On Saturday, the Speaker of the Lower House of Afghan Parliament delayed a vote on the Elimination of Violence against Women law after two hours of vociferous debate between conservative religious and more liberal members of Parliament. The Speaker did not specify when the measure would be placed on the floor for a vote again.
A number of conservative members of Parliament (MPs) raised their voices against the measure, deeming it un-Islamic. Although the EVAW law was issued by the executive decree of President Hamid Karzai in 2009, women’s rights activist Fawzia Kofi, who also heads the women’s committee of the Lower House, decided to introduce the EVAW in Parliament. Kofi was concerned that without the EVAW being approved by Parliament, the decree might be reversed by a newly elected President in 2014. Karzai is term limited and cannot run again in 2014. Some Afghan women’s rights leaders opposed introducing the EFAW in Parliament for fear of having it defeated or repealed by conservative members.
According to the TOLO News “The parliamentarians who opposed the law call 6 of its articles to be against Islamic values.” These articles include criminalizing child marriage and forced marriage, banning the traditional “BAAD” practice of exchanging girls and girls and women to settle disputes between families, making domestic violence punishable up to three years in prison, protecting rape victims from prosecution for adultery or fornication, limiting the number of wives a man can have to two, and established shelters for battered women.
One of the conservative MPS suggested that the article to eliminate prosecution of raped women for adultery would lead to more extramarital sex, with women claiming they had been raped just to escape punishment. Others claimed that a husband has the right to discipline his wife.
“There’s a real risk this has opened a Pandora’s box, that this may have galvanized opposition to this decree by people who in principle oppose greater rights for women,” stated Heather Barr, a researcher for Human Rights Watch.
Media Resources: Associated Press 5/18/2013; TOLO News 5/18/2013
When M.C. was only 16 months old and in the care of the South Carolina Department of Social Services, state officials made a decision that would forever change the child’s life. Those officials determined M.C. would be biologically female.
M.C. was born with an intersex condition where reproductive or sexual anatomy does not fit typical definitions of male or female. Doctors referred to M.C. as a “true hermaphrodite,” and while the child was in the care of the South Carolina Department of Social Services, doctors, in cooperation with social services employees, decided to surgically remove M.C.’s male genitalia. Now, at 8 years old, M.C. has shown signs of developing a male gender and clearly identifies himself as a boy.
Filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), Advocates for Informed Choice (AIC), and pro bono counsel for the private law firms of Janet, Jenner & Suggs and Steptoe & Johnson LLP on behalf of M.C.’s adoptive parents Mark and Pam Crawford, a first-of-its-kind lawsuit charges that the decision to medically assign M.C. a biological sex amounted to medical malpractice and a violation of M.C.’s constitutional rights. According to the lawsuit, filed in both state and federal court, the state of South Carolina violated M.C.’s constitutional rights when doctors surgically removed his phallus while he was in foster care, potentially sterilizing him and greatly reducing, if not eliminating, his sexual function. The lawsuit describes how the defendants violated M.C.’s substantive and procedural due process rights, outlined in the 14th Amendment, by subjecting M.C. to the unnecessary surgery “without notice or a hearing to determine whether the procedure was in M.C.’s best interest.”
The lawsuit also charges that the doctors committed medical malpractice by failing to obtain adequate informed consent before proceeding. The plaintiffs allege that the defendants told M.C.’s guardians to allow the sex assignment surgery but failed to provide information regarding the surgery’s significant medical risks. Most important, the Crawfords contend, state officials and doctors did not disclose that the procedure was medically unnecessary.
According to Anne Tamar-Mattis, executive director of Advocates for Informed Choice, which specializes in advocating for the rights of intersex children, about 1 in 2,000 children is born with an intersex condition. Although children with these conditions typically develop as a boy or girl as they grow, since the 1950s doctors have performed this type of sex assignment surgery on infants, even when the child’s ultimate gender remains unknown. “It used to be something that was kept very quiet,” Tamar-Mattis told RH Reality Check. “Surgeons would do the surgery and tell the parents never to tell the kids. But that’s changing. Intersex is becoming more public over the last 20 years, and this case is about ensuring the safety of all children who do not have a voice.”
Although long-term outcomes of today’s genital surgeries in children have not been well-studied, Tamar-Mattis says many doctors and advocates recommend that children with intersex conditions be assigned a gender at birth but postpone any unnecessary surgery until they are old enough to self-identify with a gender and make their own decisions about their bodies.
The lawsuit places surgeries like the one M.C. endured alongside others instances in which reproductive and bodily decisions were made without patient consent. Indeed, M.C.’s case joins a long line of SPLC cases brought on behalf of individuals harmed by medical recklessness, including a 1973 case on behalf of young African-American women who were sterilized against their will. M.C.’s adoptive parents hope the lawsuit will bring an end this practice altogether. “By performing this needless surgery, the state and the doctors told M.C. that he was not acceptable or loveable the way he was born,” Pam Crawford said in a statement. “They disfigured him because they could not accept him for who he was—not because he needed any surgery. M.C. is a charming, enchanting and resilient kid. We will not stop until we get justice for our son.”
The lawsuit, M.C. v. Medical University of South Carolina, was filed in the County of Richland Court of Common Pleas. M.C. v. Aaronson was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina.
