Even with a persistent gender gap in a presidential election year, House Republicans have not given up on their campaign to narrow access to birth control, abortion care and lifesaving cancer screenings. Far from it.
A new Republican spending proposal revives some of the more extreme attacks on women’s health and freedom that were blocked by the Senate earlier in this Congress. The resurrection is part of an alarming national crusade that goes beyond abortion rights and strikes broadly at women’s health in general.
These setbacks are recycled from the Congressional trash bin in the fiscal 2013 spending bill for federal health, labor and education programs approved by a House appropriations subcommittee on July 18 over loud objections from Democratic members to these and other provisions.
The measure would bar Planned Parenthood’s network of clinics, which serve millions of women across the country, from receiving any federal money unless the health group agreed to no longer offer abortion services for which it uses no federal dollars — a patently unconstitutional provision. It would also eliminate financing for Title X, the effective federal family-planning program for low-income women that provides birth control, breast and cervical cancer screenings, and testing for sexually-transmitted diseases. Without this program, some women would die, and unintended pregnancies would rise, resulting in some 400,000 more abortions a year and increases in Medicaid-related costs, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a leading authority on reproductive health.
On top of that, the bill would prevent implementation of most of the Affordable Care Act, wiping out its numerous advances for women’s health. It would seriously weaken the requirement that employee insurance plans cover birth control and other preventive health services by allowing any employer to opt out based on personal religious beliefs or moral objections."
A total of 43 Catholic educational, charitable and other entities filed a dozen lawsuits in federal court around the nation Monday, charging that the Obama Administration’s rule requiring coverage of birth control in most health insurance plans violates their religious freedom.
Among the plaintiffs in the suits are the University of Notre Dame and the Catholic University of America, as well as the Archdioceses of New York, Washington, Dallas, St. Louis and Pittsburgh.
They join several other, mostly smaller entities that have sued over the requirements for no-cost coverage of regular birth control, sterilization and so-called morning after emergency contraceptives. Because one of the ways those drugs may work is by preventing the implantation of a fertilized egg into a woman’s uterus, Catholics believe they can cause a very early abortion, even though they are classified by the Food and Drug Administration as contraceptives.
President Obama tried to defuse the controversy over the requirement back in February, after religious groups complained that the exemption from the requirement, which applied effectively only to actual houses of worship and groups that employ only members of a specific faith, was too narrow.
The president’s proposal was not to expand the exemption, but to allow religious universities and charities to have their health insurers offer the coverage instead.
“The result will be that religious organizations won’t have to pay for these services, and no religious institution will have to provide these services directly,” Obama said. “But women who work at these institutions will have access to free contraceptive services, just like other women, and they’ll no longer have to pay hundreds of dollars a year that could go towards paying the rent or buying groceries.”
The president’s Catholic allies were pleased, as were some of those who had been complaining. Even the president of Notre Dame, Father John Jenkins, called the announcement “a welcome step toward recognizing the freedom of religious institutions to abide by the principles that define their respective missions.”
But over time, discussions over how to make it work appear to have broken down."
Catholic Church to Women: God is more important than your health and well-being. Deal with it.
Wah wah wah, I pay no taxes but someone is making me cover something for my possibly non-Catholic employees and instead of paying for it like a decent fucking human being I’m going to complain about RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION because the Catholic Church is so fucking downtrodden with its millions of dollars and fancy churches wah wah wah.
In an all-too-rare show of bipartisanship, 15 Senate Republicans joined with the Democratic majority last month to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, the landmark 1994 law that is key to efforts against domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking.
Unfortunately, the lopsided 68-to-31 Senate vote halted G.O.P. opponents only temporarily. The House Judiciary Committee last week approved its version of the reauthorization bill, which not only omits improvements the Senate bill made to the law but also removes existing protections for immigrant women, putting them at greater risk of domestic and sexual abuse.
The Senate’s measure ensures that victims are not denied services because they are gay or transgender. It also strives to ensure that domestic violence crimes committed by non-Indian men in tribal communities are prosecuted. The Senate bill also would modestly expand the availability of special U-visas for undocumented immigrants who are victims of domestic violence. That move was supported by law enforcement to encourage victims to come forward and testify against their abusers.
The regressive House alternative removes these and other improvements, including new protections for students on college campuses. The House measure would eliminate a confidentiality requirement in current law that protects the identity of immigrant women who file domestic violence complaints against a spouse who is a citizen or legal resident and allows the women to apply for legal status on their own.
House Republicans claim there is a big fraud problem in this area, but there is no hard evidence of that. And their plan to end the centralized handling of these issues by a Vermont-based office would undermine the government’s ability to detect untruthful stories.
House members on both sides of the aisle who are serious about combating domestic violence must work to defeat this atrocious bill. If that fails, the Senate will need to insist on fixing it during the reconciliation process."
As someone who works with immigrants on issues like U-Visas, I can tell you there really isn’t that much fraud amongst a group that (a) for the most part, doesn’t speak English or speaks very little and sometimes can’t read at all and (b) is terrified of the police/INS and therefore is very careful about even putting their names into a system that will deport them if they find a flaw in their story. Many of these people barely know their own rights much less anything about immigration law, thus are hardly in any position to cheat the system.
