Tag Archives: women’s health

Dean Heller’s Immoderate Vote

Heller Goo1

Once again, Nevada junior Senator Dean Heller gets stretched out into Immoderate territory in Senate votes this week.  On September 22, 2015 Senator Heller voted in favor of the unscientific and pretty thoroughly politicized “Pain Capable…” forced birth bill (H.R. 36) [roll call 268]

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) explained the opposition to the bill by noting it is  (1) unconstitutional because it bans abortion procedures before a fetus is medically considered viable and it does not include exceptions for a situation in which a woman’s health in endangered – both elements contradict Roe v. Wade and other precedents.  [RealityCK]

Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) added: “Do we really want to make a criminal out of a physician who is trying to prevent a woman with preeclampsia from suffering damage to her kidneys or liver, or having a stroke or seizures?” said Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME). “Do we want the threat of prison for a doctor who knows that his pregnant patient needs chemotherapy or radiation treatments?” [RealityCK]

For those unfamiliar with lady parts and how they function (which unfortunately seems to include a majority of Republican men in Congress) let’s note that preeclampsia generally occurs after 20 weeks, and one of the first signs is an increase in the woman’s blood pressure.  There is one and only one cure for preeclampsia – the delivery of the fetus. [MayoClinic]  The decisions made by the woman and her physician are going to be really tough at this point. 

The delivery has to happen before damage to the kidneys or liver becomes permanent – or fatal.  What happens to the fetus is problematic.  The usual assumption of viability in the U.S. is 24 weeks of gestational age.  Less than that gestational age and the fetus will likely not be physically mature enough to survive into the neo-natal period and achieve the capacity to be an independent human being. [NCBI]  However, there is another factor which isn’t biological.  The technology must be available to sustain the fetus delivered this early.  For example, even in developed western European countries such as Portugal the age of assumed viability is higher than in the U.S. [NIH]

What makes Senator Heller’s position so radical is his vote to criminalize the efforts of a physician who is confronted with preeclampsia in a pregnant woman after 20 weeks into the pregnancy – when the condition most often appears – and his assumption that all pregnant women and their physicians have access to the kind of neo-natal technology associated with a neo-natal intensive care unit.  And, not just any neo-natal care unit, in cases of extremely pre-mature infants we’re talking about Level III care capacity.

Now scroll through the Nursing Institute of Nevada list of hospitals and their technical and staff capabilities.  Two list Level II nursery care, six list Level III facilities – and they are all located in either the Las Vegas or Reno area.  Treating preeclampsia outside one of Nevada’s two metropolitan areas requires all the emergency training and equipment for the most extreme emergencies.

As if the situation weren’t complicated enough, preeclampsia’s early symptoms – headaches, nausea, plus aches and pains are all things that happen in a normal pregnancy.  However, when the headaches are severe, there’s blurred vision. severe abdominal pain,  and  shortness of breath – it’s time for the emergency room. [MayoClinic]   The condition occurs in about 5%-8% of all pregnancies, and can appear at any time during pregnancy, delivery, and up to six weeks post-partum, although it most frequently happens in the final trimester. [PreecOrg]

It would be very useful if more Republican men knew that a pregnancy involves more than having a wife who reacts to certain smells, and  has trouble with shoe laces, in addition to the general knowledge that it’s a good idea to keep the gas tank filled in the family wagon.

The radical forced-birth crowd in the U.S. Senate seems not to understand that their anti-abortion grandstanding has implications in the real world in which not all pregnancies are trouble free, not all women and infants have immediate access to the very latest technology and medical expertise, and not all complications in pregnancies take place conveniently before some artificially established gestational age.  It’s too bad Senator Heller has joined this herd.

Recommended reading for Republican men: “Frequently Asked Questions,” Preeclampsia Foundation. “Familial Occurrence of Preeclampsia,” National Institutes of Health, NCBI. “Late Pregnancy Complications,” Patient.Info. “Preeclampsia,” Mayo Clinic. “Medline Plus: Preeclampsia,” NLM, NIH. “Preeclampsia,” WebMD.

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Filed under Health Care, Heller, Nevada politics, Politics, Republicans, Women's Issues

Cases of Interest in the Pipeline

 Gavel If we can tear ourselves away for a moment from the Pelagian morality play, or circus act, on stage in Kentucky, there are some other interesting cases which are winding through the U.S. courts.

Shapiro v. McManus:  A case brought by a Maryland Republican who believes the Democrats gerrymandered districts after the 2010 census.  What make this interesting is that Shapiro is contending his case should have been heard by a three judge panel – which would put it on a fast track to the Supreme Court. [ScotusBlog, Baltimore Sun]  Those watching voting rights and political cases may want to keep track of this one.

