December 14, 2012 — We've compiled some of the most thought-provoking commentaries from around the Web. Catch up on the conversation with bloggers from Feminists for Choice, Care2 and more.
VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN: "Women's Honor and Survival: When a Woman Kills her Rapist in Turkey," Manis Rayles, Feminists for Choice: Rayles writes about a Turkish woman, identified as N.Y., who "shot and beheaded the man that had blackmailed and raped her for months." She notes that N.Y.'s story drew a range of reactions, from people calling her a heroine to those saying that "responding to violence with violence solves nothing." Rayles writes, "What N.Y. did proves that regardless of one's country and one's background, it is possible to survive after rape." She concludes that "in adverse circumstances [N.Y.] killed her rapist, saved her honor, protected her children, gave birth to a baby as a result of rape, and survived" (Rayles, Feminists for Choice, 12/13).
What others are saying about violence against women:
~ "Over 300 Girls or Women Raped in Kenya Every Week," Ximena Ramirez, Care2.
~ "Renew the Violence Against Women Act -- Now!" Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.), Huffington Post blogs.
~ "Everything You Need to Know About the GOP's Opposition to Protecting Native American Women From Abuse," Erik Stegman, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress."
~ "Rape: Is It Really All That Bad?" Jeff Fecke, Care2.
~ "How Abusers Get Away With Targeting Indian Women," Irin Carmon, Salon.
SEX EDUCATION: "Is Better Access to Sex Ed and Contraceptive Methods Behind the Latest Significant Decline in Abortion Rates?" Yvonne Hamby, RH Reality Check: Hamby writes that the latest CDC data "indicate not only the lowest current rate of abortion the United States, but also the largest drop in the rate in 10 years." CDC credits the declines to increased access to and use of contraception, especially the most-effective contraception options. Hamby cites research that shows "information has a protective effect, and information plus the availability of contraception reduces teenage pregnancy, STDs, and abortions." She continues, "Reducing unintended pregnancies, particularly among adolescents, would improve educational and employment opportunities for women which would, in turn, contribute to improving the status of women," concluding, "We have to end our taboo on open, honest conversations about sex because the stakes are too high" (Hamby, RH Reality Check, 12/12).
What others are saying about sex education:
~ "Nation's First Standardized Sex Ed Test Reveals Gaps in Students' Knowledge," Tara Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "Think Progress."
LANGUAGE AND REPRODUCTIVE CHOICE: "Pro-Choice Pregnancy and the Politics of Language," Miriam Pérez, RH Reality Check: "There are many things that are different about the experience of carrying a pregnancy to term versus choosing to terminate, but one place where you'll often notice a stark difference is in language," writes Pérez, a doula. She points out that many midwives, obstetricians and other pregnancy care providers use "lots of language that personifies and highlights the would-be child," while abortion facilities use terms such as fetus and embryo. "These choices are undoubtedly political, ... But they are also choices that attempt to reflect how one choosing each path (childbirth or abortion) might see their own pregnancy," Pérez writes, adding, "If we understand that the language people use and how they feel about their pregnancies is simply a reflection of the truth that pregnancy and birth are intimate processes, ... then it becomes even more clear why politicians, lawmakers, and even each one of us has little business in that equation (Pérez, RH Reality Check, 12/12).
MICHIGAN ANTIABORTION BILLS: "Memo to Michigan: Did You Not Hear the Voters on Women's Health?" Cecile Richards, Huffington Post blogs: In a lame-duck session, Michigan legislators are sending an "alarming" package of antiabortion legislation (HB 5711) to Gov. Rick Snyder's (R) desk that would make "Michigan one of the most regressive states in the nation on women's health," Richards -- president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Planned Parenthood Action Fund -- writes. She notes that the bill includes provisions that would "likely shut down many health care providers that provide abortion by enacting unnecessary and burdensome licensing rules." Richards calls on Snyder to "heed the message sent on election night: we simply will not tolerate politicians inserting themselves into a woman's personal health care decisions" (Richards, Huffington Post blogs, 12/12).
What others are saying about Michigan antiabortion bills:
~ "Letting Women Die, Michigan?" Gretchen Borchelt, National Women's Law Center's "Womenstake."
~ "13,000 Rally To Protect Rights of Michigan Workers and Families," Sonia Santana, Planned Parenthood Action Fund's "Women Are Watching."
~ "Michigan Senate Passes Gigantic Monster Anti-Choice Bill," Katie Baker, Jezebel.
~ "Michigan: Workers, Women, What's Next?" Jennifer Granholm, Huffington Post blogs.
