Archive for Women’s Issues
Don’t you like a good new fashioned dust up between two biologists who you would expect to agree on most things? A recent hypothetical draws a strong reaction which draws an even more outlandish hypothetical. Biologist, author, blogger and atheist PZ Myers recently wrote in a post titled The only abortion argument that counts:
We can make all the philosophical and scientific arguments that anyone might want, but ultimately what it all reduces to is a simple question: do women have autonomous control of their bodies or not? Even if I thought embryos were conscious, aware beings writing poetry in the womb (I don’t, and they’re not), I’d have to bow out of any say in the decision the woman bearing responsibility has to make.
Which drew this reaction from Richard Dawkins:
Blogger said woman's rights over own body extend to abortion even if fetus conscious & writing poetry in womb. I profoundly disagree. 1/2
— Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) August 23, 2014
(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)
A report from the Guttmacher Institute shows how cutbacks to reproductive health services have particularly hurt poorer women. Even as the need has increased over the last decade-plus, the number of women actually receiving publicly funded assistance has fallen by 9 percent.
While public support for contraceptive services for poorer women dates back to 1970, that portion of the safety net has been failing, particularly in states that refuse to expand Medicaid as part of the Affordable Care Act, and with increasing attacks on women’s health services, writes Tara Culp-Ressler.
The issue has recently been getting worse. In the period between 2010 and 2012 alone — when attacks on publicly-funded clinics intensified — the number of poor adult women in need of contraceptive services increased by 12 percent. In Texas, where lawmakers’ crusade against abortion has undermined the entire family planning landscape over the past two years, this health care crisis is coming into sharp focus. Advocates are holding up the state as a negative example of what happens without Title X.
Michael Hiltzik points out the folly in attacking Title X reproductive health services.
In more recent years, however, congressional conservatives have had their knives out for Title X. The program was openly made a target of the right wing’s attack on Planned Parenthood, for example. The religion-based attack on ACA-mandated contraceptive services–the Hobby Lobby effect–is more of the same.
Let’s be blunt here: There is no more witless public-health position than one that targets women’s reproductive health. Preventing unwanted pregnancies pays off in multiples by reducing the burden on healthcare institutions and improving women’s work and career prospects and the health of their families.
Yet ultimately these policies are neither about economics nor religion. Which makes it even more annoying when religious business people argue that it is their rights being infringed by being required to pay for employee health care plans that include coverage for contraception.
Employment is a form of contract in which employers agree to compensate employees for their labor with a package of cash and benefits. Once those services have been rendered, the employer has incurred an enforceable debt. The money passing through the employer’s account to purchase health insurance he had contracted to pay as compensation is no longer his, but the employee’s to spend as she/he chooses. But framing it that way treats employees as equal economic partners in the employer/employee relationship. And in the new neo-feudalism, “job creators” can’t have that.
In the end, the attacks on women’s reproductive health services — as well as on labor — are not just about religion or economics, but about power. About reaffirming who’s in charge and who isn’t. As I observed at my home blog,
In every economic argument these days, notice the unstated assumption, how among both top Republicans and Democrats that the concerns of the employer, the entrepreneur — his needs, his convenience, his profitability, his confidence, his incentives — are always front and center, the primary topic of debate and of legislation. And the needs and concerns of workers without whom nothing gets done are a secondary, even tertiary concern. Because all Americans are equal, but some are more equal than others. Once you tune your ear to listen for it, you hear it everywhere.
Welcome to Orwell’s Farm.
Over at the Great Orange Satan, Ken Bernstein (aka, teacherken) beats me to something I’ve been meaning to write about. He revisits a 2012 AlterNet post by mutual friend, Sara Robinson: Why Patriarchal Men Are Utterly Petrified of Birth Control — And Why We’ll Still Be Fighting About it 100 Years From Now:
Robinson suggests 500 years from now looking back, the three great achievements of the 20th Century are likely to be the invention of the integrated circuit (without which the internet does not exist), the Moon landing (which she thinks will carry the same impact as Magellan’s circumnavigation of the globe), and
the mass availability of nearly 100% effective contraception. Far from being a mere 500-year event, we may have to go back to the invention of the wheel or the discovery of fire to find something that’s so completely disruptive to the way humans have lived for the entire duration of our remembered history.
A professional futurist, Robinson explains why men are so threatened. Since the dawn of humanity, biology limited women’s options and roles in society. And men?
They got full economic and social control over our bodies, our labor, our affections, and our futures. They got to make the rules, name the gods we would worship, and dictate the terms we would live under. In most cultures, they had the right to sex on demand within the marriage, and also to break their marriage vows with impunity — a luxury that would get women banished or killed. As long as pregnancy remained the defining fact of our lives, they got to run the whole show. The world was their party, and they had a fabulous time.
