After former Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) and other politicians made controversial comments about rape, "[w]omen made clear on Election Day what they thought of the candidates' abhorrent remarks and the myriad attacks on their reproductive health," Greenberger, co-president of the National Women's Law Center, writes. However, several states -- including Wyoming and Texas -- have continued to entertain bills that would "restrict women's reproductive health care." Greenberger asks whether a recently passed measure allowing servicewomen who get pregnant as the result of rape or incest to have insurance coverage for abortion was "a glimmering that lawmakers will actually listen to their female constituents," concluding, "The jury is still out, but women will be watching" (Greenberger, Huffington Post blogs, 1/24).
ABORTION PROVIDERS: "Carrying on for Dr. Tiller," Carole Joffe, Ms. Magazine blog: Joffe highlights a new documentary called "After Tiller" that follows four abortion providers who were colleagues of George Tiller -- an abortion doctor who was killed by an "anti-abortion fanatic." The four doctors are the "most visible of the tiny handful of abortion providers today who are willing to perform abortions in the third trimester of pregnancy," Joffe notes. "The film shows the immense strains of this work" and makes "clear how profoundly gratifying it is to be of service to these women -- and to continue the journey of their mentor and friend," Joffe concludes (Joffe, Ms. Magazine blog, 1/22).
What others are saying about abortion providers:
~ "Meet the Abortion Providers Risking Their Lives for Your Right to Choose," Katie J.M. Baker, Jezebel.
~ "Despite Legal and Physical Harassment, Group Plans to Re-Open Former Tiller Clinic in Kansas," Robin Marty, RH Reality Check.
VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN: "A Rape a Minute, a Thousand Corpses a Year," Rebecca Solnit, Huffington Post blogs: U.S. residents treated the reports of a gang rape in India last month "as an exceptional incident," despite the fact that a rape is reported every 6.2 minutes in this country, Solnit writes. She adds that gang rapes in the U.S. are "everywhere in the news" and represent "a pattern of violence against women that's broad and deep and horrific and incessantly overlooked." Solnit writes, "We have far more than 87,000 rapes in the country every year, but each of them is invariably portrayed as an isolated incident," concluding, "It has to change" (Solnit, Huffington Post blogs, 1/24).
What others are saying about violence against women:
~ "With Women in Combat, Will Military Finally Address Epidemic of Sexual Assault?" Michelle Bernard, Washington Post's "She The People."
~ "UNC Purposefully Underreported Sexual Assault Cases," Alexandra Brodsky, Feministing.
~ "Gender and Empathy: Men Shouldn't Need to 'Imagine if it Were Your Wife/Daughter/Mother,'" Maya Dusenbery, Feministing.
~ "Forcing Rape Victims to Give Birth? New Mexico Has a Novel Approach," Robin Marty, RH Reality Check.
~ "The 18,437 Perpetrators of Steubenville," Michael Kimmel, Ms. Magazine.
~ "Tennessee Supreme Court Considers Whether Minor Is An Accomplice In Her Own Statutory Rape," Jessica Mason Pieklo, RH Reality Check.
ROE V. WADE ANNIVERSARY: HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE: "Roe at 40!" Geoffrey Stone, Huffington Post blogs: Stone -- a law professor at the University of Chicago -- uses his perspective as one of Supreme Court Justice William Brennan's law clerks during the term in which the court considered Roe v. Wade to analyze why "even the most conservative justices did not think of Roe as a difficult or controversial case." Stone writes that the Supreme Court's decision stemmed from a historical and legal right to abortion. He notes, "At the time the Constitution was adopted, abortion in the first eighteen week[s] of a woman's pregnancy was lawful," a norm that was altered only through the religious, medical and cultural movements of the 19th century. Moreover, the high court had ruled in cases ranging from state-ordered sterilization to the use of contraceptives that "individuals have a constitutional right to decide for themselves about matters as fundamental and personal as reproduction." Although the justices never thought "Roe would still be thought politically divisive today," Stone concludes, it "was a triumph of American constitutional law" that "changed the world in a fundamental way" (Stone, Huffington Post blogs, 1/22).
