Friday, February 29, 2008

Virgina Cuts Funds for Planned Parenthood

I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings, particularly on what should be a national holiday, but there is some grim news out my home state, Virginia, which can't be ignored. As the Washington Post notes, the Virginia State Senate voted this week to:
...cut off state funding to Planned Parenthood of Virginia because it offers abortions, an action that could endanger hundreds of thousands of dollars in state aid for women's health-care programs.
This loss is partially due to the betrayal of one man, Sen. Charles J. Colgan, a Democrat from Prince William County whose vote for the measure "... resulted in 20 to 20 tie, which was broken by Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R), who voted for the restrictions." If you live in Colgan's district, feel free to give him a ring and let him know that his decision to cut state funding of Planned Parenthood hurts women, youths, and low-income couples since the state funds were being used to "...provide low- cost gynecological care, cancer screenings, STI testing and treatment, and birth control to women, families and teens in Virginia" and "...for programs that [Planned Parenthood] operates at juvenile correction facilities to teach pregnancy prevention." Good job, Senator - way to stand-up for family values.

Perhaps Planned Parenthood states it best in an email sent to members today, "Sometimes legislators can lose sight of how their political maneuvering impacts people's lives." There is some hope for Virginians, though, since Gov. Tim Kaine (D) might still "...try to remove the amendment after the final budget lands on his desk next month." Best of luck, Gov., we're rooting for you!

Clinton and Obama - Good Choices for Women

In this almost uniformly information-free, sound-bite-loaded campaign season, Erica Barnett has challenged the media 'no-facts-required' paradigm and written an informative article for RH Reality Check comparing Clinton and Obama's track records with regards to their support of pro-woman legislation. Here's a taste:
As First Lady, [Sen. Clinton] helped pass the Family and Medical Leave Act, which requires employers to provide unpaid leave to care for newborn babies or family members, and helped found the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancies, which set and achieved a goal of reducing teen pregnancies by one third. As senator, Clinton led the fight, in a hostile Republican-dominated Congress, to make emergency contraception available over the counter... Currently, women make just 77 cents for every dollar earned by men. To help address this inequity, Clinton sponsored the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would help prevent pay discrimination against women and give women tools to fight for pay equity. She cosponsored legislation to add the Equal Rights Amendment to the US constitution. And she has been a strong proponent of real sex education, sponsoring legislation (along with Obama) that would replace failed "abstinence-only" sex ed with comprehensive, medically accurate curricula...

In the Illinois state senate, Obama opposed the Illinois Born Alive Infants Protection Act, which would have defined a fetus as a child, saying it would "essentially bar abortions"; voted against a statewide ban on "partial-birth abortion"; and supported legislation requiring insurance companies to cover all FDA-approved contraceptives. As a US senator, he cosponsored, along with Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, legislation that would restore birth control discounts for low-income and college women. He also cosponsored (along with Clinton) the Freedom of Choice Act, which would codify Roe v. Wade as the law of the land. When South Dakota passed a law banning all abortions, Obama was the only US senator to help raise money to repeal the ban. He sponsored legislation that would effectively overturn a recent Supreme Court decision that curtails the ability of women and racial minorities to challenge past pay discrimination. He introduced the Responsible Fathers and Healthy Families Act, which would crack down on fathers who don't pay child support, fund support services for fathers and families, and support domestic violence prevention. And he cosponsored renewal of the Violence Against Women Act, which funds domestic-violence prevention efforts.
And there's more where that came from - the whole article really is a must-read for all voters, and particularly for those in states with upcoming primaries.

(image via The Boston Globe)

Happy Birthday, Mom!

It is February 29th, which means that it's a special day that only comes around every four years - my mommy's birthday! I know that everyone probably thinks that their own mom is wonderful, but mine really is. She is smart, compassionate, funny, brave, and exactly the sort of feminist I hope to be. So, happy birthday, Mom!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Being a Superpower Means... Only Having to Say You're Sorry.

In response to a 38-year-old US marine's alleged rape of a 14-year-old girl on the island of Okinawa, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has made a visit to Japan in order to ensure the enraged community that "We just regret deeply that this happened."

With those words, Secretary Rice succinctly (and unwittingly) summed up what is perhaps our greatest flaw - when one of the representatives of our nation does something heinous on foreign soil, we just regret it.