Image: Close-up of hands in surgery
The post Historic Lawsuit Claims Doctors Performed Unnecessary Surgery on Intersex Child appeared first on RH Reality Check.
Welcome back to another week in the wonderful world of Mad Men. One of the strangest episodes on record, "The Crash" was all about altered states, false identities, and hidden talents (we see you tap dancing, Ken Cosgrove!). Load up a "vitamin shot" and join us, won't you?
This picture is worth a thousand words about how nuts this episode was.
On Saturday, Virginia Republicans nominated for attorney general state Sen. Mark Obenshain, who sponsored a 2009 bill that in one iteration would have made it a crime not to report “fetal death” within 24 hours.
The 2009 bill would have made the “mother or someone acting on her behalf” responsible for notifying the police and reporting the location of the “remains.” Otherwise, the mother or person acting on her behalf could be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor, which would carry a fine of up to $2,500 and as much as a year in jail. As ThinkProgress notes, Obenshain’s campaign has responded, noting that the original bill was never intended to target every person who miscarries, but just those who deliver stillborn fetuses and then try to hide the remains, pointing to a case of a college student who claims she did exactly that, though no evidence of the fetus was ever found. However, as originally intended, the bill still put more of a focus on a fetus’s life than the life of the pregnant person. Would a scared teen or woman desperate to hide a pregnancy really consider that there’s a law that she’ll be breaking if she doesn’t report the remains of her stillborn fetus?
The Obenshain nomination comes after Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli snagged the GOP gubernatorial nomination; Ciccinelli proposed that anti-choice activists should protest efforts to provide women with access to birth control to the point of going to jail. The state GOP also selected a candidate for lieutenant governor who compared Planned Parenthood to the Ku Klux Klan.
As seen over the last few years with Cuccinelli as attorney general, the state attorney general can wield enormous power when it comes to choosing whether to sign or reject regulations affecting access to safe, legal abortion. By tapping Obenshain for the position, the GOP shows an eagerness to have another anti-choice politician as one of the state’s top executives.
Many of the Virginia state elections in 2012 quickly devolved into fights over reproductive rights. Despite claims the 2014 race will move past “social issues,” it seems from the candidate selection process that that may not be the case.
Image: obenshainforag / YouTube
The post Virginia AG Candidate Sponsored ‘Fetal Death’ Bill for Women Who Miscarry or Deliver Stillborns appeared first on RH Reality Check.
Walmart, along with 13 other major North American companies, refused to sign a legally binding agreement to improve working conditions for overseas factory workers that manufacture their clothes after a garment factory collapsed in Bangladesh killing an estimated 1300 workers, the New York Times reports.
The agreement requires retailers pay $500,000 to improve worker safety measures over a five year period. The 13 other companies are The Foot Locker, Macy’s, Sears, JcPenny’s, North Place, The Gap, Kohl’s, Nordstrom, Carters/Osh Kosh, North Place, Cato, The Children’s Place, American Eagle and Target.
According to the Daily Kos, Walmart stated that it was “not financially feasible …to make such investments.”
Walmart refused to invest in worker conditions back in 2011 as well when a group of Bangladeshi and international unions put together a proposal.
The Swedish retailer H&M, Spanish Inditex (Zara), British Primark and Tesco, Dutch C&A, and others all announced their commitment to pay for fire safety and building improvements as part of an agreement with the global labor union IndustriALL. The agreement, called “Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh,” also requires independent safety inspections with public reports. Companies also agree to terminate business with any factory that does not complete required upgrades.
H&M is the largest clothing retailer that manufactures their products in Bangladesh and is the second largest worldwide. The largest worldwide retailer is Walmart. Walmart, along with other major US retailers, have announced that they will not participate in the accord. Instead Walmart has decided to perform its own review of factory safety standards, arguing that it will produce results more quickly. The Gap has announced that it would be willing to sign the agreement if a change could be made to its arbitration clause. U.S. retailer PVH which makes Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin
Klein, and Izod, announced that they will sign the accord.
The decision to improve standards is the result of an eight story building collapse that killed over 1,100 workers at the end of April, and a small factory fire that killed eight last week. Last week, rescue efforts for the building collapse ended making the official death toll 1,127.
Media Resources: Daily Kos 5/18/2013; New York Times 5/15/2013; Feminist Newswire 5/15/2013, 5/10/2013
Representative Trent Franks (R-AZ) has introduced a bill that will ban abortion after the 20th week of a pregnancy in the United States.
The bill, also called the D.C. Pain Capable Unborn Protection Act, originally would have banned abortion at 20 weeks gestation only in the District of Columbia. However, Franks decided to expand the bill nationwide following the murder conviction of Kermit Gosnell, a rogue doctor who performed illegal abortions in Pennsylvania. Franks has introduced the bill in previous sessions of Congress, but it was defeated.
Senator Eleanor Holmes Norton, who was scheduled to testify on the bill before it was expanded nationwide, issued the following statement,
“As we have always argued, the intent of my anti-choice colleagues in pursuing a D.C.-only abortion ban bill was to use the District of Columbia to get a federal imprimatur in their effort to overturn Roe v. Wade, and they thought they could do so in a stealth way by using the District. However, our efforts, together with our pro-choice allies nationwide, to highlight the nationwide intent and implications of the D.C. bill brought my anti-choice colleagues unwanted national attention, leaving them unable to hide behind the D.C. bill. Senator Mike Lee, the Senate sponsor of the D.C. abortion ban bill said he could not support a nationwide abortion ban bill because, ironically, it would violate ‘states’ rights,’ so there could still be a unique threat to the District. With the help of women nationwide, we defeated the D.C. abortion ban bill on the House floor last Congress. Now that the Franks bill will expressly target all U.S. women, we can expect an even stronger national response to this attack on women’s health.”
