Monthly Archives: December 2008

Obama’s Choice of anti-LGBT Pastor Draws Fire

Members of the LGBT community across the nation have been expressing outrage at President-Elect Obama’s choice of Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at his inauguration. Mr. Warren heads a megachurch in California and has been a strong opponent of equality for gays and lesbians, going as far as to equate homosexuality with incest. He is also a vocal opponent of reproductive freedom.

In an open letter to Obama, the Human Rights Campaign called this move “a genuine blow to LGBT Americans,” further saying that

Rev. Warren cannot name a single theological issue that he and vehemently anti-gay theologian James Dobson disagree on.  Rev. Warren is not a moderate pastor who is trying to bring all sides together. Instead, Rev. Warren has often played the role of general in the cultural war waged against LGBT Americans, many of whom also share a strong tradition of religion and faith.

The full text of the Human Rights Campaign letter is available here. The Washington Post story on the reaction to this choice is available here.

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Filed under 2008 Election, Democracy, LGBT

Bush Enacts Anti-Abortion Regulation

The Bush administration has enacted the Provider Conscience Regulation we blogged about in the past. This policy allows a wide group of medical personnel to refuse providing any medical service to which they object on moral grounds. But even before the Bush administration enacted the regulation, the Obama transition team has started figuring out a way to undo these and other anti-abortion measures that resulted from the Bush presidency. The Wall Street Journal reported that

Decisions that the new administration will weigh include: whether to cut funding for sexual abstinence programs; whether to increase funding for comprehensive sex education programs that include discussion of birth control; whether to allow federal health plans to pay for abortions; and whether to overturn regulations such as one that makes fetuses eligible for health-care coverage under the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Read the full WSJ story here. The New York Times story about the enacted regulations is available here. We previously blogged about Obama’s pledge to reverse the Global Gag rule here.

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Filed under 2008 Election, Abortion, Health insurance, Politics, Reproductive Rights, Women's health

FDA Advisory Panel Approves New Female Condom

The Food and Drug Administration’s advisory panel voted 15-0 last week to approve sales of a new female condom in the United States. The new condom is quieter, made of softer material, and will most likely be less expensive than the current female condom on the market, the FC. According to drugstore.com, a package of 5 FC female condoms costs approximately $18.

Condoms are an extremely effective way to protect against the spread of HIV/AIDS. As we blogged about on World AIDS Day, women are the fastest-growing group of new AIDS patients in the U.S. Another woman-controlled option for safer sex is a great step forward, and we hope the FDA quickly approves the widespread sale of the new female condom.

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Filed under Contraception, HIV/AIDS, Women's health

Vatican Perpetuates Misinformation about Abortion

Last week the Vatican issued a sweeping treatise on bioethics (in PDF). In the document, in addition to condemning abortion, it took aim at the morning-after pill, IUDs and RU-486, saying that these too can result in abortions. RU-486 can, indeed, be used to induce abortions, but the morning-after pill and IUDs are contraceptives – they work to prevent unintended pregnancies. We are dismayed to see the Vatican perpetuate scientifically unsupported myths.  The New York Times wrote about it here, and the Chicago Tribune here.

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Filed under Abortion, Reproductive Rights, Women's health

Anti-choice activist still spreading misinformation

Earlier, we blogged about Ross Douthat’s op-ed in the New York Times contending that the anti-choice activists are not out of touch with mainstream Americans, which we exposed as a misrepresentation of the very radical goals of the movement. We also blogged about anti-choice activists’ sudden concern for the economy as they renewed their perpetual call for the government to stop giving grants to Planned Parenthood to prevent unplanned pregnancies, treat sexually transmitted infections, screen patients for cancer, or educate teens about healthy sexuality.

Well, it appears that Mr. Douthat is at it again, with a blog post on the Atlantic’s website, complaining about Planned Parenthood counting each service they provide as – get this – separate services, and that even though abortions represent only 3% of Planned Parenthood’s services, it still means thousands of abortions each year. He then proceeds to compare Planned Parenthood and the pro-choice movement to Hezbollah.

Let’s start with the fact that each service is a separate service. A pregnancy test is not the same service as a pelvic exam, and obtaining a prescription for birth control is not the same as being treated for chlamydia. People like Mr. Douthat want to combine services together so that when Planned Parenthood releases reports on what services they’re providing, the percentage attributed to abortion services will increase. They will then use this information to demonize Planned Parenthood and other health clinics.

Secondly, even though 3% of Planned Parenthood’s services represent thousands of abortions, that means that 97% of their services are for millions of women and men who need other reproductive health care. With the state of the health care system being what it is, where, exactly, would those people go if the government withdrew its grants to Planned Parenthood and the organization lost fully one-third of its annual funding?

And as for comparing Planned Parenthood and the pro-choice movement to Hezbollah, Mr. Douthat is incredibly out of line. Last time we checked, the pro-choice activists weren’t the ones threatening to kill clinic doctors or inciting violence outside of clinics.  The pro-choice community simply believes in providing information and options to every person so that she or he can decide what is best for their particular situation. It’s interesting that a movement of information, options, and acceptance is what Mr. Douthat rails against so frequently.

