Monthly Archives: February 2012

Yes Virginia, there is a state more demeaning to women than you!

You’ve probably recently heard about the Virginia ultrasound bill, but did you realize Pennsylvania has a bill pending that’s even worse? The Pennsylvania House of Representatives is poised to take up HB1077, the disingenuously titled “Women’s Right to Know Act.”  Are you ready to stop the cruel, demeaning attacks on women in Pennsylvania? Sign the petition and urge your representative to vote NO on HB 1077 and stop this demeaning and unnecessary bill from becoming law in Pennsylvania.  Click here to find your PA Representative.

 Below is a Open Letter Reposted from We’ve Had Enough PA

Dear Virginia, (CC: outraged left wing media)

Your little legislature was wrong. There is a state more demeaning to women than you. Up here across the Mason Dixon line, we’ve managed to come up with a forced ultrasound bill more cruel and medically unnecessary than yours! (It was tough, I’ll be honest.)

If our bill becomes law, women will have to wait at least 24 hours after their ultrasound before an abortion, no matter how far away they live from the provider. And here in Pennsylvania, 113 of the 203 elected state Representatives have signed on to our ultrasound bill. That’s more than your twelve by a long shot! 

Our bill FORCES the doctor to turn the ultrasound screen towards the woman’s face. Don’t worry – we avoided constitutional meddling by “allowing her” to look away. I heard you only give ‘the opportunity’ to view the ultrasound image. LAME! 

LOVE the “free ultrasound providers” bit!  We did that too, so now we can funnel women to those so-called “crisis pregnancy centers” where they can be fed state-funded, unregulated misinformation. We don’t even require that ultrasound providers have any training!

Oh and you’ll love the part about the printouts – listen to this. We’re going to make the woman take TWO printouts with her – one for her scrapbook, and the other one SHE has to bring to the doctor performing the abortion (if she hasn’t been shamed out of it at this point! LOL). 

And come on now, only civil penalties?  Our bill includes civil and criminal penalties for doctors and patients who dare defy our legislating of medicine. 

Nice try, Virginia. But you’ve got nothin’ on Pennsylvania!

Your partner in crime,

Virtue, Liberty and Independence (Unless you’re a woman)


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Filed under Abortion, Abortion Access, Pennsylvania, Reproductive Rights, Women's health

Census Bureau: Mom is Designated “Parent,” Dad is “Childcare Arrangement”

In a move that should frustrate advocates, mothers and fathers alike, the Census Bureau’s recently compiled “Who’s Minding The Kids?” report counts fathers staying home with their children as a “child care arrangement.” This puts fathers looking after their children – or what most people call parenting – in the same category as a working mother hiring a babysitter or sending her kids to day-care.

In an interview with a New York Times parenting blogger, Census Bureau representative Lynda Laughlin said, “Regardless of how much families have changed over the last 50 years women are still primarily responsible for work in the home,” adding that the Census Bureau is just trying to collect accurate data on how “designated parents” arrange care for their children while they’re at school or at work based on “gender norms.”

But many parents and advocates are finding this explanation insufficient. One blogger asks,

How hard is it to have a “designated parent” question? ‘Which parent is the designated/primary parent (i.e. the parent that provides the majority of child care)?’ That is literally one question, Census Bureau. I am sure you can ask one more question in order not to erase men who provide the primary care for their children, and not to paint fathers as glorified babysitters.

Further, the participation of fathers in the “child care arrangement” formerly known as “parenting” has been increasing rapidly since women entered the workforce, with 32% of children with working mothers being looked after full-time by their dads in 2010, as opposed to 26% in 2005. The leap from one in four fathers acting as a primary childcare provider to one in three, over the course of only five years, is absolutely significant.

But the Census Bureau undermines the good news by continuing to assign the label of “designated parent” to the woman in the house, for no statistically valid reason. It’s great to study “gender norms” and their evolution over time; it’s irresponsible to actively reinforce them in the process, and the United States’ biggest and most powerful data-collection agency should know better.

Over thirty percent of fathers are acting as primary caretakers for their children while their female partners work outside the home, and in 2012, few people doubt that many of those fathers’ daily childcare responsibilities ultimately exceed their partners. Haven’t those fathers earned at least the option of naming themselves “designated parent” when the Census Bureau inquires about childcare trends?

If the Census Bureau really wants to know “Who’s Minding The Kids?”, they should add another question to their forms and let parents volunteer the information without being pigeonholed – not to mention insulted – by old-school gendered assumptions.

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Filed under child care, Gender Discrimination, Government, Parenting

Obama Administration Ensures a Wide Range of Contraceptive Insurance Coverage, Even at Religiously-Affiliated Institutions

On January 20, 2012, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the final rule that will require most new health insurance plans under the Preventive Care package of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to cover contraceptive services, including contraceptive counseling and all Food and Drug Administration-approved contraceptive methods, without charging a deductible or co-pay by August 1, 2012.