Though Franks cites the case of Gosnell as the reason behind the ban, pro-choice activists argue that this type of law would lead to more cases like Gosnell. President of NARAL Pro-choice America, Ilyse Hogue said in a statement “Gosnell was a criminal whose activities were made possible by the very kind of anti-choice policies Franks is advancing. By cutting funding, reducing access and imposing unnecessary restrictions on safe and legal abortion, anti-choice politicians have forced women – especially low-income women – into the waiting hands of unscrupulous operators like Kermit Gosnell. We will fight this senseless attack and protect the rights of all women.”
The bill will be read before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice on Thursday. The subcommittee is chaired by Representative Franks.
Media Resources: Huffington Post 5/17/2013; NARAL 5/17/2013; Statement of Eleanor Holmes Norton 5/17/2013
Forbidden sign painted on grunge wall from Shutterstock
There are two reproductive health clinics that offer abortions in Charleston, West Virginia—the only two abortion providers in the state—as well as eight crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs), of the state’s 46 total CPCs. Now, one of the Charleston CPCs has moved next door to one of the city’s reproductive health clinics. Spokespeople for the CPC, which shares a name similar to that of the reproductive health clinic, avoided giving a straight answer as to whether the next-door location was a coincidence or if it was intended to confuse patients on their way to the clinic.
The Sunday Gazette Mail spoke to representatives from the CPC, the Woman’s Choice Pregnancy Resource Center, which moved next door to Women’s Health Center, the abortion provider. When asked if the new location was coincidental, the CPC’s director, Linda Chatting, told the paper, “Well, it may be a coincidence or it may not. It might work out nicely because we are dealing with the same women. If we get to talk to some of those women, that would be great.”
When asked the same question, the CPC’s spokesperson told the Sunday Gazette, “No. Well, yeah, sort of. We didn’t intend on being there, it’s just that building came open and it was really close to where we were before. I think it could be beneficial to women, because they have to pass by our building to get to the clinic.”
In fact, Woman’s Choice appears to be employing a common anti-choice tactic of attempting to trick women into visiting a CPC rather than an abortion provider. CPCs have a history of moving into buildings near abortion clinics so they can gain access to women on public sidewalks and driveways, making it far easier to protest and accost women trying to enter an abortion clinic.
CPCs also often choose names similar to those of abortion providers. Until 2002, the Woman’s Choice Pregnancy Resource Center was known as Lifeline of Charleston; it changed its name then to avoid “confusion with other organizations.”
Last year in Duluth, Minnesota, a CPC called Women’s Care Center built a new clinic directly across the street from Women’s Health Center, the sole abortion provider in northern Minnesota. The CPC’s director, who also runs the “40 Days for Life” campaign, whose participants picket the Women’s Health Center every year, said the CPC needed to be “immediately proximate to the Women’s Health Center” to be effective at giving “previously abortion-minded young women [the opportunity to] choose life for their precious babies.”
Dr. Lynette Leighton, speaking on behalf of a New York City ordinance that would require CPCs to disclose to all patients prior to their entry that they are not medical organizations and that they do not provide abortion or birth control services or referrals, told a harrowing story of a young patient of hers who accidentally entered a CPC believing it was an abortion provider.
On the way to the clinic, however, Michelle saw a nearby building with a large sign: “Unintended Pregnancy?” Thinking it was our clinic, she went in. She was surprised that instead of taking her medical history, the staff asked her about her relationship with God. They told her that ending a pregnancy is murder, and if she followed through with her abortion, the baby would feel pain during the procedure. They showed her pictures of fetuses from much later in pregnancy. “I can’t get them out of my head,” she said.
I expected Michelle to say that she had changed her mind and wanted to leave our clinic. Instead, she touched my arm, looked into my eyes, and thanked me for being there. “I’m ready now.”
Image: Fake stamp via Shutterstock
The post West Virginia Crisis Pregnancy Center Moves Next Door to Abortion Provider appeared first on RH Reality Check.
In a one-two electoral punch that’s sure to amplify debates about reproductive rights, two vehemently anti-Planned Parenthood candidates claimed spots in upcoming statewide elections in Georgia and Virginia.
Former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel announced Friday that she is running for an open U.S. Senate seat in Georgia. Last February, in a highly publicized move, Handel resigned as senior vice president of public policy at Susan G. Komen for the Cure after the breast cancer group backtracked in its initial decision to cut funding for Planned Parenthood, amid a public outcry. Handel went on to publish a book, Planned Bullyhood: The Truth Behind the Headlines About the Planned Parenthood Funding Battle With Susan G. Komen for the Cure, in which, as she writes on her campaign website, “She exposed the country’s leading abortion provider as a liberal political machine willing to destroy anyone or any organization to advance its agenda and secure the continued flow of nearly $1.5 million a day in government funding to its coffers.”
