Womens Issues

Really? Updated College Sexual Assault Prevention Guidelines are Federal Overreach?

by Zach Hudson, NSDP Communications Director

Remember Todd Akin, the GOP Senate candidate in Missouri who talked about “legitimate rape?”  Akin’s comments were ignorant, insensitive, and out-of-touch.  Which is why we were disappointed Nevada Republicans seem to be taking their cues on women’s health from Todd Akin.

Last week, the Republican nominee for Nevada Controller, Ron Knecht, wrote an op-ed where he essentially said new guidelines to prevent sexual assault on college campuses are an example of federal overreach.  He even blamed programs to prevent sexual assault for the increase in college tuition!

Let’s make sure Republicans like this never get elected to office – join Democrat Andrew Martin’s campaign for Controller by clicking here today.

Ron Knecht’s comments were moronic, but unfortunately not surprising.  Whether it’s Sen. Dean Heller’s support for restricting access to contraception, Rep. Joe Heck’s votes to ban abortion for rape victims and to weaken the Violence Against Women Act, or Nevada Republican Senate Leader, and former Tom DeLay operative, Michael Roberson, supporting “personhood” measures which could outlaw forms of birth control, Nevada Republicans time and time again demonstrate they are completely clueless when it comes to women’s health.

Fortunately, Nevadans have a clear choice in the election for State Controller.  While Ron Knecht is focused on criticizing programs to help sexual assault victims, Democratic nominee Andrew Martin will focus on managing the state’s finances.

Click here to join Andrew’s campaign and tell Nevada Republicans when it comes to women’s health decisions, #ItsNotUpToThem.

Sen Heller Betrays NV’s Women; Votes to Filibuster Hobby Lobby Fix

Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) Betrays NV's Women

Sen. Dean Heller
Betrays NV’s Women

When the Supreme Court made the terrible decision to allow corporations like Hobby Lobby to discriminate against women, members of Congress were ready to fight back to defend women’s access to birth control.

Senators Murray, Udall and Boxer quickly introduced a bill to make sure that corporations can’t interfere with employees’ access to health care, including birth control, as provided for by the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) under federal law. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid fast-tracked the bill, bringing it for a full vote in the Senate today.

Not surprisingly, Republicans, including Nevada’s own Senator Dean Heller,  used the filibuster to block an up-or-down vote on the bill, meaning it will now take 60 votes to pass this bill. Only two Republicans broke from their caucus’s en bloc action — Senators Kirk and Murkowski.

Republicans continue to use the filibuster to shut down sensible legislation, and provide cover for their members who don’t want to go on the record in opposition to things like birth control access for women, common sense gun law reform, or relief for crushing student loan debt.

This week, they used the filibuster to block a legislative remedy for the disastrous Hobby Lobby v. Burwell decision. Outrageously, the five male justices on the Supreme Court ruled that the contraception mandate violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. In oral arguments, Chief Justice John Roberts suggested that Congress could exempt the Affordable Care Act from the RFRA as a way of protecting the inclusion of contraception as preventative care in the ACA. The Protect Women’s Health from Corporate Interference Act does exactly that, and would have protected not only women’s access to contraception from employer discrimination, but any employees’ access to any health care provided through the Affordable Care Act.

Tell Senate Republicans to end their filibuster and allow a vote on women’s access to birth control. Click the link below to automatically sign the petition:

Take-Action

Vote #228 held on July 16, 2014, 02:09 PM EDT  on the Motion to Proceed (Motion to Invoke Cloture on the Motion to Proceed to S.2578 )