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Filed under Contraception, Health insurance, Reproductive Rights, Women's health

V is for Victory

Does this video remind you of conditions at your school? Do you believe that your school isn’t treating boys and girls equally when it comes to athletics?

The Women’s Law Project is partnering with organizations across the country on a campaign to achieve gender equity in athletic programs for girls in grades 7 through 12.

As part of V is for Victory…and so is IX, the Women’s Law Project will work with student athletes, parents, school administrators and coaches to help them take a greater role in making gender equity in athletics a reality in their schools.

Check out what the Women’s Law Project has accomplished and what we are doing to make gender equity in athletics a reality in our schools.

Also visit the V is for Victory website to read about the law and use the checklist to help you see if your school is giving equal treatment to girls on the playing fields, in the locker rooms and on the teams.

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Filed under Education, Equality, Girls, Sports, Title IX

75th Woman Goes to the House of Representatives

Election Day 2008 guaranteed that more women than ever will serve in the 111th U.S. Congress, and on Dec. 6, Mary Jo Kilroy of Ohio claimed the right to join their ranks. Kilroy, a Democrat, was in a race too-close-to-call until provisional ballots were counted in the 15th District. She replaces Deborah Pryce, a Republican who did not seek re-election, and her victory brings the number of women in the House to 75 – 58 Democrats and 17 Republicans – four more women than the record set in the 110th Congress.

In analyzing this year’s congressional races, the Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP) at Rutgers University said that though there were not record-high numbers of women running, more nominees were positioned for winnable seats, rather than serving their parties as “sacrificial lambs.” Seventeen women – 13 Democrats and 4 Republicans – were to serve in the U.S. Senate when the next Congress convenes in January, a gain of one more woman senator. One of those seats belongs to Hillary Clinton, and will be up for grabs in January as the senator moves into her new role as Secretary of State in the Obama Administration.

Despite gains at the federal level, numbers of women in statewide government are expected to drop, though final election tallies are not yet in, according to the CAWP.

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Filed under 2008 Election, Democracy, Politics

Economic Conditions Worsen for Philadelphia Women

A new report written by Women’s Way, the country’s oldest and largest women’s funding federation, reveals stagnant socioeconomic standing and worsening conditions for women in the greater Philadelphia area.

The report is the 2008 update to its signature research report, A Change of Pace: Accelerating Women’s Progress. Today’s Philadelphia Inquirer story on the report is available here.

The Keystone Research Center conducted a similar study about the widening gender gap in Pennsylvania, and we blogged about it here.

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Filed under Employment, Equal pay, Philadelphia

Progress is Stalled for Women in the Corporate World

A study conducted by Catalyst, a nonprofit that promotes opportunities for women in business, revealed that women in 2008 made no significant gains in achieving more top U.S. business jobs. Women also did not make gains in becoming board directors, corporate officers or top earners at Fortune 500 companies. Women currently make up only 15.1 percent of board directors, and percentage of top earners in 2008 who were women is a meager 6.2 percent. The Chicago Tribune recently ran a story that supported these findings, reporting that female executives are losing ground at Chicago’s top firms.

This news comes after a Pennsylvania study revealed the gender wage gap growing in this state (we blogged about it here). Reuters story on the study is available here. Full results of the boards of directors study are available here (in PDF format), and the report on corporate officers and top wage earners is here (also in PDF format).

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Filed under Employment, Equal pay, Equality

Anti-choice activists want to increase the number of abortions

The Wall Street Journal reports that anti-choice activists have renewed their call for federal, state and local governments to stop granting money to Planned Parenthood. This is nothing new. However, they do have a new reason for why the government should contribute to increasing the number of unplanned pregnancies in the United States:

Abortion opponents are pressing state and local governments to stop sending taxpayer dollars to Planned Parenthood, arguing that the nonprofit group has plenty of cash and shouldn’t be granted scarce public funds at a time of economic crisis.

We have previously reported on the fact that women pay more for the exact same health coverage as men, health insurance companies often don’t cover contraception in their prescription plans, and that plans to revive the economy aren’t yet reflecting an investment in the industries in which most women are employed. If women aren’t receiving quality, low-cost reproductive health care at places like Planned Parenthood during this economic downturn, it is a near-certainty that the unplanned pregnancy rate will increase – the complete opposite of the professed goal of anti-choice groups.

And the services that Planned Parenthood provides with government funds aren’t even for abortions. (The Hyde Amendment has a hand in this.) The services provide millions of women and men across the country with free or low-cost contraception, sex education, and annual gynecological exams, among other things. Government funds account for fully one-third of Planned Parenthood’s budget. If this funding were taken away, our neighbors and friends would suffer needlessly and not only be more vulnerable to unplanned pregnancies, but also reduced access to STI screenings, cervical cancer tests, or sex education.

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Filed under Contraception, Health insurance, Planned Parenthood, Pregnancy, Wall Street Journal