Handel joins three Georgia Republicans vying for the seat that will be vacated by retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss, all sitting members of Congress: Rep. Phil Broun (R-GA), Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA), and self-identified “pro-life OB-GYN” Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA). Democratic contenders are not yet set for the 2014 election.
In a party convention Saturday, Virginia Republicans selected Bishop E.W. Jackson as their nominee for lieutenant governor in this year’s election. Last September, Jackson posted a video to YouTube calling for African Americans to move away from the Democratic party, expressing opposition to gay rights and alleging that “Planned Parenthood has been more lethal to Black lives than the KKK ever was.”
Jackson joins gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli (R-VA), who is currently attorney general of Virginia. Nationally known for his anti-choice priorities, Cuccinelli has compared abortion to slavery and is widely associated with stringent abortion clinic regulations adopted in April that have already caused one Virginia clinic to close. A Real Clear Politics average of recent polls shows Cuccinelli three points ahead of Democratic candidate Terry McAulliffe. The election will take place November 5.
The post Vehemently Anti-Planned Parenthood Candidates Emerge in Georgia and Virginia appeared first on RH Reality Check.
When Christine Ha won MasterChef in 2012, she blew the reality TV show judges away with her Vietnamese influenced cooking. But what really impressed viewers was that she had total control in the kitchen, even though she's blind. Host Michel Martin speaks to Christine Ha about her new cookbook Recipes from my Home Kitchen.
Federal courts of appeals will hear arguments this week in three cases that could frame the coming Supreme Court battle over the birth control benefit in the Affordable Care Act.
On Wednesday, the U.S Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit will hear two of the three cases. Last December a split panel of the federal appeals court granted an emergency injunction for Cyril and Jane Korte and their company Korte & Luitjohan Contractors (K&L), a full-service construction contractor based in Illinois. The same court also granted an emergency injunction in the case of Grote Industries v. Sebelius, which involved a privately held Indiana-based business that manufactures vehicle safety systems. Given the similarities between the cases, the court consolidated them, agreeing to hear them together. In both cases the for-profit businesses were granted injunctions from having to comply with the mandate. But that’s not what is noteworthy about these two cases. What’s noteworthy is that those injunctions were granted over the searing dissent of Judge Ilana Diamond Rovner, whose methodical deconstructing of the claim that for-profit businesses have religious liberty interests sufficient to deny their employees access to contraception via their insurance coverage illuminates what’s really going on in the battle over the birth control benefit.
In the legal battle over the contraception benefit, conservatives see a chance to radically re-define the nature of religious liberty in the United States and to provide broad protections from obeying the law for businesses. It’s a dangerous combination of religious extremism and corporate extremism, which Circuit Judge Rovner laid bare last February. Now the appeals court is going to have another look.
The other high-profile appellate argument happening this week is in Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius. Hobby Lobby, a for-profit arts-and-crafts store has become something of a celebrity cause for conservatives challenging the contraception benefit. Last year a panel of three Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals judges refused to grant Hobby Lobby’s request for an injunction. Hobby Lobby sought emergency intervention from the Supreme Court, but that request was denied. Then, in an unusual move, the full Tenth Circuit agreed to hear the case en banc, which can mean that a majority of the judges on the panel disagree with the earlier decision. If that is the case, and the full panel reverses the earlier decision, Hobby Lobby would be granted an injunction while the lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the mandate proceeds. Those arguments take place on Thursday, May 23.
At the rate the legal challenges to the mandate are piling up—at last count there were 63 lawsuits pending in federal courts—the Supreme Court could decide the issue by 2014. Of those 63 cases, 32 cases have been brought by non-profit organizations. Three cases were withdrawn by the plaintiffs, while eight cases were dismissed and those decisions were not appealed, leaving 21 of the non-profit cases pending. Where decisions have been reached in the non-profit cases, courts are largely dismissing the cases because they are not ripe or because plaintiffs lack standing. This is because non-profits with religious objections to providing contraceptive coverage currently have a one-year delay in implementing the benefit while the administration finalizes the rule defining the scope of religious exemption under the birth control benefit.
Almost as many cases have been filed by for-profit companies, with 31 challenges filed by businesses ranging from a mining company to an HVAC company to a furniture manufacturer and a property management company. These cases are moving quickly because these companies are not eligible for the delay in complying and for the most part are already required to provide the contraceptive coverage benefit.
The courts addressing these challenges are reaching different outcomes, all but guaranteeing Supreme Court review. In these challenges, so far one court has reached the merits, granting the government’s motion to dismiss in O’Brien v. HHS, which is now on appeal to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. There, the district court recognized that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the federal law the companies are relying upon to challenge the benefit, “is not a means to force one’s religious practices upon others.” The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has issued a stay pending appeal.
So far no court of appeals has reached the merits of the challenges yet. Three courts of appeals (the Third, Sixth, and Tenth) have refused to delay the enforcement of the contraceptive coverage benefit while three courts of appeals (D.C., Seventh and Eighth) have given temporary relief. This means there’s a patchwork of contradictory results blanketing the country, with some of the federal courts nearly evenly split on whether for-profit companies can avoid providing contraceptive coverage for their employees. It also means there’s an increasingly likely chance the Roberts court will end up taking up challenges to Roe v. Wade’s viability standard nearly the same time it considers the religious rights of employers to deny health insurance benefits to employees. If that happens, 2014 could be the year the Roberts court does to reproductive rights law what it did to campaign finance law in 2010 with Citizens United.
