March 1, 2013 — We've compiled some of the most thought-provoking commentaries from around the Web. Catch up on the conversation with bloggers from ThinkProgress, RH Reality Check and more.
VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN ACT: "Why Did the GOP Give Up on VAWA?" Jeff Fecke, Care2: House Republicans' decision to allow a vote on the Senate version of the Violence Against Women Act ended "a months-long standoff, in which Republicans allowed VAWA to expire rather than accept Democrat-proposed changes enhancing protections for Native American women attacked on reservations, as well as protections for lesbian, bisexual and trans women and undocumented immigrants," Fecke writes. He adds, "House Republicans' willingness to allow these provisions to go into law even without a support of the majority of the caucus is a strong signal that ... at least some Republicans recognize that alienating 51 percent of the electorate is not a path to future victory" (Fecke, Care2, 2/27).
SEXUAL ASSAULT: "UNC Student Faces Honor Court Charges for Talking About Rape," S.E. Smith, Care2: The case of University of North Carolina studen Landen Gambill -- who reported a sexual assault to the campus Honor Court -- illustrates that "we still have a long way to go when it comes not just to preventing sexual assault on campus, but to making sure victims are treated respectfully and their cases are handled responsibly," Smith writes. After reporting the incident, Gambill was "treated like a perpetrator" and 10 days later, "received a notice that she had violated the honor code, allegedly by creating an 'intimidating' environment to her rapist," Smith explains. Smith adds that if the case goes to the Honor Court, Gambill "could face serious penalties, including possible expulsion. All for being brave enough to report her rape, navigate the university's outdated system for handling sexual assault charges, and then protesting about her mistreatment as a victim." Smith writes that UNC now "has a choice between doing the right thing or ... sending a clear signal to women on campus that their safety is not the school's priority" (Smith, Care2, 2/27).
What others are saying about sexual assault:
~ "University Didn't Call Cops About Sexual Assault for Fear of Exposing Alleged Rapist's Grades," Annie-Rose Strasser, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress."
~ "The War Against Rape Begins With Taking Responsibility," Stella Paul, Huffington Post blogs.
~ "Veterans, Sexual Trauma and PTSD: An Update," Lawrence Downes, New York Times' "Taking Note."
~ "National Review: Victims of Violent Military Rapes Struggle in Life Because of 'Their Own Bad Decision-Making,'" Adam Peck, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress."
ADOLESCENT SEXUAL AND REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH: "Moving the Ball Forward on Comprehensive Sex Education," Steven Waddy, American Civil Liberties Union's "Blog of Rights": "As unbelievable as it sounds, some parts of our country are still teaching abstinence-only sex education in 2013," writes Waddy, a legal assistant at ACLU. According to Waddy, this is one reason why Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) have introduced legislation that would provide grants and guidelines for comprehensive sex education programs. Although individuals ages 15 through 25 make up 25% of the sexually active population, they contract about half of the 19 million sexually transmitted infections annually, costing the U.S. about $16 billion per year, he notes. Comprehensive sex education "isn't just smart policy -- it's fiscally sound, too," he concludes (Waddy, "Blog of Rights," ACLU, 2/27).
What others are saying about adolescent sexual and reproductive health:
~ "Finally, Television Gets Smart About Teenagers and Sex," Alyssa Rosenberg, Slate's "XX Factor."
~ "Why are Teen Pregnancy Rates So Low in North Dakota? Fracking." Amanda Hess, Slate's "XX Factor."
~ "Promoting Abstinence Won't Help Prevent Teen Pregnancy, But Funding More Youth Programs Will," Tara Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress."
FEMINISM: "MAKERS: A Good Women's History Lesson, But Misses Younger Feminists," Erin Matson, RH Reality Check: Matson critiques a three-hour PBS documentary on the women's movement called "Makers: Women Who Make America," which aired on Tuesday night. While it was a "helpful film on a few powerful decades" and featured several important voices, the documentary was a "missed opportunity" to highlight younger feminist voices, according to Matson. She writes, "All in all, MAKERS was a good overview documentary, and I'm glad it exists," adding, "But unfortunately, ... [r]ather than showing an intergenerational, diverse slice of the modern women's movement as it exists today, a few older women were quoted in a tired, clichéd, and incorrect way claiming that young women don't care about feminism and that they take the older feminists' work for granted (Matson, RH Reality Check, 2/27).
