Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Peace Out


The Feminist Campus team is officially on vacation. Regular posting should resume on 1/4.

See you all in 2010, kids. Who knows what wonders await us on the other side--maybe a decent health care reform bill??

Image via mel5545

Pregnant Soldiers Face Threat of Court-Martial

An American Army General issued a policy last month that would allow female soldiers and their sexual partners to be court-martialed in the event of a pregnancy. Major General Anthony Cucolo, a commander in Iraq, told the BBC that the policy was intended to protect the safety of his troops. “I've got a mission to do, I'm given a finite number of soldiers with which to do it and I need every one of them. So I'm going to take every measure I can to keep them all strong, fit and with me for the twelve months we are in the combat zone,” he said.

Since the announcement, General Cucolo has faced considerable criticism from veterans, women’s rights groups, and lawmakers. The Christian Science Monitor reported that on Tuesday the Army received a letter from Senators Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), and Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY), who wrote, “Although Major General Cucolo stated today that a pregnant soldier would not necessarily be punished by court-martial under this policy, we believe the threat of criminal sanctions in the case of pregnancy goes far beyond what is needed to maintain good order and discipline. This policy could encourage female soldiers to delay seeking critical medical care with potentially serious consequences for mother and child.”

In response to his critics, General Cucolo told a group of reporters on a conference call that he doubts the court-martial threat would ever be put to use, saying, "I do not ever see myself putting a soldier in jail for this." The Associated Press reports that since the policy went into effect on November 4th, four women and three men have been found to be in violation of it. The pregnant soldiers were sent home, as is normal Army policy, and all parties involved received letters of reprimand.

Military health centers are allowed to stock contraception, but are not required to do so. Last week, Senator Al Franken (D-MN) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) introduced legislation that would force military health centers to keep emergency contraception in stock. American servicewomen also have no access to abortion services because of the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits the use of federal funds for abortions.

KS judge rejects necessity defense in Tiller murder trial

Scott Roeder, the defendant on trial for the murder of doctor George Tiller, cannot use a necessity defense in his Jan. 11 trial, a judge ruled Tuesday.

Sedgwick County District Judge Warren Wilber’s ruling is a setback for Scott Roeder, who confessed to the May 31 shooting of Tiller in a church and attempted to justify the killing as necessary to save the lives of fetuses that would be aborted.

Wilber said Kansas law does not recognize the necessity defense, and cited a 1993 Kansas Supreme Court ruling rejecting a similar defense in a criminal trespassing case at a Wichita family planning clinic. The City of Wichita v. Tilson decision found moral beliefs could not justify criminal activity against a law-abiding citizen, as this would "not only lead to chaos but would be tantamount to sanctioning anarchy."

According to Wilber, a necessity defense could still be used in Kansas courts, where the defendant can demonstrate a grave imminent threat that justified immediate unlawful action. Wilber told the defense these circumstances did not apply in the Roeder case.

Judge Wilber also denied the defense’s requests to relocate the trial outside Wichita, and denied defense attorneys’ request to prevent prosecutors from rejecting potential jurors based on their beliefs on abortion. The lawyers in the case are set to begin selecting jurors.

Roeder has been charged with one count of pre-meditated murder and two counts of aggravated assault for allegedly threatening church ushers at the site of the murder. The defense attorneys could argue for a lesser sentence like voluntary manslaughter, which Kansas defines as "an unreasonable but honest belief that circumstances existed that justified deadly force."

Roeder could receive life in prison if he is found guilty of first-degree murder, or could receive a shorter sentence of about 5 years if the jury finds him guilty of voluntary manslaughter.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

PR intern needed for Ms. magazine.


Ms. magazine is look for a public relations guru for the Los Angeles Office.

We’re looking for detail-oriented, outgoing people who are very comfortable doing phone outreach and enthusiastic about Ms. and feminism. Interns will help promote each issue of Ms. Duties include booking interviews for Ms. authors and editors, researching and compiling contacts from websites and electronic databases, coming up with timely promotional ideas, and creating press materials. Interns will also help with research projects for the Feminist Majority Foundation, and during the spring internship will be involved in organizing our annual global event. Event-planning experience is helpful. Microsoft Excel and internet research skills a necessity; Word, Filemaker, Access, and html a plus.

Please send a cover letter and resume to Noelle Williams at nwilliams@feminist.org.

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

Good luck!

Abortion Activists on Both Sides Speak Out on Healthcare Bill

Activists on both sides of the abortion debate have expressed their displeasure with the Senate version of the healthcare bill, which will be up for a final vote on Christmas Eve. If the bill passes, it will then go into conference to be reconciled with the House bill, from which it has substantial differences.

The Senate bill includes an abortion compromise that was added this past weekend in an effort to secure the support of Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE). Right-wing senators took to the Senate floor to denounce the new language. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), who had previously sponsored an unsuccessful anti-abortion amendment with Nelson, said, “The language to prevent taxpayer dollars from being used to fund elective abortions in the Reid amendment is completely unacceptable. The new abortion provisions are significantly weaker than the amendment I introduced with Senator Ben Nelson.” In a press conference on Saturday, Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) told reporters that the negotiations with Nelson “threw unborn babies under the bus."

The National Right to Life Committee issued a statement strongly opposing the new version of the bill and Operation Rescue, an anti-choice extremist group, blasted Nelson for having “sold out the lives of innocent children for political gain.” The National Conference of Catholic Bishops said that they do not support the bill moving forward toward a vote.

Pro-choice groups also expressed their unhappiness with the compromise. Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards said in a statement that ”After the passage of the Stupak amendment in the House, we heard loud and clear from women across the country that they will not stand for the undermining of their rights and their access to benefits. This Nelson abortion check provision will no doubt create the same outrage, as women learn that they are being made second-class citizens when it comes to health care coverage.” The President of NOW, Terry O’Neill, said she was “outraged” as “Right-wing ideologues like Nelson and the Catholic Bishops may not understand this, but abortion is health care. And health care reform is not true reform if it denies women coverage for the full range of reproductive health services.”

