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Monday, December 7, 2009


So. I have been trying desperately to find a self-defense class that does not blame women or purport that simply arming us with "hold your keys like this and claw his eyes out!!" will end the pattern of violence against women that seems to be everywhere around us and realize that violence against women is MORE than just starts with the emotional and verbal abuse that many women feel like they have to live with.

After reading an entry by one of my fave female bloggers and being thoroughly disgusted, I went on a rampage and found this self-defense org that deals with all aspects of violence against women. I REALLY REALLY REALLY wanna bring Defend Yourself here, so check them out!!

-xenia :)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Reproductive Wrongs

So the DBK didn't feel like printing my article, which sucks, but here it is- a couple of weeks old, but not something to be forgotten. The article wasn't printed in part because I said the amendment takes away "access" to abortion services and not "insurance coverage" of abortion services, but if you can't afford to pay for an abortion because your insurance no longer covers it (or god forbid you receive insurance through a public option or Medicaid), you sure as hell won't be able to access it. Touchy journalists, what can you do.

There is more hope now because Stupak-like language is apparently not in the Senate bill, but that doesn't mean the Stupak-Pitts amendment can't find its way into the final health care bill that comes out of Congress.

On November 7, reproductive rights and women’s health care in America took a saddening and devastating hit with the passing of the Stupak-Pitts Amendment to the House's health care reform bill, sponsored by Representative Bart Stupak (D-MI) and co-sponsored by Representative Joe Pitts (R-PA). This amendment ensures that women who receive health insurance coverage in the new health insurance exchange system would not have insurance coverage of abortion services if they receive any affordability tax credits, or government subsidies to fund their insurance plan. This legislation also effectively imposes a ban on abortion coverage within private insurance companies that enter the exchange, potentially taking away existing coverage from women who have plans already covering the procedure, as 85% of private insurance plans do. The House’s health care reform bill passed through as an almost entirely Democratic effort, with 39 Democrats and every Republican except 1 voting against it, demonstrating that most Democrats supported some effort to provide quality, comprehensive, and affordable health care to many Americans. In the Stupak-Pitts Amendment, however, 64 Democrats, 62 of which were men, sided with every Republican except 1 (who voted Present) to single out women's health care and reproductive health as different and less valid than other aspects of heath care.

In addition to devaluing women's health, this amendment is an overtly classist attempt to make abortion a luxury available only to wealthier women who are able to fund the procedure out of pocket and without insurance coverage. This is nothing new- access to reproductive health services has been varied depending on one’s socio-economic status for numerous years, due to the Hyde Amendment of 1976 that bars the use of federal funds to pay for abortion except in cases of rape, incest, or danger to the mother’s life. But the Stupak-Pitts Amendment goes even farther; it not only bars coverage of abortion services for women receiving insurance coverage through the public option, but also for anyone who has even a portion of their health insurance plan funded through affordability tax credits. In an attempt to lure in the millions of formerly uinsured Americans that will be able to afford private health insurance through affordability tax credits, private insurers will be disuaded from offering coverage of abortion.

Although abortion is a contested issue and something many individuals oppose on moral and religious grounds, it remains a legal procedure and the most common minor surgical procedure in the U.S. As Lois Capps (D-CA) pointed out, the Stupak-Pitts Amendment is the only language in the House's health care reform bill that imposes restrictions on coverage of a procedure and rations care. So what is the Republican and “Conservadem” solution for women who want coverage of reproductive health? An “abortion rider,” which equates to asking women to invest in the likelihood of having an unintended and unwanted pregnancy. Anti-choice members of Congress know that few women will buy this coverage, and that it would be too expensive for many low and middle-to-low income women, and thus abortion riders will become less and less available within the health insurance exchange.

While abortion remains legal, we are now one step closer to women’s reproductive rights and health care being restored to its pre Roe v. Wade days, where exercising agency over one’s body and reproduction meant risking social stigma, disease, infection, and death. By passing the Stupak-Pitts Amendment, we as a country do shame to the nearly 70,000 women that die every year from illegal, botched abortions because they are not fortunate enough to live in a county that values them as human beings.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Rachel Maddow on the "bologna" (baloney?) lies of the Stupak-Pitts Amendment

BURN begins @ about 2 minutes. I'm not a fan of Gov. Rendell saying Democrats would be "dumb and unfeeling" to compromise health care reform over the Stupak Amendment, but at least there's some good clarification here as to why Stupak is much, much worse than the Hyde Amendment and why the Capps Amendment should have been enough.


The Abortion Monster! O NOES!
Women on Waves @ Feminists for Choice

"Every 8 minutes somewhere in the world a woman dies needless as a result of illegal, unsafe abortion. In response to this violation of womens human rights and medical need, Women on Waves sails to countries where abortion is illegal. This is done at the invitation of local women's organizations. With the use of a ship, early medical abortions can be provided safely, professionally and legally. Women on Waves aims to prevent unsafe abortions and empower women to exercise their human rights to physical and mental autonomy, by combining free healthcare services and sexual education with advocacy. Women on Waves is a non-profit organization."

I'm all about cool, progressive people getting shit done on boats, and also about providing reproductive health services to women worldwide. Woo!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

What does "pro-choice" mean? Is "pro-abortion" a bad word?