Arizona v. U.S.:  The immigration issue, and the legal status or protections related thereto, is central to this long running case based on the Papers Please Arizona law otherwise known as SB 1070. The case is back in the news:

“Challengers of Arizona’s landmark immigration law failed to show that police would enforce the statute differently for Latinos than they would for people of other ethnicities, a judge said in a ruling that dismissed the last of seven challenges to the law.

The ruling could signal the end of the case and gave a victory to backers of the law, which was approved in 2010.

In her order Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton dismissed the challenge and upheld provisions that were previously ruled on by appeals courts.” [LA Times]

Stay tuned.

Whole Women’s Health et al v. Cole:  The case has been filed by Planned Parenthood supporters in Texas challenging the “unnecessary health regulations that have the purpose or effect of presenting a substantial obstacle to a woman seeking an abortion.”  (pdf)  The petition raises some crucial questions and is highly recommended reading. (h/t Scotusblog]

Okay, if we really can’t avoid the Rowan County clerk’s exercise in liberum arbitrium, ( the moral strength of man’s will when steeled by asceticism is sufficient in itself to desire and attain the loftiest ideal of virtue ) then there are some interesting and informative articles available which go beyond sideshow reportage:

  • Marty Lederman “Further strangeness in the Kim Davis Case,” Balkinizaton blog September 7, 2015.  Mark Graber “A Different Take on Kim Davis, Balkinization, September 5, 2015.
  • Lyle Denniston “A New Legal Cloud over same-sex marriage in Kentucky,” Scotus Blog, September 3, 2015.
  • Charles J. Reid, “No Refuge in Scripture or in Law,” Huffington Post, September 5, 2015.
  • Garrett Epps, “The fatal flaw in Davis’s appeal,” Atlantic, September 2, 2015.
  • Brian Tashman, “Five Bizarre Arguments Kim Davis’ Supporters Have Used To Defend Her Lawbreaking,” Right Wing Watch, September 4, 2015.

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Filed under abortion, conservatism, Immigration, Judicial, Voting, Women's Issues, Womens' Rights

It’s the Planning Part That Makes Them Crazy: GOP attacks on Planned Parenthood


It must be campaign season: the Republican Party is once again attacking Planned Parenthood.  This current manufactured outrage moment was coordinated with the debunked video from a shadowy outfit whose “investigators” come complete with phony identification documents. [HuffPo]  [DemoNW] Since the GOP seems to have nothing on offer regarding national infrastructure, comprehensive immigration policy reform, Middle East Peace negotiation, manufacturing policy, minimum wage levels, job training and education, or any substantive proposals on the expansion of health insurance coverage – it must be time to look for Distractions. And, what better distraction than Planned Parenthood?

These attacks appeal to the rabidly anti-contraception/abortion advocates in the Republican base.  We can assume that this element is a small minority of the U.S. population because (1) more than 99% of women aged 15-44 who have ever had sexual intercourse have used at least one contraceptive method. (2) Approximately 62% of all women of reproductive age are currently using a contraceptive method. (3) 83% of Black women, 91% of Hispanic women, and 90% of Asian women of child bearing age currently use a contraceptive method during intercourse. (4) 92% of all women with incomes of 300% or more of the federal poverty standard are currently using contraception, as are 89% of those with incomes at 0-149% of the poverty line.  [Guttmacher]

Contraception method chartAs the statistical reports, and the chart, demonstrate, those who oppose contraception are a definite minority, and the religious argument begins to unravel when another survey is highlighted: “Some 68% of Catholics, 73% of Mainline Protestants and 74% of Evangelicals who are at risk of unintended pregnancy use a highly effective method (i.e., sterilization, the pill or another hormonal method, or the IUD).” [Guttmacher]

As with the polling and survey reports on contraception, the polling on the abortion issue also illuminates the minority position of the radical anti-abortionists.   Note the trends reported by Gallup:

abortion polling It doesn’t even require a calculator to see that as of 2015 approximately 80% of the U.S. population believes that abortion is acceptable, at least under some circumstances.  Only 19% believe the medical procedure should be illegal in any situation.  [Gallup]

Thus we have circumstances in which 99% of those women who have had sexual intercourse using some form of contraception, and 80% of the nation believing that under some circumstances (usually involving the welfare of the mother) abortion procedures should be legal.  Why would a major political party attempt to use contraception/abortion as a political issue?

If it worked before – it will work again?  Republicans have utilized “wedge issues” with some effect before – gay marriage, gun safety, contraception/abortion.  And, Thomas Frank’s book concluded:

“…the Republicans use social issues in a bait-and-switch routine: people are enticed into voting Republican over social issues like abortion or gay marriage, and then Republican pols, once elected, ignore all that and govern like the pro-business, rich-people’s party that they are at heart.”  [Atlantic]

The problem for Republicans is that while they are the pro-corporate (not small business) party of the hedge fund managers and the large banks, the bait is becoming harder to find.  Therefore the need to find another way to access the anti-contraception/abortion vote – let’s try fetal tissue research!

