It’s Vagina News Link Madness!

Holy cow, there’s a lot going on. Time to play catch-up. Ready? Let’s go:

  • I just finished a free online class in International Women’s Health and Human Rights through Stanford (they’re going to offer it again, and I HIGHLY recommend it – get on the list here). I learned a lot about the history of these issues in the UN, and specifically about the Millennium Development Goals. Last week, the 2014 Commission on the Status of Women ended “with an agreement that called for the acceleration of progress towards achieving the millennium development goals, and confirming the need for a stand-alone goal on gender equality and women’s empowerment in the set of international targets that will be introduced once they expire in 2015. The agreement also said gender equality must underpin all other goals.” The details are interesting and encouraging, and very much worth a read.
  • Last week also saw the Hobby Lobby case argued before the Supreme Court. The craziest part of the case, IMHO, is the fact that the entire argument is based on an objection to ACA coverage of IUDs and the morning-after pill, based on the belief that they cause abortion – which they absolutely, undeniably DON’T. (They prevent conception. Hence the word “contra-ception”. Spermy no meet eggy.) Yet this case has risen all the way to the Supreme Court because the owners of Hobby Lobby (and another company) BELIEVE they cause abortion, and that would violate their religious beliefs (never mind that a corporation can’t believe anything.) Anyway, I bring it up to introduce this great piece on our three female Supreme Court Justices, which pounds home the importance of gender parity in all levels of government.
  •  Buzzfeed isn’t just lists of .gifs… They’ve done some important reporting on campus sexual assault; specifically, legal violations serious enough to prompt the federal investigation of a school less than a mile from where I’m sitting right now.
  • Jimmy Carter has a new book out, ‘A Call to Action’, and in it, he blames selective application of religious dogma for the unconscionable treatment of women and girls around the world. “The most serious and unaddressed worldwide challenge is the deprivation and abuse of women and girls… This claim that women are inferior before God spreads to the secular world to justify gross and sustained acts of discrimination and violence against them… This is not just a women’s issue. It is not confined to the poorest countries. It affects us all.”
  • And finally, a great article from the Money section of The New York Times about how gender discrimination affects women’s salary negotiations in the workplace. Like most contemporary manifestations of sexism, it’s not overt; rather it’s a combination of learned behavior and double standards that make everyone complicit. The article is a solid step toward becoming aware of how we may be participating unknowingly, and how to stop.
Advertisements

Virgina News

(See what I did there?)

If you paid any attention to media coverage of the Virginia Governor’s race, you know the singular talking point was ‘both of these guys are horrible.’

But Republican Ken Cuccinelli is a NIGHTMARE on reproductive rights. As Attorney General:

– He tried to outlaw abortion (with no rape exception) AND several forms of contraception, and force women to undergo vaginal probes before being allowed to get a legal abortion.

– He opposed the Violence Against Women Act.

– He masterminded the effort to pass purposeless construction regulations that would force the closure of all 20 abortion providers in the state.

– He tried to defund Planned Parenthood, supported state funding of abstinence-only sex education, supported 2 “personhood” bills that would grant full civic rights to the unborn, and supported a bill that would require doctors to save tissue from the fetus of a mother under 15 for forensic investigation.

– He funded “Choose Life” license plates, whose profits fund Crisis Pregnancy Centers where women are lured with the promise of reproductive health services and then misinformed, shamed, and guilted about wanting contraception or abortion.

And yesterday, he lost.

He lost to Terry McAuliffe, who has a long track record of unwavering support for reproductive rights, and was endorsed by Human Rights Campaign, Planned Parenthood, and NARAL Pro Choice America.

So screw the media narrative. I’m ELATED.

Happy Vagina News Tuesday! We just passed the first anniversary of no co-pay contraception (thank you Obamacare) AND as of August 1, emergency contraception is available over-the-counter with no age restriction.

That means fewer unwanted pregnancies, which means fewer abortions. If you can’t get behind that, well I don’t even want to know you.

(Extra points if you caught the West Wing reference.)
Not sure about the new guidelines for emergency contraception products? Here’s the Emergency Contraception 101 infographic to guide you! (From http://ecotc.tumblr.com/Resources🙂

Good Vagina News – Plan B, Rape Kits, and Military Baby Steps

I’m happy to report that there’s a lot of good Vagina News today.

– A federal appeals court has defied the Obama administration and sided with the FDA in making Plan B One-Step emergency contraception available over the counter with no age restriction. (An appeal is pending.)

 

– Detroit prosecutor Kym Worthy, who since 2009 has been raising outside funds to test the city’s backlog of 10,000+ untested rape kits, has finally gotten some help – in the form of $4 million from the state attorney general. 

“Of the 569 kits that have been tested so far, 136 of those have yielded hits in the Combined DNA Index System maintained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation… Thirty-two of those hits have been identified as serial rapists.” 

(That means it costs about $27k to identify a serial rapist – basically the price of a new car – which may be the best deal in government spending I’ve ever heard.)

 

– We’ve taken the first baby steps toward addressing military sexual assault. 

A provision has been added to the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (which funds military spending) that stops military commanders from being able to reverse rape convictions, as notoriously happened in a case earlier this year. 

Provisions were also added to make it easier for victims to get legal counsel, quicker access to disability benefits for PTSD associated with rape or sexual assault, and to guarantee that convicted military sex offenders will be discharged or dismissed. 

But we have to end on a sour note, because we still have not addressed the core issue; The current structure – which leaves investigation and prosecution of military sexual assault cases solely at the discretion of superior officers – is a disaster. It fails to meet our responsibility to victims, and rewards perpetrators, who are allowed to continue to serve “honorably”, and then sent back into the general population. Until that is addressed, the other changes will have little effect. 

I probably don’t have tell anyone here that last night was pretty great for vaginas.

Let’s get into the details.

  • For starters, the obvious. We have a pro-choice,
    pro-equality President for the next four years. We also have four Supreme Court
    justices well over the age of 70. (I predict we will see far fewer
    anti-abortion laws floated on the state level, because the pro-life movement’s
    hopes of one of those laws making it to the SC and being used to overturn
    Roe v. Wade just got turned upside-down.) http://articles.latimes.com/2012/oct/30/opinion/la-oe-chemerinsky-scotus-future-20121030
  • A record number of women will serve in the US Senate next
    term; 20, up from 17 this term, and more than double the number that served 15
    years ago. The new senators include the first openly gay woman (Tammy Baldwin,
    Wisconsin), the first female combat veteran (Tammy Duckworth, Illinois), and
    the first Asian-American woman (Mazie Hirono, Hawaii) to serve in the Senate.
  • All six female Senators who were running for reelection won; Maria Cantwell
    (Wash.), Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), Amy Klobuchar
    (Minn.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.) and Debbie Stabenow (Mich.)
  • Female Senate candidacy broke records as well; Almost half of the 33 Senate
    races this year had serious female candidates, and in two races, both final
    candidates were female.