Tag Archives: Women’s health

Truth in Advertising: Trump and Kasich

15 Mar
Gov. Kasich measures how moderate he actually is

Gov. Kasich measures how moderate he actually is

While there is really very little good I have to say about Donald Trump, the sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot, I will say he does provide truth in advertising. It is exceedingly — even painfully — clear how dangerous he is individually and for the country. That being said, I think it is equally important to understand how dangerous the stealth candidate John Kasich is, as we look at what he has done to Ohio. Kasich is far from being the moderate he would like people to think he is, which means there is NO moderate choice from the GOP candidates.

Sadly, even NPR consistently refers to Kasich as “moderate,” I don’t think that word means what they think it means. Just because he does not appear or behave like he just graduated from clown college as Trump, Cruz, and Rubio do, he is nonetheless a far right extremist.  Let us not forget his stand on marriage equality — Obergefell v. Kasich which then became Obergefell v. Hodges — where Kasich showed just how homophobic he could be. Terminally ill John Arthur, who suffered from ALS, wanted the Ohio Registrar to identify his partner, James Obergefell, as his surviving spouse on his death certificate based on their marriage in Maryland. Governor Kasich then deemed it necessary to define marriage as an institution between one man and one woman and refused to acknowledge the marriage.

The governor takes an equally dangerous view on letting women have any say in their own health choices. Since taking office in 2011, he has enacted 16 measures that limit women’s access to reproductive health care. Some are aggressively anti-choice, like the so-called “late term” ban and a statewide gag order barring rape crisis counselors from making abortion referals. He has also used abortion rights as a tool to limit access to general reproductive health care, such as stripping millions of family planning dollars from Planned Parenthood. While Kasich has been governor, the number of Ohio abortion providers has been cut by 50% and funding for reproductive health care for women has dwindled.

The fact that Kasich doesn’t outright deny the science of climate change and “remains open” to “some options” on immigration does not make him moderate. Those vague statements simply mean that he’s willing to spout platitudes and smirk sagely while his primary competitors froth at the mouth and chew the furniture, and disgustingly compare penis size, because apparently that is now where we are at as a culture in the United States. Unlike the Donald or the two junior Senators, Kasich has a long history of executive actions to analyze, and all of those actions prove just prove what a sexist, homophobic racist he is, and how dangerous a Kasich presidency would be.

National Women’s History Month 2016

1 Mar

Women's HistoryMarch 1 marks the beginning of the celebration of National Women’s History Month. My dear friend Molly Murphy MacGregor led the pioneering effort to recognize how women have impacted, shaped, and influenced our world. Molly — always very humble — is the co-founder of the National Women’s History Project (NWHP) and a key force behind why we now celebrate Women’s History Month in the United States. The not insignificant move forward started in 1980, when President Jimmy Carter issued the first Presidential Proclamation declaring the Week of March 8th 1980 as National Women’s History Week.  Finally in 1987, Congress declared March as National Women’s History Month in perpetuity.

Sadly, we still see enormous resistance to treating women equally and equitably. We have no further than to look at the current discourse presented by the GOP presidential candidates to see how far we have yet to go regarding the equitable and equal treatment of women. Never have I witnessed such anti-woman rhetoric in the last 50 years. The false and fictitious allegations brought against PlannedParenthood by misogynist David Daleiden, were nothing less than disgraceful. All subsequent investigations found no evidence of wrongdoing by Planned Parenthood. We also had to witness Kansas (R) Sen. Mitch Holmes defending a dress code for women. The dominant narrative continues to exert power over women and continues to create barriers.

We also need to look at issues of race, gender identity, and sexual orientation and all of the intersections there in when looking at all of the insidious ways women are still discriminated against.

We have much to celebrate and much work yet to accomplish.

Soulless Supreme Court Sponsors Corporate Christian Religion

7 Jul

Roberts CourtThe United States is still reeling from the Supreme Court decision last Monday, July 1 — now a day living in infamy. Disappointing, but not wholly surprising to see the Koch Bros. purchased Justices: Alito, Roberts, Thomas, Scalia, and Kennedy imposing their collective Catholic male dominated perspective on a nation that purportedly honors separation of church and state.  Our SCOTUS is starting to feel and look more like a branch of the Papacy pre-Vatican II, rather than part of a system of checks and balances among the three branches of American Government.

