The Supreme Court has blocked Texas from enforcing key parts of a 2013 law that would close all but a handful of the state’s abortion facilities.
In a 9-3 vote, the justices suspended a ruling by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that allowed Texas to enforce a rule that would make abortion clinics spend millions of dollars on hospital-level upgrades if they were to remain open.
In so doing the U.S.’s highest court granted a requests filed by abortion providers as part of a courtroom battle that has passed through various jurisdictions.
The appeals court’s had earlier suspended an August decision by U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel, who found that such upgrades being demanded by the state were less about safety than about making access to abortion difficult.
This is a very good thing. In 2011, there were 44 abortion clinics in Texas. After the closing of 2 clinics in March, that number fell to 24. There were significant concerns that a new, restrictive abortion law that was to take effect in September would close all but 6 abortion clinics in the state. Thankfully SCOTUS made the correct decision. Abortion is an issue of reproductive freedom for all women, and they should all be entitled to it. It doesn’t matter if a fetus is a person with the same rights as every other human being. No human has the right to use the body of another human being-and that includes a fetus feeding off of a pregnant woman. If the woman does not want to be pregnant it ought to be her right to end that pregnancy and there should be no restrictions. Anti-choice advocates (they are NOT pro-life advocates), if they had their way, would make abortion illegal throughout the United States, which would not end abortion, it would just cause a rise in unsafe abortions as well as maternal deaths. If they truly wanted to diminish the number of abortions, they would ensure that women have easy access to contraception, because contraception use prevents the need for an abortion. But then anti-choicers/forced birthers don’t want that either. They don’t want women having abortions, nor do they want women using contraception. They want women to have sex-but only in the context of a marriage with a man, and only for the purpose of conceiving. They hide this agenda behind their anti-abortion activism, but it’s not hard to see through their rhetoric because they aren’t consistent in their views.
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Dove’s Real Beauty campaign paved what is now a very well traveled road of female empowerment-focused advertising. It’s a special genre of content (slogans and short doc-style videos) in which the messaging (you are more beautiful than you think you are! stop using gendered double-standards in the workplace!) takes center stage while the company name appears as an afterthought; products sold often go unmentioned.
But does this kind of advertising actual increase brand recognition and sales? According to lifestyle site SheKnows, it does. After surveying 628 women about the “fem-vertising” phenomenon, 52% of respondents said that they had bought a product specifically because they liked the way the company portrayed women in the ads, and 56% of those respondents were in the key millennial demographic. Adweek reports that 46% of those polled then followed a brand on social media because of that messaging. (Yes, people do follow advertisers by choice.)
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As a parent of three teens, I am accustomed to the routine. As I wrote in a June essay for Slate, my youngest daughter was dress-coded two years ago, when she was in sixth grade. Her offense: shorts that didn’t meet the school’s dress code (which requires that shorts and skirts must “reach to the fingertips of the extended arm”). She spent the day donning an oversize shirt to cover her body as a punishment.
Predictably, my article raised a lot of questions: Do I see what these girls are wearing? (Yes.) Would I dress that way for work? (No.) Do I think the school is entitled to set limits? (Yes.) Do I place my daughter above following the school rules? (No.) Trust me, I know the drill.
The rules applied across the country, however, go well beyond short shorts. For example, a school in North Dakota recently banned skinny jeans, leggings and yoga pants. What these examples tend to have in common is the targeting of girls — and not just of bare skin but of the female silhouette itself.
The trend has created a new front in the dress code wars. Refusing to be shamed, girls are instead raising their voices. They are demanding to be treated with fairness — as more than the sum of their body parts and more than a classroom distraction to boys. Students at Tottenville High School in Staten Island, New York, and Bingham High School in South Jordan, Utah, have recently walked out of classes, protesting strict and unfair dress code enforcement.
A group of girls from our community in South Orange have launched a social media campaign, #IAmMoreThanADistraction, on Twitter and Facebook. The hashtag has unleashed an outpouring of personal stories from their peers nationwide. The world is listening. Various domestic and international media outlets, including the BBC, “Good Morning America,” Le Monde and Al Jazeera America have featured the perspectives of these students and their parents.
The controversy has raised a key question for educators nationwide: What should an ideal dress code policy look like? In our New Jersey school district, a coalition of parents and students is working with district leadership to create a fairer policy. In June student-led advocacy forced South Orange Middle School to change its discriminatory swimsuit policy, allowing girls the option to wear two-piece suits to school swim events (which had been banned). This is a step in the right direction.
