Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Discuss: Wave of bills to limit abortions advance in states nationwide
NEW YORK (AP) — Dozens of bills are advancing through statehouses nationwide that would put an array of new obstacles — legal, financial and psychological — in the paths of women seeking abortions.
The tactics vary: mandatory sonograms and anti-abortion counseling, sweeping limits on insurance coverage, bans on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. To abortion-rights activists, they add up to the biggest political threat since the Roe v. Wade decision of 1973 that legalized abortion nationwide.
"It's just this total onslaught," said Elizabeth Nash, who tracks state legislation for the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive-health research organization that supports abortion rights.
What's different this year is not the raw number of anti-abortion bills, but the fact that many of the toughest, most substantive measures have a good chance of passage due to gains by conservative Republicans in last year's legislative and gubernatorial elections. On Tuesday, South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard signed into law a bill that would impose a longest-in-the-nation waiting period of three days before women could have an abortion — and also require them to undergo counseling at pregnancy help centers that discourage abortions.
"We're seeing an unprecedented level of bills that would have a serious impact on women's access to abortion services that very possibly could become law," said Rachel Sussman, senior policy analyst for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
On the other side, anti-abortion strategists such as Mary Spaulding Balch of the National Right to Life Committee have been scrambling to keep up with legislative developments: "Until the bills get on the governors' desks, it's premature to claim victory. But it's moving faster than it has in previous years. ... We're very pleased with the progress thus far."
In a number of states, lawmakers are considering bills that would ban elective abortions after 20 or 21 weeks of pregnancy. These measures are modeled after a law approved last year in Nebraska that was based on the disputed premise that a fetus can feel pain after 20 weeks.
The Idaho Senate approved one such bill Wednesday. Similar bills have made progress this session in Kansas and Oklahoma.
In Ohio, there's been a hearing on an even tougher measure that would outlaw abortions after the first medically detectable heartbeat — as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. At that hearing, two pregnant women underwent ultrasounds so lawmakers could see and hear the fetal hearts.
The Ohio bill and the bans on abortions after 20 weeks are direct challenges to the legal status quo, based on Supreme Court rulings that permit abortions up to the point of a fetus' viability — approximately 24 weeks — and allow states to impose restrictions for abortions after that stage.
In Texas, a bill passed by the House would require that pregnant women have an opportunity to view a sonogram image, hear the fetal heartbeat and listen to a doctor describe the fetus. While the doctor would be obligated to provide the information, the woman could close her eyes or cover her ears, according to the bill, which doesn't exempt victims of rape or incest.
"We don't believe these bills will dissuade women who've already made their decisions," said Donna Crane of NARAL Pro-Choice America. "What we think they will do is harass and intimidate women who don't deserve it."
Balch disagreed, insisting that the South Dakota bill and the sonogram measures in several states were not coercive.
"When a woman is pregnant and doesn't want to be, the more information she has, the better," Balch said. "That's what these laws are trying to do — give a thoughtful pause so the mother can understand the options that are out there."
In more than 20 states, bills have been introduced to restrict insurance coverage of abortion. In Utah, one such measures — affecting both private and public plans — has cleared both legislative chambers and been sent to Gov. Gary Herbert.
Of the various types of bills, the insurance bans could have the broadest impact, according to some abortion-rights activists.
"You could have nearly half the states where you couldn't buy regular insurance coverage for abortion even with your own money," Crane said. "This is having a transformational effect on the insurance industry and the way abortion is viewed."
While routine first-trimester abortions generally cost $400 to $700, later and more complicated abortions can run into the thousands of dollars, especially if hospitalization is needed.
"A lot of these bills have an edge to them that really discounts the complications that can occur in pregnancy," said Planned Parenthood's Sussman. "There's a disregard for women's health."
Florida is a prime battleground. With a new Republican governor, Rick Scott, who touts his anti-abortion beliefs, conservative lawmakers have introduced at least 18 bills on the topic — including proposals to require ultrasound and to ban most insurance coverage of abortion.
"That could result in tens of thousands of women losing coverage," said Stephanie Kunkel, executive director of the Florida Association of Planned Parenthood Affiliates.
A different tactic is being tried in Virginia, where lawmakers last month passed a bill requiring abortion clinics to be regulated on the same basis as hospitals. Abortion-rights group said this could entail higher costs and force several clinics to close.
