February 10, 2013
Malawi's New President Committed to Reducing Maternal Mortality
The New York Times - Opinionator: Malawi's Leader Makes Safe Childbirth Her Mission, by Courtney E. Martin:
Malawi is a country of rolling hills and marshy flatlands, where 85 percent of the population live in the countryside, most subsisting on less than $2 per person per day, typically from corn and tobacco farming. It is also a country with extremely high maternal mortality. In the U.S., 1 in 2,400 women are at risk of dying while giving birth over the course of their lives; in Malawi, it is 1 out of 36. If the country’s new president, Joyce Banda, has her way, that will soon change. . . .
November 29, 2012
China Reconsiders One-Child Policy
Reuters: China considers easing family planning rules, by Michael Martina:
China is considering changes to its one-child policy, a former family planning official said, with government advisory bodies drafting proposals in the face of a rapidly ageing society in the world's most populous nation. . . .
October 13, 2012
Celebrities Sign "Bill of Reproductive Rights"
The Hill - Healthwatch blog: Celebs lambaste GOP over abortion, by Elise Viebeck:
A slew of film and television stars are pushing back against GOP efforts to ban abortion and stop President Obama's birth-control mandate.
Meryl Streep, Kevin Bacon, Kyra Sedgwick, Amy Poehler and others mounted an online push for a "Bill of Reproductive Rights" on Tuesday in collaboration with an international abortion-rights group. . . .
September 16, 2012
Book Review of Naomi Wolf's "Vagina, A New Biography"
The New York Times: Upstairs, Downstairs (book review of ‘Vagina: A New Biography,’ by Naomi Wolf), by Toni Bentley:
Sit back and relax, will you? Naomi Wolf has got her orgasm back. Yep. I know you were worried. We were all worried. I mean, to lose one’s orgasm at a time like this, what with Syria undergoing mass civilian murder and Romney closing in on Obama, it is really enough to put a liberated gal’s thong in a knot.
But Wolf didn’t just get back one of those little clitoral thingamajigs that Masters and Johnson so laboriously put back on the map after Freud had brushed them aside. Or rather inside, where he felt they belonged. She has reclaimed the Great Big Cosmic I-Am-a-Gorgeous-Goddess (Feminist-Goddess, that is) kind. Phew!
“Vagina: A New Biography” should have been an important book. A very important book. . . .
August 12, 2012
Not All Pregnant Women See Charms of 3-D Fetus Statues
The Huffington Post: 3-D Fetus Statues Get Thumbs Down From Pregnant Moms, by David Moye:
Three dimensional ultrasound photos are becoming increasingly common, but a Japanese engineering company is using the technology to create statues from sonograms that some might consider embryo art. . . .
But while the company flack said the customers have been satisfied, pregnant women who viewed the video thought the concept was fetally flawed. . . .
This is interesting in light of the anti-choice movement's fervent efforts to portray embryos and fetuses as morally equivalent to fully developed children and as completely separate from the women who carry them within their bodies. The fact that many women seem to find the 3-D models "creepy" suggests that, notwithstanding the prevalence of ultrasound imaging, pregnant women find it unnatural and unsettling to regard the fetus as an entity severed from their own bodies.
Commentary on Why Many Religions Are Anti-Feminist
The Huffington Post (Blog): Why Religion Opposes Female Rights, by Nigel Barber:
Recently, the Catholic hierarchy moved to bring the Leadership Conference of Women Religious into line with orthodox Church teachings . This organization of American nuns had been in conflict with the Vatican over issues related to women's rights, including reproductive rights. The spectacle of an all-male task force being brought in to tell women what they must think may seem badly dated. Yet, male priests still tell most of the world's women what to think and their message is often anti-feminist. . . .
May 29, 2012
Social Issues Like Abortion, Hotly Debated in U.S., Are Resolved With Comparative Calm in Canada
The New York Times: For Canada, U.S. Debates Are Old News, by Luisita Lopez Torregrosa:
Those Americans embroiled in combustible debates over abortion, birth control, same-sex marriage and other social issues this electoral season might look north of the border to find North Americans who are not riven by such heated disputes. . . .
To many Americans, and particularly American women, who are wondering why some of the issues listed above still stir controversy decades after apparent resolution, Canada appears to have it all over the United States. . . .