Image: Mark Fischer / flickr
The post Legal Fight Over Contraception Benefit Hits Next Phase appeared first on RH Reality Check.
Oh, hi, Monday. Here's all the feminist news I'm reading today:
• A string of new movies write a greedy new American Dream: AO Scott writes a great piece on The Great Gatsby, The Bling Ring, Spring Breakers, and Pain and Gain as "fables of acquisition." [New York Times]
So here we are heading into summer and we’re still waiting for the new space to be ready. We hope you’ve been following us on Facebook where we’re posting pictures of the progress. If not here’s a brief look at how far we’ve come from and how close we are!
While we have some downtime, we’re getting things ready behind the scenes with a fresh new inventory upgrade, online stock availability, creative displays, Wild Iris merchandise, and signage created by our bad-ass interns, and new training modules for our amazing volunteers. We’re as anxious as you are for the space to step into reality.
In the meantime, don’t forget that you can support us by shopping online at wildirisbooks.com – we’re still offering free domestic shipping on any order over $25, and we’ve got millions of print and e-books to choose from. Find us in the social networking world you like the most, sign up for our newsletter and stay in touch.
As soon as we know something, trust me, you’ll know! We miss you and we’re the counting the moments until we can be a daily part of your lives again.
How does one write a biography about someone who has been dead for 40 years, was a bit of a recluse his whole life, and whom few people really knew? If you are Mary Blume, and the subject is Cristobal Balenciaga—one of fashion’s most unique and forward-thinking designers in his day—you focus on the fashion itself, the time when the subject was most creative, and on the impact he had on fashion.
The Master of Us All (FSG) tells the story of Balenciaga through the memory of Florette Chelot, the first woman he hired at his salon in 1936, and who stayed with him as a vendeuse until he closed in 1968. He was one of the few Spanish designers in the fashion-world, dominated primarily by the French and the Italians. Being based in Paris may have contributed to his shyness; he was apparently self-conscious that he spoke French with a Spanish accent. Here was a man who never took a bow after his shows and preferred to keep his distance by watching the models and the audience though a peephole in the curtains. So removed was he from his clientele, he hardly ever met them when they came to his salon on Avenue George V. He was not part of Paris’ social scene.
Blume does a commendable job in giving us a taste for how the fashion world operated in pre- and post-WWII Paris. Balenciaga’s friendship with the other top haute-couturiers, Hubert de Givenchy and Christian Dior, are mentioned, as well as his connection with Coco Chanel—whom he fell out with over a disparaging interview she gave to Women’s Wear Daily. Because most of the book is from Florette’s perspective, we learn much about the workings of his salon, how the customers were treated, his use of unconventional-looking models, his quarrelling with the ateliers, how strict and often lonely the work atmosphere was, and of his acute sense to forgo the traditional display of his merchandise in his windows. He preferred more abstract creations.
Through Florette we learn of how obsessive Balenciaga was about his craft, particularly in his construction of the sleeve, which he constantly changed. The baby-doll dress, pill-box hats, the bracelet-sleeve and silhouettes that were made to flatter not just size zeros are part of Balenciaga’s legacy. He emphasised the waistline less and less, earning him the reputation of liking to dress a woman with a belly. “Give me an imperfect body and I will make it perfect,” he stated. Blume, a former writer for the International Herald Tribune, aptly shows the reader the impeccable influence this man had on fashion and highlights the talent and craft he possessed as a designer who refined his look, collection after collection, by dabbling with color, changing the sleeve’s length and shape, the hemlines and the silhouette. He mastered his singular vision—a far cry from many other designers whose aesthetic changed drastically from collection to collection. Where Blume fails though, is in her ability to form a view of his personal life. His partner of twenty years, whom he loved dearly and shared his home with for many years, gets very little coverage. Blume leaves too many stones unturned; her brief mentions of Balenciaga’s lover simply lead to more unanswered questions. Apparently, the impact of his partner’s death was so strong that it nearly sent Balenciaga into seclusion, contemplating the closure of his house. The impact resulted in Balenciaga’s famed, but sad and mournful, all-black collection. It is the seldom dropped anecdotes like these that add a humane spark to Blume’s book. While this book is definitely a must read for knowledge hungry fashion fanatics, the biography details the life around Balenciaga, more than providing an in depth study of the man himself.
The Master of Us All: Balenciaga, His Workrooms, His World
By Mary Blume
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Hardcover, 9780374298739, 240 pp.
Quidditch was invented "in a small hotel in Manchester after a row with my then boyfriend," writes the Harry Potter creator. Other book news: Ireland puts an entire short story on a postage stamp; Daniel Handler on Midwestern literature; and the best books coming out this week.
In softcover nonfiction, Jenny Rosenstrach examines dinnertime, Kate Summerscale recounts a scandalous Victorian trial, and John Dramani Mahama looks back on his childhood in Ghana. In fiction, Victor Davis Hanson reimagines an ancient battle, and Marie NDiaye follows three women from Senegal to Europe.
The Obscenity Party – In celebration of Angelo Nikolopoulos’ publication of OBSCENELY YOURS with special guests Wayne Koestenbaum and Edmund White, and a cabaret performance by Daniel Isengar.
