Category Archives: Women's issues

Pro-Life?

In a free market economy, if you can’t afford it you can’t have it. Oh, if you are on the margin, you can easily find a predatory lender who will give you an opportunity to mortgage yourself six feet under, but that won’t mean you have anything. That means you will never have anything. The market-driven corporate economy draws the bottom line. It applies to everything in the current right-wing conservative mindset except children. You have to have children — because life belongs to God. Unfortunately, health care belongs to the insurance companies, and that is why government can’t step in with any regulation or, their God forbid, a national health care system.
That is why we are reading this story in The New York Times today by Erik Echolm:

In Turnabout, Infant Deaths Climb in South
HOLLANDALE, Miss. ? For decades, Mississippi and neighboring states with large black populations and expanses of enduring poverty made steady progress in reducing infant death. But, in what health experts call an ominous portent, progress has stalled and in recent years the death rate has risen in Mississippi and several other states.
The setbacks have raised questions about the impact of cuts in welfare and Medicaid and of poor access to doctors, and, many doctors say, the growing epidemics of obesity, diabetes and hypertension among potential mothers, some of whom tip the scales here at 300 to 400 pounds….
To the shock of Mississippi officials, who in 2004 had seen the infant mortality rate ? defined as deaths by the age of 1 year per thousand live births ? fall to 9.7, the rate jumped sharply in 2005, to 11.4. The national average in 2003, the last year for which data have been compiled, was 6.9. Smaller rises also occurred in 2005 in Alabama, North Carolina and Tennessee. Louisiana and South Carolina saw rises in 2004 and have not yet reported on 2005.

The article notes that481 babies died in 2005, 65 more than in 2004.
There is more to being supportive of human life than just denying women elective abortions. Somewhere we have to find the means to take care of human beings who are already breathing.
The Neocon bubble-heads have subverted the American Dream of doing well to a corporate economy none of us wanted. Currently wealth distribution in the United States has the profile of a despotic third world country, not a civilized society in which life is actually valued.
Now if you are ready to say, “Well, if those people would just exercise more and eat less, they would be more healthy and their children would live,” take a walk through a grocery store and price your market basket with fresh produce, lean meat, and low-glycemic Ezekiel bread. Poor people can’t eat right, can’t afford a health club, and don’t have a doctor. Most of the poor don’t have lawns and gardens to tend for exercise. We don’t keep poor rural or urban neighborhoods safe for evening walks or jogging the way we do gated communities. So if you are ready to say “Well, if those people …” first wake up and take a look around you.
Pro-life for my money is pro national health care, pro safe neighborhoods, pro public education, and against saying “those people.”

Don’t look now

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.”

Over at Salon.com is a good analysis of another assault on women?s health Supreme Court upholds ban on “partial-birth” abortion By Lynn Harris:

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.

Say What?

I am sure that it would be interesting to know exactly when churches stopped putting their meeting times and some words of welcome on their signboards and started making up puns and enigmatic messages. It would also be interesting to know why they switched over.
I travel a particular area of Interstate 81 frequently, and once stopped to photograph a church signboard message that read “JESUS – HIS BLOOD’S FOR YOU.” This week that sign said “FREE TRIP TO HEAVEN – DETAILS INSIDE.” Then there was the church near my home that put up for the week before Mother’s Day “ITS MOTHERS DAY, SO HAVE A NICE DAY ALL YOU MOTHERS.”
Today, caught without my camera, I stopped to write down the words from another church signboard. It says “LIBERTY LIES MORE IN THE CHOICE MADE THAN IN THE RIGHT TO MAKE THE CHOICE.”
All I can figure about this statement is that these folks need a dictionary. And a history book or a newspaper might help as well.

International Women’s Day

In 1987 when Congress passed the National Women’s History Month Resolution naming March as Women’s History Month, I was working in a resource center for women, and part of my work was keeping up with women’s issues. That center closed in summer of 1992 due to lack of funding, and I moved on to other employment. I would never have known that Wednesday was International Women’s Day if my friend Julia hadn’t sent around the message! Here are the significant links she shared, starting with the ever-popular QUIZ, which I have to say I flunked:

  • International Women’s Day quiz that I didn’t do so well on.
  • National Women’s History Project
  • facts on women’s issues
  • history of many current reproductive rights debates
  • information and statistics on sexual and reproductive health nation-wide and state by state
    This site has volumes of information, including this note on Medicaid:

    Medicaid plays a critical role for women in general, and for reproductive-age women in particular. In 2003, 7.1 million women of reproductive age (15 to 44), 11.5% of that group, looked to Medicaid for their care, including family planning. For poor women, the proportion is even higher: 36.6% of women of reproductive age in families with incomes below the federal poverty line ($15,260 for a family of three) were enrolled in Medicaid in 2003 (see Figure 1).3 Women are more
    likely to qualify for Medicaid than men because women tend to be poorer and tend to meet the program’s strict eligibility criteria; seven in 10 Medicaid beneficiaries older than age 14 are women.

