December 4, 2012 — We've compiled some of the most thought-provoking commentaries from around the Web. Catch up on the conversation with bloggers from Salon, RH Reality Check and more.
ATTACKS ON REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH IN THE STATES: "5 States Where GOP Extremists Still Rage Against Women," Sarah Seltzer, Salon: Seltzer writes that the "war on women" continues with attacks on abortion rights and threats to Planned Parenthood funding in several states, including Arizona, Arkansas, Mississippi, Ohio and Wisconsin. "All of these states show that the misguided crusade against women's rights is not over, despite the overwhelming 'out of our exam rooms, out of our bedrooms' message sent by the 2012 election," she writes, adding, "In 2013, keep your eye on the states to see whether the 'war' on reproductive health services comes to an end, continues or, as some activists wish, goes the other way" (Seltzer, Salon, 11/30).
What others are saying about attacks on reproductive health in the states:
~ "Mississippi's Hypocritical Anti-Choicers May Close Last Abortion Clinic," Amanda Marcotte, RH Reality Check.
~ "Fiscal Conservatism, Texas Style? Texas Family Planning Program Now Serves Fewer Clients for More Money," Andrea Grimes, RH Reality Check.
ACCESS TO EMERGENCY CONTRACEPTION: "Government-Issued IDs: A Barrier to the Vote AND to Emergency Contraception," Candace Gibson, Ms. Magazine blog: People who want to purchase emergency contraception without a prescription are required to present government-issued identification, which can make obtaining EC "difficult or impossible" for people of color, especially women and transgender individuals, because they are less likely to have updated and valid IDs, Gibson writes. Those groups also often lack insurance, "making the prospect of getting a prescription for emergency contraception -- a time-sensitive drug -- that much more costly and burdensome," she adds. "The bottom line is that all individuals should have real access to a wide range of birth control options so that they can truly exercise and enjoy their bodily autonomy," Gibson concludes (Gibson, Ms. Magazine blog, 11/30).
What others are saying about access to emergency contraception:
~ "For Informed Consent, Don't Forget the IUD as EC," Peter Belden, RH Reality Check.
WORLD AIDS DAY: "On World AIDS Day, Here are Five Huge Advances We've Made To Combat the Global HIV/AIDS Epidemic," Tara Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": To mark Worlds AIDS Day, Culp-Ressler outlines "five important advancements we've made toward [an 'AIDS-free generation'] over the past year." Culp-Ressler writes that the Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148) improves access to health insurance coverage for HIV-positive individuals, "allocates more funding for HIV research and prevention," and expands access to no-cost annual testing. Other notable advances in the past year include new developments in antiretroviral therapy and extended life expectancies for HIV-positive individuals (Culp-Ressler, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 12/1).
What others are saying about World AIDS Day:
~ "Sabrina Heard, HIV-Positive Community Health Worker, Reveals What HIV Looks Like," Jessica Cumberbatch Anderson, Huffington Post blogs.
~ "The HIV Prevention Pill: How is Truvada Taking Root in Black Communities?" Dani McClain, RH Reality Check.
~ "Reagan Commission Member Calls for end to HIV Criminalization Laws," Zack Ford, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress."
FAITH AND WOMEN'S HEALTH: "The Sliding Scale of Sin: Tyndale Publishers and Contraception Without a Co-Pay," Imani Gandy, RH Reality Check: Gandy, a legal consultant and contributor to the Angry Black Lady Chronicles, outlines the recent court ruling that granted a preliminary injunction against the federal contraceptive coverage rules to Tyndale Publishers, a Christian publisher. She writes that Tyndale's case is different from other challenges to the contraceptive rules in that the publisher is self-insured. Women's rights advocates and attorneys must readjust their arguments in light of the new ruling, Gandy writes. They should argue that "companies providing a full range of health-care services, including contraception, are offering their employees a choice to participate in sin or not, just as employe[r]s who pay wages to their employees are offering employees that same choice," she explains. "The argument over contraception is not a religious one. It's an argument about equality, health care, prevention, and basic human rights," she concludes (Gandy, RH Reality Check, 12/3).
What others are saying about faith and women's rights:
~ "Faith Leaders Slam Rick Perry for Refusing To Expand Texas' Medicaid Program," Tara Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "Think Progress."
FEMINISM: "Why are Women Scared To Call Themselves Feminists?" Mary Elizabeth Williams, Salon: Williams notes that several public figures -- such as singer Katy Perry, former first lady of France Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer and actress Melissa Leo -- recently said they do not consider themselves "feminists." Williams writes, "Let me just point out that if you believe in the strength of women, Ms. Perry, or their equality, Ms. Mayer, you're soaking in feminism," adding that the feminism "'fight' is just being an autonomous person in the world" (Williams, Salon, 12/3).