Pro-choice senators accepted the compromise reluctantly. In a joint statement, Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), assured the public that "We said all along that we wanted to ensure there was a firewall between private and public funds — this compromise achieves that. We said we would not accept language that prohibited a woman from using her own private funds for her legal reproductive health care – this compromise meets that test.” Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), appearing on the PBS NewsHour Monday, expressed his general unhappiness with the compromise, saying “I don't like the deal that was made on abortion. I think that that compromises a woman's right to choose.” He went on to explain his acceptance of the manager’s amendment and the healthcare bill, saying, “A woman with breast cancer is 40 percent more likely to die if she doesn't have insurance than if she does. That's why we need to move now, why the delay tactics from some of our colleagues…simply don't serve the public interest. In this legislation, ultimately, 31 million people are going to get insurance under this legislation.”

Campus leaders - upcoming opportunity!

AAUW (formerly known as the American Association of University Women) is hosting its 25th annual National Conference for College Women Student Leaders in June 2010.

See below and check out their website for more info!

NCCWSL

NCCWSL - 25th Anniversary

Celebrate the 25th anniversary
of NCCWSL

Early-bird registration opens February 15!

National Conference for College Women Student Leaders
June 3–5, 2010
University of Maryland

Don't miss out on this signature leadership event.
For more information, visit www.nccwsl.org.


AAUW and NASPA

Monday, December 21, 2009

Stony Brook FMLA Takes Action on Anti-abortion Misinformation!


As you may have read in Tania's earlier post, the anti-choice organization, Human Life Alliance, has taken to purchasing ad space for full-page inserts overflowing with false, misleading, anti-abortion misinformation in college newspapers! The sickening trend was written about by Robin Marty here on RH Reality Check.

When Meghan Shalvoy, President of the Stony Brook Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance (FMLA), saw one of these bogus inserts in her school paper, she took action!

Meghan has been circulating fact sheets with medically accurate information, gathering petitions and writing op-eds for campus publications. Now her activities have been featured on RH Reality Check !

Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs) and anti-abortion organizations like Human Life Alliance are constantly targeting women on college campuses with their false information. To learn how you can take action on your campus, read Meghan's story and join the FMF's Campaign to Expose Fake Clinics.

Healthcare - What the heck is going on?

While most of DC was enjoying SNOPACALYPSE '09 this weekend, our dear friends in the Senate were negotiating the Healthcare Reform bill. Once again, women's rights ended up being used as a bargaining chip.

Voting during an unusual 1 am session on Monday morning (the bizarre timing has been forced by the GOP, which has thrown every feasible parliamentary procedure hurdle in the bill's way), the Senate ended debate on the healthcare bill, clearing the way for expected final passage of the bill on Christmas Eve. The 60-40 vote fell along party lines and came after a tense weekend of negotiations with Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE). As a result of those talks, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) introduced the Reid Amendment, a 383 page "manager's amendment," which includes new language relating to abortion.

Under the new version of the healthcare reform bill, state legislatures will decide whether their insurance exchanges will permit plans that offer abortion coverage. If a state does permit insurance plans that cover abortion services to participate in the exchange, those services must be paid for by private health insurance premiums and not by federal funds.

The new plan, known as the "abortion opt-out" immediately raised protests from pro-choice leaders, who worry that the compromise will result in a de facto abortion ban for women in conservative states. "It is not acceptable to burden women and employers with the chilling requirement of multiple payment structures, creating a condition where participants are less likely to opt for full coverage. And it is unconscionable to allow state-run exchanges to opt out of providing abortion coverage, even when a woman's life is in danger," said Kelli Conlin of the National Institute for Reproductive Health.

Despite these concerns, Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), two champions of reproductive rights in the Senate, put out a joint statement on the Reid Amendment, saying, “We said all along that we wanted to ensure there was a firewall between private and public funds — this compromise achieves that. We said we would not accept language that prohibited a woman from using her own private funds for her legal reproductive health care – this compromise meets that test.”

Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Rep. Louise M. Slaughter (D-NY), leaders of the House Pro-Choice Caucus, disagreed with their colleagues, declaring that the compromise is "not only offensive to people who believe in choice, but it is also possibly unconstitutional."

Are there still good things in this bill? Yes. But it is infuriating that women have been thrown under the bus, yet again, for a bill that doesn't improve a public option or even a Medicare buy-in. And the bill is full of special benefits for Nebraska, Arkansas, and other states whose Senators and Representatives played hardball. This bill will probably end up passing, and it will hopefully improve healthcare for millions of Americans. But I can't help but feel disappointed and betrayed after a very difficult year.

Image via Photo_Phiend

Good news/bad news: Women in the arts

Round up on women in the arts from the folks at the NY Times...

Good news:

Visual arts
Modernist painter Carmen Herrera's work was recently featured in the Times, and The Observer named her collection one of the best of the year. The 94-year-old painter was born in Cuba and immigrated to France and the US, where she's spent the last several decades painting but rarely exhibiting her work.

Five years ago, Herrera got her big break, and her sought-after paintings are now in the permanent collections of MoMA, the Hirshhorn, and Tate Modern.

Literature
Joan Schenkar's new biography of Patricia Highsmith, the novelist behind crime thrillers like The Talented Mr. Ripley and Strangers on a Train, is receiving critical praise. Highsmith was a groundbreaking writer, notorious womanizer, and virulent racist. Homosexuality was a theme throughout her work from the 1940s through the 70s, which was a risky endeavor in a Puritanical culture. Schenkar, a playwright, strays from a linear recounting of Highsmith's life and instead draws a vivid portrait of her subject with poetic language and critical details.

Music
Keep an eye out for the upcoming documentary about godmother of punk Patti Smith. PBS is airing Patti Smith: Dream of Life on December 30, Smith's 63rd birthday. It's a long way to the top if you want to rock and roll, and you have two X chromosomes. But Patti smashed the mold and is still performing today. Fierce.

Film
The Times also recently profiled Nancy Meyers, one of the few bankable, prolific female directors in Hollywood. She creates movies about upper-middle class, older white women who are doing just fine, stumble upon Prince Charming nonetheless, and live happily ever after. Women buy the lion's share of movie tickets for themselves and their families (ie the 15-24 year old boys to whom most films are marketed). But Hollywood remains an inhospitable place for women who want to make, view, or act in films that reflect the realities of our lives.

