National Partnership for Women & Families

In the News

Blogs spotlight documentaries on black women and abortion care, 'sexual assault in the age on social media' and more

Read the week's best commentary from bloggers at Mother Jones, Huffington Post blogs and more.

ABORTION-RIGHTS AND CONTRACEPTION:

"The untold story about black women and abortions," P.R. Lockhart, Mother Jones: Lockhart writes about a new, two-part documentary from filmmaker Dawn Porter that "dives into the racial politics of abortion and dissects how race, class, gender, and religion converge and often determine the reproductive health care decisions of black women." Citing research from the Guttmacher Institute, Lockhart explains that "black women are almost five times more likely than white women to undergo abortions, a difference that has been attributed to black women's higher rates of unintended pregnancy when compared with white women, mostly because of limited access to reproductive health care services." Noting that low-income women face particular difficulties accessing abortion care, Lockhart notes that the documentary's most affecting moments involve young black women with children who opt for abortion, often for financial reasons. According to Lockhart, the stories of such women "often go unheard in political debates over abortion access." She concludes by citing Porter, who says, "'[O]ur stories, the stories of Black women, are too often lost or overlooked ... I hope this film will give new voice to the hard choices that so many women face'" (Porter, Mother Jones, 10/6).

What others are saying about abortion-rights and contraception:

~ "Why 'pro-life' is a harmful misnomer," Jennifer G. Bird, Huffington Post blogs.

~ "Teens aren't having less sex -- they're just being more responsible," Katy Howell, Ms. Magazine blog.

~ "Most state policies are failing low-income women and families," Melissa Scholke, Ms. Magazine blog.

SEXUAL AND GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE:

"Sexual assault in the age of social media," K. Sujata, Huffington Post blogs: Sujata, CEO of the Chicago Foundation for Women, spotlights a Netflix documentary, Audrie and Daisy, that "detail[s] the heart wrenching stories of sexual assault victims Audrie Pott and Daisy Coleman," who both "sustained horrifying trauma and were forced to relive the attacks day after day as classmates propagated images and videos of their assaults across the web." According to Sujata, "Between the relentless cyberbullying they faced and a lack of institutional support, Audrie committed suicide and Daisy was driven out of her hometown. In both cases, social media helped amplify victim-shaming and entrench the victim in a state of public suffering." The documentary "has rekindle[ed] the public's awareness of sexual assault, but its greater purpose is to inspire action," Sujata continues. To proactively address the situation, Sujata urges support for "advocacy campaigns striving to reform juvenile sex assault statutes"; school bystander intervention programs; the "legitimiz[ation] of evidence on social media as incriminating evidence of truly ghastly crimes," rather than as "a campaign to tarnish the victim's identity." She further emphasizes the need to "strengthen accessibility to sexual assault survivor support programs" and "hold our social media platforms accountable for inconsistently responding to sexual harassment complaints and failing to remove memes that champion violence against women" (Sujata, Huffington Post blogs, 10/6).

What others are saying about sexual and gender-based violence:

~ "WATCH: Vice President Biden goes 'undercover' to raise awareness about campus sexual assault," Lauren Young, Ms. Magazine blog.

~ "Saying sex abuse is a 'nauseating crime,' New York's cardinal announces plan to compensate victims," Sarah Pulliam Bailey, Washington Post's "Acts of Faith."

ELECTIONS & POLITICS:

"Abortion returns to the debate," Emma Green, The Atlantic: A question about faith that spurred discussion about abortion care during the vice presidential debate this week marked "an important moment in the debate, because it highlighted vulnerabilities on this issue within both parties," Green writes. For example, she notes that while the Hillary Clinton/Tim Kaine "ticket is well-designed to appeal to pro-choice supporters," their different stances on the Hyde Amendment "and their religious backgrounds ... sugges[t] they see abortion as clear-cut public-policy issue that's also a challenging moral question." Meanwhile, Republican vice presidential candidate Mike Pence's "tone stood in contrast to the way [Republican presidential nominee Donald] Trump has spoken about abortion in the past" and served as "a reminder of just how different the Republican presidential and vice-presidential candidates are." Green notes that while the exchange "likely won't change the minds of many voters," it "illustrated how much faith, and notions of morality, underpin American politics" and "show[ed] how revealing questions about religion can be in political debates." She concludes, "Treating abortion, along with other policy issues, as 'a fundamental issue of morality' is important to many voters -- and so ... it should be important to moderators, too" (Green, The Atlantic, 10/5).