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In the News

Blogs comment on legal challenge to harmful restrictions in three states; HHS Secretary nominee's opposition to contraception access and more

Read the week's best commentary from bloggers at the American Civil Liberties Union's "Speak Freely," The Atlantic and more.

ABORTION RESTRICTIONS:

"The ACLU, Center for Reproductive Rights, and Planned Parenthood have leveled a coordinated legal strike on restrictive abortion laws in three states," Jaweer Brown, American Civil Liberties Union's "Speak Freely": "[W]hile we worry about the future of abortion rights at the federal level" under the new administration, "far too many women [already] wake up in states where their right to abortion remains so inaccessible that the right is more theoretical than real," Brown writes. In response to restrictive abortion laws, and bolstered by the Supreme Court's ongoing support for abortion rights, Brown writes that the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) "has joined forces with the Center for Reproductive Rights and Planned Parenthood in a new wave of lawsuits to protect and expand access to abortion." According to Brown, the lawsuits challenge ambulatory surgical center building requirements and admitting privileges rules in Missouri; a 20-week abortion ban in North Carolina; and an Alaska law that effectively bans abortion care in outpatient facilities after the first trimester of pregnancy. Brown concludes that the reproductive-rights groups filed the "lawsuits to send a clear message: From Alaska to North Carolina -- and every state in between -- we will continue to fight until every woman has the dignity to make decisions about her body, her family, and her future. Our bodies, our rights, and our clinics are not going anywhere" (Brown, "Speak Freely," American Civil Liberties Union, 11/30).

What others are saying about abortion restrictions:

~ "Texas will now require funeral services whenever a woman has an abortion," Amanda Marcotte, Salon.

~ "As Trump presidency nears, pro-choicers mount lawsuits against anti-abortion laws," Hannah Levintova, Mother Jones.

CONTRACEPTION:

"Tom Price: 'Not one' woman struggled to afford birth control," Olga Khazan, The Atlantic: "President-elect Donald Trump announced his pick to head the Health and Human Services Department on Tuesday: House Budget Committee [Chair] Tom Price, a [conservative lawmaker] from Georgia and a fierce opponent of abortion, the Affordable Care Act [(ACA) (PL 111-148)], and the law's birth-control mandate," Khazan writes. Price's opposition to the ACA's contraceptive coverage rules might stem from his belief that it is "unnecessary," Khazan explains, citing comments he made in 2012 that "'not one'" woman has struggled to afford contraception. "Actually, before contraceptives were added as a mandatory benefit under [the ACA], millions of women had trouble affording it," Khazan writes. She cites a survey conducted in 2010, before the rules took effect, that found "a third of women struggled with the cost of prescription birth control," while earlier surveys found that low-income women "were more likely to use less-costly, and less-effective, methods of birth control." Khazan also points out that the recent drop in the teenage birth rate "is largely thought to be due to the proliferation of free long-term reversible contraceptives, which can cost hundreds of dollars if not covered by insurance." Noting that some women remain ineligible for birth control coverage and continue to struggle to afford it, Khazan concludes, "If Price helps Trump to achieve his goal of repealing and replacing [the ACA] -- without the contraceptive mandate -- there may be many women ... who have to stop taking their newly-expensive birth control" (Khazan, The Atlantic, 11/29).

What others are saying about contraception:

~ "Trump's first step toward impeding birth control access is making Tom Price HHS Secretary," Christina Cauterucci, Slate's "XX Factor."

ABORTION-RIGHTS MOVEMENT:

"Ireland will pay damages to a woman forced to travel abroad for an abortion," Cauterucci, Slate's "XX factor": "For the first time, Ireland is compensating one of its residents for the trauma she endured by having to travel to Great Britain to obtain an abortion," Cauterucci writes. The woman, Amanda Mellet, is among three women "who have recently challenged Ireland's strict anti-abortion laws in front of the United Nations' Human Rights Committee." The women sought abortion care outside of Ireland because they "would have been forced under Irish law to carry to term fetuses that would have been" stillborn, Cauterucci notes. "[B]ased on Mellet's testimony, the U.N. panel found that Ireland's regulations that ban abortion even in cases of fatal fetal [anomalies] violate international law," Cauterucci writes, citing the panel's ruling that Ireland's rules "subject women to 'cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment' that 'encroach(es) on (their) dignity and physical and mental integrity.'" According to Cauterucci, the Irish government by agreeing to compensate Mellet "accepted the U.N. panel's ruling." Noting that the decision indicates that Ireland's "ruling party is unwilling to flout the U.N. to take a pseudo-principled stand for the inhumane treatment of women," Cauterucci calls the decision "a good sign for activists working to reform the country's abortion laws" (Cauterucci, "XX factor," Slate, 12/1).

What others are saying about the abortion-rights movement:

~ "Things people commonly get wrong about abortion, debunked by a doctor," Gina Florio, Bustle.

~ "What television thinks of abortion providers," Laurel Raymond, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress."

~ "Women speak out about #IfILoseCoverage," Raising Women's Voices.