The word pro-choice, and pro-choice rhetoric in general, has always interested me. In my opinion, being pro-choice means that you support a woman's right to have complete control over her body, procreative choices, and reproductive health. The philosophy of pro-choice goes beyond just reproductive rights to include access to contraceptives/birth control, sexual education and literacy, freedom from sexual assault/relationship violence, bodily autonomy, and individual liberties (not to mention women's liberation!).

But it's always fascinated me how distanced pro-choice rhetroic can get from abortion, and indeed, many pro-choice advocates do not consider themselves pro-abortion. Pro-abortion can mean many things to many people, as can pro-choice, but does pro-abortion necessarily have to have a negative connotation? In the same way that "pro-choice" means that you support a wide range of reproductive choices (following through with pregancies to term, abortion, adoption, etc), can "pro-abortion" not have similar and more broad connotations, i.e., you support the basic freedom and choice of being able to have an abortion, but do not see it as the right or ideal solution for every woman in every situation?

In society and American culture, however, it would be inconceivable to imagine the reappropriation of the term "pro-abortion" to mean something other than supporting abortion over other reproductive options. Don't believe me? Google "pro-abortion" and "pro-choice" and see what pops up.

I disgress though- my main point to this whole rant is the continuum of the pro-choice movement and while acknowledging the validity of a heterogeneity of opinions, I see the harm in purportedly pro-choice individuals allowing for reproductive rights to be chipped away little by little. For example, there are numerous different opinions within the pro-choice movement on whether parental notification for minors should exist, if there should be limits or "caps" on how many abortions a woman can get, etc. etc. Case in point- look at Obama's recent comments about the Stupak-Pitts Amendment. This is someone who has been on record saying he supports a woman's right to choose and also someone who's gotten an 100% pro-choice voting rating from organizations like NARAL, yet he tells us that the Stupak-Pitts Amendment is no big deal and is just continuing the policy of the Hyde Amendment (which is not true).

At a time when women are being told to "take one for the team" in order for health care reform to pass, and not worry themselves over the chipping away of abortion rights, I think it's important to re-examine what being pro-choice (and pro-abortion, if you've ever identified as that) means and where it's appropriate to draw the line or compromise (if ever).

Stupak Amendment & Miscarriages

Will the Stupak Amendment Affect Insurance Coverage for Miscarriages? I Think So @ RHrealitycheck

"Abortion is a very broad term. The pro-life contingent would like you to think it only applies to selfish, irresponsible women, murdering babies out of fear of inconvenience. That's a caricature they have invented to push their own agenda. Many of the women who seek out abortions are women who have been raped, who have learned that their child could not survive, have learned that giving birth could physically and permanently harm them. Or, thanks to newer and vaguer language, women who have already lost the life they were carrying, and need intervention to save their own."

Monday, November 9, 2009

"Roman Times" (Originally titled "Rape is not Negotiable," which was wayyy better)

"Roman Times" @ DBK Online

When did rape become negotiable and the legitimacy of sexual assault claims become a point of contention?

It seems like a ludicrous notion, but the prevalence of this pro-rape mentality becomes clear by observing the numerous and growing examples of rape denial, apologism and ignorance.

Last month, director and actor Roman Polanski was arrested for drugging and raping a 13-year-old child in 1977, a sentence he escaped for more than 30 years by fleeing the country. Seems like a no-brainer, right? He raped a child, fled the country, failed to pay his victim in an out-of-court settlement when she sued him in 1988 and denied his victim any justice for more than three decades. But 138 individuals in the film industry, including big names like Woody Allen and Martin Scorcese, signed a petition against his arrest. The media coverage focused on Polanski’s experience as a Holocaust victim, which does not take away from the reality of his crime. The Feminist Majority Foundation, an otherwise laudable organization, discredited the importance of the incident because it happened many years ago and Polanski has had a tough life.

How do we settle sexual assault claims made against companies funded by government defense contracts? These companies control whether their employees can bring cases of sexual assault to court and may force victims to resolve their allegations only in private arbitration.

Jamie Leigh Jones, an employee of Halliburton/KBR in Baghdad was gang raped, locked in a shipping container and threatened with job loss if she reported the incident to her company in 2005. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) proposed an amendment to the 2010 Defense Appropriations Bill that would withhold defense contracts from companies that prohibit employees from reporting their sexual assaults and bringing their cases to court. A vote against this would essentially be a vote supporting rape, so who in their right mind would vote against this?

Oh, that’s right, 30 senators — all who happen to be white, male Republicans. It is incredible to see this kind of victim-blaming among our elected officials in Congress, a place where legislators are increasingly willing to overlook grave human rights injustices to push their own agenda and political ideology.

Rape culture is cultivated when these things occur and people do not take sexual assault and violence seriously. One in six women and one in 33 men are sexually assaulted in their lifetime, and college-aged women are four times more likely to be assaulted, with 73 percent of victims knowing their assailants. We can no longer stand back idly while our elected officials, our celebrities whom we fund when we buy a movie ticket and our larger culture that we help define normalizes and excuses sexualized violence.

Find the contact information of the legislators who voted against Sen. Franken’s amendment and let them know you do not support their actions. Support organizations that work with victims of sexual assault and violence. Have discussions with friends, family, professors and classmates about rape culture and the unacceptability of sexual assault.

As individuals helping to shape the future of our world, we have the power to emphasize that rape is always a crime and never negotiable.