Bad news:

We were sorry to hear Brittany Murphy died yesterday at age 32. Murphy caught our attention in Clueless as the artless teenager Tai and had a promising B-list career ahead of her. The critics will not miss her. But you know what? Eyes to the stage, pilgrim. Maybe she was just warming up. RIP Brittany.

Photo: chrisschuepp via Flickr

Friday, December 18, 2009

What To Give a Feminist for the Holiday Season

Are you bogged down with last minute holiday shopping? Not sure what to get for those secret santa office holiday parties? Tired of the same 'ol consumerist approach to gift-giving? Well, have no fear!

Here are some cool ideas for great purposeful and world changing gifts to make the season bright...with a little enlightenment!
  • Stickersisters.com has a great collection of t-shirts, buttons, magnets, posters, and even school supplies that would entice any spunky young feminist in the making. Girl power!
  • Support your local independent book or video store by purchasing dvds like: Persopolis, an animated film based on the graphic memoir following the life of a young Iranian girl during the Islamic revolution of the 1970s. The documentary Lioness directed by Meg McLagan and Daria Sommers about women in the military is a great one to pick up. And, of course, one of my favorites, Chisholm '72: Unbought & Unbossed, details the experiences on the campaign trail as the first African American congresswoman, Shirley Chisholm runs for president of the U.S.
  • Give to a cause you believe in! Offer a donation on behalf of a friend or family member to local shelters, charities, rape crisis centers, community organizations or your local community radio station and/or newspaper.
Lastly, if all of these ideas for some reason just don't do the trick, give a gift that keeps on giving by sponsoring a young feminist to attend our National Young Feminist Leadership Conference in Washington, DC on March 20 - 22.

You can also find more gift ideas at our feminist online store!

Be sure to share with us your holiday gift ideas.

Happy Holidays from your FMF Fam!!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

MTV Joins the Fight to End Violence Against Women

We all have our guilty pleasure TV shows, and these days they're probably all reality shows. One of mine, I hate to admit, is Jersey Shore on MTV. Full of everything you can expect from an MTV reality show, but there's one thing that I didn't expect.

Following an episode-ending bar fight in which Nicole "Snooki" gets punched in the face by a guy at the bar, MTV not only blocks out the punch and the majority of the fight, it concludes the episode with a little PSA : "Violence against women in any form is a crime"

**clap clap clap**

I can't say that MTV is a channel full of moral or ethical shows, shows of values or positive messages. For the most part, it's the exact opposite; and teens and young adults across the country eat it up. Some may argue that MTV and its provocative reality shows is an example of the "media that's ruining America." That may be the case, but the fact that it is taking ownership and adding these types of messages at the end of the show at least shows some level of responsibility and, dare I say, some class.

Similar messages have been spread across the TV after Real World: San Diego, when a cast member attempted suicide; other seasons of the Real World forced the network to address eating disorders; and anti-drug and Trojan ads have always been splashed between reality shows. But the addition of an add to combat violence against women still a huge step forward.

Not only does it say it is a crime, it offers websites and hot-lines for those who know someone in a violent relationship or for those who are in one themselves.

Kudos to you MTV!

Register Today for the National Young FEMINIST Leadership Conference!


The feminists are coming, the feminists are coming! Registration is officially OPEN for the 6th Annual National Young Feminist Leadership Conference in Washington, DC! Woo hoo! Mark your calendars for March 20-21 for two days of leadership trainings and issue based workshops plus a Congressional Day of Action on March 22. Check out our swanky website for all your conference needs including EARLY BIRD registration for $15 for individuals and $12 for groups of five or more. Give yourself a gift for the new year and REGISTER TODAY!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Happy Holidays... the rebuttal.

HELLO EVERYONE! Hope people have great things planned for the holidays. Here at the West Coast, we are just breaking it down... Here's an example:

Send your own ElfYourself eCards


Happy Disco Holidays everyone!!

Guest Post: Manhattan Rally Against Anti-Choice Amendments

Jerin Alam, the former president of the Hunter Women's Rights Coalition, a FMF affiliate, and the co-founder of the NOW-NYS Younger Women's Task Force asked that I post this account of an Anti-Stupak Rally held in Manhattan a few weeks ago. It's a great example of the kind of local protest that can happen at lawmakers' offices around the country.

The December 2nd Speak-Out was a well-attended and noisy NOW-NYS Anti-Stupak Amendment demonstration outside the New York office of Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY). Speakers like NOW-NYS President Marcia Pappas and NOW National Action VP Erin Matson commended New York's Senators Gillibrand and Schumer for their pro-choice positions but urged that the Senate Health Bill goes no farther than existing law (i.e. the 1976 Hyde Amendment) in restricting funding for abortions. The House Bill, with its Stupak provision, goes far beyond Hyde, prohibiting insurance coverage even in policies paid for with private funds.

Pappas remarked: "We insist that our pro-choice Senator Shumer please never again endorse an anti-choice Democrat. The Democratic platform is stongly pro-choice, and had Democrats welcomed only candidates with this position, this grave danger to women's lives would not be rearing it's head in today's Health Care Reform Bill."

Reproductive Rights Pioneer Bill Baird, of the 1972 Baird v. Eisenstadt decision legalizing birth control for unmarried Americans, fired up the crowd with hair-raising tales of his many "obscenity" related arrests for teaching birth control. Past NOW-NYS President Marilyn Fitterman decried the Roman Catholic Church as a "foreign soverignty dictating to our government," after which feminist singer Sandy Rapp sang her take on the Catholic Hierarchy "White Men In Black Dresses" and "Remember Rose: A Song For Choice." about the first back-street abortion fatality of the Hyde Amendment. (Listen and free download free at MySpace.com/SandyRapp.)