Many of the states where anti-abortion bills are advancing have new Republican governors who made campaign pledges to support such efforts.
For example, Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas urged legislators to create a "culture of life" and is considered likely to sign a pending bill that would tighten restrictions on abortion after the 21st week of pregnancy.
The sponsor of the Idaho bill to impose a similar ban after 20 weeks, Sen. Chuck Winder, summoned out-of-state medical and legal experts to tell colleagues that a fetus at that point will suffer pain during an abortion. It's a disputed assertion; the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says it knows of no legitimate evidence showing a fetus can ever experience pain.
Thus far, the year-old Nebraska law banning most abortions after 20 weeks has not been challenged in court. That has emboldening abortion foes to promote versions of it in other states this year even though the nationwide norm is to allow elective abortions up to roughly 24 weeks.
Jill June of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, which operates in Nebraska and Iowa, said she expected the 20-week ban to be challenged at some point — either in Nebraska or some other state that passes such a law.
She cited the case of Danielle Deaver, a Nebraska woman who — under the new law — was denied the option of terminating a pregnancy at 22 weeks after she learned the baby was nonviable.
Deaver ended up going into natural pre-term labor and gave birth to a girl who died after 15 minutes. She later told her story to local media, expressing hope that other legislators would consider the ramifications as they contemplated such bans.
"There will be more women like her who will be harmed if these laws continue to be passed in other states," June said.
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
It was both sad and ridiculous that we had to sit and hear the committee discuss bills pertaining to muskrats, farming, road kill etc. then in the same breath discuss a bill on abortion facilities regulations. I felt so degraded and unimportant. It felt like everyone that sat on that committee had embodied the messages that the several billboards displayed "Black children are an endangered species"! Is this h0w they really feel about us as black human beings? Is this how they really feel about women? We are human just as those people that sat on that committee were; so how dare you discuss my well being in terms of farm animals.
Nancy Lopez (born January 6, 1957) is an American professional golfer. She became a member of the LPGA Tour in 1977 and won 48 LPGA Tour events during her LPGA career, including three major championships.
Thursday, March 10, 2011
This is a bittersweet day because on the same day in 1993 abortion provider Dr. David Gunn was killed in Pensacola, FL. These men and women put their lives on the line daily to save women s lives. It deeply saddens me that so many providers lives were taken just because they trusted women. We have make sure that the providers know how grateful we are for them, and that we are here to support them no matter what!
Thank you to all the abortion providers that risk their lives constantly for women!!!!
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
JANE ADDAMS (1860-1935)
Jane was the first American woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. In a long, complex, career, she was a pioneer settlement worker, founder of Hull House in Chicago, public philosopher (the first American woman in that role), sociologist, author, and leader in woman suffrage and world peace. She was the most prominent woman of the Progressive Era and helped turn the nation to issues of concern to mothers, such as the needs of children, public health and world peace. She emphasized that women have a special responsibility to clean up their communities and make them better places to live, arguing they needed the vote to be effective. Addams became a role model for middle-class women who volunteered to uplift their communities. She is increasingly being recognized as a member of the American pragmatist school of philosophy.
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
From another woman that's making a difference!
Friday, March 4, 2011
The women of the My Voice, My Choice leadership group! These ladies are doing something that has never been seen before. They are making their voices heard all around the country and at the same time staying employed, being single parents, students, and mentors. I know you all hear this alot, but I can't say it enough. You ladies are writing your own stories within the RJ movement. Without you alot more women would be deprived of their right to make a choice.
Thank you again for all you do and have an amazing weekend!
March 4, 2011 — The House Judiciary Committee on Thursday voted 23-14 to approve a bill (HR 3) that would codify existing federal policies that prohibit federal funding of abortion in almost all cases, CQ Today reports (Weyl, CQ Today, 3/3).
The bill, titled the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act and introduced in January by Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), codifies current federal policies that prohibit federal funding for abortion except in cases of rape, incest or life endangerment. These restrictions, including the most sweeping provision known as the Hyde Amendment, have been attached each year in appropriations legislation. House Democrats have said that the bill removes tax breaks for small businesses who purchase insurance policies that include abortion coverage and prohibits individuals from receiving tax deductions for abortion care (Women's Health Policy Report, 2/9). The legislation also bans health care organizations that use their own funds for providing abortion care from receiving the use of U.S. foreign assistance and prohibits the District of Columbia from using local funds to pay for abortions.