Analysis and Opinion on Recent Gallup Poll on Abortion
Los Angeles Times: Analysis: Are the new Gallup numbers on abortion meaningful?, by David Lauter:
Gallup received considerable attention Wednesday for new poll numbers showing that the share of Americans who call themselves “pro-choice” on the abortion issue has hit a record low of 41% while 50% now call themselves “pro-life.”
Attention-getting for sure, but what, if anything, does it mean? . . .
Slate Magazine: The Problem With Polling About Moral Beliefs, by Amanda Marcotte:
Another year, another Gallup poll on abortion for anti-choicers to misleadingly represent in a bid to deceive the country into believing they're winning in the court of public opinion. Of course, Gallup shares the blame for this travesty, since it publishes its polling results with a lead about the poll that asks if people identify as pro-choice or pro-life. Inevitably, "pro-life" polls well, much better than it would if it were more accurately phrased as "anti-choice" or "anti-abortion," because it's a fuzzy-wuzzy term that deliberately distracts from the legal and sexual freedom issues at the heart of the abortion debate. This year, the poll found that 50 percent of Americans relate to the empty term "pro-life," and only 41 percent to the term "pro-choice.". . .
The Washington Post (op-ed contributor): Why Americans are becoming more pro-life, by Ashley McGuire:
For decades, abortion was thought of as an issue that riled up religious zealots in the Bible Belt. “Enlightened” Americans, however, saw abortion as the key to women’s liberation and a more egalitarian society.
Their notions about history and progress assured them that abortion was an essential part of the path forward, for women and for society more broadly.
Wednesday’s news that Gallup is now recording the lowest level of self-described pro-choicers in its history of tracking the abortion issue is no doubt an unwelcome hiccup in their vision for America. . . .
May 07, 2012
Graphic Artist’s Poster Exhibition Portrays "4000 Years for Choice"
Huffington Post: '4000 Years Of Choice' Comes To San Francisco: Artist Heather Ault's Unique Approach To Reproductive Rights, by Robin Wilkey:
"Since the days of Roe v. Wade, the pro-choice movement has presented images of feminists, coat hangers and dead women to represent reproductive rights," said local artist Heather Ault. "Now is the time for a broader and more dynamic visual campaign."
Ault, a graphic artist, caught the attention of activists and artists alike in 2010 with her poster exhibition "4000 Years Of Choice." And now, for the first time it's coming to San Francisco.
In "4000 Years Of Choice," a collection of bright, colorful posters that look more like vintage Tropicana ads than a reproductive rights campaign, Ault shatters the concept that birth control and abortion need be something shameful, pointing to its fascinating history instead. . . .
April 28, 2012
For Many, Religious Faith and Pro-Choice Stance Are Not Contradictory
bgdailynews.com: Some people of faith support right to abortion, by Jenna Mink:
At the Rev. Kara Hildebrant's church, the abortion issue rarely comes up. Instead, The Presbyterian Church on State Street focuses on other life problems, such as homelessness and child abuse.
The Presbyterian Church USA supports women's right to health care, including contraception and abortion, and believes in the ability of women to make their own moral choices when dealing with problem pregnancies, according to the organization's website. . . .
April 11, 2012
Commentary on the Oppressivenss of "American Pregnancy Culture"
Salon: My pregnancy rebellion, by Marie C. Baca:
I was fed up with rules that mark the beginning of an identity loss for mothers. So I took a stand, in an odd way
I did a bad, bad thing the other day: Visibly pregnant, I went to a beauty salon and had my hair dyed. That may not seem like a big deal to those unfamiliar with American pregnancy culture, but to see the faces of the other women in the salon you would have thought I had walked in the door with a joint and a half-empty handle of vodka. . . .
March 12, 2012
Musicians Demand Their Music Be Pulled from Rush Limbaugh's Show
Rolling Stone: Rage Against the Machine to Rush Limbaugh: 'Stop Using Our Music in Your Right-Wing Clown Show', by Matthew Perpetua:
Tom Morello demands that radio host drop Rage tunes
Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine is the latest rock star to demand that Rush Limbaugh stop using his music on the air. "Rush Limbaugh played "Sleep Now in the Fire" as a bumper on his show today," Morello told Rolling Stone last night. "Our response: 'Hey Jackass, stop using our music on your racist, misogynist, right wing clown show." (He later tweeted the same message.)
Peter Gabriel, Rush and the Fabulous Thunderbirds have made public statements asking for their music to be pulled from Limbaugh's syndicated talk show following the host's personal attack on Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke, whom he called a "slut" and a "prostitute" for defending women's reproductive rights. . . .