 HHS requested comments on its interim rule on contraceptive coverage in August 2011.  The interim rule included a religious exemption for a “religious employer” that “(1) has the inculcation of religious values as its purpose; (2) primarily employs persons who share its religious tenets; (3) primarily serves persons who share its religious tenets; and (4) is a non-profit organization [under a section of Internal Revenue Code that is typically limited to houses of worship and associations of those houses of worship].”  The National Conference of Catholic Bishops lobbied heavily for a wider religious exemption, one that would deny contraceptive coverage to millions of women who receive health insurance through religiously-affiliated educational institutions, hospitals, and social services organizations.  The Obama Administration resisted this pressure and maintained the narrow definition of “religious employer.”  As a result, many religiously-affiliated non-profit employers and educational institutions will have to provide contraceptive coverage in their insurance plans.  The Administration has given these organizations an additional year to comply with the rule. 

In making the decision to maintain a narrow religious exemption to the rule, HHS recognizes the benefit of contraceptive services on women’s health, stating, “Scientists have abundant evidence that birth control has significant benefits for women and their families, is documented to significantly reduce health costs, and is the most commonly taken drug in America by young and middle-aged women.”  As the Women’s Law Project (WLP) documents in its forthcoming report, Through the Lens of Equality: Gender Bias, Health, and a New Vision for Pennsylvania’s Women, contraceptives benefit women’s health in many ways, including by preventing unintended pregnancies, treating certain health conditions such as polycystic ovarian syndrome, and, in the case of male or female condoms, reducing the risk of sexually transmitted infections.  Despite these benefits for women’s health, contraceptives are expensive, and many require an exam and prescription from a health care provider.  At the present time, contraceptives may be prohibitively expensive for many women, even for those with insurance plans because of high co-pays and deductibles. 

The HHS final rule requiring most insurance plans to cover contraceptive services will make contraceptives—and the health benefits associated with them—accessible to more American women.  The WLP would have preferred the rule to contain no exemption or an even narrower one because all women should have access to contraceptive coverage.  However, WLP applauds the Administration for resisting pressure to widen the scope of the exemption.  To thank the Administration for preventing religiously-affiliated non-profits from denying contraceptive coverage to their students and employees, call or write to HHS at:

 The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
200 Independence Avenue, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20201
Toll Free: 1-877-696-6775

*This blog is part of the #HERvotes blog carnival.  To follow HERvotes on Twitter, click here.


Filed under Contraception, Family Planning, Reproductive Rights, Women's health

Gingrich Food Stamp Remarks Reflect Common, Harmful Misconceptions

The 2012 GOP primary race has produced a lot of controversial sound bites, but perhaps the most ubiquitous in the past two weeks came from former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, when he said that if the NAACP invited him, he would “go to their convention and talk about why the African American community should demand paychecks and not be satisfied with food stamps.”

The NAACP responded almost immediately, pointing out that, “The majority of people using food stamps are not African-American, and most people using food stamps have a job,” and that although Gingrich was invited several times to the NAACP’s annual convention while he was serving as Speaker of the House, he has never attended.

Weeks later, a sad but powerful piece by The Grio allowed food stamp recipients – many of whom did not receive, or need, nutrition assistance before the recession – to share their own reactions to these remarks.

“I pay taxes. I don’t steal anything from the government.” Said Linda Miles, an African-American woman who also happens to be a veteran with a Master’s degree. While looking for a permanent job, Miles has taken an unpaid internship and become certified to work in early childhood care, and adds, “I’m not one of these people who sit on their butt and just collect a check. I’ve got a resume three pages long.”

“I’d rather work than be on food stamps, but, I mean, my body says no.” Explained Russell Johnson, who worked in refrigeration before being injured. “If I sit for too long, my back starts hurting and my leg goes numb. If I stand too long, the same old thing. And if I walk too much, my legs give out like they ain’t even there.”

Josephine Gonzales, who was employed before her pregnancy but unable to find work after giving birth, described her food assistance as “A way to survive.”

“Instead of spending the little cash I have on food, I can spend it on diapers and other things for my baby,” she said. “It’s just a small help. It’s not making our lives luxurious.”

To those familiar with the realities of poverty and food insecurity in America, that a recipient would feel compelled to explain that food stamps don’t buy a life of luxury seems a bit strange – one would think it obvious that people who receive government assistance aren’t exactly “living large.” But with his remarks about food stamps – particularly food stamps and the African-American community – Gingrich is building on the foundation President Ronald Reagan laid when he invented the “welfare queen.”

The phrase “welfare queen” has decidedly ignoble origins. During his administration, President Reagan often illustrated the need for welfare reform by telling the story of a “Chicago welfare queen” who collected over $150,000 from the government using “eighty names, thirty addresses, twelve Social Security cards, and is collecting veteran’s benefits on four non-existing deceased husbands. And she’s collecting Social Security on her cards. She’s got Medicaid, is getting food stamps, and she is collecting welfare under each of her names.” He continued to refer to this woman as a classic example of welfare abuse in America even after the press corrected him that the woman he was referring to was convicted in 1977 of using two names in order to collect $8,000.

Despite the welfare queen’s nonexistence, for decades she has been a powerful tool for stirring up middle-class resentment against government aid recipients.  Likewise, Newt Gingrich’s remarks about the value of the paycheck over the food stamp reinforce the idea that welfare recipients are accepting government aid in place of paid employment, when in reality it is most often used to supplement insufficient paychecks.

The widespread myth that people living in poverty are simply unmotivated and won’t work as long as they’re receiving government assistance, encourages Americans to support slashing safety net programs that, in actuality,  enable thousands of Americans with jobs to put food on the table for themselves and their families.

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Filed under 2012 Election, Economic Justice, Welfare, Working poor