The measure originally included an exemption for federal funding of an abortion in the case of a "forcible" rape. However, in light of criticism from women's groups, the Judiciary Committee adopted by voice vote a substitute amendment that removes the word "forcible" and modifies an exemption for abortions in the case of incest to exclude references to the woman being a minor. Democrats on the panel made several unsuccessful attempts to remove the tax-related provisions from the bill.
"This bill seeks to expand restrictions in current law and to impose an unprecedented penalty by use of the tax code on privately funded health care choices made by women and their families," Judiciary Committee ranking Democrat John Conyers (Mich.) said, adding, "Its goal, and effect if ever enacted, is to make abortion and coverage for abortion services completely unavailable" (CQ Today, 3/3).
Committee Chair Lamar Smith (R-Texas) said, "HR 3 does not ban abortion. It also does not restrict abortions, or abortion coverage in health care plans, as long as those abortions or plans use only private or state funds." He added that "now is the time for Congress to pass one piece of legislation that prohibits the federal funding of abortions and prohibits the use of fiscal policy to encourage or subsidize abortions" (Hooper, The Hill, 3/3).
Rosa Parks was an African-American civil rights activist, whom the U.S. Congress called "the first lady of civil rights", and "the mother of the freedom movement".
On December 1, 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama, Parks, age 42, refused to obey bus driver James Blake's order that she give up her seat to make room for a white passenger. Her action was not the first of its kind. Irene Morgan in 1946, and Sarah Louise Keys in 1955, had won rulings before the U.S. Supreme Court, and the Interstate Commerce Commission, respectively, in the area of interstate bus travel. Nine months before Parks refused to give up her seat, 15-year-old Claudette Colvin refused to move from her seat on the same bus system. In New York City, in 1854, Lizzie Jennings engaged in similar activity, leading to the desegregation of the horsecars and horse-drawn omnibuses of that city. But unlike these previous individual actions of civil disobedience, Parks' action sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
Parks' act of defiance became an important symbol of the modern Civil Rights Movement and Parks became an international icon of resistance to racial segregation. She organized and collaborated with civil rights leaders, including boycott leader Martin Luther King, Jr., helping to launch him to national prominence in the civil rights movement.
At the time of her action, Parks was secretary of the Montgomery chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and had recently attended the Highlander Folk School, a Tennessee center for workers' rights and racial equality. Nonetheless, she took her action as a private citizen "tired of giving in". Although widely honored in later years for her action, she suffered for it, losing her job as a seamstress in a local department store. Eventually, she moved to Detroit, Michigan, where she found similar work. From 1965 to 1988 she served as secretary and receptionist to African-American U.S. Representative John Conyers. After retirement from this position, she wrote an autobiography and lived a largely private life in Detroit. In her final years she suffered from dementia and became involved in a lawsuit filed on her behalf against American hip-hop duo OutKast.
Parks eventually received many honors ranging from the 1979 Spingarn Medal to the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Congressional Gold Medal and a posthumous statue in the United States Capitol's National Statuary Hall. Her death in 2005 was a major story in the United States' leading newspapers. She was granted the posthumous honor of lying in honor at the Capitol Rotunda.
Thursday, March 3, 2011
Morrison began writing fiction as part of an informal group of poets and writers at Howard University who met to discuss their work. She went to one meeting with a short story about a black girl who longed to have blue eyes. The story later evolved into her first novel, The Bluest Eye (1970), which she wrote while raising two children and teaching at Howard. In 2000 it was chosen as a selection for Oprah's Book Club.
In 1975 her novel Sula (1973) was nominated for the National Book Award. Her third novel, Song of Solomon (1977), brought her national attention. The book was a main selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club, the first novel by a black writer to be so chosen since Richard Wright's Native Son in 1940. It won the National Book Critics Circle Award.