This infamous decision by the Catholic Five is not just about access to birth control — it is directly about women’s health and who gets to determine women’s health.  This decision also reinforces the never accurate and consistently sexist idea that sex is solely for the purpose of procreation and must never be considered for recreation by consenting adults. It sends a clear message that women are here for the sole purpose to produce children — they are objects owned by their husbands.  Yes, I am astounded that we are even having this conversation in 2014.  What will the next decision be? Shall the Catholic Five on the Supreme Court designate a police force to police every bedroom to ensure people are only have sex for the purposes of procreation?

What happened to separation of church and state? What will be the ripple effects of this monumental disaster of a decision? Do we now have a set precedent where corporations can limit services or goods to the LGBTQ community or the Muslim community? The intersections of race, class, gender, and religions other than Christianity are apparently now targeted officially by the highest court in the land. The Hobby Lobby decision shores up any potential cracks in the Citizens United decision where we witnessed how corporations can purchase their very own supreme court justices.

Fortunately, we have the sage voice of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. If you have not read her dissent, I encourage you to read her wise words and warnings. We also have an ally in President Obama, who is dedicated to using executive orders wherever possible to minimize the damage. However much the Teahadists may bemoan his actions, we must remember that the Presidency is part of the three-party system. The Executive branch can — and at times MUST — check the judiciary when it over-reaches!

Don’t let the complacent, corporate cogs at the major news outlets fool you. This is no “narrow” decision! If corporations have free speech and religion rights, what else might they do? Do they have the right to form “well-ordered” militias? If one religious sect can impose its will on a common good like health care — based on their “firmly held” but scientifically false beliefs — what else might lower courts decide they can do? With the death of DOMA we saw how quickly lower courts will adopt a major SCOTUS ruling and effect a sea change in state laws. Is Hobby Lobby the next wave? If so, this will be a tsunami of hate and bigotry.

Sadly, we now see the floodgate of religious hate sanctioned and legalized with the Wheaton College injunction.

CALL TO ACTION: The Justices are in it for life. Little can be changed on the Judicial front for now. We need Congressional action to reverse Citizens United and Hobby Lobby, restoring the corporate veil and re-affirming that corporations are NOT people. That won’t happen in Boehner’s house or if the GOP takes over the Senate. Vote wisely this November. Targeted populations, like women, African Americans, LGBTQ people, and other intentionally marginalized populations who tend not to vote in mid-terms must mobilize to send the message: We will not stand for this!

Bigot of the Week Award, January 24: Sarah Palin

24 Jan

sarah-palin-finger-485x322Wow! I’m not quite sure where to even start here but I over heard a member of the KKK saying to one of his fellow Klan members: “Palin is really racist.” On MLK Day, a day one hopes people are doing some reflection about equality, equity, and new ways to eradicate racism and hate, Sarah Palin decided to exert her white power and privilege, showing just how racist she really is.

Palin addressed President Obama on her Facebook page with:

Happy MLK, Jr. Day!

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Mr. President, in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. and all who commit to ending any racial divide, no more playing the race card.

Not only does Palin manage to desecrate Dr. King’s sentiments, but she tells President Obama and all black people in the United States that racism must be over, so “quit saying you have experienced racism.” I can’t even imagine a more encompassing way to dishonor people’s history and narratives — to be completely ignorant of both history and current events. If possible, Palin has sunk further into the mire of the rancid tea leaves.  Her obliviousness speaks to overwhelming power and privilege.  Even just writing about her, I feel as though I will need a Silkwood Shower afterward. I will recommend that Palin do some reading about racism in the United States.

I need to thank my dear friend, Jennifer Carey for this week’s Dishonorable Mention.  Republican congressional candidate Susanne Atanus continues to prove how very charm free she really is. Atanus, who is running for Representative in Illinois’ 9th congressional district covering Chicago’s Far North Side and the North Shore suburbs, is working hard to corner the market on hate and fear mongering. Atanus feels quite comfortable speaking for God, as she wants everyone to know God controls the weather, and that autism and dementia are his punishments for the gay rights movement and abortions. Well that seems completely logical to me.