The GOP has two problems with this wrinkle – first, they were for it before they were against it. [Think Progress] and secondly, who wants to argue that fetal tissue should be turned into medical waste instead of having the family opt for tissue donation for medical research?

Nor is fetal tissue medical research a new thing – it’s been done since the 1930s, and the 1954 Nobel Prize for medicine was awarded for work with fetal tissue that lead to the development of the polio vaccine. [USNWR] Current work with fetal tissue involves studies related to birth defects, spinal cord injuries, Parkinson’s Disease, eye diseases, and HIV/AIDS. [Reuters] Fetal tissue research also yielded vaccines for chicken pox, rubella, and shingles. [CNN]  If one is truly “pro-life” in the comprehensive meaning of the term, then the research into finding a vaccine for rubella is instructive:

“From 1964-1965, before the development of a vaccine against the disease, a rubella epidemic swept the United States. During that short period there were 12.5 million cases of rubella. Twenty thousand children were born with CRS: 11,000 were deaf, 3,500 blind, and 1,800 mentally retarded. There were 2,100 neonatal deaths and more than 11,000 abortions – some a spontaneous result of rubella infection in the mother, and others performed surgically after women were informed of the serious risks of rubella exposure during their pregnancy.”  (CRS = Congenital Rubella Syndrome) [HistVac]

Interesting isn’t it: The use of fetal tissue in medical research to develop a vaccine against Rubella meant FEWER abortions (both natural and medical)  and 2,100 fewer neo-natal deaths.  OK, now stand at a podium and tell the voters that you are in favor of bringing all fetal tissue research to a grinding halt even if it means more miscarriages and abortions? In the name of “Life?”  There’s a purpose for fetal tissue research at the other end of the age spectrum:

“Stem cell therapy for retinal disease is under way, and several clinical trials are currently recruiting. These trials use human embryonic, foetal and umbilical cord tissue-derived stem cells and bone marrow-derived stem cells to treat visual disorders such as age-related macular degeneration, Stargardt’s disease and retinitis pigmentosa. Over a decade of analysing the developmental cues involved in retinal generation and stem cell biology, coupled with extensive surgical research, have yielded differing cellular approaches to tackle these retinopathies…” [NCBI]

The radical anti-abortionists haven’t mentioned the research into how to attack the 2.7 million cases of macular degeneration in the U.S. [NEI]  Do we dare tell them that most of those cases are among Caucasian Americans?

Mac Degeneration by race And, here we have it: attacks on an organization, often the target of radical anti-abortionists, which lawfully provides fetal tissue to medical research facilities  currently working on ways to prevent, cure, or alleviate diseases prevalent in America, many of which are  deadly (ALS, Parkinson’s) or debilitating (macular degeneration).  All for what?

For an issue most Americans don’t have at the top of their priorities?

abortion issue

To attract 21% of the respondents in the 2015 polling?  To appease those for whom family planning is anathema?  Nothing better illustrates the hold over the Republican Party like its pandering to a small minority in the national audience, a minority like Quiverfull (see Duggars), for whom women are merely the instruments of men’s procreation?  To appeal to those who follow the Army of God manual and bomb abortion clinics or kill providers? To address those ignorant enough to miss the connections between significant medical research and the use of fetal tissue?

Or, to appeal to those who firmly believe that the Little Woman should be barefoot and pregnant – in the kitchen – not the Senate or the House.  Families which plan for their children, which can assume two incomes, which can maintain intimacy without unintended pregnancies, and who can afford the $3500 it costs for the average uncomplicated birth of a child in a hospital [Parents] are generally better off, and so are their kids.  Here we hit the rough patch. 

Planning is Everything.   It’s impossible to attack those families which are practicing birth control for rational reasons —  in the face of irrationality.  Critics of social welfare programs offer, “If you can’t afford them then you shouldn’t have them.”  If we accept this criticism, then what rational premise might one have for defunding the organization which promotes responsible parenting by making contraception available? 

However, “If you give’em birth control they’ll just be promiscuous!”  Notice the emphasis is on the female, “boys will be boys.”  It’s hard to separate this attitude from good old fashioned garden variety misogyny.  If we actually want fewer unplanned pregnancies, especially among younger women, then what is the rational argument for cutting funding for clinics like those sponsored by Planned Parenthood which inform young women about contraceptive options?