CONTRACEPTION: "50 Reasons HHS Should Reverse its Decision on Emergency Contraception," Soraya Chemaly, RH Reality Check: Chemaly outlines 50 facts about unplanned pregnancies as reasons to sign a petition urging HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to reverse her decision to maintain age restrictions on access to emergency contraception. For instance, she writes that providing women with access to safe, affordable birth control, including EC, would "go a long way towards eliminating" the "$12 billion worth of consequences" resulting from unintended pregnancies in the U.S. She notes that unintended pregnancy is linked to social effects -- including higher crime, lower education levels, higher rates of domestic abuse and more welfare use -- that "exponentially exceed" the cost of providing birth control (Chemaly, RH Reality Check, 12/11).
More from Chemaly on contraception:
~ "43 Million American Women Shouldn't Be 'At Risk,'" Soraya Chemaly, Huffington Post blogs.
CRISIS PREGNANCY CENTERS: "In Rehearing Maryland Crisis Pregnancy Center Cases, the Fourth Circuit Can Reverse Decisions That Threaten Women's Health," Kelli Garcia, National Women's Law Center's "Womenstake": Garcia writes that the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals can protect women's health by overturning two lower court rulings that struck down laws requiring crisis pregnancy centers to clarify the nature and extent of their services. The two Maryland laws -- one in Baltimore and another in Montgomery County -- were overturned based on claims that they "compelled" CPC's to "speak" via waiting room signs that disclosed the limits of CPC services, including that they do not offer abortion or birth control. Garcia writes, "Anti-abortion advocates, no matter how sincere their beliefs, should not be allowed to use lies to try to convince women not to have an abortion or to delay women" from obtaining an abortion until it is less safe, no longer available or prohibitively expensive (Garcia, "Womenstake," NWLC, 12/12).
ABORTION-RIGHTS OPPONENTS: "Was Blind But Now I See: The Debut of a New Anti-Abortion Strategy," Kellee Terrell, Religion Dispatches: Terrell discusses her experiences attending a conference titled "Converted: From Abortion Provider to Pro-Life Activist," which featured speakers who formerly worked for abortion clinics but now oppose abortion rights. "In a way, the conference marked the mainstream debut of a longstanding anti-abortion strategy: former insiders denouncing the system they once defended and worked for," she writes. While Terrell thinks some speakers' stories seemed less than credible, she notes that "[t]he emotional validation their testimony provides to the movement faithful is more powerful than the dubious facts of their specific claims" (Terrell, Religion Dispatches, 12/12).
What others are saying about abortion-right opponents:
~ "Pro-Life Dry Cleaner Puts Anti-Abortion Message on Coat Hangers," Lindy West, Jezebel.
GLOBAL REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH: "Abortion Deaths Wildly Underestimated," Irin Carmon, Salon: Carmon writes about Caitlin Gerdts, an epidemiologist researching maternal mortality at a hospital in Tanzania. Gerdts wondered if the World Health Organization's method for calculating maternal deaths resulting from unsafe abortions -- which simply takes a percentage from total maternal mortality figures -- was "a potentially vast understatement." Gerdts and her colleagues discovered that out of 300 women treated for post-abortion or miscarriage care in the Tanzanian hospital, only seven admitted to inducing abortion, even though more than 85% said they were "unsure or unhappy" about their pregnancies, which suggested that not all of them had miscarriages, according to Carmon. Gerdts has proposed a statistical model that takes abortion stigma -- both among women and among providers -- into account (Carmon, Salon, 12/13).
SEX WORK: "We're Having the Wrong Conversation About Sex Work, and it Makes Rush Limbaugh Happy," Hannah, Feministing: In the current approach to sex work in the U.S., "[w]e compel police officers to rescue one woman as a victim [a trafficking survivor] and jail another [a voluntary sex worker]" based on "an assessment of her desires and how 'worthy' they make her," Hannah writes, adding, "Unsurprisingly, wanting to make one's own money and being willing to have sex are excellent ways to achieve 'unworthiness.'" She continues that Rush Limbaugh's comments that Sandra Fluke is a "prostitute" for wanting contraceptive coverage perpetuates this approach, insinuating "that far from being a member of our collective, the 'you and me and the taxpayers,' Fluke is an unworthy outsider trying to take advantage of us." Hannah argues, "We have to stand up for legalized sex work. Otherwise, we help Limbaugh use the stigma surrounding prostitution to undermine the voices of women who want equal opportunities in the work force"(Hannah, Feministing, 12/13).
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