The Bush administration still has a few months to make headway in the neocon agenda, and under cover of the Iraq war the cultural initiative to return American women to the dark ages is scoring clear victories. Two came out in the past week, both attacks on women’s equality and women’s health.
The first is an announcement without any notice or discussion, a “clarification” of policy by the so-called Department of Education (wink, wink, nudge, nudge, as Glen says).
Surveys can be used to show Title IX compliance, a USA TODAY story by Kathy Kiely states:
New federal guidelines for compliance with Title IX, the law that has helped get more women involved in sports, permit schools to avoid adding more athletic opportunities for students if an Internet survey indicates they are not interested.
Critics say the guidelines, issued Friday with no public fanfare by the Department of Education, represent a significant weakening of the 33-year-old law banning sex discrimination at schools receiving federal funds.
“They’re finding a way to weaken Title IX,” said Neena Chaudhry, senior counsel of the National Women’s Law Center. “This allows schools the easy way out.”
Education Department officials adamantly denied the charge, termed “bogus” by spokesman Susan Aspey.
“This is simply an additional clarification. This is not a new way of doing business,” said James Manning of the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights. “We’re trying to help schools.”
Reproductive rights advocates say the ruling is more than just another attempt to “chip away” at Roe v. Wade. “It took just a year for the new court to overturn three decades of established constitutional law. It’s a stunning assault on women’s health and the expertise of doctors who care for them,” said Nancy Northrup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights. She offered this paraphrase of the decision: “‘We don’t take precedent seriously. This is a new day. Bring it on.'”
Indeed, many who oppose this ruling consider the decision a golden ticket for even more states to pass outright abortion bans. “This ruling is an invitation to further laws banning abortion, procedure by procedure,” says Planned Parenthood Federation of American attorney Eve Gartner, who argued Gonzales v. Planned Parenthood. “The court’s failure to adhere to past precedent is a signal that it’s willing to reconsider other precedents in this area and perhaps even Roe. There’s no doubt that legislatures around the country will be passing more and more restrictions as a result and the court in not too long will probably be forced to consider the question of whether Roe is the law of the land.”
The military surge is not having the desired effect in Iraq, but the surge in radical right appointments is working fine here at home.