It was a day when most of the major races featured female candidates, and all the major female candidates won. They won in South Dakota and Arkansas, California and Nevada. They won as business-friendly moderates (the Golden State’s Meg Whitman); as embattled incumbents (Arkansas’s Blanche Lincoln); as Tea Party insurgents (Sharron Angle in Nevada). South Carolina gubernatorial hopeful Nikki Haley even came in first despite multiple allegations of adultery.
But mostly, they won as Republicans. Conservative Republicans, in fact. Conservative Republicans endorsed by Sarah Palin, in many cases. Which generated a certain amount of angst in the liberal commentariat about What It All Meant For Feminism. . . .
Saturday, October 7, 2017
Washington Post (Oct. 6, 2017): Trump administration narrows Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate, by Juliet Eilperin, Amy Goldstein and William Wan:
In the next move on Trump's path to dismantle as many Obama-administration initiatives as possible, the Trump administration issued a rule today that many predict will leave hundreds of thousand of women without free access to contraceptives.
The Health and Human Services Department now allows a much wider group of employers and insurers to exempt themselves from covering birth control on religious or moral grounds. Although the administration estimates that "99.9%" of women will still receive free birth control through their insurance, the only basis of that estimate is the finite number of lawsuits that have been filed since Obama introduced the contraceptive mandate provision in 2012. Officials do not know, however, how many employers denied contraceptive coverage on "religious" or "moral" grounds before the ACA, and so an accurate number of women who may lose coverage cannot yet be estimated.
In 2014, the Supreme Court heard the Hobby Lobby case in which the Christian owners of the Hobby Lobby chain craft store objected to providing certain forms of birth control. The court ruled it illegal to impose the provision on "closely held corporations," the definition of which is sure to widen under Trump's provision.
Senior Justice Department officials said the guidance was merely meant to offer interpretation and clarification of existing law. But the interpretation seemed to be particularly favorable to religious entities, possibly at the expense of women, LGBT people and others.
The guidance, for example, said the ACA contraceptive mandate “substantially burdens” employers’ free practice of religion by requiring them to provide insurance coverage for contraceptive drugs in violation of their religious of beliefs or face significant fines.
This new rule will almost certainly prompt fresh litigation against the Trump administration, likely on the grounds of sex discrimination--as the mandate disproportionately affects women--and religious discrimination based on the argument that these exceptions enable employers to impose their religious beliefs on their employees.
Thursday, October 5, 2017
UN Ambassador Flounders to Explain U.S. Vote Against Rebuking the Use of the Death Penalty to Target LGBTQ People
Think Progress (Oct. 4, 2017): Haley tries, fails to explain UN vote against rebuking use of death penalty to target LGBTQ people, by Zack Ford:
The United Nations approved a resolution on Friday, September 29 condemning the use of the death penalty in a discriminatory manner. The text of the resolution called for the death penalty to be banned "as a sanction for specific forms of conduct, such as apostasy, blasphemy, adultery and consensual same-sex relations."
The United States, however, voted against the resolution, along with Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Only 13 out of 47 countries on the Human Rights Council voted against it.
A spokesperson for the State Department cited "broader concerns" about the resolution as the reason for the negative vote, specifying disagreement with the resolution's "approach in condemning the death penalty in all circumstances." UN Ambassador Nikki Haley took to twitter to claim that the vote was not one for "the death penalty for gay people," claiming that Friday's vote was the same as the U.S.'s vote on the same issue under the Obama administration. In 2014, however, the Obama administration abstained from the death penalty resolution, which is distinct from actively voting "no." Additionally, the language regarding same-sex relationships was a new addition to the resolution.
The rest of the resolution’s calls to action refer to how the death penalty is implemented, not whether it should be. It simply calls upon states that have not yet abolished the death penalty to ensure that it is not applied in a discriminatory way and to take all possible precautions to protect the civil rights of people who are facing that punishment.
The controversy surrounding this vote highlights the United States' isolation on the death penalty compared to the rest of the democratized world. Many studies have found the death penalty to be applied in a discriminatory manner across the world where it is still implemented, especially against racial minorities and economically-vulnerable people. In the U.S., 55% of those awaiting execution today are people of color, according to the ACLU.
While the resolution encouraged countries to sign a protocol that aims at abolishing the death penalty, it did not require it.