Representatives from both Senators Schumer and Gillibrand (as well as Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney's office) also addressed the group, along with a number of distinguished speakers including NOW-New York City President Sonia Ossorio, Brooklyn/Queens NOW Co-Presidents Rachelle Suissa and Julie Kirschner, Albany Area NOW President Mary Richmond, National Dominican Women's Caucus President Zenaida Mendez, NOW-NYS Young Feminist Task Force Chair Jerin Alam, World Can't Wait Director Debra Sweet, and New Jersey NOW President Maretta Short.

After the Speak-Out, many of the protesters marched to Saint Patrick's Cathedral, where they sang and chanted on the stage-like entrance steps, much to the interest of Christmas-display viewers, many of whom joined in the songs and signed the petitions. The demonstration continued until the police were called by the ChurchMen.

For more info on the event see: http://readme.readmedia.com/National-Organization-for-Women-NYS-Local-NOW-Chapters-Rally-for-Womens-Abortion-Rights/989488

DC musicians - drummer wanted!

Hey feminist musicians!

DC rock band noon:30 is seeking a drummer to round out their 3-piece group. They've performed at Fort Reno, the Black Cat, DC9, Velvet Lounge, Electric Maid, Capitol Hip Hop Soulfest, H St. Festival, and beyond!

They are also super involved in the Girls Rock! DC feminist rock camp for girls, so you know they're cool. Email noon30band@gmail.com if you're interested in auditioning!

Here's their announcement:

noon:30 is looking for a drummer preferably black and female. We will be holding additions soon so if you are interested or know someone who might be, let us know and send them our way!

Check out their rock camp performance!

Lunch Time Camp Rock Out with NOON:30 from Girls Rock! DC on Vimeo.



Photo courtesy of noon:30

Great American Condom Campaign applications now being accepted

Just passing the word along from our friends at Advocates for Youth:

Advocates for Youth is excited to announce SafeSite applications for the Great American Condom Campaign are now open! The GACC is a youth-led grassroots movement to make the United States a sexually healthy nation. To do this, college students apply to become SafeSites, or individual condom distribution points. Once selected, SafeSites receive a free box of 500 Trojan condoms to distribute to their peers. For more information or to apply, go to www.amplifyyourvoice.org/gacc.

Applications close January 3, 2010.

photo credit: trec_lit on flickr

Break Dancing All Over Your Holiday

As the DC Campus Team adds another great semester to the books, we are also getting into the holiday swing of things with jam sessions, parties for charity, and delicious ham feasts.

To help you and yours feel the holiday spirit, we bring to you another classic holiday greeting courtesy of the creative minds at ElfYourself. Check out these sweet moves:

Send your own ElfYourself eCards


P.S. We hereby challenge the LA Campus Team to a dance off. :)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

What do we want? EQUALITY!

Hooray! The DC Council voted today to recognize same sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions. Washington DC is poised to join Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, and Iowa in extending marriage rights to gay couples if the measure (PDF) passes. The bill, sponsored by openly gay Council Member David Catania, passed 11-2.

If DC Mayor Adrian Fenty signs the bill, as he has promised to, the US Congress has 30 days to amend or kill the bill, as DC cannot independently pass legislation. If Congress does not take any action on the bill, it will pass. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) has vowed to fight the bill in Congress, while Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton has said she will work to pass the bill.

This is a definite victory, but the fight is not yet over. Civil rights activists need to keep up the great work and keep advocating for equal rights for all citizens. Happy rabble-rousing!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Irish Women Fight for Reproductive Rights

I wrote this piece for the University College Dublin College Tribune a few months ago, having been asked to write about Ireland's abortion ban from a pro-choice American perspective. Last week, the European Court of Human Rights heard a challenge to Ireland's incredibly restrictive abortion policy by three women who claim that the law as it stands violates their human rights. We'll be following the case as it develops, but here is a bit of back story.

Women will never achieve true equality until they are able to determine when they can and cannot have children. This belief lies at the core of pro-choice feminism. To lose control over one’s body means to lose power and agency in one’s life. When a government denies women the right to choose to have an abortion, it is implying that a woman cannot be trusted to make decisions about her own health and that her life is less valuable than that of a fetus. Thus, the Feminist Majority Foundation and other women’s rights organizations like it continue to fight for reproductive rights—not just abortion, but also the right to contraception, family planning, and comprehensive sexual education.

In the United States, like Ireland, abortion is a divisive issue. A recent USA Today/Gallup survey found that 47% of Americans consider themselves to be “pro-life,” while 46% of Americans identify as “pro-choice.” These labels are thrown around casually and frequently, and while this poll reveals a nation divided, the reality of the situation is somewhat different.
One out of every three women in the United States will have an abortion by the age of 45. 89% of these abortions are performed in the first trimester. Because abortion is legal in the United States, it is a very safe procedure. A doctor can perform a first trimester abortion in one to two minutes, without general anesthesia. Abortion is safer than taking an injection of penicillin.
Globally, 42 million abortions are performed every year. 20 million of them are illegal. Clearly, the prohibition of abortion does little to curb its practice. Unfortunately, illegal abortions can be incredibly unsafe, and worldwide about 75,000 women die every year from unnecessarily botched abortions. 5 million women are hospitalized every year due to complications of illegal abortion.

While abortion has been legal in the United States since the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision in 1973, the feminist movement has had to continually fight for legal, safe, and accessible abortion in this country. Year after year, individual states attempt to enact restrictive laws that hamper a woman’s right to choose, with varying degrees of success. Accessibility remains a huge problem; 34% of American women live in counties with no abortion provider, according to the National Women’s Law Center. The cost of travel is incredibly restrictive, and the cost of the procedure itself is also often prohibitive. Doctors who perform abortions face incredible risks from anti-choice terrorists, as the recent assassination of Dr. George Tiller tragically demonstrated.

Women in the United States seeking an abortion face significant challenges, but those are nothing compared to what Irish women must go through. According to The Safe and Legal in Ireland Abortion Rights Campaign, 5,585 women traveled to the UK to obtain an abortion in 2005. This figure is probably higher in reality given the covert nature of such travel. There is also no way to estimate how many women travel to other countries in the EU for the procedure or take their chances with an illegal abortion. While abortion has been prohibited in Ireland since 1861 and unconstitutional since the addition of the 8th Amendment in 1983, that has not stopped Irish women from seeking abortions.