Pete singing one by his sister, Peggy. He was 94, the New York Times reports. We will miss him.
For Mr. Seeger, folk music and a sense of community were inseparable, and where he saw a community, he saw the possibility of political action.
It’s been Web 2.0 for a while now but it didn’t take social media to invent the Internet’s oldest frenemy: the troll. What makes a troll a troll? I’ll attempt to provide a commonly used definition of internet troll. But behavior of this type varies so much from context to context that it is important to remember what a wise soul once said about what makes pornography.
I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description ["hard-core pornography"]; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that.
Here is a troll “definition” or description I like. There are others.
Named for the wicked troll creatures of children’s tales, trolling is purposely sowing hatred, bigotry, racism, misogyny, or just simple bickering between others. Trolls themselves are emotionally-immature users who thrive in any environment where they are allowed to make public comments, like blog sites, news sites, discussion forums, and game chat.
That last part is key: any environment where they are allowed to make public comments. Like maybe a nationally broadcast radio show? Obviously Rush Limbaugh comes to mind when thinking about radio trolls. We can’t forget the infamous attacks on Sandra Fluke. Fortunately, Rush has had a huge drop in advertising revenue since then. But with his complete record it’s a wonder anyone would associate their brand with this troll.
But just think. The Supreme Court of the United States is going to hear a case about contraception coverage in Obamacare. This was at the heart of Sandra Fluke’s testimony for which she was treated so poorly by Rush. Hope the Supremes don’t go a-trollin’. If they do, we’ll know it when we see it.
“I really don’t get involved in social issues.” — Representative Tim Moffitt (R-Buncombe)
More video today from that August 5 realtors’ luncheon where Tim Moffitt admitted to engaging in legislative retaliation against the City of Asheville, a litigant in a pending lawsuit against the state.
In this exchange, attendee Cindy Ward asks Moffitt his thoughts on the abortion restrictions enacted by the legislature and signed by Governor McCrory.
“I really don’t get involved in social issues. At all,” Rep. Moffitt replies.
“But you vote on it [unintelligible] so you must be involved,” insists a second woman.
“I’m not involved,” Moffitt insists right back.
“Who are you representing?” Ward asks, not buying the not-so-smart-ALEC response. “If you’re not involved, who are you representing? You’re a representative.”
“Right,” says Moffitt.
“In Raleigh,” Ward adds, driving home her point.
Moffitt explains that the abortion debate in the Republican caucus is driven by the women in the caucus. He just goes along in support, because he supports the women.
Just so you know, social conservatives — and women in general — if you think you’re paying Tim Moffitt to represent you on social issues, he doesn’t consider it part of his job description.
Cindy Ward’s interview on The Jeff Messer Show (880 AM) is here. Segment starts at 25:20.
It passed the NC House today, 74-41.
Oh, and the House voted to snatch Charlotte’s airport, too.
It’s not just a war on women.
The Washington Post takes North Carolina Republican legislators to the woodshed over last week’s amendments that created the state Senate’s Sharia/abortion bill:
In pretending to promote safety, the actual accomplishment of these amendments would be to place an undue burden on women seeking abortions. Fewer clinics means less access to licensed, well-equipped providers. Where is the safety in that? These restrictions are disingenuous attempts to infringe on a woman’s ability to make constitutionally protected decisions in consultation with her doctor.
No kidding. We’ve spent days here in NC wondering how these people can sleep or look themselves in the mirror after telling the women of North Carolina that these measures are being enacted for their own protection, and do it with solemn faces and the Savior watching.
The Post notes objections about legislative process by North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R). But it remains to be seen whether McCrory will stand by a campaign pledge not to sign legislation including new restrictions on abortion access such as those in Texas and Ohio. The Post continues:
In fact, disrespect for process is a disturbing commonality in many of these proposed restrictions and further evidence of their true intent. Any law that will limit women’s access to abortion and to much other health care deserves a public hearing. Honesty about the true motivation of these laws would be welcome, too.
As North Carolina tries to nail down a budget, it’s honesty more than money that is in short supply in Raleigh.
The day after, Rachel Maddow reports:
In a surprise move last night, North Carolina Senate Republicans amended a bill introduced to ban Sharia law and inserted language that would force closure of all but one of the state’s abortion clinics. A House staffer reported that there was “no sign of this bill until barely 2 hours before the vote took place.”
Even as the Texas state legislature was back in session to again debate the restrictive abortion bill defeated there last week, the new language introduced in North Carolina would force Planned Parenthood to close all its clinics in the state, said Sen. Martin Nesbitt, D-Buncombe, the Senate Minority Leader during debate.