Wednesday, August 23, 2017
openDemocracy.net (Aug. 15, 2017): Reproductive Rights on the Move: Refugee Women in Greece Struggle to Access Contraception, by Zoe Holman
Refugee women are struggling to maintain control of their bodies and reproductive choices as a result of practical and cultural challenges within their transitional lives. A recent study has identified that while 60% of women in pre-war Syria used some form of contraception, only 37% of married Syrian women currently living as refugees in Lebanon do the same.
Often, statistics like this exist because refugee women are not comfortable or reasonably able to use the common forms of contraception available in their relocated states. Injectable contraceptives are popular among refugee women, as they're more conducive to women on the move, but they are not always widely available in every country. Contraceptive pills--often more easily accessible--are not always a realistic choice for a woman without a regular routine or stability.
The lack of contraception among refugee populations can lead to more unwanted and challenging pregnancies as well as dangerous, often illicit, attempts at abortion. Seeking an abortion in a foreign country, even where it is legal, is an intimidating prospect for a refugee woman and often logistically prohibitive.
Of particular concern to many migrating women is the exacerbated risk of sexual violence and the resulting threat to a woman's reproductive autonomy.
The director of the Eritrean Initiative on Refugee Rights says that women emigrating from Eritrea can expect to be raped at least twice before reaching Europe. With this known risk in mind, many women take potent doses of contraceptive before starting their journey to lessen the risk of an unwanted pregnancy from sexual violence. This can lead to longterm damage and reproductive difficulties in the future.
In Greece, a study of nine refugee camps found that insecure conditions left many women at constant risk of sexual and gender-based violence, including rape, forced prostitution, forced marriage and trafficking. Perpetrators, it said, have included volunteers and fellow refugees.
Despite the UN noting that reproductive health is a crucial element to mental and social well-being, conflict-ridden regions still receive 50% less funding for reproductive services than non-conflict zones. Thus far, the international outcry to increase funding for safe contraception and sexual healthcare for refugee and migrant women has gone largely unanswered.
Saturday, August 19, 2017
The New York Times (Aug. 9, 2017): The Right to (Black) Life, by Renee Bracey Sherman
Three years since the killing of Michael Brown, women of color are asserting that one of the greatest civil rights issues of our time is not abortion, as anti-choice advocates argue, but police brutality.
While the fundamental right to procreate (or not to) remains essential for black women, many point out that this choice, without the legitimate ability to raise their children in safety and away from violence, "rings hollow."
It’s important to understand that the fight for reproductive justice and the fight to end police brutality go hand in hand. State violence and control, whether through racist policing, the criminal justice system or the welfare system, are all issues at the core of reproductive justice. They are fundamentally about whether you, or the state, has control over your own body and destiny.
Reproductive justice as a human rights framework, was initiated by women of color in the early 1990s. Beyond abortion, the movement is about ensuring a woman's right to choose whether to conceive, her right to a safe, shame-free pregnancy, and the right to raise her children free from state control and brutality.
Discrimination against black mothers and mothers-to-be begins right away and is recognized by organizations such as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Racial bias, they say, affects mothers and families both directly through unequal treatment, and indirectly through the stress of such an environment.
Anti-abortion activists, in particular, when black mothers survive the killing of their children, look to blame the mother or the child himself. "They scrutinize every parenting decision and ignore the structural issues that force those decisions."
Far too often, compassion for black lives doesn’t extend beyond the womb or to the black women carrying that womb. Too few tears are shed for the people killed by police violence. Reproductive justice is about the resolve to raise our families on our own terms, safely. This is the fight for the right to life.
Saturday, June 24, 2017
TIME (Jun. 22, 2017): 4 Ways the Senate Health Care Bill Would Hurt Women, by Amanda MacMillan
The newly unveiled Senate health care bill intended to repeal the Affordable Care Act has a name: the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017. The Senate bill looks very similar to the American Health Care Act passed by the House of Representatives earlier this year, with a few changes. What hasn't changed much is the debilitating effects the legislation could have on women and families, and especially low-income Americans and those with pre-existing conditions.
Under the Senate plan, women could lose essential benefits like cervical cancer screenings, breast pumps, contraception, and domestic violence screening and counseling, and prescription drug coverage could be severely limited. The bill also slashes Medicaid, which currently funds half of all childbirths in the United States, and includes language that allows states to impose employment requirements for Medicaid eligibility.