In December, three women will challenge Ireland’s ban on abortion before the European Court of Human Rights. The women, known as A, B, and C, rightfully argue that Irish law endangers their health and violates their human rights. Should they succeed in their case, these women could totally alter the status of women in Ireland, empowering them to control their own bodies and have agency over their lives. As the American situation has demonstrated, that would only be the first step in the ongoing struggle for reproductive rights, but it would be an astounding victory and bring remarkable change to Ireland. The Feminist Majority Foundation and other American pro-choice advocates support them and their heroic effort to usher in an era of safe and legal abortion in Ireland.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Every Day Good Women Choose Abortion: I Am One of Them

Here is a letter in response to harassment that Northland Family Planning has faced from Andrew Wilkow's radio show. It is written by "Thelma," who is in the video that the Wilkow criticizes. You can also read more from her on her blog.


Every Day Good Women Choose Abortion: I Am One of Them

Vicious, hateful things have been said about NFP's "Every Day, Good Women Choose Abortion" video, the wonderful staff who work in these clinics, it's Executive Director, women who have abortions... and me.

While I understand that the things that are said directly about the woman in the video are meant to be comments about the message and the pro-choice community at large, I am a person. I am a human being. I am a mother, a daughter, a sister, a wife, a friend... I am not just a face or voice on a screen.

And I have a voice.

The words they have attempted to demonize, to pervert, are not just the words of love, the words of courage and the words of a movement headed by the Abortion Care Network, and Northland Family Planning.

They are my words.

So, what I have to say is this: the video speaks for itself. It speaks for me.

The video speaks to women all over this country and the world who need it the most.

So let my actions in this world be my response to this hate. Let my love for my family and friends, my commitment to women's rights and social justice, my passion for helping those less fortunate then I be my answer to this hate.

I have had an abortion. I know the kind of woman I am. Nothing can take that away from me. And nothing can take that away from your sister, your friend, your wife, your daughter, and your mother who may have had to make the decision to have an abortion.

A dear friend of mine shared something with me tonight. She told me that a friend of hers called her after she viewed the video. And she told her "I had an abortion 5 years ago. And this is the message I have been searching for. I know I am a good person, and now I feel it in my heart."

Love will win over hate.

Truly,

Thelma

Big Wins for Women in the Omnibus Bill


The House approved the Omnibus Spending Bill, which combines 6 of the 7 appropriations bills for the 2010 fiscal year. The Senate is expected to vote this weekend.

In victories, we've got:

- The elimination of traditional sources of funding for failed abstinence-only programs, and the introduction of $114.5 million to fund comprehensive sexual health education programs.

- Removal of a District of Columbia prohibition, which will enable the district to use its own funds to provide abortions to low-income women. It will also ease restrictions on needle-exchange programs in DC, intended to reduce HIV transmissions.

- An increase in U.S. international family planning and reproductive health funding, to $648.5 million. An increase of more than $103 million, or 19%, over the FY 2009 level.

These are major victories for young women, low-income women and women and children worldwide! Unfortunately, language that would have permanently repealed the Global Gag Rule was struck from the bill.

Wish you could do more to Stop Stupak? You can, tomorrow!




Thankfully, the Senate rejected the Nelson Amendment, but as we all know, there is more work to be done to save women's reproductive rights.

This Saturday, December 12th, the Courage Campaign, a progressive grassroots organization in California, is hosting a phonebank in their Los Angeles office called "Friends of Equality: Protecting Women's Rights." They will be putting pressure on the House Dems that voted for the Stupak Amendment.

They want to ensure that it taken out of the final bill when it comes back from conference committee. "This will be a unique and tightly targeted campaign, pressuring these lawmakers with the voices of those they SHOULD care most about – motivated pro-choice Democratic voters who will hold them accountable at the ballot box in 2010."

You can sign up for one of two shifts (or both!) from 9a-12p or 12p-3p.

Please RSVP.

The address is
1930 Wilshire Boulevard Suite 1210
Los Angeles, CA 90057



We hope to see you there!

photo courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/ari/2209798871/

Help Increase Immigrants' Medicaid Access


Under current law, legal immigrants with low incomes must wait FIVE YEARS in order to be eligible for Medicaid. The only exception to this rule is for pregnant women and children. Given the fact that over 70% of Medicaid recipients are women, this arbitrary 5 year waiting period disproportionately affects women and only hinders access to vital health services. As we know, lack of access to preventive health care only complicates problems and increases costs down the road.

Thankfully, on Monday, 12/7, Senator Menendez (D-NJ) filed an amendment to the Senate health care reform bill to provide states with the option to remove this five year waiting period for legal immigrants! The vote is expected this week.

You've organized and taken action to protect women's health and defeat the Nelson-Hatch amendment. Now it's time to stand up for low-income immigrants' access to health care!

Call your Senators today and urge them to vote in favor of the Menendez amendment. You can reach your Senators through the Capitol switchboard at 202.224.3141. If it's busy, visit: www.senate.gov and look up your Senator, then call their direct DC and District office lines with your message.

Thank you for your help!

Photo courtesy of flikr.com/Joseph Hoetzl

Friday Funday: Put on your yarmulke!

The first night of the Festival of Lights begins at sundown tonight. Have a happy Hanukkah!


Photo credit: striatic on Flickr

Thursday, December 10, 2009

I Spy A CPC

The Feminist Majority Foundation's Campaign to Expose Fake Clinics has targeted misleading advertisements in college newspapers throughout the year. Many of you are no stranger to "Pregnant? Scared? Need Help?" ads in your newspaper and have taken your school paper to task for advertising for fake clinics that lie to women about their reproductive health.

It seems that small quarter ads of false and misleading information just won't do anymore. In the first of what will surely be an enlightening/infuriating series from Robin Marty at RH Reality Check, we learn that anti's have now taken to FULL PAGE INSERTS!

