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Blogs comment on blocked Miss. law targeting Planned Parenthood; updated CDC guidance on HPV vaccination and more

Read the week's best commentary from bloggers at Slate's "XX Factor," Huffington Post blog and more.


"Bush-appointed federal judge blocks Mississippi from defunding Planned Parenthood," Mark Joseph Stern, Slate's "XX Factor": On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Daniel P. Jordan blocked Mississippi's "attempt to ban Medicaid reimbursements to several Planned Parenthood-affiliated clinics," Stern writes. According to Stern, Jordan in his decision "arrived at the same conclusion reached by every other court to consider this question: State-level efforts to defund Planned Parenthood are obviously illegal." Stern explains that such state efforts "directly violate ... Medicaid's 'free choice of provider' requirement," which "allows patients to obtain medical care from any facility that is 'qualified to perform the service or services required.'" States may establish "'reasonable standards relating to the qualifications of providers,'" Stern writes, but such "qualifications must pertain to the facility's ability to perform safe, competent, legal care," not "ideological disagreement with the facility's affiliates, like opposition to abortion." For Planned Parenthood, "this defense has proved ironclad" and proves "that its health care providers are not substandard, contra the smear campaign against the organization." Stern adds that Planned Parenthood is also protected under the First Amendment, which holds that "the government can't deprive a group of funds just because it exercises a fundamental right that the government dislikes, or because it promotes an idea the government opposes." However, according to Stern, "the question of whether the First Amendment protects Planned Parenthood affiliates against defunding efforts may well wind up at the Supreme Court," which means the outcome will depend on the next Supreme Court appointee (Stern, "XX Factor," Slate, 10/25).


"CDC: Preteens only need two rounds of the HPV vaccine, not three," Christina Cauterucci, Slate's "XX Factor": "Preteens only need to get two doses of the HPV vaccine, not the previously recommended three, according to new guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention," Cauterucci writes. Under the new guidance, "adolescents as young as 9 and as old as 14" can receive two doses between six months and a year apart, while "[t]hose who get the vaccine between 15 and 26 years of age will still need three doses within a single six-month period." According to Cauterucci, "Experts hope that the abbreviated vaccination schedule will encourage more parents to get their kids the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, which protects against strains of the virus that can cause genital warts and cervical, anal, head, and neck cancers." However, she explains that while "[m]aking it seem easier to complete the cycle of shots will hopefully encourage more parents to protect their kids from developing HPV-related cancers," experts say one of the primary "barriers to improving the nation's HPV vaccination rates, which lag well behind those of other developed countries," is parents' unfounded concern that "getting a shot to prevent a sexually transmitted virus will encourage teens to have more sex." She concludes, "The prospect of making two trips to the doctor's office instead of three is nice, but when parents are making emotion-driven decisions that will affect their children's health for a lifetime, it may not be enough to sway them" (Cauterucci, "XX Factor," Slate, 10/21).


"Reclaiming a voice for South Asian domestic violence victims and their families," Murali Balaji, Huffington Post blogs: "Domestic violence is an issue where the collective silence in the South Asian community -- regardless of their faith identity -- highlights one of the challenges in combating it: acknowledging it exists," Balaji writes. "Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christian, and Jain domestic violence victim advocates have long argued that their faith communities haven't always been the most open to creating spaces of dialogue and action when it comes to addressing partner abuse ... despite the fact that such abuse runs contrary to scriptural values of nonviolence enshrined in each of the faiths," he explains. According to Balaji, "Many don't know that domestic violence exists in their families or among family friends because it's kept silent, and the victims' families often perpetuate that silence out of shame or a feeling that the abuse is somehow their fault." Balaji spotlights Aminta Kilawan, a domestic violence survivor and the co-founder of Sadhana: Coalition of Progressive Hindus, who "uses her experience to break the silence and empower those who have been impacted." According to Kilawan, "[C]ombating domestic violence often means deconstructing values that many immigrant families have internalized and passed down to their children." Citing the value of familial support in combatting domestic violence, Kilawan expresses hope that more domestic violence organizations will "develo[p] programs to empower the families of abuse victims, ... particularly as more victims break their silence and attempt to reclaim their voice" (Balaji, Huffington Post blogs, 10/24).

What others are saying about domestic violence awareness month:

~ "The NFL still doesn't care about domestic violence," Laura Wagner, Slate's "XX Factor."

~ "The federal government steps up to protect survivors of domestic abuse from eviction," Sandra Park, American Civil Liberties Union's "Speak Freely."