REPRODUCTIVE JUSTICE: "Tenets of Reproductive Justice Take Root at Red-State Conference," Robin Marty, RH Reality Check: "In contrast to the media claims of disengaged youth and intergenerational conflict causing a fractured [reproductive-rights] movement that's left with no energy or direction," the recent Take Root conference in Oklahoma "gathered together a group of younger and older advocates ready to further the reproductive justice movement and advance its goals," Marty writes. She adds, "The audience of mostly Millennial activists, students, organizers, and supporters, the majority of whom came from abortion- and civil rights-hostile states like Kansas, Texas, Mississippi, and Alabama, joined local Oklahomans to learn more about strategies to change the discourse in the legislature and on the streets and rally citizens of their states around the tenets of reproductive justice" (Marty, RH Reality Check, 2/26).
ABORTION COVERAGE: "Medicaid Coverage for Abortion Care Elusive Even in States Where it is Legal," Steph Herold, RH Reality Check: Although 17 states offer Medicaid coverage for abortion, actually using the coverage to pay for an abortion is so difficult that it seldom happens in some states, according to research briefs from Ibis Reproductive Health. For instance, abortion providers in Maryland indicated that "while their state Medicaid theoretically covers abortion regardless of the circumstances, in practice, it rarely covered abortion at all," Herold writes. Meanwhile, abortion providers and low-income women in Arizona reported challenges enrolling in Medicaid and obtaining abortion coverage through the program. The briefs "reveal that having Medicaid coverage of abortion doesn't necessarily guarantee access to timely safe abortion care," Herold writes, adding, "Medicaid coverage is in theory an invaluable resource, but in reality it is not accessible at all if the system does not work properly or actually cover the procedures it is supposed to cover" (Herold, RH Reality Check, 2/26).
What others are saying about abortion coverage:
~ "Another Legislative Session in Minnesota, Another Attempt To Challenge Doe v. Gomez," Marty, RH Reality Check.
MEDICATION ABORTION: "Hope in Indiana? Both Republicans and Democrats Express Reservations on Banning Medication Abortion," Marty, RH Reality Check: Indiana lawmakers modified a bill on medication abortion "in the face of massive criticism [that it would] force women to undergo unnecessary trans-vaginal ultrasounds," Marty writes, but "the actual motive behind SB 317 -- the attempt to close down the only clinic in the state that provides only medication, not surgical, abortions -- is still just as intact." She discusses pressure on lawmakers from various angles as the measure heads into a vote in the House. "Eventually, if SB 317 passes all chambers, it would then be up to Governor Mike Pence to decide whether to sign or veto the law," Marty writes, noting that while Pence stressed fiscal issues when he pursued the governorship, "[s]igning the bill would reinforce that regardless of what he says on the campaign trail, his primary aim is to use his office to advance the religious right's crusade" (Marty, RH Reality Check, 2/26).
What others are saying about medication abortion:
~ "Texas Senate Committee Considers Bill Limiting Medical Abortions," Andrea Grimes, RH Reality Check.
ABORTION-RIGHTS OPPONENTS: "Your Glossary To Decoding the GOP's Anti-Abortion Rhetoric," Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": "[I]t can be difficult to unwrap the rhetoric" of antiabortion-rights Republicans, writes Culp-Ressler, who lists six common "euphemisms intended to disguise Republican affronts to women's health." For example, "[w]hen abortion opponents talk about making women's abortion care as safe and healthy as possible, they're really talking about driving abortion providers out of business by requiring them to make unnecessary, costly updates," she states (Culp-Ressler, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 2/27).
What others are saying about abortion-rights opponents:
~ "Susan B. Anthony List Heartily Endorses Virginia's Crazy Ken Cuccinelli for Governor," Katie J.M. Baker, Jezebel.
~ "Unethical, Cruel, and Likely Illegal: Anti-Choicers Make Family's Tragedy Public Without Their Consent," Bridgette Dunlap, RH Reality Check.
SEQUESTRATION: "Sequestration: Another False Choice," Terry O'Neill, Huffington Post blogs: "Reducing the deficit is a Trojan Horse," writes O'Neill, president of the National Organization for Women. She argues that for conservatives, "[d]emanding that the federal deficit be eliminated immediately is just a convenient way" to "cut spending on Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other social programs," including "family planning clinics, rape crisis centers and battered-women shelters." She continues, "This scenario is bad for the United States, and it's particularly bad for women and people of color." O'Neill calls for increased focus on job creation to build "a stronger middle class and more opportunities for business." She concludes, "Sadly, the Republican Party is still in the grip of a radical fringe who want to use the deficit to starve government programs that they don't like -- which, as it happens, disproportionately serve and employ women -- with the ultimate goal of dismantling them altogether" (O'Neill, Huffington Post blogs, 2/28).
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