ROE V. WADE ANNIVERSARY: RELIGIOUS PERSPECTIVE: "Roe as a Matter of Religious Liberty," Nancy Kaufman, Washington Post's "Guest Voices": Antiabortion measures "undermine religious liberty for women," Kaufman, CEO of the National Council of Jewish Women, writes, noting that the "reenactment each year of the Hyde Amendment" is "especially troubling." According to Kaufman, the amendment -- which "restrict[s] coverage of abortion services" in federal insurance plans, such as Medicaid or those for military personnel -- places "the government in the position of making a moral judgment according to the religious criteria of abortion opponents" and "deprives every woman whom Roe was supposed to protect of her religious liberty." She adds that the "pervasiveness of the Hyde Amendment" has "led to the insertion of similarly unjust restrictions in the Affordable Care Act." She calls on President Obama to "put forward a budget without the Hyde language." Such a policy, she concludes, would ensure "every woman is accorded her constitutional right to make her own faith-informed decision about abortion rather than privileging the views of those who oppose it" (Kaufman, "Guest Voices," Washington Post, 1/22).
What others are saying about the religious perspective on the Roe v. Wade anniversary:
~ "Celebrating Roe v. Wade as a Pro-Choice Muslim," Altaf Saadi, Huffington Post blogs.
~ "The American Catholic Church and Roe v. Wade," Charles J. Reid, Huffington Post blogs.
~ "40 Years after Roe, My Personal Fight for Justice," Leslie Watson Malachi, Huffington Post blogs.
ROE V. WADE ANNIVERSARY: WOMEN OF COLOR PERSPECTIVE: "Roe v. Wade and Recovering from Shame," Mai Doan, RH Reality Check: "After making it past numerous financial and legal roadblocks, choosing an abortion is still not an easy thing to go through," Doan, a youth organizer at Forward Together, writes, adding, "There is still silence, shame, and sadness that may be connected to having an abortion, especially for working class, young women of color, who have yet to feel that dreamy vision Roe v. Wade seemed to promise 40 years ago." She concludes, "As a country, we need to show up for women making these difficult decisions, not just by addressing the physical challenges around abortion access, but by actively creating space for the shame and silence to unravel, for all that weight to dissipate, and for the burdens carried by working class, young women of color to transform into something much lighter and more reflective of their courage and resilience" (Doan, RH Reality Check, 1/22).
What others are saying about the perspective of women of color on the Roe v. Wade anniversary:
~ "Why Black, White and Latina Young Women Need (and Celebrate) Roe," Shari Inniss-Grant, National Women's Law Center's "Womenstake."
~ "The Road to Roe: Paved With Bodies of Women of Color and the Legal Activism of African Americans," Cynthia Greenlee-Donnell, RH Reality Check.
~ "Forty Years In and Women of Color Still Lack Access to Reproductive Health Care," Mariotta Gary-Smith, RH Reality Check.
~ "Roe at 40: Reproductive Justice for Black Women," Atima Omara-Alwala, Ms. Magazine blog.
~ "Policing African-American Motherhood From Every Angle," Alicia Walters, RH Reality Check.
~ "Wading in Uncomfortable Waters: Abortion and the Politics of Experience," Taja Lindley, Feministe.
ROE V. WADE ANNIVERSARY: YOUTH PERSPECTIVE: "The New Roe," Kierra Johnson, Huffington Post blogs: Johnson, executive director of the abortion-rights group Choice USA, writes, "The fight for abortion rights is not, nor has it ever been, about vaginas or babies. It is about power, quality of life and the role of government." According to Johnson, the biggest difference between the current generation and the generation that fought for Roe v. Wade is that current activists "don't work from a single-issue frame, but instead find their way to sexual and reproductive health and rights through their commitment to immigrant rights, fair labor laws, environmental justice or LGBTQ equality." She adds, "Maybe 2013 can be the year we stop looking back to Roe and start looking forward to the policies that can expand sexual and reproductive health for the next 40 years" (Johnson, Huffington Post blogs, 1/22).
What others are saying about the youth perspective on the Roe v. Wade anniversary:
~ "A New Generation of Abortion Activists: Shaping the Future," Julia Reticker-Flynn, RH Reality Check.
~ "A New Generation of Abortion Activists: Destigmatizing Abortion in Kentucky," Eriauna Stratton, RH Reality Check.
~ "A New Generation of Abortion Activists: Reclaiming the Conversation on Abortion One Meeting at a Time," Carly Manes, RH Reality Check.
~ "A New Generation of Abortion Activists: 'I Can't Be Pregnant,'" April Flores, RH Reality Check.
