Monthly Archives: February 2011

Interesting Perspectives from Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists

According to today’s digital version of The Telegraph newspaper in Great Britain, British doctors and gynecologists are being urged to by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists to warn pregnant women of the potential complications and risks of pregnancy, and frankly discussing the relative safety of abortion.

This is an interesting development in women’s health policy, as the media has nearly always emphasized the potential psychological influence an abortion may have on a woman, though many women report that they experience little or no psychological repercussions from the procedure. Predictably, religious and political conservatives are in an uproar (check the comments section for an example), but it will be interesting to see if the United States follows Great Britain’s lead.


Women Have a Right to Talk About….Everything

Here’s an interesting piece from NPR host Michel Martin.  Using the example of a letter of complaint recently received from a listener, she briefly addresses a problem many women still struggle with on a daily basis: The idea that what men say, think, do or find interesting in is inherently interesting to everyone, while what women say, think, do or find interesting is inherently not of interest to a larger public audience (i.e. one that includes men.)

These sort of issues, though “less important” than many of the more dire and pressing issues Martin mentions, are really of great interest to me. As a fairly privileged, white, American woman who came of age in the 1990s I have been lucky to escape relatively unscathed by many of the uglier faces of misogyny. Nonetheless I’ve definitely struggled with the persistence of the  many ways my culture, and even the most progressive of my close friends and family, often fall into the trap of thinking that what women say or do is less interesting, or less mainstream that what men say or do. And I’m not even into fashion.

Is this something that is getting better? How do you address it in your experiences?

~Kim Fleming

Sexual Harrasmant in Egypt

There have been many changes in the Egyptian street along with the revolution; however, there was one change that occurred as soon as the revolution started, and that is the decrease of sexual harassment in public gatherings (e.g. through groping of course).  Sarah Ismail-a protester-explains how in protests, demonstrations, and similar gatherings, women had to prepare for by dressing in baggy clothes and sticking around in groups.  Fortunately, they didn’t worry about that problem in the Jan 25th revolution.  Harassment through groping or stalking by phone and following on the streets has been an increasing problem the past two or three years.

Afghan’s Widows

There are an estimated 2 million widows in Afghanistan because of war that ends up killing their husbands.  Women are also widowed because of low life expectancy and early marriage that leave women widowed in their 20s and 30s.  When women in Afghanistan who become widows do not come out into public spaces, so a unit of military women has formed in order to help widows start businesses and get jobs.  The female military unit has formed because the Afghan widows cannot talk to the male military soldiers.  Communities have been suspicions of the motives of the female military units, but there have been some success; for example, a woman named Saragama is being trained to become a police officer that will give her more money than working as a cleaner.  The military is hoping that by empowering women that Afghanistan will become a more stable country.

Ronnie Miller

Shift in Marriage Ideal Does Not Equal Shift from Traditional Gendered Ones

Feminist author Jessica Valenti discusses how the American woman is still being subjected to a unequal division of labor in the home – after the birth of a child. She cites how in recent years, American couples are increasingly marrying for “love” as opposed to “traditional reasons” and may have egalitarian marriages, until they become parents. Once they have a child it seems that the traditional gender roles seem to rear their ugly heads once more, leaving the woman the lions share of the labor at home – in addition to being discriminated against in the workplace (even more so now as a mother – the U.S. being the only industrialized country without paid maternity leave). These sobering facts and more are presented in a sardonic humor typical of Valenti, leaving us with an important piece of information with the appropriate aftertaste of the ridiculousness of these issues that for some reason still plague women into the 21st century. -Lenna Jones

Rape victim was ‘inviting’ so perpetrator let off without jail any time–rape-victim-inviting-so-no-jail-116801578.html

In Manitoba, Canada recently, a convicted rapist was brought to court again for raping a young woman. He was let off with only a curfew and a letter of apology because the girl was wearing a tube top, high heels, makeup, and had been drinking. The judge said the man acted in an inconsiderate manner after receiving signals from the girl that “sex was in the air”. – Leila McInnis

Secular argument against gay marriage

Hey everyone,

I’ve heard several positions from the religious community regarding opposition to gay marriage.  I’ve heard that “marriage is supposed to be between a man and a women,” “God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve,” “it’s just unnatural,” etc.  However, I haven’t really heard much secular arguments on the issue, and I was curious as to what that defense might actually be.

I came across this page, however, claiming a secular argument.  It would appear that the primary position represented therein revolves around procreation; gay marriages cannot produce children, and therefore, should not be allowed.

I would argue, however, that homosexual relationships could actually serve as a non-violent means of population control.  I just saw a news article the other day mentioning that in 40 years, Earth’s population has the potential to jump from 7 billion to 9 billion; that’s 2 BILLION extra people in 40 years!  The article mentioned that such a population boom can result in all sorts of problems, primarily stemming from lack of adequate food and/or resources.

Procreation (or at least the presence of procreation), I would therefore hold, is not exactly an issue.  Rather, too much procreation is, and it would seem logical to me that if you feel that homosexual marriages might stunt birth rate, then great, allow them!  If we actually are facing such a huge population surge, why not encourage marriages that might reduce procreation, and thereby offer a means of population control that just prevents children from being born, rather than one that kills them afterward (such as would be the case in an global food shortage resulting from overpopulation)?