Truth in Advertising? Not From Human Life Alliance | RHRealityCheck.org

So what do you do after you've burned this 12 PAGE rag? Take this issue to the people and form a coalition to demand that your Student Government sign on to a resolution to keep your campus health center and your campus newspapers free of CPCs!

Photo credit: DRB62 from Flickr


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Don't Let Sirius XM Radio Bully Women's Health Care Providers!


Sirius XM anti-abortion shock-jock Andrew Wilkow is targeting the Northland Family Planning Centers of Michigan. Since last Friday, Wilkow has urged his listeners to call and harass the clinic on three different shows!

Wilkow's malicious rants are jamming up Northland's phone lines and patients are not able to get through to clinic staff - even if there is an emergency.

When the Northland Family Planning Centers owner contacted the radio show last Friday about stopping this outrageous harassment and to explain how jammed phone lines are threatening women's lives, a man who answered the radio show's phone line said, "Hey, the bitch from the abortion clinic is on the phone!"

Without women's health care providers like Northland Family Planning, there is no choice!

Now it's time for us to tell Sirius XM radio to stop this outrageous harassment! Join us today and send emails to Sirius XM executives, letting them know how outraged you are about Wilkow's attacks. Here's a sample Action Letter:

Dear Sirius XM Chief Executive Officer Mel Karmazin: mel.karmazin@siriusxm.com
Dear Sirius XM President Scott Greenstein: Scott.Greenstein@siriusxm.com
Dear Sirius XM General Counsel Patrick Donnelly: Patrick.Donnelly@siriusxm.com

We are outraged over the unconscionable on-air taunting and verbal attacks by Sirius XM talk show host Andrew Wilkow against Northland Family Planning clinic in Detroit, Michigan and we request that you immediately stop Wilkow from continuing these hateful attacks

Over the past four days, Wilkow has outrageously singled out Northland Family Planning clinic three times, urging supporters to call the clinic with anti-abortion messages. These calls have jammed clinic lines for hours and prevented dozens of patients trying to reach clinic staff to make appointments or to receive follow-up care.

As a result, women’s lives and reproductive health are literally being put on the line by your employee, Andrew Wilkow.

When Northland Family Planning clinic owner tried to call into the station and ask Wilkow to stop his attacks, a man answered the phone; after identifying herself, the man called her a bitch repeatedly. This response is unprofessional, unethical, and outrageous.

Sirius XM radio’s programming and conduct is interfering with a lawful and essential women’s health care provider in Michigan, while promoting intolerance for women’s reproductive rights and health. I am appalled by these malicious actions.

I beseech you to stop hate-jock Andrew Wilkow from continuing to harass and bully lawful women’s health care providers.

Sincerely,

Your Name


Thank you for joining us in the fight to protect vital women's health care services!


Photo courtesy of www.flickr.com/wannabehipster

Coming to National Young Feminist Leadership Conference from the West Coast?


The FMF's National Young Feminist Leadership Conference is taking place March 20 - 21 with a Congressional Action Day on March 22 in Washington, DC. We are already planning up a storm and you won't want to miss this incredible chance to hear amazing speakers, network with young feminists from across the country and meet with your members of Congress.

If you're coming from the West Coast, check out these SUPER CHEAP FARES on Virgin America. You have to book by Dec. 15th, but these are great prices!

The NYFLC website and registration will be open soon! For more information on the conference, hotels, costs, and how to finance your travel, contact your Campus Organizer at 1-866-444-FMLA (East Coast) or 1-866-471-FMLA (West Coast).

Hope to see you there!

Celebrating a Major Victory and Looking Toward the Future

Yesterday’s Senate vote to table the Nelson/Hatch amendment, the Senate version of the infamous anti-choice Stupak/Pitts amendment, was a major victory for pro-choice healthcare reform supporters. By voting to table the amendment, 54 pro-choice senators (including 50 Democrats, 2 Republicans, and 2 Independents) rejected the drastic expansion of abortion funding restrictions, which would ultimately result in a de facto ban of even private insurance coverage for abortion.

Watching coverage of the debate and vote on C-SPAN yesterday afternoon, I was disheartened to watch one old white man after another come up to the mic and talk about what women can and cannot do with their bodies. It was an extremely telling demonstration of the distribution of power in this country. These men, however, are dinosaurs, especially when contrasted with their progressive female colleagues (the anti-choice team did have Kay Bailey Hutchinson on their side, playing dumb in a farcical exchange with Orrin Hatch, but that’s to be expected). Hearing the floor speeches of the pro-choice Senators was rewarding for those of us who have been working so hard to reach out to our representatives in Congress on this issue. Barbara Boxer, Barbara Mikulski, Al Franken, and others remind us that it is possible to both be a lawmaker and stand up for your principles.

While yesterday’s results were definitely a cause for celebration and a recognition of the thousands of abortion rights activists working tirelessly throughout the United States, we still have many more hurdles to jump. Without Senator Nelson’s support, the healthcare reform bill’s vital public option component is more likely to be bargained away to appease moderate Republicans Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, whom Majority Leader Harry Reid may need to get the 60 votes necessary to pass the bill. Senator Snowe favors a "trigger mechanism" , meaning that a government-run insurance plan would only be created should private insurers fail to provide affordable coverage, and Senator Collins has expressed her firm disagreement with the public option in the past. There is also the risk that healthcare reform opponents will attempt to fillibuster the bill. Once it is passed by the Senate, it will go into conference to be combined with the House version to produce a final bill.

The death of the Nelson/Hatch amendment lowers the chances of Stupak/Pitts surviving conference, but there is still a risk of an abortion restriction emerging, so abortion rights supporters need to remain vigilant and continue contacting their Congress members, writing letters to the editor, and rallying public support for reproductive choice AND a public option.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Boycott Ralph Lauren!

For any of us who have ever glimpsed a billboard or opened a magazine, distorted and unrealistic depictions of a woman’s body in advertisements are nothing new. In fact, it’s nearly impossible to go through a day without being assaulted by images of what the fashion and advertising world wants us to believe counts as real beauty. If you’re anything like me, you’re sick of it.