Wednesday, June 5 – 6PM
Cornelia St. Cafe
29 Cornelia Street, NYC
Daniel Isengart has performed his solo act Off-Broadway, in countless supper clubs and cabarets, multiple art museums and theater festivals abroad. Isengart has been called the Darling of Café Sabarsky, the city’s only established German Cabaret venue, where he has presented a record of over 9 different programs, including a highly controversial solo-version of Weill and Brecht’s Seven Deadly SIns. He has also been a mainstay and star at the annual Museum Mile Festival on Fifth Avenue.
Wayne Koestenbaum is the author of several collections of poetry, including Blue Stranger with Mosaic Background (2012), Best-Selling Jewish Porn Films (2006), The Milk of Inquiry (1999), and Ode to Anna Moffo and Other Poems (1990), which was named one of the Village Voice Literary Supplement’s Favorite Books of the Year. His prose works include Humiliation (2011); Hotel Theory (2007); the novel Moira Orfei in Aigues-Mortes (2004); Cleavage: Essays on Sex, Stars, and Aesthetics (2000); and National Book Critics Circle Award–nominated The Queen’s Throat: Opera, Homosexuality, and the Mystery of Desire (1993).
Angelo Nikolopoulos’ first book of poems is Obscenely Yours, winner of the 2011 Kinereth Gensler Award (Alice James Books 2013). His poems have appeared in Best American Poetry 2012, Best New Poets 2011, Boston Review, Fence, The Los Angeles Review, The New York Quarterly, Tin House, and elsewhere. He is a winner of the 2011 “Discovery” / Boston Review Poetry Contest and the founder of the White Swallow Reading Series in Manhattan. He teaches at Rutgers University, New Brunswick and lives in New York City.
Edmund White has written over twenty books. He is perhaps best known for his biography of French writer Jean Genet, for which he won the National Book Critics Circle Award. He is also the author of a trilogy of autobiographical novels: A Boy’s Own Story, The Beautiful Room is Empty, and The Farewell Symphony. His most recent novel is Jack Holmes and His Friend. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, he teaches writing at Princeton and lives in New York City.
$8 cover includes a drink
The Bloomsday Race is one of Spokane, Washington’s biggest events of the year. This year was no different, as thousands participated, even with new security measures in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing last month. The event went off with no problems. Well, except for one minor issue: Anti-choice activists brought giant graphic posters to the route as a means of protesting abortion.
Officials admit that they have no recourse, which is exactly what the protesters wanted. Some people got angry. Others yelled. Many more complained that their children couldn’t avoid the pictures. “The images where [sic] horrific and disturbing. No need for that type of protest during a family event,” wrote one person on a Facebook page for the event, according to the Spokesman Review.
Public protest of abortion using graphic material has been a staple of the anti-choice movement since the early ’80s, when activist Joe Scheidler advocated it as a means to engage in protest and “sidewalk counseling” in his handbook Closed: 99 Ways to Stop Abortion. From fliers with graphic pictures that were handed out at public events and marches to larger photos outside of clinics where women would be terminating pregnancies, Scheidler was an enthusiastic advocate for the power of a gruesome image, although he did recommend that the ones at clinics be positioned away from the person doing the actual “counseling” of women prior to their entrance into the clinic in order to not scare them. He also encouraged the use of such photos at pro-choice events or when picketing the homes, private offices, clubs, and places of worship frequented by providers.
Much as anti-choice protesters still use many of the exact same photos as they did in the ’80s, they use many of those same 99 Ways tactics to protest on the streets. Scheidler’s son has continued using those tactics to oppose a Planned Parenthood fundraiser, making viewing abortion photos the price of attendance, and the director of the National Pro-Life Congress did the same for an NAACP awards dinner in Michigan. One anti-abortion extremist in Ohio made viewing his bloody display a prerequisite for voting early at a mostly liberal polling place.
Still, for the most part the target remained adults, and adults in places where anti-choice advocates assume the majority would support abortion rights. That is beginning to change as more protesters are seeking to give the photos wider distribution, and directly affect those under the age of 18. High schools are becoming a favorite protesting place of late, with one “truth truck” driver stating that the giant photos of “dismembered fetuses” displayed on the side of his truck are the only way to get the message across. “They have to see it, not just hear about it,” protester Pablo Flores told the Imperial Valley Press. “It wakes up the people.”
The message implied is clear: If you want these pictures to go away, ban safe abortion. Until you do exactly what they say, they will continue to bring their protests everywhere people gather. Especially family events involving children.
Is it emotional blackmail? Of course. Those who support it say “sometimes the truth is graphic,” as their signs were representative of the realities of abortion. But they hardly represent reality. The majority of abortions in the United States—more than 90 percent—take place in the first trimester and the vast majority of those at the embryonic stage. Whatever the doctored photos being used for “public display,” they all have been magnified to ensure they are as gruesome as possible. “Truth” in most cases would be up to two inches long, but that wouldn’t be nearly as visible (or grisly) on a 6′x10′ placard.
That all body parts and bodily functions tend to have a “yuck” factor (especially when a zoom lens is involved) shouldn’t be lost on the anti-choice contingent. After all, these are the same people who feel that teenagers need to be protected from seeing a demonstration of condom use because it is “too explicit.” If sex ed should be handled by parents, not states, then why is the new front line of abortion protesting the direct targeting of youth with graphic pictures, explicitly rejecting a parent’s right to decide what is or isn’t appropriate for young children?