But more needs to be done. Our coalition is seeking a change of perspective and focus away from the culture of punishment, blame and shaming and toward one of equality and respect. Our goal is to create a districtwide policy that ensures equal treatment of girls, including fair messaging to and expectations of boys. We hope to promote a healthy dialogue among students and faculty about sexism and stereotypes. In consultation with district leadership, we formed a task force this fall to help gather input from the community and provide feedback to and meet regularly with the local school board, district superintendent and school principals to establish a new, collaborative and appropriate dress code policy that will be in place by spring 2015.
These are some of the concerns and questions we have identified:
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Publicly funded family planning programs help save taxpayers billions of dollars each year by averting costly medical expenses, according to a new analysis from the Guttmacher Institute. It’s the latest data point in an overwhelming body of evidence illustrating the societal benefits of expanding access to affordable birth control.
It’s not hard to understand why that’s the case. Low-income women are at the highest risk of unintended pregnancy, largely because they don’t always have access to medical resources like contraception. But, when publicly funded programs like Title X help those women get affordable birth control, it can make a big difference. Guttmacher researchers estimate that the care provided at publicly funded family planning clinics helped prevent 2.2 million unplanned pregnancies in 2010.
With so many fewer pregnancies among this population, appropriating funding for family planning works out to be very good deal for the government. It eliminates a significant amount of potential Medicaid spending, since states don’t have to pay as much for abortions, for miscarriages, or for maternity and infant care. “This investment resulted in net government savings of $13.6 billion in 2010, or $7.09 for every public dollar spent,” the researchers conclude.
And investing in women’s health can influence more than pregnancies. Title X clinics also provide screening and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, something that helps prevent patients from transmitting those infections to their future sexual partners. Guttmacher estimates that helped reduce chlamydia, gonorrhea, and HIV infections by 99,100 cases, 16,240 cases, and 410 cases respectively. Plus, providing resources for low-income women to get tested for cervical cancer helped identify 3,600 cases early enough to prevent more than 2,000 deaths.
“This analysis quantifies, for the first time, many of the myriad benefits of publicly funded family planning services beyond enabling women to prevent unintended pregnancies,” the lead author of the new report, Jennifer Frost, said in a statement. According to Frost, the research provides “the most comprehensive portrait to date of the value of taxpayers’ investment in these services.”
Despite the well-documented benefits of family planning programs, states continue to slash funding in this area as women’s health issues have become a politicized issue. Title X has been cut by more than $23 million over the past two fiscal years, and back in 2011, Republicans in the House of Representatives voted along party lines to defund the program altogether. Plus, recent attempts to attack Planned Parenthood clinics have left some low-income women — particularly in Texas, where the family planning infrastructure has been devastated — without any access to these services at all. Indeed, according to previous research conducted by Guttmacher, publicly funded clinics can’t keep up with the demand.
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This Guide outlines the legal recourse available to victims of street harassment, which
varies signiﬁcantly from country to country. Thanks to the work of Hollaback! and other
campaign groups, governments, organisations and individuals around the world are
increasingly aware of and willing to tackle street harassment using legal means.
For example, prosecutions for street harassment have been rare in Argentina in the
past. However while this report was being compiled, a man who improperly touched
and said obscene words to a woman in the street in a Southern province of Argentina
faced criminal charges for sexual harassment after being captured by the police minutes
after the act. He faced a penalty of 6 months to 4 years of prison. In Belgium, there is
now a speciﬁc system for ﬁning people that cause trouble, mainly in public places. Since
June 12, 2013, the city of Brussels imposed 69 ﬁnes for sexual remarks towards women
and same sex relationship abuse. In Canada, one-off incidents have led to prosecutions
for criminal harassment such as in the 2009 case where an offender jumped out from
behind bushes to block a stranger jogging in a residential neighbourhood at night,
chased her to a house and stared at her while she waited for someone to open the door.
In Nepal, police have the right to immediately arrest a person suspected of committing
street harassment without a warrant.
There remain signiﬁcant legal barriers to successful prosecutions of street harassment.
In some jurisdictions there is no clear deﬁnition of unlawful harassment, although
jurisdictions including Colombia apply a number of general laws in cases of street
harassment. Prosecution may be discretionary or may result only in a minor punishment.
In contrast, other places do have very speciﬁc legal protections against harassment. For
example, in the state of Iowa, USA a comprehensive and speciﬁc law against harassment
exists under which a perpetrator was successfully prosecuted for making an obscene
gesture and grabbing the victim’s baseball bat during a heated discussion.