The Senate plan eliminates Medicaid reimbursements to Planned Parenthood for one year, which would further limit access to essential services like well-woman visits, cancer screenings, and STI testing. Finally, the Republican plan repeals the individual mandate and the requirement that employers with 50 or more employees provide health coverage. Without these requirements, many women will lose their health insurance and face unique challenges, particularly regarding childbirth. With the U.S.'s maternal mortality rate already the highest among the developed world, both the House and Senate bills are likely to make a bad problem worse.
Thursday, June 22, 2017
Texas Observer (Jun. 20, 2017): How Texas' Anti-Abortion Lawmakers Win Even While Losing in Court, by Sophie Novack:
Earlier this month, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed Senate Bill 8 into law, "an omnibus measure that mandates burdensome clinic regulations and outlaws a safe, common abortion procedure" known as dilation & evacuation, or D&E. SB 8 is the most sweeping set of restrictions on abortion care signed into law in Texas since House Bill 2 in 2013, culminating in last year's Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that struck down two of the bill's major provisions. A lawsuit against SB 8 is expected later this summer.
Novack argues that while abortion-rights advocates ultimately claimed victory in the courts over HB 2, the law "forced the closure of more than half the state’s abortion clinics, and only three have reopened since." The main issue for abortion-rights advocates, Novack says is that "legislation often moves faster than the courts, and SB 8 could wreak similar havoc on the abortion provider community in Texas.
“We’re looking at again the possibility of clinic closures and other restrictions that force women to leave the state if they need abortion care,' said Amanda Allen, senior state legislative counsel at the Center for Reproductive Rights, which filed the lawsuit against HB 2 and has pledged to fight SB 8. 'In terms of access on the ground, this presents a huge threat to Texas.”
The major provisions at issue in SB 8 are a requirement that fetal remains be buried or cremated, and a ban on D&E, the most common form of second-trimester procedure. Abortion-rights advocates take some comfort in knowing that both of these provisions have been successfully challenged in court, but if either provision goes into effect, clinics could face closure for failure to comply with the law.
Texas Right to Life pushed the D&E ban, while Texas Alliance for Life championed the fetal burial/cremation requirement. Each group has a different strategy: Texas Right to Life favors pushing the D&E ban to the Supreme Court, while Texas Alliance for Life favors "a more incremental approach" that chips away at access until the Supreme Court becomes less favorable to abortion rights. Said Joe Pojman, executive director of Texas Alliance for Life: "it’s very clear now that [Justice Kennedy] will not uphold any state or federal provision that makes abortion less accessible, that’s the unfortunate reality."
In January, a federal judge blocked new Texas regulations that would’ve required burials for fetal remains. Courts have blocked D&E abortion bans in four other states. While it remains to be seen how courts will decide on SB 8, the battle will be long, and if it plays out like HB 2, there could be lasting consequences.
Saturday, July 16, 2016
Salon (July 11, 2016): Anti-choice activists attempt to hijack Black Lives Matter to shame women for abortion, by Amanda Marcotte
Coming off of a week of violent murders, racism, and police violence, many in America believe that coming together as a community is the way to rise above violence. Still, in the wake of tragedy, some conservative activists have hijacked the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement for their own gain - shaming women for abortions. "Conservative Twitter" has erupted with hashtags that proclaim "Unborn Lives Matter," with anti-choice accounts like that of the Radiance Foundation and Students for Life adding the hashtag to anti-choice ads and tweets on their pages. Amanda Marcotte calls out conservative activists for the campaign:
But the eagerness of the anti-choice movement to hijack, undermine, or even demonize the Black Lives Matter movement exposes the “well-meaning people” belief as the myth it is. Anti-choice is about the same politics of resentment, bigotry, and cruelty as the rest of the conservative movement, and this behavior simply proves that fact once again.
Saturday, June 18, 2016
Rewire, June 9, 2016, Here’s What You Need to Know About Your Birth Control Access Post-Supreme Court Ruling, by Bridgette Dunlap
In a well-thought-out and organized article, Bridgette Dunlap looks at the impact the Supreme Court’s “non-decision” in Zubik v. Burwell will actually have on women’s access to contraceptives. Quelling what she assumes to be a reader's ever present worry, Dunlap discusses the current legal mandates in place for employers of all kinds and emphasizes that “the vast majority of people with insurance are currently entitled to contraption without a co-payment – that includes people for the most part, who work for religiously affiliated organizations.” Dunlap emphasizes the importance that coverage of the Supreme Court's ruling in Zubik not not overstate the impact of the non-decision:
The fact that equitable coverage of women’s health care is the new status quo is a very big deal that can be lost in the news about the unprecedented litigation campaign to block access to birth control and attacks on Obamacare more generally. Seriously, tell your friends.