Only 3% of Planned Parenthood’s medical procedures involve abortion at any stage and in any manner. For the radicals this is 3% too many.  For the deluded among us – every woman must carry every pregnancy to term, no matter the cost to her physical well being or to her mental health. Every pregnancy must end in a birth – even if the fetus is so badly deformed that it won’t survive outside the womb for more than 24 hours?  How many of the radicals are even aware of anencephaly,  exomphalos and gastroschisis? [Patient]  Pre-natal care is required in order to detect abnormalities like anencephaly, and where do women – especially low income women – get pre-natal care? From their local Planned Parenthood clinic.  Which, we should add, provides pre-natal care for the pregnancies, planned or unplanned, of many middle and lower income women.

If the Republicans who are chanting for Investigations! Funding Cuts! and other assaults on Planned Parenthood understood just how ridiculous they sound, and how close to the radicals associated with the Army of God and the  Quiverfull movement they’ve moved, then they’d have a much better grasp as to how counter-productive their shift to the radical right will be received in a general election.  In their attempt to manufacture another “crisis” in “poutrage” and to generate a wedge issue, they’ve only succeeded in forming alliances with the most misogynistic elements of the Right Wing: Those who neither want nor countenance Planning in family relationships. 

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Filed under abortion, health, Health Care, Politics, public health, religion

Heck, Hardy, Amodei vote for Big Government in Women’s Health

Woman's Womb 

H.R. 7 is a beauty, that would be Beauty with scare quotes around it. Here’s what Nevada Representatives, Hardy (R-Bundy Ranch), Amodei (R-NV2), and Heck (R-NV3) voted in favor of: [RC 45]

No funds authorized or appropriated by Federal law, and none of the funds in any trust fund to which funds are authorized or appropriated by Federal law, shall be expended for any abortion.

Someone missed the message from the Hyde Amendment, there is NO federal funding for abortion procedures.  But wait! It gets worse.

None of the funds authorized or appropriated by Federal law, and none of the funds in any trust fund to which funds are authorized or appropriated by Federal law, shall be expended for health benefits coverage that includes coverage of abortion.

No funds subsidized by federal monies may to applied to health care insurance which includes abortion procedures.

No health care service furnished–`(1) by or in a health care facility owned or operated by the Federal Government; or`(2) by any physician or other individual employed by the Federal Government to provide health care services within the scope of the physician’s or individual’s employment,may include abortion.

There can be no abortion procedures in any federal facility or by any doctor employed by the federal government.

Nothing in this chapter shall be construed as prohibiting any individual, entity, or State or locality from purchasing separate abortion coverage or health benefits coverage that includes abortion so long as such coverage is paid for entirely using only funds not authorized or appropriated by Federal law and such coverage shall not be purchased using matching funds required for a federally subsidized program, including a State’s or locality’s contribution of Medicaid matching funds.

If a family or individual wants health insurance coverage which includes abortion services it must be purchased privately.

Nothing in this chapter shall be construed as restricting the ability of any non-Federal health benefits coverage provider from offering abortion coverage, or the ability of a State or locality to contract separately with such a provider for such coverage, so long as only funds not authorized or appropriated by Federal law are used and such coverage shall not be purchased using matching funds required for a federally subsidized program, including a State’s or locality’s contribution of Medicaid matching funds.

Insurance companies are ‘perfectly free’ to draft and sell individual health insurance policies covering abortion procedures.  For a price? Probably a hefty one?

The limitations established in sections 301, 302, and 303 shall not apply to an abortion–`(1) if the pregnancy is the result of an act of rape or incest; or`(2) in the case where a woman suffers from a physical disorder, physical injury, or physical illness that would, as certified by a physician, place the woman in danger of death unless an abortion is performed, including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself.

Notice the big gap in this section! Only if the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest, or is PHYSICALLY dangerous can an abortion be provided.  A woman who is at serious risk for debilitating postpartum depression would be denied abortion procedures under the terms of this bill.  We should drill down more deeply on this one, because this is the point at which the politicians are getting between the woman, her family, and her physician.

Postpartum depression is NOT a “mood swing,” and it’s not merely the old “baby blues” after delivery.  There’s postpartum depression, which can be treacherous, and worse still in some cases the situation devolves into post partum psychosis.   Evidently, the three male Representatives from Nevada aren’t all that concerned about the symptoms described by the Mayo Clinic, including: loss of appetite, insomnia, intense irritability and anger, overwhelming fatigue, feelings of shame/guilt/inadequacy, severe mood swings, difficulty bonding with the new baby, withdrawal from family and friends, and thoughts of harming self or the baby. The psychosis element includes confusion and disorientation, hallucinations and delusions, paranoia, and actual attempts to harm self or the infant.

However, the provisions of H.R. 7 would not consider the needs of a family in which the mother had previously been treated for postpartum depression (or psychosis for that matter) when it comes to a recommendation from the family doctor that should a pregnancy occur, then it should be terminated before the mother’s mental health issues worsen.

