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Missouri Legislator: Qualified To Legislate Women’s Health Because “My Father Was a Veterinarian”

11:06 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Written by Robin Marty for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

In Illinois, they run reproductive rights bills through the agriculture committee. In Missouri, they call male lawmakers experts because they are the sons of veterinarians.

Not a joke.

Via Huffington Post:

House Majority Leader Tim Jones (R-Eureka) was on the defensive following an analogy he made during discussion of the bill he sponsored. The legislation would allow medical professionals to deny services like abortion, contraception, male or female sterilization, assisted reproduction and cloning based on religious objections by medical staff. Jones talked about the need for medical teams to be on the same page during a procedure and to ensure that one team member does not object to it.

Jones cited a personal experience he had.

“My father’s a veterinarian. I grew up in operating rooms,” Jones said, referring to how crowded operating rooms can be.

Jones’s defenders say he was misunderstood.  Here is the debate, see what you think.

Losing Ground on Women’s Rights: In 2011, Sex Ed, Contraception, Abortion Rights All Under Seige

12:25 pm in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

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Written by Elizabeth Nash for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

By almost any measure, issues related to reproductive health and rights at the state level received unprecedented attention in 2011. In the 50 states combined, legislators introduced more than 1,100 reproductive health and rights-related provisions, a sharp increase from the 950 introduced in 2010. By year’s end, 135 of these provisions had been enacted in 36 states, an increase from the 89 enacted in 2010 and the 77 enacted in 2009. (Note: This analysis refers to reproductive health and rights-related “provisions,” rather than bills or laws, since bills introduced and eventually enacted in the states contain multiple relevant provisions.)

Fully 68 percent of these new provisions—92 in 24 states—-restrict access to abortion services, a striking increase from last year, when 26 percent of new provisions restricted abortion. The 92 new abortion restrictions enacted in 2011 shattered the previous record of 34 adopted in 2005.

• For summaries of major state-level actions in 2011, click here.
• For a table showing reproductive health and rights-related provisions enacted in 2011,     click here.
• For the status of state law and policy on key reproductive health and rights issues, click here.

Abortion Restrictions Took Many Forms

Bans. The most high-profile state-level abortion debate of 2011 took place in Mississippi, where voters rejected the ballot initiative that would have legally defined a human embryo as a person “from the moment of fertilization,” setting the stage to ban all abortions and, potentially, most hormonal contraceptive methods in the state. Meanwhile, five states (AL, ID, IN, KS and OK) enacted provisions to ban abortion at or beyond 20 weeks’ gestation, based on the spurious assertion that a fetus can feel pain at that point. These five states join Nebraska, which adopted a ban on abortions after 20 weeks in 2010 (see State Policies on Later Abortions). A similar limitation was vetoed by Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton (D). Read the rest of this entry →

Kansas NOW’s Kari Ann Rinker Schools Kansas State Reps on Jobs, Abortion and “Rape is Like a Flat Tire” Comments

1:32 pm in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Written by Editor-in-Chief Jodi Jacobson for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

Kansas NOW’s state director and special to RH Reality Check Kari Ann Rinker testifies before a committee of Kansas state representatives.  She asks exactly how the legislature’s obsession with restricting women’s rights will lead to more jobs, and reminds Rep. Pete DeGraaf that you can’t “prepare for rape” like you would a spare tire.

 

Also read Rinker’s piece today on predictions for Kansas in 2012.

Penny-Wise and Pound-Foolish: Proposed Funding Cuts for Response to Violence Against Women

1:27 pm in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Written by Marianne Møllman for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

This week, Senators Leahy and Crapo introduced a bill to reauthorize and amend the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), a federal law first enacted in 1994.

This is mostly good news. The VAWA mandates federal funding for victim assistance and transitional housing, strengthens provisions to penalize offenders, and requires states to provide a certain level of services with a view to preventing violence from occurring in the first place.

The bad news is that the proposed bill substantively slashes the funding for the implementation of the bill, reducing the authorized funds by more than $144 million (almost 20 percent) of 2005 levels over 5 years.

To be sure, the federal government has to save quite a lot more than $144 million to overcome its spending deficit, and Senator Leahy justified the cuts by reference to heightened efficiency through the consolidation of services.  But if it is indeed possible to consolidate services and do more with less, would it not have been appropriate to ask, first, if the current funding levels adequately cover current needs?

To start with, it is clear that violence against women in the United States has not gone away these past 20 years.  The Centers for Disease Control estimate that 25 percent of women in the United States experience domestic violence some time in their lives, and that adult women experience over 5 million instances of violent assault annually.