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
RH Reality Check: While We're Debating the Gosnell Case, Anti-Choicers Are Getting to Work, by Gwen Emmons:
. . . Major news outlets have only recently begun to cover Kermit Gosnell’s murder trial, but coverage has focused on the sordid details of Gosnell’s clinic. What’s missing from the headlines is the legacy of the Gosnell case. In Pennsylvania, abortion providers and the women they serve are already feeling the sting of anti-choice legislators all too eager to use the Gosnell case as a flimsy excuse for rolling back reproductive rights and access even further in the state. And it’s only a matter of time until another state invokes Kermit Gosnell’s name in defense of yet another piece of anti-choice legislation. . . .
Friday, April 12, 2013
The Washington Post - The Fix blog: If gay marriage and pot are now OK, why isn’t abortion?, by Juliet Eilperin & Scott Clement:
As abortion opponents are scoring a string of victories in the states, it raises a question: why are conservatives gaining ground in this one arena, even if they’re losing in the battle over gay marriage and marijuana?
A few factors help explain this contradiction. . . .
Monday, February 25, 2013
In the 1980s, President Reagan -- under pressure from anti-choice activists -- directed C. Everett Koop to review the research on abortion and report back about the health effects of the procedure. Although personally opposed to abortion, Koop refused to issue the report, finding that there was no credible evidence that abortion caused women either physical or mental harm. Unfortunately, anti-choice activists continue to perpetuate the myth that abortion causes lasting emotional trauma and to push for laws that require doctors to pass along this misinformation to women.
See: The Guttmacher Institute: Abortion and Mental Health: Myths and Realities
The New York Times: C. Everett Koop, Forceful U.S. Surgeon General, Dies at 96, by Holcomb B. Noble:
Dr. C. Everett Koop, who was widely regarded as the most influential surgeon general in American history and played a crucial role in changing public attitudes about smoking, died on Monday at his home in Hanover, N.H. He was 96. . . .
Dr. Koop was completing a successful career as a pioneer in pediatric surgery when he was nominated for surgeon general, having caught the attention of conservatives with a series of seminars, films and books in collaboration with the theologian Francis Schaeffer that expressed anti-abortion views. . . .
Friday, March 2, 2012
The Huffington Post: Rush Limbaugh Advertiser Sleep Train Pulls Commercials In Wake Of Sandra Fluke 'Slut' Firestorm (UPDATE: More Companies Join), by Jack Mirkinson:
One of Rush Limbaugh's advertisers announced Friday that it was pulling all of its commercials from his radio show in the wake of Limbaugh's incendiary comments about a female law student and contraception. (UPDATE: Another advertiser announced it was also ending its commercials later on Friday. Scroll to the bottom to see.)
After being bombarded on Twitter, mattress store Sleep Train said that it would no longer advertise during Limbaugh's top-rated show following days of outrage over Limbaugh's statements about Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown student who was denied a chance to speak at a Congressional hearing about birth control. . . .
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Salon.com: Right-wingers blame multiculturalism, abortion for Norway massacre, by Alex Pareene:
Anders Breivik's favorite American pundits show no shame in blaming liberals, Muslims for right-wing terror
After just about every professional conservative chatterer with a blog or a Twitter account rushed to blame Islamic jihadists for the bombing and gun massacre in Norway last Friday, it was revealed that the actual killer was, in fact, a white, Christian, Norwegian-born man, named Anders Breivik. It was further revealed that Breivik is, politically, more or less a Scandinavian Tea Partyer, obsessed with the imagined threat of the Islamification of Europe, and an avowed opponent of "multiculturalism."
Breivik is a psychopath, but he is a psychopath whose politics are indistinguishable from Pamela Geller's, to name one American right-winger whose work was approvingly cited by Breivik in his extensive writing. . . .
Friday, July 22, 2011
NPR “Tell Me More”: Debate Boils Over African-American Abortions:
As part of its "Too Many Aborted" campaign, the Radiance Foundation created many controversial racially-targeted billboards that were taken down on July 10. Today they're releasing videos calling out black leaders for not supporting the pro-life movement. To discuss both sides of the abortion debate, host Michel Martin speaks with Radiance Foundation co-founder Ryan Bomberger and Religious Coalition of Reproductive Choice president and CEO Reverend Carlton Veazey. . . .