One key practical issue is that it is often difﬁcult to identify the perpetrator where
they are previously unknown to the victim. In Ireland, it is recognised that even if the
reporting of a speciﬁc incident may not lead to prosecution and conviction in that case,
the information may help combat harassment in future. Therefore the police, An Garda
Síochana, log all complaints and are able to collate reports of a similar type to establish
patterns and detect repeat offenders. This issue has also been addressed in England
through British Transport Police’s (BTP) anti-harassment strategy on London’s transport system. Project Guardian was launched in 2013 and Hollaback! representatives were key
advisers to the BTP. The project includes several measures to identify offenders such as
the use of technology including CCTV tracking, data analysis (identifying harassment
hotspots) and text-based reporting services. It also includes targeted “weeks of action”
in which extra uniformed and plain-clothes ofﬁcers patrol London’s transport network,
gather intelligence and communicate with the public, with the aim of sending a
message to harassers as well as achieving an increased number of actual arrests.
Even where perpetrators are identiﬁed, lack of witness and other evidence is a
signiﬁcant barrier to successful prosecutions in many jurisdictions. In countries such
as Germany and Turkey, the principle of “when in doubt, for the accused” may apply,
meaning a defendant is unlikely to be convicted by the court when it is simply a case of
the victim’s word against the defendant’s and there is no other evidence. It is therefore
strongly recommended that where possible, victims of street harassment collect any
evidence that is available to them, including taking photos. Victims should also take
down the contact details of any witnesses and in cases of any physical harm, should
attend hospital as soon as possible and obtain appropriate medical reports about any
injuries they have sustained.
Many places recognise that the reporting of harassment can be a difﬁcult process itself
and that victims require support and assistance. Croatia gives speciﬁc legal protection
to those who report harassment: there is a separate misdemeanour under which it is
unlawful to discriminate against any person because he/she reported harassment.
In New Zealand, victims have certain rights in relation to the way they are treated
and can complain if they are not treated with courtesy and compassion or are not
properly advised of services that are available to assist them. In South Africa, victims
of harassment are able to apply in the Magistrates Courts for a protection order (an
order that is enforceable by the police that prevents the person you are complaining
about from harassing you) and every Magistrates Court has a dedicated clerk trained
to deal with victims making such applications. The Jacksonville Police Department in
North Carolina, USA, has a victim assistance program that offers conﬁdential services
free of charge to crime victims, including crisis intervention and short-term counselling,
information on the status of an investigation and an explanation of the criminal justice
system and the victim’s role in that system.
Other places recognise that the ability to report crime anonymously can eliminate
intimidation. In Australia, crimes can be reported on an anonymous basis until the
matter goes to court. The Czech Republic permits anonymous reporting of crimes
although this may affect the credibility of the allegations. Metro Crime Stoppers (a volunteer organization actively supporting law enforcement agencies in solving crime in
the City of Baltimore, USA) gives Baltimore residents the ability to anonymously report
crime tips to the police and potentially earn a monetary reward.
Some jurisdictions use civil or administrative laws as a tool to prevent street
harassment. In Lima, Peru, ﬁnes can be levied against those guilty of inappropriate STREET HARASSMENT: KNOW YOUR RIGHTS
behaviour (deﬁned as unwanted sexual advances, obscene gestures, sexual jokes,
touching, etc.) in public commercial establishments or construction sites. In Poland, if a
victim feels that his or her moral rights (in particular honour) have been violated by the
perpetrator’s unlawful behaviour, under Polish civil law a victim of street harassment
can demand that the perpetrator apologise in public (also in the form of a newspaper
announcement) for his/her actions.
A key practical step in the ﬁght against street harassment is making transport systems safe. Since 2012, the French railway company SNCF offers women travelling overnight
the option to reserve a bunk bed in a women only compartment. In Atlanta, USA the
MARTA Code of Conduct prohibits people who are using public transportation from
engaging in “disorderly or inappropriate conduct that is inconsistent with the orderly
and comfortable use of buses, rail cars, or transit facilities” and violators can be
prohibited from using public transport. In India there are provisions such as reservation
of seats in public transport including buses and separate ladies only compartments for
women in local trains. Mumbai, India also has special ladies only local trains operating
at different times during the day.
A number of private companies and institutions are also taking practical steps to
combat street harassment. In Rome, Italy there is a women-only discounted taxi
service that ensures passengers are safely inside their home before leaving. In Israel,
universities and many public institutions have their own anti-harassment policies.
Of course, a legal framework is but one element required to tackle street harassment.
Public awareness, changing attitudes, enforcement and prosecution are a number of
other components which are also needed.