Atanus stated:

God is angry. We are provoking him with abortions and same-sex marriage and civil unions,” she added, blaming natural disasters like tornadoes and diseases including autism and dementia on recent advances in the LGBT movement. “Same-sex activity is going to increase AIDS. If it’s in our military it will weaken our military. We need to respect God.

I left rather speechless here. All I can say is that it might be a good idea for Atanus and Palin to get married, for they make quite the couple.

Bigot of the Week Award: July 12, Cleveland Right to Life

12 Jul
Bigot of the Week

Bigot of the Week

Wow! This week’s BWA goes to Cleveland Right to Life, who have shown appalling dedication to HATE.  In a move that shows how intertwined misogyny and homophobia are, these Clevelanders have extended their mission from working against women’s health to include opposing marriage equality.  This is what I would call a BIG BALL OF HATE.  Those of you in the greater Cleveland area may need to take cover.  I suspect this type of intense hate is enough to catch the Cuyahoga River on fire again.

Shall we also talk about how this move translates into not only homophobia, misogyny, and classism, but it also ties directly into racism?  These Cleveland Right to Lifers are targeting the most vulnerable and marginalized populations and the impact is far more severe if you are a woman of color or a gay person of color.

The announcement of this expansion of bigotry came as the group responded to Sen. Rob Portman’s (R – OH) announcement that he supported marriage equality because his son is gay. explaining their need to hate more people, Cleveland Right to Life officials observed that marriage equality, euthanasia, and abortion are all

contrary to the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God … every human life is created by the sexual union of male and female.

God forbid a parent should carefully consider policy that impacts his child and then make an informed, compassionate decision. NO! Jesus said no abortions and hate the gays and hate women! Well, they’re sure he meant to, anyway…

Roe v. Wade: Celebrating 40 Years

22 Jan

roe40thstampOn January 22, 1973, the United States Supreme Court finally ruled that women in this country could legally govern their own bodies with the landmark ruling in Roe v. Wade.  Sadly, 40 years later, we are witnessing a vicious attack on women’s health with people like Todd Akin and Richard Mourdoch and their ilk working to take full control over women’s bodies.

Another concrete example of recent monstrous misogyny is Republican Gov. Phil Bryant of Mississippi. His stated goal is to shut down the last clinic in the state that provides safe and legal abortions. On Thursday, Bryant said:

My goal, of course, is to shut it down. Now, we’ll follow the laws. The bill is in the courts now, related to the physicians and their association with a hospital. But, certainly, if I had the power to do so legally, I’d do so tomorrow.

Here we see some serious white male privilege at work. Bryant and all of the anti-choice folk seem far more interested in protecting the fetus while demonstrating complete disdain once the child is born.  Furthermore, we have a serious class issue at hand.  For women of financial resources, the law becomes immaterial, for they can travel someplace to have a safe and legal abortion.  What about women without resources? Why do Bryant and his ilk get to decide what is best for women in our country? Those who are anti-choice should be free to live their own lives according to their beliefs; they do not, however, possess the right to impose their beliefs on others through abusive practices.

The power of the courts to clarify rights and interpret law is vital. We should celebrate significant decisions like Roe v. Wade or Brown v. Board of Education. But we live in a participatory democracy and must remain vigilant. On many issues there will be disagreements and those who feel their views should triumph over established rights. As we take time to celebrate great decisions, we must also strive to ensure that the fruits of those decisions remain available to all Americans, regardless of class, location, race, or any other factor.

Bigot of the Week: January 11, Reps. Marsha Blackburn and Diane Black of Tennessee

11 Jan
Bigots of the Week

Bigots of the Week

An elephant may never forget but it appears that many Republican members of Congress never learn. Two members of the House of Representatives, both women from Tennessee, have decided to renew the war on women and attack Planned Parenthood on the first day of the new Congress–always sad to see internalized misogyny. Ignoring the election’s clear message in support of policies that promote women’s health and the fact that the vast majority of Americans support Planned Parenthood for its breadth of services, Rep. Marsha Blackburn and Rep. Diane Black have both introduced bills to block use of government funds for organizations that provide abortions as even a small part of their operations.