ROE V. WADE ANNIVERSARY: A LONG WAY TO GO: "Roe v. Wade 40 Years Later: How Far Have We Come?" Kate Michelman/Carol Tracy, Women's Law Project blog: "Roe v. Wade was a historic milestone for women in America" and since then "there have been some great strides forward," Michelman, president emerita of NARAL Pro-Choice America, and Tracy, executive director of the Women's Law Project, write. However, there are areas of concern, including state legislation restricting abortion access and limits on family planning funding. In addition, "Forty years later, women still do not have equal pay in the workplace and are discriminated against due to pregnancy and familial responsibilities" and women are "vastly underrepresented in the political landscape," they say. Michelman and Tracy conclude, "[L]et us also understand that hard work and vigilance is needed now, more than ever, in the fight for women's equality and justice. The goal of Roe v. Wade has not been achieved, but on this anniversary it is essential that it also not be forgotten" (Michelman/Tracy, Women's Law Project blog, 1/22).
What others are saying about the long way to go: ~ "We Must Stand Up to Efforts to Roll Back Abortion Rights," Debra Ness, U.S. News & World Report's "Debate Club."
~ "A New Day for Abortion Providers?" Carole Joffe, RH Reality Check.
~ "'Roe' at 40: The Economic Divide That Denies Low-Income Women Their Right to an Abortion," Bryce Covert, The Nation.
~ "Fulfilling the Promise of Roe v. Wade: Let's Start With the President's Budget," Emily Spitzer, Huffington Post blogs.
~ "Happy Anniversary Roe v. Wade! Here are the States Competing To Ban Legal Abortion First," Amanda Marcotte, Slate's "XX Factor."
~ "After 40 Years With Roe v. Wade, Here’s How Republicans are Successfully Chipping Away at Abortion Rights," Tara Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress."
~ "40 Years," Susan Yanow, Law Students for Reproductive Justice's "Repo Repro."
~ "Roe at Forty: Today in Texas, it is Yesterday," Andrea Grimes, RH Reality Check.
~ " Forty Years After Roe, the American People Have Spoken. Will Politicians Finally Listen?" Jennifer Dalven, American Civil Liberties Union's "Blog of Rights."
ROE V. WADE ANNIVERSARY: MEDICAL PERSPECTIVE: "40 Years After Roe: A Doctor's Opinion on the Importance of Protecting Access to Safe and Legal Abortion," Vanessa Cullins, Huffington Post blogs: Cullins, a gynecologist and vice president of external medical affairs for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, writes that Roe v. Wade "made it a constitutional right for every woman to be able to make her own health care decisions, and for me to be able to fully care for my patients." She notes that illegal abortions accounted for about one-fifth of all pregnancy- and childbirth-related deaths in 1965; today, fewer than 0.3% of women who end a pregnancy experience a serious complication. "As a doctor and as a woman, I know firsthand just how important it is to every woman to be able to make her own decision about her pregnancy," Cullins writes, adding, "On this 40th anniversary of safe, legal abortion, women -- and the men who love them -- must commit to continue to fight for our health and rights" (Cullins, Huffington Post blogs, 1/22).
What others are saying about the medical perspective on the Roe v. Wade anniversary:
~ "Do it for Jane," Daine Stevens, Law Students for Reproductive Justice's "Repo Repro."
ABORTION-RIGHTS OPPONENTS: "Antiabortion March for Life Gets a New Head and, Perhaps, a New Focus," Michelle Boorstein, Washington Post: Boorstein writes that Jeanne Monahan's new role as the head of the March for Life -- the nation's largest antiabortion gathering -- could signal a new direction for the movement. "Monahan's charge is to modernize the march for a country that is becoming more conflicted about abortion even as it remains steadfastly committed to the Roe ruling and the value of personal choice," she notes. As a member of the antiabortion movement's "next generation of leaders," Monahan must grapple with "whether those two things can coexist," Boorstein adds (Boorstein, Washington Post, 1/24).
What others are saying about the abortion-rights opponents:
~"Most Annoying Anti-Abortion Protestor Ever is Banned From D.C.," Katie Baker, Jezebel.
~"Catholic Bishops To Investigate Catholic Hospital Group That Argued in Lawsuit That Fetuses Are Not People," Jaweed Kaleem, Huffington Post blogs.
Debra Ness, publisher & president, National Partnership
Andrea Friedman, associate editor & director of reproductive health programs, 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