It is our hope that through contributing to this important resource for Hollaback!
individuals and communities alike will be more empowered to take action against
Politicians love to interfere in a woman’s right to choose. It’s always under the pretense of “guarding the sanctity of life” or “protecting the life of the unborn”. There’s never any regard for the woman carrying the fetus. Never any concern for her well-being. Such is the case, once again in Missouri:
Overriding Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of a measure tripling the waiting period for an abortion is one of several priorities for Republican lawmakers this week during the veto session.
Nixon, a Democrat, was uncharacteristically critical of the bill, saying its lack of an exception for victims of rape and incest was a “glaring omission” that was “wholly insensitive to women who find themselves in horrific circumstances.”
Bill handler Sen. David Sater, R-Cassville, said he’s confident both chambers will override the veto.
“We’ve got the votes, so unless some of the Democrats in the Senate decide to filibuster, it’ll go through just fine,” Sater said.
The Senate passed the bill on a party-line vote of 22-9, one shy of the 23 needed for an override. The House passed it 111-39, more than the 109 needed for an override. The Senate’s missing Republican vote belonged to Sen. Mike Cunningham, R-Rogersville, who was absent because his mother died.
He supports the bill, saying he doesn’t “think waiting is too much to ask of someone before they terminate a life.”
It’s far too long if a woman does not want to be pregnant any longer. See, this is the problem they have: they aren’t looking at women as thinking human beings capable of making decisions about their bodies (with the informed opinions of their doctors). THAT, and they think an embryo or fetus is something special. They’ve no regard for the right to bodily autonomy, nor the right to self defense (the latter is granted by the former) for women. It’s sickening to see a fucking fetus valued more than an existing woman.
Access to abortion services can range from relatively easy to virtually impossible, depending on where a woman lives. Some countries (including the oh so democratic and progressive and wonderful and gah gah gag me with a spoon United States) ostensibly allow legal abortions-but anti-abortion activists have been successful in closing many clinics or throwing up tremendous obstacles to this basic right of all women. Other countries like those in Latin America, Africa, or Asia often have severe restrictions on abortion, or the procedure is outright banned. Thankfully, there are determined people like Rebecca Gomperts who, through the use of modern technology and a strong desire to reduce the suffering of others, have helped women across the globe terminate their pregnancies on their own terms. In this article, read about Gomperts first attempts to help women obtain the abortion drugs misoprostol and mifepristone (formerly RU-486), the obstacles she faced and continues to face in her attempt to use the internet to assist women in obtaining abortion inducing drugs, and the frustration felt by women around the globe who want nothing more than to end their pregnancies (you’ll want to kick back somewhere comfortable-the article, well worth reading, is lengthy):
Gomperts is a general-practice physician and activist. She first assisted with an abortion 20 years ago on a trip to Guinea, just before she finished medical school in Amsterdam. Three years later, Gomperts went to work as a ship’s doctor on a Greenpeace vessel. Landing in Mexico, she met a girl who was raising her younger siblings because her mother had died during a botched illegal abortion. When the ship traveled to Costa Rica and Panama, women told her about hardships they suffered because they didn’t have access to the procedure. “It was not part of my medical training to talk about illegal abortion and the public-health impact it has,” Gomperts told me this summer. “In those intense discussions with women, it really hit me.”
When she returned to the Netherlands, Gomperts decided she wanted to figure out how to help women like the ones she had met. She did some legal and medical research and concluded that in a Dutch-registered ship governed by Dutch law, she could sail into the harbor of a country where abortion is illegal, take women on board, bring them into international waters, give them the pills at sea and send them home to miscarry. Calling the effort Women on Waves, she chose Dublin as her first destination.
Ten women each gave Gomperts 10,000 Dutch guilders (about $5,500), part of the money needed to rent a boat and pay for a crew. But to comply with Dutch law, she also had to build a mobile abortion clinic. Tapping contacts she made a decade earlier, when she attended art school at night while studying medicine, she got in touch with Joep van Lieshout, a well-known Dutch artist, and persuaded him to design the clinic. They applied for funds from the national arts council and built it together inside the shipping container. When the transport ministry threatened to revoke the ship’s authorization because of the container on deck, van Lieshout faxed them a certificate decreeing the clinic a functional work of art, titled “a-portable.” The ship was allowed to sail, and van Lieshout later showed a mock-up of the clinic at the Venice Biennale.
As the boat sailed toward Dublin, Gomperts and her shipmates readied their store of pills and fielded calls from the press and emails from hundreds of Irish women seeking appointments. The onslaught of interest took them by surprise. So did a controversy that was starting to brew back home. Conservative politicians in the Netherlands denounced Gomperts for potentially breaking a law that required a special license for any doctor to provide an abortion after six and a half weeks of pregnancy. Gomperts had applied for it a few months earlier and received no reply. She set sail anyway, planning to perform abortions only up to six and a half weeks if the license did not come through.