WOMEN'S HEALTH AND THE FISCAL CLIFF: "Women's Health on the Fiscal Cliff," Cecile Richards, Huffington Post blogs: "Like the vast majority of Americans, I want Congress to come to a deal that will avoid the budget conundrum known as the 'fiscal cliff'" because "I know what's at stake for women," write Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Planned Parenthood Action Fund. Richards adds, "As congressional and White House leaders continue their discussions about a balanced budget, they need to understand that Americans cannot afford [cuts] to Medicaid, the Affordable Care Act or Title X." Millions of women depend on Medicaid and Title X for access to cancer screenings and contraception, she writes, noting that "every $1 the government spends on family planning saves nearly $4 down the line" (Richards, Huffington Post blogs, 11/30).
What others are saying about women's health and the fiscal cliff:
~ "Capital Critique: What's Coming in Washington?" Ellen Marshall, International Women's Health Coalition's "Akimbo."
~ "3 Ways Women Lose Big in Fiscal Cliff Deal," Jessica Pieklo, Care2.
ABORTION COVERAGE FOR SERVICEWOMEN: "Tweet To Restore Fairness to Servicewomen," Alicia Gay, American Civil Liberties Union's "Blog of Rights": "There are more than 400,000 women who proudly serve in our armed forces" and "put their lives on the line every day to defend our freedoms but are denied coverage for the same health care available to the civilians they fight to protect," Gay writes. She urges women's health advocates to tweet in support of an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (S 3254) that would "allow military women and dependents to receive insurance coverage of abortion in cases of rape or incest." Gay suggests "hashtags like #ShaheenAmdt, #NDAA, and #equality4servicewomen ... to elevate and amplify the conversation around the military abortion ban and demand fairness for servicewomen" (Gay, "Blog of Rights," ACLU, 12/1).
FALLING U.S. BIRTH RATE: "Is Less Sex or More Abortion To Blame for Fall in U.S. Birth Rate?" Kent Sepkowitz, Daily Beast: The Pew Foundation recently reported that the U.S. birth rate has decreased by 8% in the last four years, writes Sepkowitz, who attempts to determine whether the decline reflects an increase in abortions, greater birth control use or less sexual activity. "Inevitably the answer is some mishmash of all of the above," Sepkowitz writes, adding that the political preoccupation with sex has caused people to lose "sight of the basics." He concludes, "Time and resources would be much better spent studying the remarkable example of American self-control before us than fueling more and more rounds of mutual contempt and derision across the birth control/abortion axis" (Sepkowitz, Daily Beast, 12/3).
RESPONSE TO ROSS DOUTHAT: "Ladies, Uncle Sam Needs Your Uterus!" Irin Carmon, Salon: New York Times columnist Ross Douthat recently linked declines to the U.S. birth rate to "late-modern exhaustion" and female "decadence," but "[h]e's wrong," Carmon writes. She points to a growing body of evidence showing that conservatism -- rather than liberal social policies like legalized abortion and gender equality measures -- contribute to population decline, adding, "[W]omen look at what having more children will cost them, in financial but also professional and social terms, and make a rational decision to have fewer." She writes that conservatives, including Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney, have not "made the connection between one's stable position in society and one's desire to bring more people into it -- but plenty of women already have" (Carmon, Salon, 12/3).
What others are saying in response to Ross Douthat:
~ "New York Times Trolls Women," Jamelle Bouie, Salon.
~ "Ross Douthat Wants You To Have More Babies, So Get to Work," Amanda Marcotte, Slate's "XX Factor."
~ "If We Don't Start Procreating Right This Minute, America Will Fall Apart -- But Who's Going To Change All the Diapers?" Katie J. M. Baker, Jezebel.
ACCESS TO ABORTION: "Missed Your Period? Don't Want To Be Pregnant? There is an App for That," Karen Gardiner, RH Reality Check: Gardiner discusses an online game designed to guide women in Mexico on how to obtain and use the drug misoprostol for a medication abortion. Abortion is illegal in Mexico outside of Mexico City, but misoprostol -- which also is used as an ulcer drug -- is readily available without a prescription throughout the country. However, pharmacy workers often lack information on using the drug for abortion, and it may be difficult to get information on correct administration. The game advises women on each step of the process, from taking a pregnancy test to calculating gestational age, to obtaining and self-administering the medication, and taking steps to avoid future unplanned pregnancies (Gardiner, RH Reality Check, 12/3).
What others are saying about access to abortion:
~ "Is there a 'Wrong' Reason To Have an Abortion?" Erin Gloria Ryan, Jezebel.
HEALTH DISPARITIES: "Michelle Obama Should Be Brave: Black Women and Reproductive Health Disparities in the 2012 Presidential Election," Jazmine Walker, RH Reality Check: "I remain struck by how our First Lady, a black woman with black daughters, has yet to talk about reproductive health as broader than 'choice,'" Walker writes. She points out that breast cancer mortality is 40% higher among black women than white women, while black infant mortality and deaths from cervical cancer are double the rates for whites. "Discourse around black women's reproductive health remains on the margins, caught between a white reproductive narrative that still ignores the multifaceted needs of women of color and discourse around systemic racism that centers [on] the tribulations of black men," Walker concludes (Walker, RH Reality Check, 12/3).
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