Just thought I’d share.


The Roles of Women in Nigerian Political Campaigns

In Nigeria women are usually the strongest political supporters during campaigns, but when women try to run for a political office they do not gain support.  When women decide to run for political positions they are viewed as less feminine, because political positions in Nigeria are a man’s domain.  Ms. Saraki is running for political office now, and the opposition group is looking to discredit her by posting a picture of a nude woman with Ms. Saraki face superimposed onto it in conservative areas such as in Muslim communities.  Another example about how women political candidates are treated is seen by Ms. Jibril who has run for the presidency unsuccessfully four times, and this last time she gain one vote.  The women political candidates in Nigeria are questioning why the international aid to help elect women political leaders around the world is not going to the Nigerian women in their campaigns.

Ronnie Miller

More Info on Abortion in U.S. Prisons

Abortion Rights for Prisoners
Historical Background – – key cases
Griswold v. Connecticut – – 381 US 479 (1965)
Invalidated a law prohibiting contraception by married couples

–Eisenstadt v. Baird – – 405 US 438 (1972)
Extended right to use contraception to unmarried people
–Right to privacy is not a marital right
–Equal protection of the laws – -extends w/out regard to marital status
–Roe v. Wade – – 410 US 413 (1973)
Right to privacy extended to abortion decisions
Limitations (balancing rights of state/mother/fetus)
–right to abortion was not seen as absolute
–1st trimester abortions are “free of interference by state”
–After 1st trimester, states can “regulate the abortion procedure to the extent that regulation reasonably relates to the preservation and protection of maternal health”
–Planned Parenthood v. Casey – – 505 US 833, 873 (1992)
Rejected Trimester Framework – – undue burden standard
Dr. must tell patient about consequences to fetus
Upheld mandatory 24 hour waiting period between decision and abortion procedure
Struck down spousal notification requirement
Upheld parental consent for minors
Upheld record keeping requirement
Women do not need to explain their refusal to inform spouse of abortions
Estelle v. Gamble – – 429 US 97 (1976)
–Case involved J. W. Gamble’s Back injury in TDOC
–He argued that he got inadequate medical treatment
–Supreme Court did not grant relief to Gamble
–Court set two-fold criteria for inadequate medical care
–8th Amendment violations must demonstrate
1. That prisoner has a “serious medical need”
–E.g., severed ear, allergic reaction to penicillin, leg surgery
2. That prison officials acted with “deliberate indifference”
–E.g., no liability if official acted w/out “malice” or if denial of medical treatment was due to a “good faith mistake” (accidents do not count)
Turner v. Safley – – 482 US 78 (1987) – marital case
–A balancing test to determine if prisoner’s rights can be significantly curtailed
–“When a prison regulation impinges on inmates’ constitutional rights, the regulation is valid if it is reasonably related to legitimate penological interests”
1. Valid/rational connection between regulation & government interests to be served
2. Whether prisoner has alternative means to exercise rights
3. Whether accommodating right will have serious consequences on guards, prisoners, or allocation of prison resources in general
4. Whether there are alternative means to accommodate prisoners’ rights
Monmouth County Corr. Institution Inmates v. Lanzaro – – 486 US 1006 (1988)
–This case involves the issue of elective abortion
–Estelle v. Gamble standard applied to elective abortions
Pregnancy seen as serious medical need
Turner v. Safley – – standard applies to elective abortions
Denial or delay of elective abortion is not reasonably related to any legitimate penological interests
–No logical connection between abortion and security
–No alternative means for inmate to obtain abortion
–Providing abortion will not adversely impact prison resources (saves $)
–Thus, this case combined Estelle & Turner to hold that the right to an elective abortion is a constitutional right that may not be impinged upon by prison regulation (County must pay)
More recent issues
–Pregnant inmates are to be counseled on availability of abortions – – required
–Wardens are required to offer medical, religious, and social counseling to aid in prisoner’s decision making
–Prisoners need only to inform unit managers of her desire to seek abortions and arrangements are made (no 24 hr wait period) with a mandate for the state to coordinate all care
–If financially unable or unwilling to pay for abortion, county must still pay as per Monmouth Case
Policy Implications
–1. Administratively, prisons find it easier to deal with prison populations that are uncomplicated by pregnancies
No need for better nutrition, maternal clothing, prenatal care, medical care for labor/delivery
–2. Most prisons do not allow mothers and babies to remain together – – goes against polices that support intact families
–3. There may be an unspoken policy that encourages prisoners to have abortions – – prisoners and their babies may be seen as undesirables
4. Abortions potentially saves $ (no AFDC, Medicaid,…)
Courtesy of the Department of Criminal Justice at East Carolina University
-Lenna Jones

Focus Placed on Education as UN Women’s Commission Begins Annual Session

The UN Commission on the Status of Women’s  annual session kicked off today with opening remarks that address the necessity of educating women and girls as a tool of economic and personal empowerment. This is a recurrent theme throughout the literature regarding women’s issues worldwide, and I look forward to seeing what progress is made over the next two weeks as the session continues.

Of particular interest is the creation of the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), which is an organization that aims to bring women into the fold in regards to decision-making at the policy level around the world.

Posted by Jennifer O’Neill

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