Adolescents—even young adolescents—are also affected.  Over 70 percent of our 7th and 8th graders report they are “dating,” and in a 2009 survey published by the Centers for Disease Control about 10 percent of students overall reported being physically hurt by someone they were dating.

In addition, the economic downturn has substantially affected women’s ability to leave abusive relationships. In the best of times, women who want to leave an abusive partner worry about finding employment and housing, especially if they also need to provide for children.  During economic crises, these concerns increase dramatically and are exacerbated by the fact that governmental and non-governmental service providers usually face funding crises of their own and may have had to cut services. 

In 2008, the National Network to End Domestic Violence found that, on one day alone, almost 9000 requests for services went unmet because of lack of resources.  In 2009, that number had increased by 300.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline, set up by VAWA, reported that calls to the hotline increased by over 19 percent in the 12 months after the September 2008 market crash.

The director of the government’s Office on Violence Against Women testified before the Senate Committee of the Judiciary in May 2010 that, between the first quarter of 2008 and the first quarter of 2009, one shelter alone reported a 44 percent increase in persons sheltered, a 74 percent increase in crisis response, and a 124 percent increase in calls requesting shelter

But most pointedly, domestic violence costs society a lot more than the $144 million the introduced bill would save by downsizing responses to it.  Those 5 million assaults on women annually resulted in nearly 2 million injuries, of which more than half a million required medical attention, the Centers for Disease Control estimated in 2003.  Victims of domestic violence lost nearly 8 million work days and 5.6 million days of productivity due to violence.

In all, assaults on women cost almost $6 billion every year. Because these estimates are based on rates of violence before the current economic crisis, the true cost may well be higher today

In other words: the bill proposes to cut $144 million over 5 years from services that seek to remedy a problem which, even with the current government involvement, will cost society about $30 billion over that same period.

Some might say that estimates about the cost of intimate-partner violence are notoriously unpredictable, that the federal government truly is broke, or that the proposed cuts really do reflect a consolidation of services that will result in more efficient use of funds. But even if they were right, that would not take away from the fact that domestic violence is a continuing, costly, and consistently underserved problem.

Cutting federal funds for dealing with it is not only bad news, it is a bad idea.

“We Are Dancing:” Three Women Leaders Win Nobel Peace Prize

9:14 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

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Written by Editor-in-Chief Jodi Jacobson for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

Take note of this historic day for today and for posterity: Three women leaders have won the Nobel peace prize.

The three include Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first woman elected president of a country in Africa, peace activist Leymah Gbowee, also of Liberia, and Tawakul Karman, a pro-democracy campaigner from Yemen.

As noted by the New York Times, they are the “first women to win the prize since Kenya’s Wangari Maathai, who died last month, was named as the laureate in 2004. Most of the recipients in the award’s 110-year history have been men, and the award seemed designed to give impetus to the cause for women’s rights around the world.”

Indeed.

“We cannot achieve democracy and lasting peace in the world unless women obtain the same opportunities as men to influence developments at all levels of society,” said the citation read to reporters by Thorbjorn Jagland, a former Norwegian prime minister who heads the Oslo-based Nobel committee that chooses the winner of the $1.5 million prize.

In a subsequent interview, he described the prize as “a very important signal to women all over the world.” Read the rest of this entry →

Surprise! Crisis Pregnancy Centers Don’t Separate Education, Religion

9:23 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Written by Andrea Grimes for RHRealityCheck.org. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

The Texas Independent reports today on violations ranging from fire safety to client privacy in Texas’ many “alternatives to abortion” contractors. You know them as crisis pregnancy centers, and also as one of the few state-funded programs that saw their funding increase in this atrocious budget year–from $4 million to $4.15 million, despite the fact that they provide no medical care, no medical advice and are staffed by religious-motivated volunteers who undergo a minimum of training. Actual medical care that serves women and children in Texas been slashed, and Planned Parenthood has lost $47 million in funding.

The Texas Pregnancy Care Network conducted what amounts to an internal audit–with faith-based, religious-motivated inspectors looking into violations in clinics they have a vested interest in keeping afloat. There has not yet been an official third-party, or even Texas Department of Health and Human Services inspection into these CPC’s.

The Independent has the entire CPC inspection report available to read, but I’d just like to pluck out one totally not surprising finding: 15 percent of contractors did not, during supervised inspections, separate religious and educational material….