Well, we’re not alone. Recently, filmmaker Darryl Roberts, whose hard-hitting documentary “America the Beautiful” addresses the effect that media projections of beauty are having on Americans, has launched a boycott against fashion designer Ralph Lauren, and he has gotten support from more than 100,000 other concerned people who will refuse to buy any products associated with the designer. Why this sudden outcry over Ralph Lauren? Check out the ads below:



Seen enough? Me too. These outrageous advertisements, with their unbelievably distorted images of women’s bodies, are exactly the kind of images that lead so many women, especially young women, to think that their perfectly normal, beautiful bodies are not good enough. This kind of advertising has to stop.

To join Darryl and the thousands of others who have united behind this boycott, click here and spread the word to your friends. As consumers, we ultimately hold the power, and it’s time we use it to show that these kinds of advertisements are unacceptable. If we join together, we might just be able to get them to listen to us.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Op-Ed: Stupak-Pitts abortion amendment an attack on women's rights

By Claire Macomson, University of North Carolina - Greensboro

As many of you know, the health care debate has been raging on for months. Last month, the House of Representatives passed a bill that would radically change health care in this country. I am not here to debate the pros and cons of the public option or whether or not the government is going to let grandma die. I am here to talk specifically about the Stupak-Pitts Amendment and its attack on women.

Currently, federal funds are banned for abortion, exceptions allowed, under the Hyde Amendment, and most private insurers cover abortion. The Stupak-Pitts Amendment will prohibit the use of federal funds for abortions for women in the public option, and will prevent private insurers from covering abortions for women with government subsidies under the proposed exchange system. Its exceptions include rape, incest, and when the life of the mother is in jeopardy. It also specifically allows for supplemental abortion insurance to be bought.

This is an attack on women. Supporters of this amendment will say that their tax money should not go to support something they morally oppose. All Americans are forced to pay for many things they morally oppose; the wars, the death penalty, public schools, the welfare system, abstinence-only sex education, various government programs - the list goes on for both sides of the debate. That is not a good enough excuse. No excuse is good enough when women's lives are on the line.

People will bring up that the amendment allows for abortions to protect the mother's life, and in instances of rape and incest. That is a joke. Rules like these are arbitrary. Look at the way we treat rape victims in our society: with scorn and distrust. We blame them for the violent and unacceptable acts against them. Who decides if a pregnant woman has been raped, in time for her to get a timely abortion?

Women do not have the time the courts will take making their decisions about our lives. Who decides what constitutes a threat to a mother's life and well-being? What happens to a mother who has to give birth to a baby she knows developed without a brain? Wouldn't it be better for her and her family to have the option of privately terminating this pregnancy, rather than go through the mental anguish of giving birth to a dead baby? What woman deserves to have her life placed in jeopardy by our bureaucratic government? It's a joke, and not a funny one at that.

Trying to limit abortions will not decrease the number being performed. Women have always gotten them when they needed them, whether it was legal or not. Abortion has been a necessary part of society since ancient times; ask anyone studying the ancient Greeks and Romans. The Stupak-Pitts Amendment will only serve to force more and more women into back-alley procedures because they cannot afford to pay in full for a proper procedure. Back alley abortions still exist today, because some women cannot afford the cost. Do we really need more coat hanger deaths on our public conscience?

All women deserve equal access to abortion. Restricting it only makes it more dangerous. It will just lead to more deaths and complications. I urge you to write or call your senators and urge them to not support the Stupak-Pitts Amendment to the health care bill. Because women deserve better than a coat hanger, and because women deserve better than to be pawns whose rights can be bartered away.

Friday, December 4, 2009

One Place I DON'T Need a GPS

I don't like stupid products. As an environmentalist opposed to waste, senseless consumption and the human rights violations incurred on the world as a by-product of consumerism, stupid products represent one of the highest forms of waste, extreme consumption, and (That rant will start with agricultural factory workers being poisoned by the chemicals they work with and not even getting paid a living wage in Venezuela [which, since factory jobs there are overwhelmingly occupied by women, is something I consider a feminist issue], point out Italy's laws that prevent immigrants from the Phillippines from getting jobs outside of the menial service sector [which, since stereotypes about women's roles prevent men from being able to get jobs as caretakers, means that women are the ones being exploited and limited are primarily women], and may end up with Das Kapital and GMOs. You are warned.)

Just a few days ago, however, BUST Magazine had a blog post about this creepy piece of work: GPS IN LINGERIE.

The gps device is SEWN INTO the bodice, and a password is required to find out where that specific gps signal is located.

So Let's decompress the "pros" and "cons" of a product such as this:
Pros:


  • Your significant other will never have to wonder where you are! In case, you know, they have control issues and want to stalk you.
  • It does turn off.
  • In the case the wearer is kidnapped or murdered, she could be more easily found
  • Its a sexy game of hide and seek!

  • Cons:

  • HACKERS. PASSWORDS. So much for feeling safer!
  • My personal opinion is that pagers are not sexy. I imagine it might get in the way of *ahem* activities. But, if that's what floats your boat or inflates your intertube, that's chill--riding the metro must be a really fun experience. (okay, humor aside--)
  • If a significant other wants to know the location of their partner, they should know that through the process of acquiring technology, people-kind have invented this thing called a telephone, whereby they could call and ask about said pertinent information. It would be more communicative, and would lessen the possibility of awkward surprise appearances. Its creepy and controlling if they expect to be able to know where their significant other is at all times.
  • What is the chance that one will actually be wearing this GPS when they are murdered or kidnapped?
  • Consider domestic violence situations: what if bodice-wearer goes sonewhere abuser doesn't like--such as a treatment center--but has to face the dilemma of risking anger by turning their GPS off, or anger by going to an "unapproved place"? (Let's assume that if she/he is running away, she will turn the gps off and to avoid being found.)
  • Consider victims of sex trafficking, and how the only person likely to have that password would be their pimp. Similar concept about needing to run away.

  • Why does the GPS need to be located in the underwear? It seems to me if one should want a gps somewhere, there are a bunch of other places to put it. Could it be, perhaps, that the placement in the lengerie represents keeping control over female sexuality?

