Monthly Archives: January 2014

5 posts

Wait, what?!

Did you see what Mike Huckabee, the former presidential candidate and Arkansas governor, said late last week about birth control? If you did, let me refresh your memory. If you didn’t, let me take you to a special place that lives in Huckabee’s head. He said, as quoted in the NYTimes this weekend,

 

“If the Democrats want to insult the women of America by making them believe that they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing for them a prescription each month for birth control because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of the government, then so be it. Let us take that discussion all across America.”

 

Wait, what? He seems to think women are helpless and unable to control their bodies without the government. Based on the Democratic agenda, women need the government to control their reproductive systems and libido.

 

I can see where he gets that. But that isn’t really the Democrats. That is many of his fellow Republicans all across the country mandating waiting periods for abortions. Trying to legislate which types of birth control I can take. Legislating that if I wanted to have an abortion, I would have to have an ultrasound, maybe even an extremely invasive trans-vaginal ultrasound, to hear my baby’s heartbeat. Someone in America is trying to control women’s bodies. But it isn’t the “Democratic agenda”.

 

We don’t need to be told how to take care of our bodies. And we definitely don’t need, usually male, legislators making this decision. Our bodies, our choice. If I want to take or use birth control, I will. I do. Along with 99% of women.  

 

I’m not sure when people like Mike Huckabee will understand that it should be up to a woman to control her own body and reproductive system. Because it is JUST up to me; just up to you. I hope that they will get it sooner rather than later. But until then, we will continue to see people like Mike Huckabee making baseless comments without actually asking a woman how “this” all works. **sigh**

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January 19-26 Weekly News Round Up

A round up of current news stories on the state and national level, with a focus on feminist issues

By Tess Koenigsmark

Health insurance coverage may be the next big abortion battle. Many states are passing legislation prohibiting private insurance plans sold through the healthcare exchanges from providing abortion coverage. This will primarily affect low-income women, since the exchanges are meant to help those who couldn’t previously afford insurance. The tactic of restricting abortion access by targeting poor women is far from new. In 1976, the Hyde Amendment made it illegal for any federal money to fund abortion, denying abortion coverage to women on Medicaid.

A great article on why Connecticut needs to be vigilant about protecting reproductive rights, and finally pass some pro-choice legislation.

President Obama has announced the creation of a federal task force to address sexual assault on college campuses. The task force will make recommendations about how the federal government can better track how colleges handle sexual assaults, and how to discipline colleges that fail to do so properly. There are some pretty wonderful quotes from Obama’s announcement, including, “I want every young man in America to feel some strong peer pressure in terms of how they are supposed to behave and treat women… We need to keep teaching young men to show women the respect they deserve, to recognize sexual violence and be outraged by it.” It’s refreshing to see a denouncement of sexual assault that’s followed by something more substantial than, “Walk in groups at night, ladies.”

Shortly before President Obama’s announcement of the new task force, the White House Council on Women and Girls released a report showing that nearly 1 in 5 college women have been the victims of rape or attempted rape.

A recent U.S. Senate hearing focused on health insurance company UnitedHealthcare’s decision to eliminate a large number of Connecticut doctors from its Medicare Advantage network. Currently, a court injunction against UnitedHealthcare that was sought by several CT medical associations is still in place, preventing the company from dropping the doctors. Many argue that the elimination of such a large number of practicioners would disrupt care for patients, particularly those who are unable to travel.

Governor Malloy has revealed that his budget package will include an additional $7.2 million for mental health services. The money will go toward increased rent assistance, services for young adults and vulnerable populations, a media campaign to reduce stigma, and crisis intervention training for police officers. It’s about time that mental health care became a priority.

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Clinic Violence Is Violence Against Women

The following is a guest blog post by Tess Koenigsmark. Tess is a recent graduate of the University of Connecticut and currently works for a small but awesome reproductive rights non-profit. Her interests include intersectionality, exploring nature, and spending too much time watching funny cat videos.

Please note that views expressed by guest bloggers represent solely their own. CT NOW believes in open dialogue and multiple perspectives and welcomes (civilly worded) thoughts different from our own, but we do not necessarily endorse any writing done by the author here or elsewhere.

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court heard arguments in a case that challenges the legality of a Massachusetts buffer zone law. While there are different types of buffer zones, they generally create a space around the clinic (35 feet in the case of Massachusetts) in which only patients and staff are allowed. Prior to the buffer zone, Massachusetts found that protesters posed not just an inconvenience, but such a serious issue that they prevented women from accessing abortion care and other medical services.

Buffer zones are intended to protect patients at reproductive health clinics from anti-abortion protesters that routinely harass, obstruct, intimidate, and even assault patients attempting to enter clinics. They may not solve every problem, but clinics with any sort of protection are among the lucky ones. Reproductive health clinics have endured arson, bombings, death threats, and even the murders of staff. That is terrorism, plain and simple.

And while these acts are certainly the most heinous, and most newsworthy, the everyday harassment of patients is also a significant hindrance to women seeking medical care. Women already in a vulnerable position are confronted by protesters who scream in their faces, display graphic images of aborted fetuses, shove literature through car windows, record them, and obstruct their entry into the clinic.