March 11, 2012
“Doonesbury” Abortion-Law Series Prompts Several Papers To Pull Strip
The Washington Post – Comics Riff blog: "DOONESBURY": Next week's abortion-law strip pulled by at least several papers, by Michael Cavna:
Yes, Virginia, there is a satire about transvaginal ultrasound laws.
Next week, “Doonesbury” will tackle the ultrasound-before-abortion debate that has roiled Texas and Virginia and the nation in recent weeks, as lawmakers fought over a procedure deemed physically invasive and medically intrusive by some critics, who dubbed it “state rape.” Last month, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, who opposes abortion, insisted upon revisions in legislation so the state would require only transabdominal ultrasounds prior to abortion. . . .
February 19, 2012
Majority of Births To Women Under 30 Are Out-of-Wedlock
The New York Times: For Women Under 30, Most Births Occur Outside Marriage, by Jason DeParle & Sabrina Tabernise:
It used to be called illegitimacy. Now it is the new normal. After steadily rising for five decades, the share of children born to unmarried women has crossed a threshold: more than half of births to American women under 30 occur outside marriage.
Once largely limited to poor women and minorities, motherhood without marriage has settled deeply into middle America. The fastest growth in the last two decades has occurred among white women in their 20s who have some college education but no four-year degree, according to Child Trends, a Washington research group that analyzed government data. . . .
February 06, 2012
For Many Women, Sexist Ads Take the Fun out of Watching the Superbowl
Feministing: Superbowl commercial sexism: #NotBuyingIt, by Chloe:
Superbowl 46 was yesterday, and the Giants won, and someone has really small hands, and that’s pretty much where my football expertise ends. But I did watch a number of the commercials, because – and this is a sign that American capitalism is alive and well and not at any risk of being overcome by President Obama’s Kenyan socialism – the ads are almost as big a deal as the game itself.
If you were on Twitter during the game, you might have noticed the hashtag #NotBuyingIt, which was started by Miss Representation and designed to critique the depiction of women in these very expensive, very widely-viewed ads. As Maya noted at MoJo, “women make up about half of the Super Bowl’s audience and they’re more likely than men to tune in for the ads, rather than the game.” Yet, Superbowl advertisers have no problem insulting women in their ads, and they “do an especially good job of missing the point by acting as though dudes are the only ones watching.” . . .
Stylelite: Adriana Lima Sports Louboutins In Sexist Super Bowl Ad, by Justin Fenner:
Here’s the basic message of Teleflora’s Super Bowl commercial, starring noted model and Victoria’s Secret Angel Adriana Lima: Dudes, if you buy your lady friend flowers for Valentine’s Day, she’ll basically have no choice but to touch your genitals.
The New York Times: Judging the Super Bowl Commercials, From Charming to Smarmy, by Stuart Elliott:
SOME say, “Enough is enough.” Others say, “Too much is never enough.” When it came to the advertising bowl that took place inside Super Bowl XLVI on Sunday, enough was too much. . . .
Yes, sad to say, once again GoDaddy served up stale cheesecake in the form of two commercials that exploited women in the guise of empowerment. A similarly smarmy tone suffused spots for Teleflora, in which the model Adriana Lima told men, “Valentine’s Day is not that complicated. Give and you shall receive” . . . .
January 25, 2012
Poll Finds Majority of Latina/o Population Favors Abortion Rights
The Florida Independent: New poll: Majority of Latina/o population supports reproductive rights, by Ashley Lopez:
A new survey released from the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health found that “strong majorities” of Latina/os registered to vote support “access to legal abortion, affirm that they would offer support to a close friend or family member who had an abortion, and oppose politicians interfering in personal, private decisions about abortion,” the group reports.
The research, which was conducted by Lake Research Partners, was part of a national survey of 600 registered Latina/o voters. The survey asked nuanced questions regarding abortion rights, questions were asked in English and Spanish and it included about 200 surveys conducted via cell phone. . . .
December 30, 2011
Carole Joffe on the Historical Echoes of Today's Limitations on Teen Access to Plan B
RH Reality Check: Vulnerable Women and Contraception: Obama Turns Clock Back Nearly 100 Years, by Carole Joffe:
"For a woman to 'ask her physician' for a safe and effective contraceptive presupposed that she had a physician, that she could afford a contraceptive, and that the physician would be willing to give it to her, regardless of her marital status."