To anti-choice activists, the answer is simple. The ends justify the means. Just ask Professor Eugene Volokh, who is defending such a case of graphic anti-choice posters being used in a protest at a church in Colorado. Volokh argues that the case is a simple one based on First Amendment rights and freedom of speech, which should always supersede any potential harm that could be brought to young children who are forced to view said “speech.” If there was any doubt that his own personal views might be clouding the issue a bit, however, it should be noted that according to the New York Times Volokh said these images are providing “valuable information to young people.” He stated that “vivid images are ‘very often the most effective way of conveying a moral truth’ and that ‘the gruesomeness of the image reflects the gruesomeness of the act.’” Obviously, in this case, “truth” is in the eye of the lawyer.
The belief that forcing the “truth” via graphic images is worth the cost isn’t just one held by the fringe of the anti-abortion movement, but is surfacing now more among the groups once believed to be the more moderate, public faces of “pro-life.” A recent example is the Susan B. Anthony List’s incessant exploitation of the Kermit Gosnell trial as a means to attempt to garner public support for new restrictions in abortion care. The SBA List was allegedly criticized by members of the GOP for promoting the mini-documentary 3801 Lancaster, a 20-minute film about the illegal clinic operated by the Philadelphia doctor charged with murder, due to its graphic content. Justifying her group’s decision to embrace the “horror” side of abortion, Dannenfesler explained that at a certain point you simply have to make people uncomfortable if that’s what it takes to get the point across.
“I had to really search my own conscience because we generally don’t put a horror picture, we usually show the beauty of the unborn child,” President Marjorie Dannenfelser told Newsbusters, a conservative website. “At some point in time, it became appropriate for the rest of the country, beyond just the activists to actually see what we’re talking about, to see the visual argument…[T]here just comes a point in movements where it would be malpractice to not give the visual argument when it gets to such a point as we are right now.”
Dannenfesler was speaking about showing the documentary to legislators, not young children, but her words aren’t much different from those who pose graphic placards at schools, in public intersections, or even large public events geared towards children. Monica Migliorino Miller, a Michigan anti-choice activist and the woman who took many of the photos currently being used in protests, said this when it came to the issue of children seeing the graphic images:
This crisis requires that the truth be publicly exposed — and the magnitude of the injustice that we face overrides the possibility that children will see the pictures. It simply makes no sense to forego the public exposure of our national slaughter that has sent tens of millions of children to their deaths for the sake of sparing children who might see the photos and who might be affected by them. The horrific injustice of abortion and our nation’s continued support for it requires that the photos be shown — despite the possibility of children seeing the disturbing images…[T]o impose as requirements that children will never see the photos or that they will never be upset by them are simply unjustified demands in light of the need to reveal the truth about abortion in order to bring this injustice to an end.
Even if the entirety of the anti-choice movement isn’t ready to move into a full frontal visual assault yet, enough of them are willing to do so to make any potential outing a protest, and more abortion opponents are coming to their side. Want to feel safe taking a child outside without concern that you’ll have to explain what the giant bloody baby skull across the street is all about? It’s simple; just do what they say and ban abortion.
Otherwise, you have no one to blame but yourself.
The post Anti-Choice Protestors Bringing ‘In Your Face’ Tactics to a Family Event Near You appeared first on RH Reality Check.
Correction, May 20, 2:50 p.m. EST: A version of this article incorrectly stated that HB 457, an expanded “conscience” protection bill, had passed the House. It had a hearing but was never voted on.
Missouri’s 2013 legislative session closed on May 17, as the house and senate wrapped up their final day of voting. For low-income and uninsured women in the state, the end couldn’t come soon enough. Lawmakers made it a priority to block expansion of Medicaid and access to birth control, while at the same time funneling tax credits to so-called crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs), which provide misleading or outright inaccurate information and are often run by volunteers passing themselves off as health-care providers. Add into the mix a new law that will make it more difficult for women to access medication abortion services, and Missouri politicians proved yet again their willingness to deny women access to health care.
“The Missouri Legislature is following a disturbing trend in state legislatures across the country,” said Peter Brownlie, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, and Paula Gianino, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, in a joint press release following the session’s close. “Just months after women’s health was a determining issue in a historic election, 42 states saw hundreds of provisions introduced to restrict access to health care and to put politicians between a woman and her doctor. Yet again, we are seeing the wrong priorities come out of the Missouri Legislature on matters of women’s health. Instead of increasing access to preventive health care, the legislature is working to restrict access to birth control and non-surgical abortion while giving millions of tax dollars to groups that are known to provide misleading information to women about their pregnancies.”
To curb the number of women able to access a less invasion early abortion procedure, the state passed a bill that forbids the practice of telemedicine as a means of delivering medication abortion, and prohibited the use of RU-486 unless the patient is in the physical presence of a doctor.
Also passed this year is an extension of a program that allows donors to crisis pregnancy centers to write the donation off on their taxes. CPCs in the state claim that donations to their groups began to drop when the original program expired. Crisis pregnancy centers in many states have been under fire for passing themselves off as medical centers, for refusing to mention up-front that they do not offer abortion nor contraception nor provider referrals, and for spreading medically inaccurate falsehoods by claiming, for example, that abortion increases the risk of cancer, that contraception has high failure rates, and that condoms do not prevent sexually transmitted infections.
