What We're Reading This Morning -- May 4
Good morning, everyone and Happy Friday! As the temperature is supposed to rise near 90 degrees today in Washington, D.C., women’s health issues continue to heat up across the nation. Here’s what we’re reading this morning…
Religion shouldn’t preclude people from supporting women’s health, argues Harry Knox. ”Why Religious People Should Support the Rights of Women in Reproductive Decisions” – “Lately, headlines have been full of reports of religious condemnation of abortion and birth control. As a person of deep faith, I believe the opposite: I believe that -- as a matter of social justice -- religious people should support the rights of women to make decisions about bearing children, including about abortion and birth control. God's love encompasses all creation. It includes a woman in labor and it includes a woman having an abortion. It does not stop at the door to a women's clinic. For women, justice must include the right to make decisions about sexuality and reproduction. Many people of faith and religious institutions think that reproductive rights should be protected and expanded, but often they are silent. Women's reproductive rights have been so stigmatized and stripped of moral value by certain religious leaders that it can be difficult to speak up. Ongoing opposition to comprehensive contraception coverage in the Affordable Care Act by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and their allies is the latest example of stigmatizing women's health care. This is a good time to reconsider why religion should support, not oppose, women's reproductive rights.
A backdoor ban on abortion that would cost 17 states millions of dollars? That’s the type of bill Rep. Todd Rokita (R-IN) supports. “GOP Health Plan Would Ban States From Helping Low-Income Women Pay For Abortion Care” – “As congressional Republicans are deciding on a substitute for the Affordable Care Act, Rep. Todd Rokita (R-IN) has introduced the State Health Flexibility Act, which could prohibit states from providing abortion coverage to their residents…. Seventeen states have elected to provide more comprehensive abortion benefits, but pay for these procedures with state funding. Rokita’s bill would dramatically change this. Like most Republican proposals, his legislation turns Medicaid into a block grant program that would give states a set amount from the federal government, letting them shape their own Medicaid programs with fewer federal standards and requirements. But states would be banned from covering abortion services, even with state funds, unless they buy separate health plans that include abortion insurance or only cover abortion care. As Mother Jones’ Nick Baumann explains, this would cost the 17 states that provide abortion coverage millions of dollars.”
The states with the highest rates of teen pregnancy have restricted access to birth control and sex education programs that stress abstinence. “More Teenagers Use ‘Highly Effective Contraception’” – “Teen pregnancy rates are at a 30-year-low (and births to teenage mothers are down as well, to 34.3 births per 1,000 girls 15 to 19 years old in 2010, the lowest rate since the government began keeping track in 1940). Today, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released numbers offering one possible reason for those positive trends: more sexually experienced teenagers reported current use of highly effective contraceptive methods (intrauterine device, implant, pill, patch, ring or injectable contraceptive). Approximately 60 percent of teenagers between 15 and 19 years old said they used the ’highly effective methods’ in the National Survey of Family Growth — an increase from 47 percent in 1995…. Those states are also among the states with the least restrictions surrounding teenagers obtaining birth control without a parent’s permission. Of the five states with the highest rates of pregnancy among teenagers, three (Texas, Oklahoma and Mississippi) restrict the ability of a minor to access contraceptive health care, and four (those three, plus Arkansas) stress abstinence in their sexual education programs. Conclusive? Far from it. But these numbers should give policy-makers in states with high teenage pregnancy rates something more to think about.”