Continue reading…

For More Than 200 Million Women, A World Without Options

7:23 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Written by John Skibiak for RHRealityCheck.org – News, commentary and community for reproductive health and justice.

Today, there are over 200 million women in the developing world who want to prevent or delay pregnancy, but are not using any means of modern contraception. This is, without a doubt, a horrifying figure. But the greatest tragedy for us—those of us who have dedicated our professional lives to ensuring global access to family planning—is that this figure has not budged in nearly two decades.

The gap was 200 million in the 1990s; it was 200 million in at the beginning of this decade; and it remains roughly 200 million today. Yes, contraceptive prevalence around the world is increasing — as is the number of new family planning users. But each step forward is more than matched by comparable increases in demand in new users. Therefore, despite our best efforts, we are caught in a deadlock.

We need to find a way to meet the family planning needs of a growing number of women so can we see these numbers fall.

By the year 2020, an estimated $424 million will be required in commodity support to satisfy total demand for contraceptives in donor-dependent countries. If donor funding were to remain at or near current levels, the shortfall would be almost $200 million annually, with a cumulative shortfall of about $1.4 billion over the 2008 to 2020 period. Data on other essential reproductive health (RH) commodities are less available, but it is clear that the need and demand for sexually transmitted infection diagnosis and treatment—as well as antenatal and emergency obstetric supplies—are also rapidly increasing.

Read more

Election Aftermath: How Did the SBA List Do?

6:34 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Written by Robin Marty for RHRealityCheck.org – News, commmentary and community for reproductive health and justice.

The election is over and the analysis begins, and the first thing to do is evaluate how various action groups did when it comes to their proclaimed electoral wins and losses.  First on the deck is the anti-choice action group the Susan B. Anthony List.

Much news media coverage had tried to paint the group as a conservative counterpart to EMILY’S List, despite the fact that seeing women succeed in elections was almost an afterthought to their campaigning.  Now, the election results are in and we can see where their priorities really were.

According to the group’s scorecard, of the 90 races they weighed in on, their candidates won 60 and lost 18.  But once you begin to look at their numbers you see that a majority of their wins are either status quo or putting men in seats that previously held women.

The group endorsed in four senate races: Nevada, New Hampshire, California and Delaware, with New Hampshire’s Kelly Ayotte being their only win.   All four of their endorsed candidates for governor won, as well as both lieutenant governors and their sole secretary of state candidate. They had split results on Attorney General, winning Florida but losing Iowa, despite the fact that Iowa elected an anti-choice governor and rejected the three judges who voted to allow gay marriage in the state. Read more

Why a Soccer Momma for Obama Hung Up Her Cleats

6:53 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Written by Jodi Jacobson for RHRealityCheck.org – News, commentary and community for reproductive health and justice.

I was a soccer mama for Obama.

And depending on the day and the kids in my car, I was a hockey mama or a baseball mama.

But sometime this year, I hung up my cleats.  And I think losing me is a big problem for the Democrats.

It’s not because I won’t vote on Tuesday.  I will.  And it’s not because I am going to vote for some Republican or Tea Party candidate.  That will never happen. 

It’s not because I am a big-money donor, though I have consistently given thousands of dollars to Democrats, and believe me, this is saying a lot at my level of income as a single, full-time work-for-a-living mom of two kids solidly planted in the middle class.  But in 2008 (as in years before), I gave generously to the DCCC, DSCC, Obama for America and the state and national Democratic party. I answered every email from David Axelrod, David Plouffe, Michele and Barack Obama, Tim Kaine and Chris Van Hollen with my credit card and a contribution ranging variously from $25.00 to $1000.00 (no it’s not a typo….I mean $1000.00) at a clip, giving up virtually all discretionary spending that year so that I could put my money where my politics were.  It was that important to me.

And it’s not because I am a political power-hitter. I am not and have never cared to be, though some would consider me a member of the “professional left.”  I never worked on the campaign to get a job in the Administration; I never thought I’d one day receive an invitation to an Obama wedding. I worked to do what I felt I had to do for my kids and for this county.

But the Democrats have lost me in a more profound way, and I think they should be worried about it because I can safely say that I was one of thousands of people across the country who changed the way other people voted in the last election.

I was a loyal and dedicated team player, and someone who, as a lifelong and passionate progressive feminist, can’t live with herself if she is not doing everything she can.  I know for a fact that I brought many independents and moderate Republicans to the polls for Obama.  And I am not doing that now. Read more

Punishing Women: A Woman’s Job?

7:21 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Written by Amanda Marcotte for RHRealityCheck.org – News, commentary and community for reproductive health and justice.