Rep. Blackburn is the Vice Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the committee with jurisdiction over the issue. She lifted a failed bill from the last Congress written by former Rep. Mike Pence (R – IN). (He went on to be elected Governor of Indiana, the home of Richard Mourdock. Not a woman-friendly state…) The bill — clearly targeting Planned Parenthood — would restrict the use of Title X money. Says Blackburn,

As a woman, I believe America deserves better than abortion.

Rep. Black purloined the same Pence-penned poison pill and put it forth herself. Even being from the same state and the same party, these two couldn’t communicate around a single bill, apparently. In the name of scoring Tea points, they both ignore the wide range of services most health care providers offer. They ignore the fact that without Planned Parenthood millions of women would have little or no access to critical health services and that the impact would be particularly hard on minorities, the poor, and rural women — all populations present in large numbers in Tennessee. How pathetic to see such self-loathing women pursue such a hateful agenda.

Dishonorable mention this week comes courtesy of my friend Jennifer Carey, who pointed me to some additional misogyny. Odious evangelist Pat Robertson managed to outdo himself in a broadcast this week. Responding to a question from a youth who was concerned that his father was spending too much time online, Robertson laid the blame firmly on the mother.

It may be your mom isn’t as sweet as you think she is. She may be kind of hard-nosed […] It’s easy to blame the mother! You always have to keep that spark of love alive. It just isn’t something to just lie there. ‘Well, I’m married to him so he’s got to take me slatternly looking.’ You’ve got to fix yourself up, look pretty.

Just when you thought he couldn’t sink any lower, Robertson manages to astound again; this man is one big ball of crazy and hate.

One of the Voices of Social Justice: Author Susan Carlton

8 Aug

Author Susan Carlton

Welcome to the next installment of SJFA’s Voices of Social Justice Series.  I first met my dear friend Susan nearly a decade ago.  I had the great honor of teaching her daughter Jane as a 6th grader.  Jane is all grown up now — amazing that we are now the same age. I was immediately drawn to Susan and her family because of the wonderful energy they all have.  Susan has such a sense of activism and social justice, fighting for equality for all.  We see this in her latest historical novel for young adults called Love and Haight, which has been nominated for both an Amelia Bloomer Award and a YALSA Award .  Susan was kind enough to visit with me about the book. What motivated you to write Love and Haight?

It started out—well I always wanted to be a hippie, but I was born a little too late.  I had a long time fascination about what it would be like to be a hippie.  It started as a valentine to that time and place. I grew up in San Francisco.  I thought about what it would be like to be  a 17-year-old girl who was pregnant but did not want to be pregnant and it takes place before Roe v. Wade. The novel is more about making adult choices than about abortion and deciding what choices are right for her.

I know you graduated from Lewis and Clark College, but went to Reed College as well.  Reed is known for being exceedingly progressive.  Is Dr. Reed in the novel named for Reed college because he is so progressive?

Reed is the school and the progressive doctor both, but I  totally created him from my mind.  I graduated from Lewis and Clark in communications and political science. I took dance classes at Reed.

Did you intentionally anthropomorphize the different medical facilities?

Yes, they do take on the feel of actual characters.  As a woman you enter a clinic and it does become a kind of home.  The way it looks, the way it feels, the way it smells make such a huge difference on how you feel about the place.  I spent a great deal of time in hospitals when my daughter was quite sick.  I had time to think and reflect about these places as more than just a cipher—these are very important places.

Was there a particular part of the book that was very difficult to write? (Spoiler Alert! You may want to skip the next paragraph if you have not read the book already.)

I found the idea of how women had to jump through so many hoops to get the permission from a committee — that this was going on in my lifetime.  The most difficult part to write about was the actual procedure itself.  There are very few books that actually talk about abortion.  I thought if I’m going to talk about her having an abortion it was important to make it real.

Had you contemplated an alternate ending?

