Category Archives: Women's issues

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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