In 1987 Morrison's novel Beloved became a critical success. When the novel failed to win the National Book Award as well as the National Book Critics Circle Award, a number of writers protested over the omission. Shortly afterward, it won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction and the American Book Award. Beloved was adapted into the 1998 film of the same name starring Oprah Winfrey and Danny Glover. Morrison later used Margaret Garner's life story again in an opera, Margaret Garner, with music by Richard Danielpour. In May 2006, The New York Times Book Review named Beloved the best American novel published in the previous twenty-five years.
In 1993 Morrison was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. Her citation reads: Toni Morrison, "who in novels characterized by visionary force and poetic import, gives life to an essential aspect of American reality." Shortly afterwards, a fire destroyed her Rockland County, New York home.
In 1996 the National Endowment for the Humanities selected Morrison for the Jefferson Lecture, the U.S. federal government's highest honor for achievement in the humanities. Morrison's lecture, entitled "The Future of Time: Literature and Diminished Expectations," began with the aphorism, "Time, it seems, has no future," and cautioned against misuse of history to diminish expectations of the future.
Morrison was honored with the 1996 National Book Foundation's Medal of Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, which is awarded to a writer "who has enriched our literary heritage over a life of service, or a corpus of work."
Although her novels typically concentrate on black women, Morrison does not identify her works as feminist. She has stated that she thinks "it's off-putting to some readers, who may feel that I'm involved in writing some kind of feminist tract. I don't subscribe to patriarchy, and I don't think it should be substituted with matriarchy. I think it's a question of equitable access, and opening doors to all sorts of things."
In addition to her novels, Morrison has also co-written books for children with her younger son, Slade Morrison, who works as a painter and musician.
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
MARY McLEOD BETHUNE (1875-1955)
was an American educator and civil rights leader best known for starting a school for African-American students in Daytona Beach, Florida, that eventually became Bethune-Cookman University and for being an advisor to President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Born in South Carolina to parents who had been slaves and having to work in fields at age five, she took an early interest in her own education. With the help of benefactors, Bethune attended college hoping to become a missionary in Africa. When that did not materialize, she started a school for black girls in Daytona Beach. From six students it grew and merged with an institute for black boys and eventually became the Bethune-Cookman School. Its quality far surpassed the standards of education for black students, and rivaled those of white schools. Bethune worked tirelessly to ensure funding for the school, and used it as a showcase for tourists and donors, to exhibit what educated black people could do. She was president of the college from 1923 to 1942 and 1946 to 1947, one of the few women in the world who served as a college president at that time.
Bethune was also active in women's clubs, and her leadership in them allowed her to become nationally prominent. She worked for the election of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1932, and became a member of Roosevelt's Black Cabinet, sharing the concerns of black people with the Roosevelt administration while spreading Roosevelt's message to blacks, who had been traditionally Republican voters. Upon her death, columnist Louis E. Martin said, "She gave out faith and hope as if they were pills and she some sort of doctor." Her home in Daytona Beach is a National Historic Landmark, her house in Washington, D.C. in Logan Circle is preserved by the National Park Service as a National Historic Site, and a sculpture of her is located in Lincoln Park in Washington, D.C.
The event traces its beginnings back to the first International Women's Day in 1911.
In 1981, responding to the growing popularity of the event, Congress passed a resolution recognizing Women's History Week. This week was well received, and soon after, schools across the country began to have their own local celebrations. The next year, leaders from the California group shared their project at the Women's History Institute at Sarah Lawrence College. Other participants not only became determined to begin their own local Women's History Week projects, but also agreed to support an effort to have Congress declare a national Women's History Month.
Maryland, Pennsylvania, Alaska, New York, Oregon and other states developed and distributed curriculum materials in all of their public schools, which prompted educational events such as essay contests. Within a few years, thousands of schools and communities got on the bandwagon of National Women's History Week. They planned engaging and stimulating programs about women's roles in history and society, with support and encouragement from governors, city councils, school boards, and the U.S. Congress.
In 1987 Congress expanded the focus to a whole month. In 2001, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Rep. Barbara Mikulski (D-Maryland) co-sponsored the first Joint Congressional Resolution proclaiming a "Women's History Month". Soon, other state departments of education began to encourage celebrations of National Women's History Week as a way to promote equality among the sexes in the classroom.
So Women's History Month 2011 marks 100 years of celebrating the accomplishments of women. So I will be posting a blog everyday about significant women figures that have impacted women's history. Be on the look out!!