Update: As the ever-vigilant Feministing writers note, the accused Marine has now been released. It appears that the family has dropped charges, despite his confession that he physically assaulted the girl - forcing her to kiss him.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

How Much is Too Little: When and How Should We Protest?

Tonight I was lucky enough to catch Terry Gross's interview with Director Brett Morgen about his new film, Chicago 10, which documents the story of anti-war protesters charged with conspiracy and incitement to riot in 1968 (listen to the whole interview here). Near the end of the interview, Morgen mentions that he sees the film as being deeply involved with the issues we face today - war, attacks on our civil liberties, and the framing of any protest as unpatriotic. The purpose of the film, according to its director, is to prompt the audience to ask itself, "Are we doing enough?"

This was not a question I was comfortable directing at myself, so I snuggled-up with my laptop and prepared to ignore any calls to action that Morgen's comments might prompt within the recesses of my mind.

Unfortunately for my well-nursed sense of complacency, one of the first stories to catch my eye was this BBC piece about the incredible women protesting for greater protection from the law for lesbians across the African continent:
Lesbians from across Africa have called on African governments to stop treating homosexuals like criminals.
The demand came as about 75 activists gathered at a conference in Maputo, the capital of Mozambique... According to the International Gay and Lesbian Association, homosexuality is outlawed in 38 African countries.
The bravery of these women stuck me as extraordinary. To protest on the behalf of lesbians takes strength in almost any community, but to do so in communities where violence against women and gays alike is common-placed, where both groups are afforded little, if any, protection by the law - such heroism is inspiring.

So, for the second time this evening I find myself forced into considering whether I am doing enough to challenge the injustices I see. Fortunately, publicly criticizing the government is still a much safer act in my country than it is in many parts of the world, so if I can't muster the sort of courage shown by the women protesting in Mozambique, I might still be able to work for change on issues that are important. Yet, my question remains - how should we best protest the injustices faced by members of our community? What methods are the most likely to bring about positive change?

Quick Hit: Can the HPV Vaccine Protect Women from Breast Cancer?

There is an interesting discussion over at Aetiology of whether or not Gardasil, which vaccinates women against the 4 types of human papillomavirus "believed to be responsible for 70% of all cervical cancers," might help protect against breast cancer as well. It is a particularly timely piece, considering that Kentucky's State House passed a bill yesterday that would require that all girls be vaccinated against HPV. Also, you might want to pop by the comments at Aetiology for more interesting conversation on the role of viruses in cancer as well as a debate on the proper managing of trolls. Happy reading!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Huckabee Love Egg People!

Perhaps you might remember (like it was yesterday) when we mentioned the stupid initiatives in Georgia and California that seek to define eggs as people. Well, Mike Huckabee, presidential candidate and serious contender in the race for US King of Crazy, has:
"...endorsed a proposed Colorado Human Life Amendment that would define personhood as a fertilized egg... [The] initiative, if approved by voters in November, would extend state constitutional protections to every fertilized egg, guaranteeing the right to life, liberty, equality of justice and due process of law." (emphasis mine)
While we have previously speculated that the passage of Eggs People Amendments would make a new hit-series entitled Miscarriage Scene Investigators an eventual inevitability, Pam Spaulding of Pandagon mentions some additional complications that might arise if Colorado's Human Life Amendment is passed:

* For instance, will a post-coitus woman be able to drive in a HOV lane because she may be carrying a fertilized egg?...
* Can an impregnated woman be punished for poor eating habits, or consuming alcohol or artificial sweeteners?
* Is the boyfriend/husband an accomplice to a crime if he drives her to the abortion clinic?
* Can a woman claim her fetus as a tax deduction?
* For couples who fertilize multiple eggs for in vitro, are they guilty of murder if the unused eggs are discarded?...

We know Pastor Hutch and friends want to have control over every womb, but if we take this thinking to its logical conclusion, the state would need to know when a man spilled his seed in a situation where creating a fetus citizen is a possibility.

And remember, any cell can now be made into a fetus - so who is protecting the rights of all the flakes of dandruff currently yearning for their chance at personhood?

(image via The Trail)

UPDATE: LOL Cat takes my point of view...

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Because Blobs of Goo are People Too!