When Gomperts’s ship docked in Dublin, she still didn’t have the license. Irish women’s groups were divided over what to do. Gomperts decided she couldn’t go ahead without their united support and told a group of reporters and protesters that she wouldn’t be able to give out a single pill. “This is just the first of many trips that we plan to make,” she said from the shore, wrapped in a blanket, a scene that is captured in “Vessel,” a documentary about her work that will be released this winter. Gomperts was accused of misleading women. A headline in The Telegraph in London read: “Abortion Boat Admits Dublin Voyage Was a Publicity Sham.”
Gomperts set sail again two years later, this time resolving to perform abortions only up to six and a half weeks. She went to Poland first and to Portugal in 2004. The Portuguese minister of defense sent two warships to stop the boat, then just 12 miles offshore, from entering national waters. No local boat could be found to ferry out the women who were waiting onshore. “In the beginning we were very pissed off, thinking the campaign was failing because the ship couldn’t get in,” one Portuguese activist says in “Vessel.” “But at a certain point, we realized that was the best thing that could ever happen. Because we had media coverage from everywhere.”
Without consulting her local allies, Gomperts changed strategy. She appeared on a Portuguese talk show, held up a pack of pills on-screen and explained exactly how women could induce an abortion at home — specifying the number of pills they needed to take, at intervals, and warning that they might feel pain. A Portuguese anti-abortion campaigner who was also on the show challenged the ship’s operation on legal grounds. “Excuse me,” Gomperts said. “I really think you should not talk about things that you don’t know anything about, O.K. . . . I know what I can do within the law.” Looking directly at him, she added, “Concerning pregnancy, you’re a man, you can walk away when your girlfriend is pregnant. I’m pregnant now, and I had an abortion when I was — a long time ago. And I’m very happy that I have the choice to continue my pregnancy how I want, and that I had the choice to end it when I needed it.” She pointed at the man. “You have never given birth, so you don’t know what it means to do that.”
Two and a half years later, Portugal legalized abortion. As word of Gomperts’s TV appearance spread, activists in other countries saw it as a breakthrough. Gomperts had communicated directly to women what was still, in many places, a well-kept secret: There were pills on the market with the power to end a pregnancy. Emails from women all over the world poured into Women on Waves, asking about the medication and how to get it. Gomperts wanted to help women “give themselves permission” to take the pills, as she puts it, with as little involvement by the government, or the medical profession, as possible. She realized that there was an easier way to do this than showing up in a port. She didn’t need a ship. She just needed the Internet.
Gomperts no longer works from a boat. Eight years ago she started Women on Web, a “telemedicine support service” for women around the world who are seeking medical abortions. She and a small staff share a one-room office in Amsterdam on a residential street, where red-and-pink flowers bloom on the balconies of brick buildings. Early in July, I went to visit the space, which has six workstations with computers, a few shelves and a filing cabinet with the sticker “Trust Women.” A large window opens onto a courtyard, where a Cupid fountain bubbles.
Davis writes in Forgetting to be Afraid that she had an abortion in 1996 after an exam revealed that the brain of the fetus had developed in complete separation on the right and left sides. She also describes ending an earlier ectopic pregnancy, in which an embryo implants outside the uterus.
Davis disclosed the terminated pregnancies for the first time since her 13-hours filibuster — a parliamentary maneuver that required her to talk non-stop to try to run out the time on proposed legislation — last year over a tough new Texas abortion law.
Both pregnancies happened before Davis, a state senator from Fort Worth, began her political career and after she was already a mother to two young girls.
She writes that the ectopic pregnancy happened in 1994 during her first trimester. Terminating the pregnancy was considered medically necessary. Such pregnancies generally aren’t considered viable, meaning the fetus can’t survive, and the mother’s life could be in danger. But Davis wrote that in Texas, it’s “technically considered an abortion, and doctors have to report it as such.”
Davis said she and her former husband, Jeff, wound up expecting another child in 1996. After a later exam revealed the brain defect, doctors told her the baby would be deaf, blind and in a permanent vegetative state if she survived delivery.
“I could feel her little body tremble violently, as if someone were applying an electric shock to her, and I knew then what I needed to do,” Davis writes. “She was suffering.”
p class=”story-body-text story-content”>You may remember Wendy Davis from her nearly 12 hour attempt to filibuster Senate Bill 5 back in June 2013.