If you were looking for a poll to capture exactly how much of America is judgmental and mean-spirited—especially towards women—you couldn’t top the recent Rasmussen poll that found that 48 percent of Americans think abortion is “too easy” to get.  I’m not entirely sure why Rasmussen took the poll.  Lack of generosity towards others and a dark eye specifically towards those you resenting people perceived as young, sensual, and not weighted down by the responsibilities of adulthood, which is how the public (incorrectly) imagines your average abortion patient to be.  (In reality, the majority are mothers trying to make ends meet.)

You may as well have polled people asking, “Do believe kids these days listen to their music too loud?” or “Do you believe that you’re a sexually responsible person but there are some real sluts out there?”  Even though the reality is that women from all walks of life get abortions, the perception in the general public is that abortion is an indicator of sluttiness.  And sluts, last I checked, aren’t well regarded in our culture. When people imagine the obstacles between a woman and an abortion, they’re making an idealized judgment—some kind of major hassle that will teach the slut to keep her legs shut next time.  But mean-spiritedness, stereotypes, and generalized ideas about what counts as “promiscuous” aren’t something on which to base public policy.

I don’t know whether to be sadder that the public still has these stereotypes about who gets abortions, or that the public still thinks sexually free women are evil and deserve to be punished.

The anti-choice media was triumphant over this poll, mostly because it showed that women are more likely to want more obstacles for women seeking abortions.  According to anti-choicers, this somehow means this isn’t a women’s rights issue, even though the people who hold the right to abortion are women, aka the sex that gets pregnant by accident.  But there’s no reason to think reproductive freedom isn’t an important women’s issue just because women are more likely to judge other women about their sexual choices.  In a patriarchy, women are usually tasked with the job of monitoring female sexuality and enforcing norms of modesty.

In cultures that practice female genital mutilation, for instance, it’s often the women who do all the work of setting up the cutting, guiding the girl through it, and often doing the cutting themselves.  That hardly means female genital mutilation is automatically feminist.  It just requires that we have a more nuanced view of how oppression works.  Enforcing modesty norms on women is dreary scut work, because by definition it’s anti-fun and anti-pleasure.  In a patriarchy, women take on the scut work.  We do housework so men’s time is freed up to do more "soul-affirming" work.  We’re more likely to do assistant work so men can do the work that gets them all the credit.  And when it comes to sex, women are tasked with the job of pushing prudery.  Men have the privilege of not having to worry about these sorts of things to nearly the same degree.

It’s not just on abortion. In all sorts of avenues, women do the hard work of punishing and controlling female sexuality. David J. Ley is far too blasé in his assumption that women monitor other women just because, and that men have nothing to do with this.  Most women who take punishing female sexuality very seriously believe this is ultimately about men, which is to say they view it as their responsibility to create a chaste population of women for men to marry.  If women weren’t so dependent on men for status, we would be as free with each other as men are about our sexual choices.

Women are also roped into judging each other’s sexual behavior because we’re led to believe it’s our only realistic source of control.  Being lower status than men, and especially when you’re dependent on a man, means you often have a lot of desire to keep male promiscuity to a minimum, but men are expected not to listen to women or care much what women think about these issues.  Thus, women start putting demands on each other, because we can’t appeal to men.  Which is why you see a culture where the “other woman” is blamed more than the cheating man for infidelity.  Or you see women like Susan Walsh arguing that other women have a responsibility not to have sex when we want with who we want, because that means that fewer men will have to pony up wedding rings in order to get laid.

Of course, if women don’t have to rely on men for social status and economic survival, then the power balance shifts, and women can start making demands directly of men.  It’s a lot easier, for instance, to demand monogamy directly from your husband if you can leave him without being destitute.  Creating a world where women have equality and men have to share responsibilities for sex and family life is the goal of feminism, and more sexual liberation is the result.  Indeed, I would say that the reason that only half of women polled take should an old-fashioned view on abortion (which is a symbolic stand-in for female immodesty) shows how far we’ve come already.

The numbers of women who feel that their only form of control over their lives is to exert control over other women is declining.  Now that we have ways of attaining economic independence and social status that don’t involve getting and staying married, we have less of a need to create a protectionist racket over female sexuality where women who break the rules are treated like scabs breaking a strike.  Now that we have powers outside of the power to say no to sex and to force other women to say no to sex, there’s simply less need to deprive ourselves or judge others.  And the less that men have complete dominance over our lives, the less reason we have to try like mad to control the one thing we’ve been given to control, which is female sexuality.