(Nuns) were the first feminists, earning Ph.D.’s or working as surgeons long before it was fashionable for women to hold jobs. As managers of hospitals, schools and complex bureaucracies, they were the first female C.E.O.’s.
They are also among the bravest, toughest and most admirable people in the world. In my travels, I’ve seen heroic nuns defy warlords, pimps and bandits. Even as bishops have disgraced the church by covering up the rape of children, nuns have redeemed it with their humble work on behalf of the neediest.
So, Pope Benedict, all I can say is: You are crazy to mess with nuns.
The Vatican issued a stinging reprimand of American nuns this month and ordered a bishop to oversee a makeover of the organization that represents 80 percent of them. In effect, the Vatican accused the nuns of worrying too much about the poor and not enough about abortion and gay marriage.
What Bible did that come from? Jesus in the Gospels repeatedly talks about poverty and social justice, yet never explicitly mentions either abortion or homosexuality. If you look at who has more closely emulated Jesus’s life, Pope Benedict or your average nun, it’s the nun hands down.
Since the papal crackdown on nuns, they have received an outpouring of support. “Nuns were approached by Catholics at Sunday liturgies across the country with a simple question: ‘What can we do to help?’ ” The National Catholic Reporter recounted. It cited one parish where a declaration of support for nuns from the pulpit drew loud applause, and another that was filled with shouts like, “You go, girl!”
At least four petition drives are under way to support the nuns. One on Change.org has gathered 15,000 signatures. The headline for this column comes from an essay by Mary E. Hunt, a Catholic theologian who is developing a proposal for Catholics to redirect some contributions from local parishes to nuns.
“How dare they go after 57,000 dedicated women whose median age is well over 70 and who work tirelessly for a more just world?” Hunt wrote. “How dare the very men who preside over a church in utter disgrace due to sexual misconduct and cover-ups by bishops try to distract from their own problems by creating new ones for women religious?”
Sister Joan Chittister, a prominent Benedictine nun, said she had worried at first that nuns spend so much time with the poor that they would have no allies. She added that the flood of support had left her breathless.
“It’s stunningly wonderful,” she said. “You see generations of laypeople who know where the sisters are — in the streets, in the soup kitchens, anywhere where there’s pain. They’re with the dying, with the sick, and people know it.”"
The Vatican has appointed an American bishop to rein in the largest and most influential group of Catholic nuns in the United States, saying that an investigation found that the group had “serious doctrinal problems.”
The Vatican’s assessment, issued on Wednesday, said that members of the group, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, had challenged church teaching on homosexuality and the male-only priesthood, and promoted “radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith.”
The sisters were also reprimanded for making public statements that “disagree with or challenge the bishops, who are the church’s authentic teachers of faith and morals.” During the debate over the health care overhaul in 2010, American bishops came out in opposition to the health plan, but dozens of sisters, many of whom belong to the Leadership Conference, signed a statement supporting it — support that provided crucial cover for the Obama administration in the battle over health care.
The conference is an umbrella organization of women’s religious communities, and claims 1,500 members who represent 80 percent of the Catholic sisters in the United States. It was formed in 1956 at the Vatican’s request, and answers to the Vatican, said Sister Annmarie Sanders, the group’s communications director.
Word of the Vatican’s action took the group completely by surprise, Sister Sanders said. She said that the group’s leaders were in Rome on Wednesday for what they thought was a routine annual visit to the Vatican when they were informed of the outcome of the investigation, which began in 2008.
“I’m stunned,” said Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of Network, a Catholic social justice lobby founded by sisters. Her group was also cited in the Vatican document, along with the Leadership Conference, for focusing its work too much on poverty and economic injustice, while keeping “silent” on abortion and same-sex marriage.
“I would imagine that it was our health care letter that made them mad,” Sister Campbell said. “We haven’t violated any teaching, we have just been raising questions and interpreting politics.”"
Yeah, we can chalk this up to religious freedom and not outright sexism and misogyny and oh yeah what was that again about the Catholic Church being “vagina managers”?
Fuck this shit.
Women human rights defenders in Mexico are increasingly targeted, often by government forces, since drug war violence and militarisation provide a cover for attacking leaders of grassroots movements, says Laura Carlsen
Some women had to be escorted into the city by court-appointed guards.
Others flew in from virtual war zones where they check twitter to find out when it’s safe to leave the house.
Many spend their days searching for kidnapped relatives or friends, or seeking justice as the last act of caring for a murdered child.
Almost all live with fear and sorrow as constant companions.
It wasn’t easy to organize the International Dialogue on Violence Against Women in Mexico City earlier this year. To bring in seventy women from all over the country to tell their stories implied significant risks and sacrifices. The event, organized by the Nobel Women’s Initiative and Just Associates, proved an historic opportunity to share experiences and analyse the crisis in Mexico and its impact on women.
“Mexico has been converted into a sea of blood and tears,” concluded Maria Elena Herrera, through her own tears. She’s lost four sons who were forcibly disappeared over the past few years. With daily headlines featuring assassinations, kidnappings and mass graves, many people—even beyond those directly affected—have come to agree.
Read More at Open Democracy
Photo Credit: Tomas Bravo, Reuters