Let’s be clear, postpartum depression occurs in an estimated 9-16% of all postpartum women. Among women who have already experienced PPD after a previous pregnancy the odds of a relapse go up to 41%.  [APA] We’re not speaking of small numbers here.  As of the CDC’s last report, there were 3,932,181 births registered in the United States (2013). A quick resort to the calculator and we’re speaking of 353,896 women who are projected to have postpartum depression using the conservative estimate of 9%.  And, yes, postpartum psychosis is rare, occuring in about 0.1% of all births, but that’s still 3,932 instances taking the 0.1% rate. [PPN]  If a mother has a history of bipolar disorder or has had a previous psychotic episode there is a significant risk of postpartum psychosis, which unfortunately can lead to a 5% suicide rate and a 4% infanticide rate associated with the illness. [PPN]

It takes a bit of intelligence and sensitivity to think through the difference between the “baby blues” common in about 80% of perinatal women and the postpartum depression in up to 16%, or even postpartum psychosis at the 0.1% rate.  Quite evidently, our male Representatives to the Congress of the United States are still stuck on the hackneyed and debunked myths; myths like “postpartum depression is rare,” or “PPD will go away on its own,” or “if you just stay positive you won’t get PPD,” or “if she’s not crying all the time it’s not PPD.”  What makes the voting record all the more astonishing is that one of our Representatives is a health care professional who should know better.

Omitting the mental health component in the bill is tantamount to saying women’s perinatal mental health issues aren’t important, or women just use the “baby blues” to rationalize an unwanted child, or women and their physicians can’t be trusted to determine the best outcome for the family. Or, all of the above.   And, yes – Nevada’s three male Representatives just said We’re All For A Government Big Enough To Control Every Woman’s Womb.

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Filed under Amodei, Health Care, health insurance, Heck, Nevada politics

Who Likes the Hobby Lobby Decision? In One Chart

This says it all.

Hobby Lobby DecisionClick here for source.

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Filed under Health Care, Politics, Women's Issues, Womens' Rights

Alice Paul Wants You To Vote Today

Alice Paul would remind women all over the country to VOTE today.  The suffragette and several cohorts were arrested in July, 1917 and imprisoned for their campaign activities:

“The arrested suffragists were sent to Occoquan Workhouse, a prison in Virginia. Paul and her compatriots followed the English suffragette model and demanded to be treated as political prisoners and staged hunger strikes. Their demands were met with brutality as suffragists, including frail, older women, were beaten, pushed and thrown into cold,  unsanitary, and rat-infested cells.  Arrests continued and conditions at the prison deteriorated.  For staging hunger strikes, Paul and several other suffragists were forcibly fed in a tortuous method.  Prison officials removed Paul to a sanitarium in hopes of getting her declared insane.  When news of the prison conditions and hunger strikes became known, the press, some politicians, and the public began demanding the women’s release; sympathy for the prisoners brought many to support the cause of women’s suffrage.” [AlicePaul.Org]

If Paul and here cohorts could withstand the treatment in the prison, and endure incarceration to promote the vote for women in this country, surely standing in line — even for several hours — isn’t too much to ask to protect:

1. A woman’s right to have a say in her own reproductive health treatment.

2. A woman’s right to apply to the educational institution of her choice.

3. A woman’s right to get equal pay for equal work.

4. A woman’s right to be free of legal discrimination in cases of rape and domestic violence.

5. A woman’s right to be an equal participant in our political processes.

6. A woman’s right to be free from discrimination by health care providers and health care insurance corporations.


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Filed under 2012 election, women, Women's Issues, Womens' Rights

Sunday Stroll: Ladies Day

Elections have consequences.  There could be significant consequences for the Medicaid program in Nevada depending on the outcome of the 2012 election.  Here are two, improved graphics from yesterday’s post illustrating who is served by the Nevada Medicaid program — and who will be impacted by proposals from the GOP (Ryan Budget) to transform Medicaid into a block grant program, and to cut funding by approximately one-third.

The question becomes — where will we cut? From the 58% of the program which serves children?  If we cut all funding from adults, that would save only 19% and we should remember that 150,200 of the people served are adult females, some of whom are pregnant receiving pre-natal care.

Speaking of women:  Planned Parenthood Federation of America informs us there were 133,246 uninsured women in Nevada as of 2008-2009.  Thanks to the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) 66,623 are likely to qualify for Medicaid in 2014, and  55,963 are likely to qualify for premium credits in the health insurance exchanges.