Given this state of affairs, many reproductive rights advocates were justifiably furious that mainstream media outlets bought into the characterization of anti-choice protesters as gentle, peaceful people. Eleanor McCullen, the plaintiff in this case, is a harmless-looking grandmother who claims she just wants to speak to the women entering clinics. I don’t know enough about her to determine that her behavior is never harassing, but regardless, McCullen is not representative of the climate outside the average clinic. As the Supreme Courts arguments were taking place, Erin Matson, editor of RH Reality Check, was tweeting anti-choice protester behavior that she personally witnessed as a clinic escort. Below are just a couple of her many tweets:

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What was most shocking was how people – mostly women – repeatedly had to share their personal stories to prove that the violence, harassment, and general obstruction of women’s access to healthcare are indeed real. As mainstream news outlets overlooked this side of the story, instead painting clinic protesters as benign grandmothers, stories of harassment poured out onto Twitter and elsewhere. How loud do women have to collectively shout in order to be believed?

While watching the story of this Supreme Court case play out was frustrating for its own reasons, it was even more maddening to have the feeling that I had seen this movie before. For as much as this court case is about the constitutionally protected right to abortion, it is perhaps just as much about violence against women. Debate about the former has, perhaps strategically, clouded any discussion of the latter.

The way this case has played out so far is reminiscent of other forms of violence and harassment faced by women. Women can say, repeatedly, that street harassment restricts their movement and activities, at times creating a legitimate emotional burden. And yet many men will not take their female friends at their word on this subject. It is only when a woman tells them about the time that she was not sure if the hostile, aggressive man in an empty subway car was going to take no for an answer that they scratch their heads and reconsider.

It is the burden of every marginalized group to be denied credibility in talking about their own experiences. It is simply not good enough for women to say, “Yes, this happened to me.” They must expose the raw, gory details whether they would like to or not, almost as a penance for bringing their experiences into the light of the public.

When the media and Supreme Court justices deny the violence that happens at reproductive health clinics, it is no different than when our society dismisses women’s experiences with sexual assault, domestic violence, and sexual harassment. The characters in this case may be different, but the story is still the same.

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January 7-13 Weekly News Round Up

A round up of current news stories on the state and national level, with a focus on feminist issues

By Tess Koenigsmark

Governor Malloy has created a new cabinet-level disability advocate position. The responsibilities of the new position include making policy recommendations and outreach to people with disabilities.

Thursday, an all-male House of Representatives subcommittee held a hearing on the No Taxpayer Funding For Abortion Act. And why yes, it IS already illegal for federal funds to pay for abortion. But, anti-abortion supporters has never let logic stop them before, and they’re certainly not going to start now. The proposed bill would ban private insurance plans sold through the Affordable Care Act’s insurance exchanges from providing abortion coverage and tax small business owners who want to provide their employees abortion coverage. Since this bill will never leave the House, the hearing was simply an excuse for anti-choice representatives to engage in some terribly ill informed grandstanding.

Connecticut Representative Rosa DeLauro is awesome, but you already knew that.

The Supreme Court will hear an anti-choice challenge to a Massachusetts “buffer zone” law. Buffer zones were created to protect abortion clinic patients from harassment and violence at the hands of anti-choice protestors.  The zones generally strike a compromise between free speech and the safety of patients, prohibiting protesters within a certain number of feet from clinics while still providing a space for them to continue with their regularly scheduled activity of screaming terribly offensive things at women. Anti-choicer activists will argue that such laws violate free speech.

Connecticut’s health insurance exchange expands coverage for Hartford residents.

Watch Katie Couric get schooled (gracefully) after she asks two transgender TV celebrities offensive and inappropriately invasive questions.

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New Year Weekly News Round Up: December 30-January 5

A round up of current news stories on the state and national level, with a focus on feminist issues

By Tess Koenigsmark

On Tuesday, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor granted an injunction to several religious organizations, temporarily exempting them from the birth control mandate that they argue violates their religious liberties. While frustrating, this isn’t a major concern yet, as the injunction is temporary and only applies to a handful of organizations. Justice Sotomayor can elect to decide the case herself or refer it to the Court. On Friday, the Obama administration responded in defense of the birth control mandate, asking the Court not to extend the injunction.

Connecticut’s minimum wage increased from $8.25 per hour to $8.70 per hour on Wednesday, and supporters hope that the wage hike will help lift many people out of poverty. Unfortunately, CT’s minimum wage is still not a living wage, and several other states have higher minimum wages than CT. For a liberal state with a high cost of living, it seems like we could still do better. Oh, and economists agree that a higher minimum wage would reduce poverty, so there’s that.

How will the Affordable Care Act affect healthcare in CT in 2014?

Senator Chris Murphy and juvenile justice advocates are opposing Connecticut’s decision to create a new locked facility for girls. Advocates argue that these facilities become self-fulfilling prophecies; once they’re built, their existence tends to justify their continued use.

Insurance company UnitedHealthcare is being sued by two Connecticut medical associations for dropping a large number of physicians from its Medicare Advantage network. State officials are supporting the medical associations, voicing concerns over how the move would impact healthcare access for the elderly and other vulnerable populations.

A woman in Texas is being kept alive on life support against both her own previously expressed wishes and those of her family solely because she is pregnant. Marlise Munoz was 14 weeks pregnant when she was brought to the hospital unconscious after collapsing in her home. Texas law prohibits taking pregnant women off of life support regardless of their wishes, cruelly extending the agony and suffering of Munoz’s family. Even worse, many other states have the same law on the books as Texas.

The Nation reflects on “The Year in Feminism”

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