March 15, 2013 — We've compiled some of the most thought-provoking commentaries from around the Web. Catch up on the conversation with bloggers from RH Reality Check, Washington Post and more.
TEEN PREGNANCY: "I Was a Teen Mom and the NYC Teen Pregnancy Ads Miss the Point," Gloria Malone, RH Reality Check: A new public education campaign in New York City that targets teenage pregnancy is "borrowing a page right out of the abstinence-only handbooks that use shame and blame as the basis of their 'sex education,'" Malone writes. Malone -- who gave birth to her daughter as a teen -- adds that the campaign does "nothing to address the real problems" and places "all of the blame and responsibility on female teens." In fact, "the people who should feel ashamed and diminished are the older generations who hold the financial and political reins in the city" and have not provided comprehensive sex education to younger generations, Malone argues (Malone, RH Reality Check, 3/13).
PROTECTING REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH: "Progressive Religious Leaders Seek To Shift the Conversation on Contraception and Abortion in Texas," Andrea Grimes, RH Reality Check: Grimes highlights a rally at the Texas Capitol last week that brought together clergy "from congregations large and small, representing mainstream Christian and Jewish denominations, non-denominational gospel and Bible churches, Catholic organizations, and Unitarian Universalist groups." The gathering was "a remarkable moment, happening in a state where the conversation about reproductive health care is dominated by conservative Christian lawmakers who tout Biblical family values while slashing family planning funding and dismantling the Medicaid Women's Health Program, drastically reducing low-income Texans' access to contraception despite its money-saving, freedom-enabling benefits," Grimes writes (Grimes, RH Reality Check, 3/13).
What others are saying about protecting reproductive health:
~ "Victories for Reproductive Rights in Minnesota, New Hampshire," Robin Marty, RH Reality Check.
POPE FRANCIS: "Contradictions and Conservatism Muddle Hopes for Change Under Jesuit Pope," Bridgette Dunlap, RH Reality Check: Dunlap discusses the recent election of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio to become the next pope. She writes that she was initially excited to learn that a Jesuit had been selected because they "are an order with a reputation for being intellectuals, committed to the poor, suspicious of hierarchy, and regularly in trouble with the Vatican." However, after learning more about Bergoglio, she believes "[t]here is little cause for optimism in his record on reproductive justice or the rights of sexual minorities." She explains, "He is a hardliner on contraception," he "recently opposed the Violence Against Women Act" and he "believes the law should force a rape survivor to carry a pregnancy to term against her will." Dunlap continues, "Cardinal Bergoglio endorsed the view that those opposed to the criminalization of abortion should not take communion"; however, he "has said the use of condoms can be permissible in some circumstances to prevent infection." She writes, "[P]erhaps his stated commitment to alleviating poverty, which is radical by U.S. standards, is genuine and will leave too little time for undermining access to reproductive health care" (Dunlap, RH Reality Check, 3/14).
FEDERAL BUDGET: "The FY 2014 Murray Senate Budget: A Better Path Forward for Women and Families," Julie Vogtman, National Women's Law Center's "Womenstake": House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) budget proposal "would make deep cuts to programs that women and their families depend on," while Senate Budget Committee Chair Patty Murray's (D-Wash.) spending blueprint "proposes new investments in early childhood programs, largely protects core safety net programs (although it includes some cuts to funding for health care programs that could be worrisome), and advances tax fairness," writes Vogtman, senior counsel at NWLC. For instance, Murray's blueprint "secures funding to fully implement the Affordable Care Act [PL 111-148], ensuring that women will have greater access to affordable health insurance and preventive care services," and it "protects Social Security and most core safety net programs, which are particularly important to women because they face a greater risk of poverty than men at all stages of their lives." However, "[i]t will be very important to ensure that [projected savings in the forms of cuts to domestic programs] are implemented in a way that does not hurt women and their families," Vogtman adds (Vogtman, "Womenstake," NWLC, 3/14).
What others are saying about the federal budget:
~ "What Paul Ryan's Budget Means for Women," Bryce Covert, The Nation.
ATTACKS ON REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH: "Family Research Council: Unmarried People Should Be Denied Birth Control and Punished for Having Sex," Tara Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": "The right-wing Family Research Council -- which uses its advocacy muscle to try to block comprehensive sexual health programs in public schools -- is now going a step further, suggesting the young Americans who have premarital sex should be punished because they don't deserve the right to engage in sexual intercourse," writes Culp-Ressler. She highlights a recent interview in which Senior FRC Fellow Pat Fagan stated that "functioning societies … stop [sex outside of marriage], they punish it, they corral people, they shame people." However, Culp-Ressler notes that 80% of unmarried evangelical Christians have sex. The teen birth rate in the U.S. has "plunged to a record low -- but that wouldn't be the case if Fagan had his way and unmarried Americans were denied access to birth control" (Culp-Ressler,"ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 3/13).
What others are saying about attacks on reproductive health:
~ "After Banning Almost All Abortions, Arkansas GOP Targets Birth Control," Jessica Pieklo, Care2.
~ "Arkansas To Increase 'Conscience' Protections, Add Telemed Ban," Marty, RH Reality Check.
~ "Anti-Choice Groups in Ohio Locked in Power Struggle Over Heartbeat Bans, Medicaid, and Money," Luke Brockmeier, RH Reality Check.
~ "How Can North Dakota Pols Ban Abortion? Let Me Count the Ways," Elissa Berger, American Civil Liberties Union's "Blog of Rights."
VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN: "Steubenville Rape Trial Begins," Jamila Bey, Washington Post's "She The People": Bey, a radio host and author, discusses "what, if any, lessons can be taken away" from a high-profile rape trial involving two high school football players and a 16-year-old girl in Stuebenville, Ohio. "What this public trial has yet to do, and must do is to help Americans and the world looking on, to better understand that mores and cultures that hold men above women and treat the violation of women as just a thing that happens are not supported," Bey writes. The trial could help by "teaching everyone that no one can ever use his size or his status or his or her intoxication as an excuse," and it also "could serve to take on jock culture and use it to help dismantle rape culture," she suggests. Bey concludes, "These boys, of course, deserve a fair tr[ia]l. And the girl deserves a fair place in which to be female" (Bey, "She The People," Washington Post, 3/14).
What others are saying about violence against women:
~ "As Steubenville Rape Trial Opens, Victim-Blaming Begins in Court of Law and Public Opinion," Pieklo, RH Reality Check.
~ "White House Launches Initiative To Keep Guns Out of the Hands of Domestic Abusers," Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress."
~ "When Will Real Action Be Taken To End Sexual Assault in the Military?" Michelle Bernard, Washington Post's "She The People."
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