Laying aside the Republican hyperbolic hysterical generalities about Socialism, Non-existent Death Panels, and Killing Grannies — the Affordable Care Act has some definite benefits for women, which ought to be considered before voting in favor of a candidate who wants to repeal it:

#1. Preventative and wellness visits to a physician — coverage must include screenings for breast and cervical cancer.  #2. Coverage for gestational diabetes screening. #3. HPV-DNA testing for high-risk human papillomavirus (HPV) DNA testing every three years, regardless of Pap smear results. Early screening, detection and treatment have been shown to help reduce the prevalence of cervical cancer. #4. STI counseling and HIV testing.  #5. Contraceptive and contraceptive counseling — and no the government isn’t paying for this, and employers aren’t paying for this — the insurance has to cover it.  #6. Breast feeding support, supplies, and education.  #7. Domestic violence screening and counseling services.  [Time]  And, by the way — health insurance corporations may no longer charge women more for an insurance policy just because they are — you know — female.

Women on the Reservation:  While the Republican controlled House of Representatives stews about expanding efforts to extend protection for Native American women under the provisions of the Violence Against Women Act, [The Hill] there’s still a major domestic violence problem on Reservations.   If one applied the GOP logic to the situation: “Suppose your sister was with you in Washington, DC, and her husband beat her up,” Moore says, “but because he was from Virginia, Washington couldn’t do anything about it.” [MJM]

There’s a little bit of help on the horizon from the Obama Administration’s Department of Justice.  Help for at least four tribes.

“Through this special initiative, OVW will support salary, travel and training costs of four tribal SAUSAs, who will work in collaboration with the U.S. Attorneys Offices in the Districts of Nebraska, New Mexico, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota.  Specifically, OVW will award cooperative agreements to four federally recognized tribes to select qualified applicants in cooperation with the U.S. Attorney Offices to serve as cross-designated prosecutors.  These prosecutors will maintain an active violence against women crimes caseload, in tribal and/or federal court, while also helping to promote higher quality investigations, improved training and better inter-governmental communication.”

The ladies on the following Reservations will be a bit safer — Pueblo of Laguna in New Mexico,  Fort Belknap Tribe in Montana, Winnebago Tribe in Nebraska, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, in North Dakota and South Dakota. Or, the House Republican leadership could stop hiding behind technicalities and vacation days and pass the re-authorization of the Violence Against Women Act.

Twenty Three Cents Worth:   Lily Ledbetter (video) spoke to the disparity of pay in too many American workplaces, 23 cents worth on average.  Let’s play with the calculator — the median expected salary for an entry level accountant in this country is $44,456 dollars per year.   [Salary.com] If a husband and wife were both entry level accountants, and the pay was equal, their combined earnings would be $88,912.   However, if her salary is only 77% of her husband’s she earns about $34,231.  Their combined earnings are reduced to $78,687.12.   Wonder what they could have done with $9,000?  Wonder what the local economy could have done if family earnings were what they should be?  Do the arithmetic.

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Filed under 2012 election, Economy, Health Care, health insurance, Medicaid, Native Americans, Nevada economy, nevada health, Women's Issues, Womens' Rights

Real Women v. True Women

The ancient Greeks weren’t known for their enlightened view of women. However, Homer was certainly aware of their athletic abilities, and made a ball game a plot point in the Odyssey:

In Book Six of the Odyssey some young ladies went to the river to do laundry, “When they had done dinner they threw off the veils that covered their heads and began to play at ball, while Nausicaa sang for them. As the huntress Diana goes forth upon the mountains of Taygetus or Erymanthus to hunt wild boars or deer, and the wood-nymphs, daughters of Aegis-bearing Jove, take their sport along with her (then is Leto proud at seeing her daughter stand a full head taller than the others, and eclipse the loveliest amid a whole bevy of beauties), even so did the girl outshine her handmaids.” [Homer]

Indeed, veil off, freed of male scrutiny, and allowed personal space, the ladies were enthusiastic enough to wake the Greek hero, and to be the object of Olympian — in the classic sense — praise for excellence.  It’s a long fall from the approval of Leto to the Cult of True Womanhood that hasn’t yet been exterminated from modern rhetoric.  One of the ideological strands playing out in American politics sets Real Women (of whom Leto could be proud) against True Women.

Who are the True Women of American mythology?

The attributes of True Womanhood, by which a woman judged herself and was judged by her husband, her neighbors and society could be divided into four cardinal virtues-piety, purity, submissiveness and domesticity. Put them all together and they spelled mother, daughter, sister, wife-woman. Without them, no matter whether there was fame, achievement or wealth, all was ashes. With them she was promised happiness and power. [Welter]*

The concept of True Womanhood is properly categorized as a cult, because it never extended its arguments toward promoting the health and welfare of working women, or women in domestic service.   True Women were pious, pure, submissive, and domestic because they were frail help-mates of the strong white upper or middle class males.  Or, they could be the pious, pure, submissive, and domestic help-mate capable of keeping their own homes after putting in a 12 hour day keeping up someone else’s home or sewing someone else’s shirt-waists.  The cult still demands the same four attributes in modern anti-female rhetoric.

