February 5, 2013 — We've compiled some of the most thought-provoking commentaries from around the Web. Catch up on the conversation with bloggers from Huffington Post, New York Times and more.
TRAFFICKING: "On Human Trafficking 'National Freedom Day,' Survivor Shares Story of Captivity, Advocacy," Jessica Prois, Huffington Post blogs: To commemorate National Freedom Day on Feb. 1, human trafficking survivors -- including Margaret Howard, now a therapist, social worker and a consultant for the Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking -- are sharing their stories to "create more awareness around trafficking as a domestic problem," Prois writes. She writes that Howard and others are calling for the renewal of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, which would provide resources to organizations to fight modern-day trafficking. Advocates note that a lack of awareness of the prevalence of human trafficking "is part of the ... problem in the U.S." (Prois, Huffington Post blogs, 2/1).
CONTRACEPTIVE COVERAGE: "Contraception Compromise," David Firestone, New York Times ' "Taking Note": The Obama administration has "gone far enough" in its accommodation for religious groups that have objections to covering contraception, Firestone writes. On Friday, the administration announced that insurers must provide no-cost birth control to employees of religious not-for-profits who object to providing it themselves, while religious groups that self-insure must use third-party administrators to arrange for coverage with another insurer. Firestone writes, "Now the test will be put to the religious groups: was their objection really about who pays a few extra dollars to insurance companies? Or did they simply object to the administration’s demand for widespread, free access to birth control?" (Firestone, "Taking Note," New York Times, 2/1).
What others are saying about contraceptive coverage:
~ "Birth Control Benefit a Huge Advance for Women's Health and Equality," Cecile Richards, Huffington Post blogs.
~ "Catholics for Choice Blasts New Proposed Contraception Coverage Rule," Sarah Posner, Religious Dispatches' "Dispatches."
~ "Everything You Need To Know About the Administration's New Birth Control Rules," Igor Volsky, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress."
STATE ATTACKS ON REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS: "Which State Will Ban Abortion First?" Elissa Berger, American Civil Liberties Union's "Blog of Rights": "[L]ess than a month into state legislative sessions, and about a week after the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, politicians are working overtime to block a woman's access to abortion care," Berger, ACLU advocacy and policy counsel, writes, noting that in Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, North Dakota and several other states, "legislators are playing at the same game -- introducing legislation that takes away a woman's ability to have all options open to her." She adds, "These bills are shocking at any time, but especially now when lawmakers have heard men and women across the nation say we don't want politicians interfering in personal private decisions." Berger calls on readers to "[s]hare this blog. Email your friends. Call or email your state legislators and let them know -- enough is enough" (Berger, "Blog of Rights," ACLU, 2/2).
What others are saying about state attacks on reproductive rights:
~ "More Heartbeat Bans Than Ever, But Will Any Become Law?" Robin Marty, RH Reality Check.
GLOBAL REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS: "Clinton's Legacy on Women and Girls Goes On," Chloë Cooney, Planned Parenthood Action Fund's "Women Are Watching": Friday was "Hillary Clinton's last day of work at the State Department," Cooney -- director of global advocacy for PPAF -- writes, adding, "under her leadership, the State Department issued numerous policies that aim to ensure women's rights are a top priority throughout our foreign policy." She continues, "In his confirmation hearing, John Kerry also expressed his commitment to continuing leadership on [women's rights], particularly through the Office of Global Women's Issues and promoting U.S. ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women." Cooney concludes with a recent quote from Clinton: "If we don't pay attention to the lives and roles of women, we will pay a price" (Cooney, "Women Are Watching," PPAF, 2/1).
CATHOLIC HOSPITALS: "When a Pregnancy Goes Wrong in Catholic Hospitals," Lori Freedman, ANSIRH Blog: Pregnant women "rarely ... ask: If something goes terribly wrong, will my doctor be able to provide emergency abortion care? But perhaps they should," Freedman writes. She recently authored a study on ob-gyns' experiences working in Catholic hospitals and shares in the blog post what women should know about Catholic health care. She writes that in Catholic hospitals, "physicians report that [ethics committee meetings] are generally led by clergy without medical training" and the local bishop is the "ultimate authority" when it comes to resolving disputes. Such panels often force ob-gyns to send their pregnant patients facing serious medical problems to other facilities for abortion care, Freedman notes. Further, doctors working at Catholic hospitals report restrictions on offering timely treatment to women who are miscarrying if the fetus has a heartbeat, she adds. She concludes, "[I]n Catholic hospitals, religious doctrine can be more powerful than the judgments of physicians and safety and preferences of the patients," recommending that "individual women should know the risks they face when they choose a Catholic hospital for pregnancy care" (Freedman, ANSIRH Blog, 2/4).
ADOLESCENT HEALTH: "New York City Public Schools Handed Out 'Morning-After Pill' To Thousands More Than Reported," Sara Gates, Huffington Post blogs: Contraception and emergency contraception handouts at New York City public schools "may be a contributing factor in the city's decreased rate of teen pregnancy," which fell by 27% over the past 10 years, Gates writes. She highlights the city's Connecting Adolescents To Comprehensive Health pilot program for distributing 12,721 doses of emergency contraception to at least 40 "school-based health centers," but also acknowledges that those numbers are "surprising" given that city officials said only 567 girls had received EC (Gates, Huffington Post blogs, 2/4).
What others are saying about adolescent health:
~ "'Protecting' LGBT Youth by Putting Them in Harm's Way," Chris Hampton, American Civil Liberties Union's "Blog of Rights."
ABORTION-RIGHTS ADVOCATES: "Nancy Keenan: Thank You and Farewell," Nancy Keenan, NARAL Pro-Choice America's "Blog for Choice": "I wanted to take a moment to say thank you for eight amazing years of fighting for women's reproductive freedom and privacy," writes Nancy Keenan on the eve of her departure as president of NARAL Pro-Choice America. She adds, "Together, we've accomplished so much thanks to your strong commitment and willingness to take action." She highlights some of those accomplishments, including NARAL's role "in sending President Barack Obama to the White House and electing other pro-choice champions across the country" and in the "no-cost birth control coverage" included in Obama's health reform law. "These are accomplishments we can truly be proud of," she continues, before noting, "I couldn't be more proud and excited to turn the reigns of [NARAL] over to Ilyse Hogue, the new president of NARAL Pro-Choice America." She concludes by expressing confidence "in the changes to come for this organization" stating, "Your work in the pro-choice movement will be recognized and appreciated by generations to come" (Keenan, "Blog for Choice," NARAL Pro-Choice America, 2/4).
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