  • read the works of feminist authors and artists
  • Women’s Division of the United Methodist Church Follow the link for the Anti-Hate Program (links on the left of the splash page) and find the link “Where do hate crimes occur?” That click will bring you to a U.S. map which is again clickable by state. The map leads to a collection of hate crime reports in that state, gathered infomally by women:

    Since 1998, United Methodist Women have been tracking hate crimes in their state by sending in newspaper clippings to the Women’s Division.
    Within the 311 total articles received, 152 separate hate incidents were identified. 137 of these incidents have been categorized as alleged hate crimes by the media or law enforcement. The other cases, entitled suspected hate crimes, deal with incidents where the nature of the crime is not reported by the media and/or law enforcement to be a hate crime though the possibility remains. For example, the Kokomo case that should be classified as a hate crime, but is classified as a suicide by law enforcement and the mainstream media is thus found in the suspected hate crimes category.

I am glad there is a day designated to remind us of the realities of women’s lives and the work that women do, and of course someone to remind us when that day comes around…

Those little feet

For women particularly, and particularly in regard to reproductive rights, the personal is the political.
Last night I went to a baby shower, a small affair with just a week’s planning, and there I was at a baby shower in a church fellowship hall and the only advocate of choice in the room. You’d think I would use this opportunity to show that a liberal, as ornery as we are, can for once relax and join in the celebration and not make a political opportunity out of what should be a heartfelt celebration of the continuance of life.
I am proud to say I managed to do so, in spite of hearing comments about home schooling to avoid the lawless public schools and hearing how the church in which most of the people present are or plan to be ministers has cut health and retirement benefits to ministers.
I even said “thank you” right at the end, when a young woman that I held as a baby and loved since she was an infant was passing out the little packets of Hershey’s Hugs and Hershey’s Kisses (hugs and kisses from the baby) all done up in little pink bags with wire ties and cute little attachments – miniature plastic hands, bottles, rattles, etc. She stopped in front of me and searched through the bundles, found one with a miniature set of plastic feet, and handed it to me. “This one is especially for you,” she said.
Here are four facts about the little feet:
Fact 1. The miniature feet are the discrete symbol of the Right To Life nuts. I only call them nuts because that is also a fact. If you respond with “Oh, how cute,” they will tell you that the feet are the exact size of the feet of a three-month fetus.
Fact 2. The feet are not the exact size of the feet of a three-month fetus. There is variation in size at all stages of human development, and this set of feet is a bit larger than the little silver pair that another nut tried to give me about a year ago. A double negative does not make a positive, and wrong twice does not produce right.
Fact 3. The little feet referenced by the symbol when they are 6 inches long and attached to a runny nose and a smart mouth are still entitled to life, including shoes, a warm and loving place to put themselves up at night, and a chance to learn (good schools) and grow (medical care).
Fact 4. The person making a political opportunity out of a celebratory occasion was not me.
Here are four facts about women’s right to choose:
Fact 1. The bumper sticker is wrong. It is a choice before it is a baby. Those of us who support the woman’s right to choose believe that a woman should be one of the primaries involved in making the choice. The pro-life movement believes that legislators, lawyers, and courts should choose.
Fact 2. The US abortion rate is higher than the abortion rate in countries that have lower poverty rates, universal medical care, and free access to abortion on demand.
Fact 3. The US abortion rate is higher than the abortion rate in countries that do not make sex between consenting adults a criminal act or tell their children that they will go to Hell for eternity if they don’t get married before they have sex, as the (apparent) majority of people do in the United States.
Fact 4. Women are crazy about babies and will risk their lives and fortunes to have babies. Only women who perceive themselves in desperate circumstances consider abortion. Desperate circumstances originate from ignorance, poverty, shame, fear, helplessness, and hopelessness. Maybe we could look at our political choices and do something about ignorance, poverty, shame, fear, helplessness, and hopelessness.
I’ll keep these little feet, thank you. I’ll carry my 10x magnifier from Edmunds Scientific in my purse and I’ll say “Oh, how cute.” Then when I get the “exact size” line I’ll get out my little glass and ask how big the feet have to get before they become subject to abandonment, poverty, hunger, unemployment, denial of medical services, prosecution as an adult, the death penalty. Maybe there is an exact size for each of these things, and we can tell exactly who has a right to how much life based on the size of their feet. I could get some tinted overlays and ask about color as well.
Thanks for the feet. I’ll keep them
I love you. This baby we are expecting will be your niece as you are mine. She will grow to be a woman like you who deserves the right to choose. I believe it is her birthright.

McKnight Homicide Conviction

I have been reading about the McKnight case in which the US Supreme Court on Monday, October 6, 2003, refused without comment to hear an appeal of Regina McKnight’s homicide conviction. McKnight was convicted of murder and sentenced to 12 years in prison by South Carolina courts under a 1992 child abuse and neglect law that the court interpreted to include a viable fetus. McKnight was prosecuted “after drugs were found in the system of her stillborn daughter.”

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