Educating women?  This was acceptable to the cult during the Victorian/Edwardian eras so long as the goals remained the same:

“…to put the education young women are now getting into its true relation to their future. . . . It needs to do more to equip the girl for what I may call the great profession of being a woman, in her social trinity of wife, mother, and member of society. (Dike, 1892a) [GB.net pdf]

Sound familiar?  We’re still grappling with the question proposing  “motherhood” as a “profession.”  Not sure? Contact Hilary Rosen.  [Think Progress]  Still think “frailty” isn’t associated with the concept of womanhood, then consider the humiliation of Caster Semenya, a track star from South Africa who spent altogether too much time in 2009 having to prove that a woman could “do” 800 meters in 1:55:45.  A late kick earned her second place in the 2012 Olympics; the winner clocked in at 1:56:19.  [NYDailyNews] 34/100ths of a second is NOT a test of gender.

It did cause the gentleman of sports to clutch their cravats in 2009.  How could the “feeble sex” clock such outrageous times?  When 34/100ths of a second is enough to call for Gender Testing, Queen Victoria’s complaint must still resonate:

‘The Queen is most anxious to enlist every one who can speak or write to join in checking this mad, wicked folly of “Woman’s Rights”, with all its attendant horrors, on which her poor feeble sex is bent, forgetting every sense of womanly feeling and propriety… It is a subject which makes the Queen so furious that she cannot contain herself. God created men and women different – then let them remain each in their own position.’ (Queen Victoria, letter 29 May 1870) [VAM.uk]

The position?  Piety, Purity, Submissiveness, and Domesticity.   Hardly the stuff with which current British heptathlon winner Jessica Ennis is primarily endowed.   Great-great-great-grandmother to the current monarch might be rolling, considering what all those “poor feeble” members of the British contingent are doing?

Even a cursory look at the official Court Circular for the last week shows the reigning Queen (and latest Bond Girl) shuffling almost every member of The Family off to be seen at various and sundry Olympic venues, meetings, and events.  Whatever would the G³-Mother think of Zara Phillips riding astride? Of her mother, Princess Anne, serving on the International Olympic Committee?  If the direct descendents of the Arch-Deaconess of the Cult of True Womanhood have set aside the Four Pillars of Womanhood in favor of savoring Olympic hardware, then the comments of Victoria’s Torch Bearer, Liz Trotta about women in journalism make even less sense:

“Don’t try to make any sense of this hypocrisy. For with their inborn sense of class warfare — as well as their funny clothes — the ladies of the press really believe they are acting on principle, except that the principle is driven by envy, envy of a woman who managed to do exactly what their mothers told them, although they would never admit it: marry a good, preferably rich man; raise your children full time and dress like a lady.” Liz Trotta, Fox News, August 6, 2012 [RawStory]

Thus, while the Trottas of this world harken back to the days of yore, when:

“In Victorian America, women were discouraged from being physically active. The generally accepted belief of the day was that women were naturally frail. Too much physical (or intellectual) stimulation would upset the delicate balance of their bodies and lead to physical illness, infertility, “nervous” diseases, even insanity. Women who were judged by the society to be overly liberated or overly interested in physical or mental pursuits were sometimes subjected to the “rest cure.” They were confined to their beds for weeks at a time and not allowed to have visitors, read, sit up or use their hands. It was believed that this “cure” would calm women’s bodies and minds and make them acceptably compliant and pleasingly frail.” [Bradley U]

No one was about to accept compliance and pleasing frailty from the U.S. Women’s Basketball Team. (Gold) Or, the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team. (Gold). Or, the U.S. Women’s Volleyball Team. (Silver) Or, to remotely consider giving May-Treanor and Walsh-Jennings in Beach Volleyball the “rest cure.”  Or, advocate “rest” for the U.S. Women’s 4×400 relay team.(Gold)  The Women’s Eight rowing team? (Gold)  The Women’s Water Polo Team? (Gold)

Anyone want to watch a compliant, pleasingly frail, pure, submissive, and domestic version of Serena Williams on the tennis court? (Gold)  Gabby Douglas demurely shying away from the uneven parallel bars thereby demonstrating her  preference for dressing like a lady?  What of watching Rebecca Soni and Missy Franklin gently playing in the pool clad in heavy flannel “patelot” costumes  or heavy woolen dresses with sailor collars worn over bloomers?
Sounds silly doesn’t it.