Georgia is the latest state to test the boundaries of how much crazy we'll let slide before we riot, following in Colorado's footsteps by pushing to pass a state constitutional amendment "...that would grant "personhood" status to... fertilized eggs." Yup, the authors of Georgia's House Resolution 536 want the law to make no distinction between an egg that has no brain and only a 40% chance of eventually developing into an independent life form, and you. While we Georgians were granted a brief reprieve last Wednesday when a "House subcommittee voted 4-3 to table the amendment, 'effectively killing the measure for this year,'" you can bet your oral contraception that our state's nutters (and we have more than our fair share) will resurrect the measure next year.

Yeah, you read it right - 4-3. Creepy, huh?

As a panel of doctors testifying against the amendment pointed out during the hearing on House Resolution 536, this measure:
...could ban most forms of contraceptives, which obstetrician Michael Rabinowitz noted that 95 percent of American women have used. An embryologist said that the majority of fertilized embryos do not even develop to term due to natural causes, and many doctors added that no medical test can show the existence of an embryo for a week after fertilization.
Let's stop for a moment and consider how a bill like this might impact women's rights and our legal system. First of all, calling an egg a person and giving the egg all the legal rights of a person is not just aimed at stopping all abortions, but would also "threaten oral and emergency contraception, IUDs, and in vitro fertilization clinics." It would also open the door for criminal investigations of any miscarriage. Might you have possibly exceeded the recommended dose of caffeine during the first few weeks of pregnancy? Perhaps you should be charged with reckless endangerment or manslaughter. Yeah, I know it seems absurd, but calling an egg a person is also absurd and, as Virginians will remember, criminal investigations of women who suffer natural miscarriages has been recommended by crazy lawmakers before.

(Image via Advanced Fertility Clinic of Chicago)

Friday, February 22, 2008

That's Ms. Pac-Man, Feminist Extraordinaire

For everyone looking for some Friday Feminist Cute, a documentary about the incredible Ms. Pac-Man:

(yeah, the video is down there, under our hero's portrait. I just couldn't stand to see the face of Ann Coulter juxtaposed with the word cute):

(via Feminist Gamers)

Monday, February 18, 2008

Miss the Middle Ages? Visit Kansas!

In case it came as a shock to anyone that Huckabee won Kansas, kindly refer to the latest happenings in that state. St. Mary's Academy outside of Topeka, Kansas dismissed a woman referee just minutes before she was due to referee a boy's game. Why? Because, "Campbell, as a woman, could not be put in a position of authority over boys because of the academy's beliefs."


St. Mary's Academy follows the statutes of the Society of St. Pius X. One such statute states that, "schools, truly free and unfettered, able to bestow on youth a thoroughly Christian education, shall be fostered and, if need be, founded by the members of the Society. From these will come vocations and Christian homes". That's just fabulous. There are actual schools out there creating a whole new generation of men who will fully expect the women in their lives to simply submit.

The irony is that there are women teachers at this academy. So, what is this dismissal really all about? I'm only seeing gender discrimination at the moment...that and a bit of religious craziness, but mostly discrimination.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Wal-Mart is Run by Men

It has to be in order to get away with the current pre-Superbowl ad. Have you seen it? I couldn't locate it online, but I am referring to the one where the camera focuses on the kitchen where women are opening bag upon bag and box upon box of supplies all intended to provide the men with sustenance while they watch the Big Game. What makes it worse, if you ask me, is that the women are providing this service with as much glee as the men do when they are watching the game.

I have been beaten to this rant by the following post. So, I am relegated to mere supporter here of the following comment, "The women cook. The men watch football. And the women serve the men." Truly, I have a hard time taking away much else from this commercial. There are a lot of things that burn me up, but nothing tends to do so much quicker than the assumption that women do not appreciate sports. Or, if we do, it is only if it is somehow connected to our preferred sport of serving men in their endeavors.

Give me a break.

As a woman who loves sports, here is what we are going to be doing for the Big Game and Wal-Mart should take note of this. We are going to go to our favorite pub, watch the game, and enjoy the fact that the food we are eating and the beer we are drinking are being served to us by men. In fact, even better...we might leave a feminist magazine on the bar when we leave!

Friday, February 1, 2008

We're Moving On Up...

... up the street, that is.

Yes, yes... we've gotten your "Where are you?" emails and comments. But we're in the process of moving the Second Innocence headquarters (also commonly referred to as "the apartment") to a new location, so this weekend and the first part of next week might be a bit slow too. We promise that we will resume regular posting in the first part of February March, as soon as we get the internets working at the new pad.