March 8, 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, Slate and more.
ABORTION COVERAGE: "Poll: African Americans Support Insurance Coverage for Abortion Care," Elizabeth Dawes Gay, RH Reality Check: "A new poll examining African-American attitudes on abortion and contraception reveals deep support for insurance coverage of reproductive health care, including abortion, and for the right of all people to make their own health-care decisions," writes Dawes Gay, senior associate for programs and policy at the Reproductive Health Technologies Project. However, "[f]or a woman to be able to make a real decision, she has to be able to afford care," Dawes Gay adds, noting that restrictions on insurance coverage of abortion have a disparate impact on low-income women and women of color. Dawes Gay calls for policies that "cover all the medical services that a woman might need in her lifetime: contraception, well woman care, maternity care, and abortion care," so that a woman's reproductive decisions are not "limited by her income or type of insurance" (Dawes Gay, RH Reality Check, 3/5).
What others are saying about abortion coverage:
~ "Advocates Go to Court To Protect Medicaid Funding of Abortion Care in Minnesota," Jessica Mason Pieklo, RH Reality Check.
ARKANSAS ABORTION BAN: "Arkansas Abortion Ban Disproportionately Affects Poor Women and Teenagers," Amanda Marcotte, Slate's "XX Factor": Marcotte notes the irony in Arkansas' recent passage of a "blatantly unconstitutional ban on abortions after 12 weeks," as the "anti-choice movement bears a lot of responsibility for the prevalence of second trimester abortions." For example, Arkansas has a "mandatory lecture and then waiting period, restrictions on insurance coverage, parental notification laws, and a gag rule on state-funded clinics so they can't help women find abortion providers," she writes, adding, "In other words, they make it hard for women to get abortions in a timely manner, and then they turn around and ban abortions for the women they've forced to wait." Marcotte also notes that nearly one-third of abortions after 12 weeks are for teenagers, "who often don't understand the symptoms of pregnancy," a problem that is "made worse by Arkansas' hostility toward comprehensive sex education" (Marcotte, "XX Factor," Slate, 3/7).
What others are saying about Arkansas' abortion ban:
~ "Arkansas Legislature Overrides 12-Week Ban Veto -- Now What?" Robin Marty, RH Reality Check.
~ "Arkansas vs. Roe v. Wade," Sarah Kliff, Washington Post's "Wonkblog."
~ "Does Arkansas Hate Women? Doctors Decry New Radical Abortion Ban," Lizzie Crocker, Daily Beast's "Women in the World."
CONTRACEPTION: "New Vision for Contraceptive Research and Development," Peter Donaldson/Régine Sitruk-Ware, Huffington Post blogs: "[M]ajor strides have been made in contraceptive research and development" since the birth control pill was approved by FDA in 1960, yet "no single method meets the needs of every woman, and continued development of new contraception remains essential," write Donaldson and Sitruk-Ware, both of the Population Council. Particularly in developing nations, where 222 million women have an unmet need for contraception, providing women with new methods could avert 54 million unintended pregnancies, 26 million abortions, more than 79,000 maternal deaths and 1.1 million infant mortalities, they write. They note that members of the Population Council's International Committee for Contraception Research, along with others in the field, are collaborating on new contraceptive technologies, which will "speed the search for new methods that meet the diverse needs of women and their partners" (Donaldson/Sitruk-Ware, Huffington Post blogs, 3/6).
What others are saying about contraception:
~ "As Notre Dame Appeals Birth Control Benefit, Costs to Catholic Universities of Discriminatory Health Plans Increases," Bridgette Dunlap, RH Reality Check.
~ "Birth Control and 'The Myth of the Judeo-Christian Tradition,'" Rabbi Dennis Ross/Rev. Tom Davis, RH Reality Check.
~ "House Republicans Promise To Save Country From the Pill," Jessica Pieklo, Care2.
~ "Notre Dame Healthcare and 'Sincere Religious Belief,'" Kathryn Pogin, Huffington Post blogs.
CAMPUS SEXUAL ASSAULT: "Wishing Rape on Campus Away Won't Make It So," Aly Neel, Washington Post's "She The People": Neel writes that as she applies to graduate schools, she "would not have been deterred by Princeton's rape survey findings," which found that one in six female respondents answered affirmatively to the statement, "A man put his penis into my vagina, or someone inserted fingers or objects without my consent." She adds, "Devising, sharing and using that information to inform policy would demonstrate to me a school that cares more about protecting its students than its image." Unfortunately, the survey "was never published, ... [m]ost likely because the statistics weren't surprising (close to the national average)" and because other colleges also do not release such surveys, so Princeton officials likely wanted to avoid negative attention, Neel suggests. She concludes, "Putting a stop to rape and the culture that allows it to continue begins with opening our eyes," noting that "pretending sexual assault doesn't exist will not make it go away" (Neel, "She The People," Washington Post, 3/6).
What others are saying about campus sexual assault:
~ "Department of Education Opens Investigation Into UNC's Handling of Sexual Assault," Annie-Rose Strasser, Center for American Progress' "Think Progress."
GLOBAL VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN: "Tunisia Opens Its First Domestic Violence Shelter," Camille Lafrance, Ms. Magazine blog: "Tunisia has long served as a beacon of women's progress in North Africa," Lafrance writes, citing "its 1957 law granting women the right to divorce" and its "legalization of contraception and abortion in the 1960s." However, Lafrance notes that Sihem Badi -- Tunisia's minister of women's affairs -- "admits there's something wrong, at this date, in talking about the country's first public shelter for victims of domestic violence," which opened in December 2012. She concludes, "Minister Badi says the regime didn't act in the area of domestic violence because it wanted to hide the country's reality, so that Tunisia would continue to be held as an example of women's progress in the region" (Lafrance, Ms. Magazine blog, 3/5).
What others are saying about global violence against women:
~ "Gender-Based Violence in Latin America and the Caribbean: What are the Real Numbers?" Jimena Valades, RH Reality Check.
~ "Renewing a Global Commitment: Zero Tolerance to Gender-Based Violence," Eric Goosby/Michel Sidibé, Huffington Post blogs.
~ "Women Fleeing Syrian Rape Hell," Megan Bradley, Daily Beast.
~ "Violence Against Lesbians and Bisexual Women Should Be a Global Concern," Jasmine O'Connor, Huffington Post blogs.
SEX EDUCATION: "NYC Teen Pregnancy Campaign Brings Shaming to Bus Shelters and Cell Phones," Miriam Pérez, RH Reality Check: "The New York Human Resources Administration (HRA) launched a new ad campaign this week that takes the use of shame tactics to prevent teen pregnancy to a whole new level," Pérez writes, adding, "It's hard to describe the ads as anything but horrifying and yet another link in the chain of shame-based teen pregnancy prevention efforts." Pérez notes that the text messages teens can receive through the campaign do not include "any actual information for teens trying not to get pregnant -- they just used an invented scenario to drive home the idea that teen pregnancy results in social isolation and losing your boyfriend." She concludes, "The timing of this campaign is interesting, considering that data from 2008 was just released" showing that teen pregnancy rates have fallen in most states because of increased contraceptive use, not because of "perpetuating stigma or shame" (Pérez, RH Reality Check, 3/5).
What others are saying about sex education:
~ "Is Sexual Health Education Passé?" William Smith, RH Reality Check.
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