However, that would be the outcome if the activist members of the Cult of True Womanhood regained control of the American conversation.  A conversation in which True Women don’t use contraceptives even to prevent a life threatening pregnancy.  A conversation in which True Women don’t make decisions about their own bodies lest they not be judged “pleasingly frail,” and appropriately submissive.  A conversation in which education for women trains them for their position in the Trinity of Wife, Mother, and Acceptable Member of Society.

A conversation in which the Cult of True Womanhood seeks to revert to Victorian principles rather than exalt modern accomplishments.

Sports writer Sally Jenkins summed it up:

“Women out-medaled men for the United States, China, and Russia. I’ll say that again: The leading medal winners for the three traditional Olympic powerhouses were women — despite the fact that there were 30 fewer medals available to be won. We can talk all we want about the financial complexities of Title IX, or try to analyze the stratospheric growth of women’s sports by country or culture, but the bottom line was that the London Games defined something critical: It can’t happen if it isn’t available. With no gold medal to aspire to, no one gets better.” [WaPo]

We could reverse the question:  Which three nations expended the most resources training and preparing female athletes?  The answer is the same — The United States, China, and Russia.   Or, we could ask which three nations prefer the admiration of Leto to the Cult of True Womanhood?  Real women are better than True Women anytime national pride is on the track, in the pool, on the pitch, or in the arena.

* The Cult of True Womanhood: 1820-1860, Barbara Welter, American Quarterly, Vol. 18, No. 2, Part 1 (Summer, 1966), pp. 151-174

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Coffee, Papers, and Blogs

** The northern Nevada chapter of the Komen Foundation says it’s looking for a new site for the 14th Race for the Cure — but they may be doing more running from their decision to sever ties with Planned Parenthood because of ideological differences over abortion.  The Los Angeles Times reports:

“Over the last five years, Planned Parenthood has provided about 4 million breast exams and referrals for 70,000 mammograms nationwide. Funding from Komen covers about 170,000 of the breast exams and 6,400 mammogram referrals, Richards said. Although mammograms and biopsies are referred out, Planned Parenthood doctors manage their patients’ cases.”

The Komen Foundation said its decision was based on the fact that Planned Parenthood is subject to a Congressional investigation led by Florida Republican Cliff Stearns.  Democrats have charged the Stearns inquiry is specious, and part of a coordinated attack on Planned Parenthood by radical anti-choice advocates.  The Sin City Siren describes Komen’s decision as essentially internal, and its association with Pink Washing.  It will be interesting to see if the move by the Komen Foundation results in people walking away from its Runs.

**  It appears that the abortion issue is “no longer personal” for GOP candidate Romney, who has made yet another gymnastic reversal of position from being an advocate for choice in 1994 to a staunch anti-abortion proponent.

** The Las Vegas Sun has a trip down memory lane concerning the history of Nevada money in national politics, from “Howard Hughes to Sheldon Adelson.”  One CBS writer suggests that Newt Gingrich may be looking for a new game plan since the Adelson Money Pot didn’t seem to be the answer in the Florida primary.

** Newt Gingrich isn’t the only candidate to have dipped into Money Pots.  Willard Mitt Romney’s campaign enjoys the use of some $18 million from just 200 donors in the last half of 2011. Money came in from Bain Capital, Goldman Sachs, Renaissance Tech (Hedge Fund), Elliott Management, and Tiger Management. Other donors included Harlan Crow and the Koch Brothers. [NYT]  Mr. Crow’s past contributions included a $25,000 donation to the infamous Swift Boat Veterans who sponsored a smear campaign against Senator John Kerry in 2004. [MMFA] And, then there’s Crow’s financial connection to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. [ThinkProgress]

** The Romney camp is still silent on a key offshore tax avoidance account. [TPM] Question: If a person isn’t trying to avoid taxation then why put money in offshore accounts in the first place?

** Somehow in the tangled rhetoric of the times there are those who believe that calling out racism is racism.  This is captured in video of Gingrich Super Pac spokesman Rick Tyler.  One of the more interesting bits of the exchange between Tyler and Rev. Al Sharpton comes when Sharpton asks Tyler for specific policies which should appeal to African American voters. All Tyler provides are the three highly generalized pillars of Financialism: Less government (deregulation), less taxation, and more freedom.

** Gee, we never could have guessed. When Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker announced his five appointees to the Small Business Regulatory Review Board it was quickly noticed that four of the five were donors to his campaign. Opponents of Walker may have secured over 1 million signatures for his recall, but Walker is prepared to spend major money (mostly from out of state donors) to maintain his office. [CSMonitor]

** It’s February, it’s Black History Month, and David A. Love has an excellent piece debunking the 10 Biggest Myths about Black History.

** Jared Bernstein provides The Chart of the Day:


Want to ask again if the Stimulus Bill (ARRA) failed?

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Filed under 2012 election, abortion, Adelson, racism, Romney, Women's Issues, Womens' Rights