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
The Atlantic: The Sex Difference in Sex Scandals, by Lane Wallace:
Why do these kinds of scandals so rarely happen with female politicians?
Nearly two years ago, when South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford admitted (finally, in a spectacularly embarrassing press conference) to having an extra-marital affair with an Argentine woman, a lot of questions were raised about why this kind of scandal so rarely happens with women politicians. One answer offered was simply that there aren't that many women politicians in office.
It's true, of course. Women only make up 16.4% of the current Congress, and 12% of the nation's governors. But in a 2009 Newsweek tally of political sex scandals since 1976, only one out of 53 instances involved a woman politician (former Idaho Congresswoman Helen Chenoweth, who admitted to having an eight-year affair with a married rancher in the 1980s). So women aren't even holding up their fair percentage of the scandals. . . .
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
NY Times (Op-Ed): Let the Pill Go Free, by Kelly Blanchard:
LAST month, the 50th anniversary of the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the birth control pill was marked by a lot of discussion about the ways in which the pill has failed to deliver on its promises. It did not solve women’s problems juggling work and family life — nor did it end gender discrimination or eliminate unintended pregnancies. Clearly, approving the use of the pill was only the beginning of the effort to meet women’s contraception needs. . . .
Monday, June 14, 2010
Salon.com: The World Cup of domestic abuse, by Tracy Clark-Flory:
Officials warn women that the games put them at risk for violence
As the World Cup kicks off, and booze and emotions begin to flow freely, U.K. officials are worried that women are at serious risk. Make all the jokes you want about men and their sports, especially English men and their football, but the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) has launched an awareness-raising campaign to prevent domestic violence during the games.
In 2006, there was a 25 percent average increase in domestic violence reports when England had matches; and the day England was eliminated, that number rose to 30 percent, according to the U.K.'s Home Office. . . .
Carly Fiorina, Nikki Haley, Meg Whitman, and others are making waves this cycle
Eleanor Roosevelt famously said, "A woman is like a tea bag—you never know how strong she is until she gets into hot water." Given the results of last week's primaries, in which both women and the Tea Party movement had big wins in heated races, one must wonder whether the former first lady could somehow foresee the politics of 2010. . . .
NY Times (Op-Ed): No Mystique About Feminism, by Ross Douthat:
Thursday, May 20, 2010
USA Today: Faith and Reason: Can abortion be life-saving? Does mother's life count?:
Now, make that question tougher: You're a Catholic sister charged with standing for the teachings of the Church in the administration of the biggest hospital in town, one that adheres to Catholic teachings forbidding any cooperation with the intrinsic evil of abortion.
And the woman, mother of four, is in crisis. She can't be moved to another hospital. Now what?
What happened at St. Joseph's Hospital in Phoenix, according to the Arizona Republic's Mike Clancy, is that Sister of Mercy Margaret McBride interpreted the bishops' health care directives to permit a life saving procedure when doctors said there was no other choice. The directives include a provision for procedures that could kill a fetus if essential to save the life of the mother. For someone with pulmonary hypertension, the only treatment is to take the strain of pregnancy off her heart.
Wrong answer, ruled the diocese. . . .
Friday, April 30, 2010
Slate Magazine: What's an Abortion Doula?, by Marisa Meltzer:
They're strangers who will hold your hand while you go under the knife.
A recent Bust magazine article on the pregnancy assistants known as doulas contained this description of their duties: "Sometimes the doula will hold a woman's hand or rub her scalp to calm her; other times, she may crack corny jokes or trade dating stories." Except the article wasn't about a doula entertaining a woman in labor—it was about a doula helping a woman during her abortion.
Assisting a woman during her vacuum aspiration was not always part of a doula's job description. Most doulas serve pregnant women in the last few months before and during her delivery. (Doula comes from a Greek term meaning "woman of service" or "caregiver." Some translations say it comes from "female slave.") They've become more popular in the United States over the last few decades as interest in individualized birth plans has increased. They're not the same as midwives, who have medical training, or social workers, who have advanced degrees. Doulas are meant to be a reassuring presence during labor—an ally whose sole interest is in the happiness of the mom-to-be. They have evolved as jack-of-all trades, on call for hand-holding, massage, acupressure, breathing techniques, or pain management. Some postpartum doulas will even do housework and run errands. They can cost anywhere from $300 to a few thousand dollars. . . .