These are the words of the historian Sheila Rothman, writing about the setbacks Margaret Sanger faced in the 1920s and 1930s in trying to realize her vision of making birth control widely available to all women, including the poorest—and about the ultimate “ownership” of contraceptive services during that era by physicians. Sanger’s original vision was a fleet of clinics, to be run by public health nurses. But as Rothman and others have documented, when she attempted to open such clinics, she experienced repeated arrests and the closures of her facilities, as contraception was then illegal. In the years leading up to the 1965 Supreme Court Griswold decision, which legalized birth control for married persons, only physicians were legally permitted to provide such services, and as the quote from Rothman implies, this situation put poor women at a tremendous disadvantage.
Rothman’s critique, written in the 1970s about events in the ‘20s and ‘30s, is remarkably relevant to today’s leading reproductive controversy: the Obama administration’s overruling of the FDA decision to allow over-the-counter status of Plan B, an Emergency Contraceptive product, for young women under the age of seventeen. If one substitutes “teenager” for “woman” and “Plan B” for “a safe and effective contraceptive” in Rothman’s quote, one can readily appreciate how, once again in America’s longstanding reproductive wars, the needs of the most vulnerable are willfully neglected. . . .
December 29, 2011
Self-induced Abortions Raise New Issues in National Abortion Debate
Newsweek: The Next Roe v. Wade?: Jennie McCormack's Abortion Battle, by Nancy Hass:
Jennie McCormack was arrested for terminating her pregnancy with an abortion pill. The case that could transform the reproduction wars.
The last thing on Jennie Linn McCormack’s mind when she realized she was pregnant was that she might, with a single telephone call, upend the vitriolic national debate on abortion.
All she thought about was how it would be impossible for her to take care of another baby. Surviving, barely, on the $250 of monthly child support for one of her three kids, the unemployed, unmarried 32-year-old also knew she didn’t have the more than $500 she’d need for the two-and-a-half-hour trip from her bare-bones rental in Pocatello, Idaho, to Salt Lake City, the closest city with a clinic willing to terminate a pregnancy. She had no computer, no car, no one to take care of her 2-year-old—and like Idaho, Utah had a waiting period for abortions, which meant she’d have to make two round trips. So early this past January, she made the call that may alter history and turn Jennie McCormack into Jane Roe’s unlikely successor: she asked her sister in Mississippi to buy RU-486, the so-called abortion pill, over the Internet and send it to her. The cost: about $200. . . .
December 05, 2011
Supposedly Progressive Hollywood’s Not So Progressive Portrayal of Abortion
Salon.com: Why is Hollywood still terrified of abortion?, by Mary Elizabeth Williams:
Forty years after Roe, abortion's so traumatic in films that it leads to suicide -- and teens deliver half-vampires
Of course Bella would keep Edward’s baby. Dammit, she loves her sparkly vampire husband. She doesn’t care about the concerns of her family and friends, their pleas that she consider the risks of carrying a hellspawn to term. Like Julia Roberts’ saintly, ill-fated Shelby in “Steel Magnolias,” who pursues a pregnancy because she “would rather have 30 minutes of wonderful than a lifetime of nothing special” (and subsequently dies for it), Bella knows it’s her body, her choice. And a “Twilight” franchise dreamed up by a nice Mormon lady isn’t going to include a scene of newlywed, saved-herself-for-the-wedding night Bella trotting down to Planned Parenthood for a quickie D&C. No, her devotion to life is so great that it extends to life that isn’t even quite human.
Authentic to its characters as it may be, the gruesomely traditional blockbuster “Breaking Dawn” illustrates an unavoidable reality of contemporary cinema — that whether you’re in the mysterious realm of vampires or the corridors of power, normal, untraumatic abortion barely exists. . . .
October 27, 2011
Television Series on Dr. George Tiller May Influence Perspectives on Abortion
Jezebel: True Blood's Alan Ball Developing Series That Could Change the Way We Talk About Abortion, by Lane Moore:
According to the Hollywood Reporter, True Blood mastermind Alan Ball is currently developing a series called Wichita about "a Kansas surgeon who inadvertently becomes the focal point of a contemporary political, cultural and ethical war."
Ball is also teaming up with Devin Friedman, the writer behind the 2010 GQ article "Savior vs. Savior" about the late doctor Dr. George Tiller, one of the few physicians to provide late-term abortions. . . .