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Blogs comment on HHS rule protecting Title X funding for Planned Parenthood, study affirming abortion care does not increase mental health risks and more

Read the week's best commentary from bloggers at Bustle, the Daily Beast and more.

ACCESS TO CARE:

"Obama's Planned Parenthood measure will protect the organization, but for how long?" Elizabeth Strassner, Bustle: "In a move consistent with his previous advocacy for women's reproductive rights, President Barack Obama announced Wednesday that he would move to prevent states from defunding Planned Parenthood," Strassner writes. According to Strassner, "The new rule by the Obama administration prevents states from blocking Planned Parenthood funding from the federal government," a tactic used by conservative lawmakers to target Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers even though federal funding cannot be used for most abortion care. However, citing President-elect Donald Trump's pledge to defund Planned Parenthood, Strassner explains that Obama's move "does not necessarily guarantee Planned Parenthood funding forever." She points out that Trump has nominated abortion-rights opponent Tom Price for secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, which means that Price, if confirmed, "could help repeal Obama's rule." In addition, "[c]onsidering the Senate and House both have [conservative] majorities, there could be a joint resolution of disapproval," Strassner writes. She concludes, "While the new rule may not guarantee permanent funding for Planned Parenthood ... it seems that the Obama administration has successfully provided some safeguards, at least for the near future" (Strassner, Bustle, 12/15).

ABORTION-RIGHTS MOVEMENT:

"Study: Abortion doesn't harm women's mental health, but denying one does," Brandy Zadrozny, Daily Beast: Zadrozny writes about a new study affirming that "women who have abortions are at no risk of developing depression, anxiety, or low self-esteem related to it," while "those who were denied the procedure experienced increased anxiety and lower self-esteem immediately after being turned away." According to Zadrozny, the study was conducted over a five-year period in 21 states and involved about 1,000 women seeking abortion care, divided into three groups: women who received abortion care; women who were turned away because they were beyond their state's gestational age limit and who carried the pregnancy to term; and women who were turned away because they were past the gestational age limit, but whose pregnancies ended in miscarriage or an abortion obtained elsewhere. Zadrozny explains that the findings "add to an existing body of scientific research that finds no increased risk of mental-health problems following an abortion," while "the greater finding -- that being denied an abortion may be more detrimental to women's mental health than allowing women to obtain their wanted procedures -- could be problematic for [conservative] states that have in recent years passed laws mandating women seeking an abortion be counseled on the procedure's [alleged] harmful psychological effects." Noting that nine states currently impose biased counseling laws, Zadrozny concludes by quoting Antonia Biggs, a social psychologist at the University of California-San Francisco and the lead author of the study, who said, "'Our research shows [such laws] aren't based on evidence ... I would hope our laws and Supreme Court decisions would be based on the best evidence we have'" (Zadrozny, Daily Beast, 12/14).

What others are saying about the abortion-rights movement:

~ "Trump's Labor Secretary pick has a long ... history with anti-abortion schemes," Christina Cauterucci, Slate's "XX Factor."

ABORTION RESTRICTIONS:

"Why the 20-week abortion ban Ohio passed instead of the heartbeat bill needs your attention," Lani Seelinger, Bustle: Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) "made a play to appeal to a middle conservative ground ... when he signed a 20-week abortion ban [SB 127] into law ... and vetoed the much-discussed and very controversial" bill (HB 493) that would have banned abortion care as early as six weeks, Seelinger writes. However, Seelinger explains that "anyone who is concerned with keeping a woman's right to choose intact and constitutionally protected should be equally as worried about the bill that Kasich did sign as about radical bills like the one that he chose to veto." It may "see[m] like a welcome concession when the other option is effectively a six-week ban," she writes, but "the 20-week ban is actually quite radical in its own way," by allowing only limited exemptions, imposing significant penalties and "ignor[ing] research." Seelinger continues, "The worst part of the new law, though, is that anti-abortion groups have effectively designed it to be a challenge to Roe v. Wade," noting, "If the Supreme Court were to take it up, it could chip away at that precedent and possibly even lead to it being overturned" (Seelinger, Bustle, 12/14).

What others are saying about abortion restrictions:

~ "Federal judge temporarily blocks Texas's fetal burial rule," Stassa Edwards, Jezebel.

~ "Oklahoma just passed a law requiring private business to turn their bathrooms into billboards for anti-abortion propaganda," Ryan Kiesel, American Civil Liberties Union's "Speak Freely."

~ "Oklahoma Supreme Court throws out abortion law on hospital admitting privileges," Cauterucci, Slate's "XX Factor."