Initially it was Chloe’s mother that was having the abortion and Chloe was looking at issues around her sexuality.  Eventually, I felt that since I’m throwing a hot potato into the mix, I should just address the 17-year-old having an abortion.  I wanted it to end with you are not judged by a single decision.  Even if it is difficult,  you can make a hard decision and still have a happy life [Susan says emphatically].

When asked about women like Michelle Bachmann and Sarah Palin who are so anti-woman, Susan replied that: 

What is so interesting is that we are here 40 years later and things are so much the same. It is not just women like Bachmann and Palin — it is our culture.  There is a movie I saw about five years ago called Knocked Up and they don’t even use the word abortion.  The word abortion is so toxic in our culture. It is not just the extremists, it is also just mainstream.  For Chloe, she had people who supported her, even her mother was not judgmental.  What good can come of shame? It is so counterproductive.  It seems that what many people need is acceptance and celebration and not shaming.

I could not agree more.  Shaming does nothing helpful or productive.  Susan, thank you for your strong voice and for your literature and activism. I only hope that Love and Haight becomes mandatory reading in schools across the country.  I strongly encourage everyone to buy a copy of Love and Haight.  Click here to read a great book review from the Examiner.

Affordable Care Act Helping Women

4 Aug

Thank you to my friend and LGBT ally, Jennifer Carey, for inspiring me to write this article.  During this Republican War on Women, and for those ill informed detractors of the Affordable  Care Act, it behooves everyone to know some facts on how this act actually significantly helps women. Of course for those of us who actually took the time to read the ACA, none of this comes as a big surprise.

Scientific American, points out that as of August 1 the Affordable  Care Act requires private insurance companies to provide the following for free:

  • approved contraceptives (per the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s recommended list, which includes major oral contraceptives as well as sterilization procedures) as well as contraceptive counseling;
  • well-woman visits (those annual trips in to the OB/GYN to get everything checked out);
  • breastfeeding supplies (such as breast pumps), support and counseling;
  • STI (sexually transmitted infection) counseling—including HIV testing and counseling as well as genetic HPV (human papillomaviurs) testing for women 30 and older;
  • screening for gestational diabetes (a condition which can increase the risk for complications and developing type 2 diabetes later as well as metabolic challenges for the child);
  • and domestic violence screening and counseling.

It’s about time, given that during the Bush Administration Viagra was provided for free.

Kathleen Sebelius, the Director of Health and Human Services sums it up best:

These historic guidelines are based on science and existing literature and will help ensure women get the preventive health benefits they need.

These preventive measures for women’s health (many already afforded to men) will save millions of dollars in the long run in health care costs.  If you are pro-woman and pro-woman’s health, I strongly encourage you to think about whom you will vote for this November.  Do you really want someone who has now stated that he will overturn Roe v. Wade and gut Planned Parenthood and work against civil rights of LGBT folk? Or would you prefer a President who has made it clear that women’s health issues cannot be ignored and has taken a strong stand for civil rights?

Happy Birthday, Eleanor Smeal

30 Jul

Eleanor Smeal, known for her pioneering work during the Second Wave Feminist Movement, continues to carve out her legacy for civil rights in the Third Wave Feminist Movement. She is the president and founder of the Feminist Majority Foundation.  Smeal also served as president of the National Organization for Women (NOW) twice.  Thus far her legacy is most impressive and Americans owe her a great debt of gratitude.

Everyone should know who Eleanor Smeal is!  It was Smeal who was responsible for the passage of such landmark cases as the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (a woman cannot be fired for being pregnant), Equal Credit Act, Civil Rights Restoration Act, Violence Against Women Act, Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (and yet we still see women being attacked as they try to enter health clinics that merely provide abortions), and the Civil Rights Act of 1991, an extension of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

What I love about Smeal is her authenticity.  She practices “the personal is political,” and all of us reap the benefits from her dedication to civil rights. Happy Birthday, Eleanor.

Happy Birthday to another hero of mine: Pat Schroeder, Colorado Congressional Representative (1973-97), who promoted the Family and Medical Leave Act.  Sadly, Schroeder was taken to task for showing emotion and shedding tears–the hypocrisy and irony is not lost on TSM readers who have had to endure the gratuitous praise John (Mock Turtle) Boehner receives every time he cries in public.

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