    Seriously though, why the creepy factor?

    Photo Credit: Chris1h1 on flickr.com
  • FEM ACTION NEWS 2009!!!!

    HEY FEMINISTS! IT'S THE FEMINIST NEWS YOU'VE MISSED! ONLY ITS GOTTEN A WHOLE LOT BETTER! ENJOY!!!

    Help your neighborhood women's orgs!

    The thermostat is finally registering winter, which means a) holiday/finals madness and, more importantly b) baby it's cold outside. Consequently, it's an important time to keep supporting your local women's organizations!

    Here in DC, the lack of an autonomous government has profound human consequences. To make things worse, the District of Columbia slashed social services funding this fall, which has left DC organizations scrambling to keep their doors open. Direct service organizations that assist women need your help to continue providing critical resources for DC's most vulnerable women and families.

    The domestic violence nonprofit Women Empowered Against Violence (WEAVE) ran a successful 10-day campaign this September to raise $85,000 so WEAVE could stay open. But WEAVE still needs support and volunteers to continue providing their services. Check out this list of ways you and your groups can help!

    House of Ruth, a housing and shelter program for homeless women and families (many of whom are DV survivors), has been promised DC funding but does not have a dedicated funding stream to make up the $500,000 cut in their grants.

    The Women's Collective, a well-regarded HIV/AIDS prevention and counseling organization, continues to lose DC funding while poorly-managed HIV programs receive millions. This, in a city with the highest HIV rate in the nation. This, in a city Congress singles out to attack needle-exchange programs that reduce the transmission of HIV.

    'Tis the season to fight patriarchy and help a sistah out. Your friendly FMF campus organizers are hosting a holiday party to benefit Bread for the City. This week and next we're collecting food, used clothes, and items for the BFTC wish list. If you are interested in joining forces, drop us a line at campusteam@feminist.org. Or plan a drive or event to benefit your favorite progressive cause.

    Want to donate to FMF and help us advocate for women in the US and around the world? You can do so online or with a good old-fashioned check payable to the Feminist Majority Foundation. Checks can be sent to FMF at 1600 Wilson Blvd., Suite 801, Arlington VA, 22209. Call us at 703-522-2214 if you need more info!

    Let us know how you're getting active this winter! Stay warm and happy activism!

    PEPFAR Returns to Common Sense HIV Prevention


    Good news! On World AIDS Day we wrote about the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), which has long relied on the ineffective ABC (abstinence, be faithful, and as a last resort use condoms) program as a means to prevent HIV and AIDS. Thanks to the tireless work of human rights activists around the world, the State Department announced major positive changes to PEPFAR this week!

    This new plan includes a shift away from ABC and towards scientific, common sense methods, integrating "HIV prevention, care and support, and treatment services with family planning and reproductive health services, so that women living with HIV can access necessary care, and so that all women know how to protect themselves from HIV infection." PEPFAR will now emphasize condom distribution and safe sex, a proven method of HIV prevention.

    This is tremendous news for feminists everywhere, as women make up approximately half of all people living with HIV worldwide. In Sub-Saharan Africa, women make up an estimated 57% of adults living with HIV, and three quarters of young people living with disease there are young women aged 15-24.

    As you observe International Human Rights Day on December 10, celebrate this victory! There is always more work to be done and we thank you for your tireless efforts in support of women around the world.

    Riot Acts: Flaunting Gender Deviance in Music Performance

    Yesterday, I saw an amazing documentary called Riot Acts: Flaunting Gender Deviance in Music Performance. It's a documentary about trans and gender deviant musicians across North America and the intersections between gender performance and stage performance. In other words, gender deviant and trans musicians talking about making music.

    The movie focused on the experiences and issues that these musicians have when on stage. One of the film makers said that this movie was letting trans musicians tell the audience about themselves. The goal of the documentary was to go against the grain of many trans-focused movies and show how being trans is awesome.

    My favorite part of the documentary was focusing on how voice changed during transition and how vocals played into gender performance. A lot of musicians in the movie said that they were afraid to transition because of how drastically their range would change. Others said that learning a new way of singing was not so difficult while some musicians said that they didn't feel like they should change their voices at all and that transition had no effect.

    You can actually see the documentary tonight at 7 PM for $10 at the Creative Alliance on 3134 Eastern Avenue, Baltimore, Maryland 21224. There will be food, performances by Jessica Xavier and The Degenerettes, and a Q+A after the movie.

    The soundtrack alone is enough reason to check it out. Here are some videos from bands I really liked from the movie:

    Novice Theory from New York, NY


    The Degenerettes from Baltimore, MD


    Systyr Act from Boston, MA


    Coyote Grace from Sonoma County


    The Shondes from New York, NY


    For a full list of musicians, you can check out the Actor Slash Model website.

    Image courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/rickharris/

    The F!ght for Equality in Sweden

    I've spent this semester in Sweden taking a number of courses, including one about the role of women in Swedish society. I'm currently wrapping up my final paper about the Feminist Initiative (F!), and it's all so incredibly interesting that I thought I'd share a little bit with you all.

    For those of you who do not know, F! is the feminist political party in Sweden. It was founded in 2005 and has participated in several elections. While Sweden has had a history of progressive policy with regards to gender, this party feels that the country needs a party that puts women and feminism first.



    Don't you just get shivers thinking about it? I mean, Jane Fonda and Eve Ensler publicly supported it. Well, hold your horses. While F! was predicted to fare well in their first election, they fell short receiving significantly less than the 4% of the votes necessary to win a seat in the Parliament. Many feel that the internal struggles and negative coverage from the media hurt their chances. It also led to several of the founding members leaving the party.

    I was really interested in looking at the party because the thought of a strong political party that is dedicated to feminism sounds absolutely wonderful to me. It just seems like such a giant step forward. But, as I have read articles and looked at the reactions to F! in Sweden it only increased my awareness of the overwhelming pervasiveness of misogyny and anti-feminist sentiment in the world, however subtle it may be. I would encourage everyone to learn more about the party because in doing so, I have learned a lot not only about the current feminist movement in Sweden but also about activism and the long road ahead.