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.

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.

Messing with Texas

A Federal Judge has ruled that the restrictions on reproductive rights passed by Texas – the ones Wendy Davis filibustered – are unConstitutional! Hooray!

Of course Texas Republican Attorney General and Governor-wannabe Greg Abbott (the guy behind Texas’s recently-passed sexist Voter ID law) is expected to file an emergency appeal to the 5th Circuit Court in New Orleans…

And these laws are specifically designed to make their way through the appellate system until one reaches the Supreme Court because anti-choicers think that’s the key to overturning Roe v. Wade…

And this ruling does not affect the part of the law that bans abortions after 20 weeks, because most abortions take place before that; or the part requiring that all abortions take place in an “ambulatory surgical center,” which means only 5 of Texas’s 42 abortion providers would be legal, because that part doesn’t go into effect until 2014…

But the rest of this terrible law was supposed to go into effect TOMORROW, and for the moment anyway, it looks like it won’t.

I’m taking my yays where I can get ’em!

Los Angeles Premiere of ‘After Tiller’

Here’s some important event info for Vagina News readers in Los Angeles:

The LA Premiere of ‘After Tiller,’ a documentary about the four doctors in the US who provide late-term abortions, and the mortal danger they face every day, evidenced by the 2009 murder of one of their colleagues, Dr. George Tiller.

Friday 10/4, 7:30 PM at the Landmark NuArt Theater, tickets are $20. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with the filmmakers, and proceeds benefit the wonderful Women’s Reproductive Rights Assistance Project (WRRAP).

Tickets and information at http://oscilloscope.net/shop/tickets/index.php?event_id=1

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🙂

North Carolina & Facebook – Fighting the Good Fight

First, I want to salute friend and reader Alicia, who is at the North Carolina capitol today. She’s part of the protest against the last-minute attachment of anti-choice provisions to an already-insane anti-Sharia-law bill. The provisions will make it all but impossible to get a legal abortion in North Carolina.

Alicia, we’re all there with you. Thank you for raising your voice.

Now I have a bit of exclusive Vagina News for you, from my first foray into investigative journalism. 

Remember the fight to get Facebook to effectively moderate content that advocates violence against women? Remember how the thing that finally worked was showing advertisers that their ads were appearing next to this content, prompting them to pull ad money from Facebook? Well this week, Facebook announced a decision…

To pull ads from pages that advocate violence against women.

A lot of people, myself included, thought that SUCKED. But before reacting, I decided to find out if there was more to it. So I reached out via Twitter to Women, Action, & Media – the organization partnering with Facebook on this issue – to get the scoop. 

Here’s what they said.

Vagina News Link Roundup – The Science of Sexism

– Diana Greene Foster, a demographer and an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of California, San Francisco, has completed a study on what happens to women who are denied abortions. (Aside from a similar study in the 60s in Czechoslovakia, this is surprisingly unprecedented.) The article is long and detailed and excellent. Spoiler Falert – it doesn’t bode well for mother or child. 

– Another study (thanks Jason!) shows that 1 in 6 women who seek treatment at clinics specializing in bone fractures have been abused by intimate partners – and that’s a low estimate. “Neck and head injuries are the most common for women who have experienced domestic violence, he said. Also common are “bruising or broken jaws, teeth being knocked out, black eyes.”… By the time a woman receives broken bones, she’s at sharp risk of being killed by her partner. That’s why orthopedic surgeons need to get better at noticing the signs, he said.”

– To lighten things up a bit, 6 female scientists to tell you friends and family about. We don’t know about these women because institutional sexism prevented them from being recognized alongside their male peers. (Like, Nobel prizes being awarded to all the men around them, but not to the women… That kind of thing.) Let’s help right that wrong by learning and talking about them. 

 

Link Roundup – Get it Together, Government

I’ve got a TON of Vagina News saved up, so I’m going to put together related links with abbreviated commentary until we catch up.

To begin, GET IT TOGETHER, GOVERNMENT:

– Reset the ‘Days Without a GOP Rape Mention’ counter and tell Todd Akin to put his shiny shoes on, because Arizona House Representative Trent Franks apparently woke up from a coma today and said, “the incidence of rape resulting in pregnancy are very low.” Deja vomit.

By way of response, let’s revisit ‘The Worst States for Pregnant Rape Victims.’ 

– Next time you see your gynecologist (or anyone else’s) give them a hug, because this week the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists issued a statement castigating state governments for initiating an unprecedented number of bills aimed at restricting women’s reproductive rights. 

– And finally, the Air Force has put Major General Margaret Atwood (that’s a woman, for the record) in charge of the branch’s efforts to curb military sexual assault. Atwood is four steps higher in the chain of command than her predecessor, Lieut. Colonel Jeffrey Krusinski, who was arrested last month for – say it with me – sexual assault. 

 

Preach, vagina doctors, preach.

You may have heard that Illinois representative Joe Walsh said yesterday that there’s no need to allow for abortion when a woman’s life is at risk, because it never happens. “With modern technology and science, you can’t find one instance,” he said during his debate against Tammie Duckworth.

(This is one of those things that falls under commonplace
jackassery in my opinion, so I didn’t post about it. Feel free to Google Joe
Walsh abortion if you want more info.)

What IS news is that the American Congress of Obstetricians
and Gynecologists just issued a statement correcting Walsh, saying, “These
inaccurate comments are yet another reason why The American College of
Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ message to politicians is unequivocal: Get out
of our exam rooms.”

(There’s also a link at the end to an excellent article in
the New England Journal of Medicine to the same effect. There may be a post
just about that one soon.)

http://www.acog.org/About_ACOG/News_Room/News_Releases/2012/Response_to_Politicians_Inaccurate_

I found it. The CRAZIEST state abortion law.

First, a quick fact. Only 1.4% of abortions take place after

the 20th week of gestation. At that point, the choice is often made due to
serious complications that endanger the health of the child, mother, or both.

So,
Georgia’s HB 954. In short, it bans abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
Supporters call it the “fetal pain bill”, because the justification is that
fetuses can feel pain at 20 weeks. (There is no medical evidence to support
this.) Opponents call it the “women as livestock bill”, because… Well, you’ll
see.

Here comes the crazy. Be careful, it sneaks up on you.

Crazy – The original version of the bill made no exception
for rape, incest, health of the mother (you know, the usual), OR viability of
the fetus. Many serious birth defects can only be detected after 20 weeks, so
the main effect of the bill would be to force women to carry a non-viable (or
non-alive) fetus to term and delivery.

Crazier – The bill got national attention because State Rep.
Terry England expressed his compassion for women in this situation thusly;
“I’ve had the experience of delivering calves, dead and alive — delivering
pigs, dead and alive. … It breaks our hearts to see those animals not make it.”
He’s not unsympathetic, see? He feels for us ladies, just like he felt for
those pigs.

Craziest – The version that passed – aka, is now law – made
a compromise. The idea is to keep the fetus alive as long as possible, even
when the reason for the abortion is that it has no chance of survival. Here’s
the solution; If the doctor determines the fetus is not viable (the mother gets
no say) and it’s been over 20 weeks, she can have an abortion. But first, she
has to deliver the child vaginally or have a C-section – the abortion has to
take place outside the mother’s body. And if the doctor thinks vaginal delivery
might endanger the fetus on its way to abortion, that doctor is legally
required to perform a C-section instead, regardless of the woman’s wishes, or
face jail time.

I told you.

Google ‘Georgia HB 954’ or ‘fetal pain bill’ to learn more.