Sunday, January 2, 2011

Reproductive rights include more than abortion

I ran across this article by William Browning titled, "2010 Reproductive Rights Policy Year in Review" on Yahoo! News. The information is relevant and nicely compiled in a time line.

However, the headline is a bit deceptive. The article primarily focuses on abortion.

But, abortion is only one aspect of reproductive rights.

Only one sentence -- at the very end -- speaks to the efforts of Planned Parenthood to "expand STD testing, HIV testing and wellness exams for women nationwide."

This illustrates how the mainstream media emphasizes the abortion issue because of the emotions surrounding it. Other aspects of reproductive rights remain largely ignored.

The Center for Reproductive Rights lists contraception, safe and healthy pregnancy, censorship, the rights of young people, and women with HIV/AIDS among its issues.

According to the center's website, its initiatives "seek to transform how we think and talk about reproductive rights – by promoting legal scholarship and teaching, by connecting reproductive rights to human rights, and by developing new ideas and strategies."

These are not limited to abortion.

During 2010, the center produced an important work titled, "Dignity Denied: Violation of the rights of HIV positive women in Chilean health facilities." We simply don't hear enough about this type of reproductive issues in the mainstream media.

So, while abortion will remain a hot-button issue in the U.S. and around the world, it should not be an all-consuming issue in the reproductive rights arena at the expense of other issues that are equally important and deserve attention.

Here is William Browning's article in its entirety. It is worth a read.

Ever since the landmark Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, abortion has been a hot topic in United States politics. 2010 was no different, as states enacted controversial abortion laws and embryonic stem cell research was ordered to stop and then start again.

Here's a brief look at abortion laws and policy in 2010.

March 21, 2010: Obama's executive order and health care reform law

With the health care reform law hanging in the balance, President Barack Obama signed an executive order explicitly stating the new health care reform law cannot be used to fund abortions. Even though the law as written did say as much, Obama's executive order reaffirmed precedents set in 1976 with the Hyde Amendment, which says services such as Medicaid cannot be used to fund abortions.

April 29, 2010: Oklahoma's abortion law goes into effect

Oklahoma's new abortion law went into effect in late April and was challenged in court. The Republican-led Oklahoma legislature overrode a veto by Democratic Gov. Brady Henry despite possible legal challenges. The new law requires an ultrasound be given before an abortion and patients be read a description of the fetus. It also required an image of the ultrasound to be placed directly in front of the woman receiving the procedure. Oklahoma already requires women to have counseling 24 hours before getting an abortion; opponents of the new law said it went too far.

July 20, 2010: Judge blocks Oklahoma law

A ruling by a state judge in Oklahoma extended blocking the law and set a pretrial date for Jan. 21, 2011. Judge Noma Gurich had been asked by the Center for Reproductive Rights to declare it unconstitutional as it violates free speech and privacy rights. The order for a trial extended a temporary injunction issued in May.

Sept. 28, 2010: Appeals court upholds Obama administration stem cell research policy

In 2009, the Obama administration ordered funding for embryonic stem cell research until a court blocked the measure in August. The National Institutes of Health appealed the decision and an appeals court agreed with the assertion that embryos being provided by private clinics don't apply to the law. A 1996 law states embryonic stem cell research cannot destroy embryos. The Obama administration rules state scientists can use batches of embryos already created.

Oct. 15, 2010: New Nebraska law takes effect

A new law in Nebraska took effect limiting abortions to fetuses younger than 20 weeks old. Lawmakers used a disputed notion about the ability of the fetus to feel pain during a certain time in its development. Abortion rights groups plan on filing lawsuits to block the law while anti-abortion groups want to expand this type of law to other states.

Nov. 2, 2010: Colorado voters reject Amendment 62

The midterm elections saw Colorado voters reject a ballot measure banning abortions at any stage of development. Had Amendment 62 passed, it would have granted constitutional rights at the moment of conception.

Dec. 23, 2010: Planned Parenthood to expand abortion services

Planned Parenthood announced it wants to standardize services to all of its branches. That means more clinics will have abortions available. The expansion of services will be done over the next two years, according to company officials. Some clinics may opt out of offering abortions if special circumstances warrant the lack of service. Planned Parenthood also wants to expand STD testing, HIV testing and wellness exams for women nationwide.

William Browning is a research librarian specializing in U.S. politics. Born in St. Louis, Browning is active in local politics and served as a campaign volunteer for President Barack Obama and Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill.

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