The legislature also refused to expand Medicaid, which will continue to affect low-income uninsured women who need access to basic preventive medical care. Currently, Missouri’s Medicaid program covers only citizens at 32 percent of the federal poverty level. The expansion, which would have been fully funded by the federal government, would have raised the cap to 132 percent of the federal poverty level (a single person making $15,000 a year would quialify). Expansion would have allowed an additional 267,000 individuals in the state to be covered by Medicaid, according to the Missouri Budget Project.
Still, there were a few reproductive rights wins. A bill that would have made it legal for medical providers not only to refuse to offer care or fill a prescription, but to refuse to offer a referral as well, failed. The state’s medication abortion bill might have required even more trips back to the clinic, but an amendment was passed eliminating such language. A bill to revamp an “informed consent” rules never gained any traction, and a spousal consent bill never got introduced.
Now, the legislature rests for another year. Meanwhile, activists on both sides will watch to see if Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon will veto the medication abortion bill, sign it, or simply allow the bill to become law by not acting.
The post End of Missouri 2013 Legislative Session Leaves Women Even Worse Off (CORRECTED) appeared first on RH Reality Check.
“All the women living with HIV in my organization have been subjected to various forms of violence before and after diagnosis, from sexual violence, psychological, economic to institutional violence.”
This was one testimonial from a consultation conducted by the Athena Network and the Global Coalition on Women and AIDS.
Such testimonies of violence are not isolated.
In Chile, 77 out of 100 women have experienced violence, mostly at the hands of partners, fathers, and to a lesser extent strangers.
In Guatemala, women living with HIV reported that when disclosing their HIV status, they experienced increased violence from their partners, relatives, community members, and service providers.
In Panama, 35 percent of the 82 HIV-positive women involved in a study had been victims of abuse; 33 percent indicated that their family discriminated against them due to their HIV serostatus, 51 percent said that their confidentiality had been violated, and 15 percent stopped going to the HIV Treatment Clinic for that reason.
In El Salvador, 41 percent of women reported at least one form of stigma and discrimination, compared to 34 percent of transgender people and 23 percent of men.
And in the Dominican Republic, 42 percent of women reported physical violence, 37 percent emotional violence, and 22 percent sexual violence from their partners.
Yet, as in all regions, deep gender inequality means that violence against women is not always recognized by those who experience it. Olive Edwards, a facilitator at the Jamaican Community of Positive Women, said, “When we started to have a focused discussion on violence against women living with HIV, the women in our groups (where we usually vent about acts of discrimination) were silenced. … We are bound by a culture of gender inequality and norms that increase our vulnerability to violence and HIV.”
A recent report, the result of a collaboration between the Latin American and Caribbean Movement of Positive Women (MLCM+) and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), highlights violence throughout a woman’s life as an important underlying determinant of her vulnerability to HIV.
Drawing on interviews with women living with HIV in 14 countries, the report suggests that women’s vulnerability to HIV and its consequences may be increased by the lack of institutional responses and support to women experiencing violence. Violence within families and communities is normalized, and women internalize this attitude. Fear of violence can influence women’s decisions regarding disclosing their status, accessing services, changing their place of residence, accessing education for their children, participating in the labor market, and in interpersonal relationships with relatives, partners, and neighbors. Importantly, contextual factors such as armed conflict and violence, and racial discrimination are vital when examining the lives of women living with HIV.
How can this gap in awareness best be addressed? Back in 2006, the Center for Women’s Global Leadership found that a key gap is the “lack of systematic mechanisms for mutual learning between women’s organizations and HIV organizations.” Seven years later, this is still the case. When a draft of a document called “Ethical consideration for an integral response to human rights, HIV and violence against women,” published by a project of the Inter-American Commission of Women, was presented to a gathering of women living with HIV in Central America, discussions quickly turned to how the participants feel the wider women’s movement in the region is failing to address the specific issue of violence against women with HIV.
Yet we argue also that the failings are not just within the broader women’s movement; governments too must integrate policies and programs to address violence against women living with HIV within their fiscal policies. In the Latin American and Caribbean region, 23 out of 32 countries reported that they are implementing activities on violence against women as part of their current HIV national strategies. However, only 15 countries currently include a specific budget line for women in their HIV strategic national plan.
Fortunately, there is reason for optimism, given a strong regional history of participatory, community, and human rights work, as well as the political will and momentum evident in a number of initiatives in the region. The Inter-American Commission of Women project called Human Rights, HIV, and Violence Against Women in Central America: Integrated Responses is one such initiative, as are the collaborations between ICW Global and Latina and Development Connections, which have focused on violence against women with HIV since 2007. Organizations of people, and specifically women, living with HIV are taking a stand on violence, including RedBol in Bolivia, Red de Mujeres Guatemaltecas Positivas en Acción, and Genesis Positivo Panama, as are REDLACTRANS, a regional transgender network, and REDTRASEX, a network of sex workers.
Such examples are seeds of hope. Yet given the dimensions and social implications of violence against women living with HIV, urgent measures are still needed to strengthen such initiatives through intersectoral collaboration, research, policy dialogue, and capacity building.
The post Addressing Violence Against Women Living With HIV in Latin America and the Caribbean appeared first on RH Reality Check.