YEAs —56
Baldwin (D-WI)
Begich (D-AK)
Bennet (D-CO)
Blumenthal (D-CT)
Booker (D-NJ)
Boxer (D-CA)
Brown (D-OH)
Cantwell (D-WA)
Cardin (D-MD)
Carper (D-DE)
Casey (D-PA)
Collins (R-ME)
Coons (D-DE)
Donnelly (D-IN)
Durbin (D-IL)
Feinstein (D-CA)
Franken (D-MN)
Gillibrand (D-NY)
Hagan (D-NC)
Harkin (D-IA)
Heinrich (D-NM)
Heitkamp (D-ND)
Hirono (D-HI)
Johnson (D-SD)
Kaine (D-VA)
King (I-ME)
Kirk (R-IL)
Klobuchar (D-MN)
Landrieu (D-LA)
Leahy (D-VT)
Levin (D-MI)
Manchin (D-WV)
Markey (D-MA)
McCaskill (D-MO)
Menendez (D-NJ)
Merkley (D-OR)
Mikulski (D-MD)
Murkowski (R-AK)
Murphy (D-CT)
Murray (D-WA)
Nelson (D-FL)
Pryor (D-AR)
Reed (D-RI)
Rockefeller (D-WV)
Sanders (I-VT)
Schumer (D-NY)
Shaheen (D-NH)
Stabenow (D-MI)
Tester (D-MT)
Udall (D-CO)
Udall (D-NM)
Walsh (D-MT)
Warner (D-VA)
Warren (D-MA)
Whitehouse (D-RI)
Wyden (D-OR)
NAYs —43
Alexander (R-TN)
Ayotte (R-NH)
Barrasso (R-WY)
Blunt (R-MO)
Boozman (R-AR)
Burr (R-NC)
Chambliss (R-GA)
Coats (R-IN)
Coburn (R-OK)
Cochran (R-MS)
Corker (R-TN)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Crapo (R-ID)
Cruz (R-TX)
Enzi (R-WY)
Fischer (R-NE)
Flake (R-AZ)
Graham (R-SC)
Grassley (R-IA)
Hatch (R-UT)
Heller (R-NV)
Hoeven (R-ND)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Isakson (R-GA)
Johanns (R-NE)
Johnson (R-WI)
Lee (R-UT)
McCain (R-AZ)
McConnell (R-KY)
Moran (R-KS)
Paul (R-KY)
Portman (R-OH)
Reid (D-NV)
Risch (R-ID)
Roberts (R-KS)
Rubio (R-FL)
Scott (R-SC)
Sessions (R-AL)
Shelby (R-AL)
Thune (R-SD)
Toomey (R-PA)
Vitter (R-LA)
Wicker (R-MS)

 

Not Voting – 1
Schatz (D-HI)

#ItsNotUpToThem Week

— Roberta Lange, Nevada State Democratic Party Chair

A few weeks ago, the United States Supreme Court issued a backwards ruling that allows for-profit corporate CEOs to make medical decisions that should be made between a woman and her doctor.  That’s right – in the year 2014, the Supreme Court thinks female employees’ healthcare decisions should be made in a corporate boardroom, not a doctor’s office.

This week, the United States Senate will vote on legislation to address the Supreme Court’s ruling and ensure women who work at for-profit corporations have access to reproductive healthcare.  While Democrats like Senator Reid, Reps. Dina Titus and Steven Horsford, and Erin Bilbray support ensuring women have access to reproductive healthcare, Republicans like Dean Heller and Joe Heck have consistently voted to restrict women’s access to contraception.

In support of the Senate bill, Nevada Democrats are launching #ItsNotUpToThem week.  All week we will be highlighting how dangerous the Republican agenda is for the health of Nevada women.  Because whether it’s Mark Hutchison leading the charge to go back to a time where private insurance companies could treat being a woman as a pre-existing condition, or Joe Heck voting to weaken the Violence Against Women Act, it’s time we send a message to Nevada Republicans that women’s healthcare decisions aren’t up to them or corporate bosses.

Sign your name here to tell Republicans it’s 2014, not 1914.    


Please note that Roberta mentioned Candidate Erin Bilbray who is running agains Rep. Joe Heck, but failed to mention Candidate Kristen Spees who is running against Rep. Mark Amodei to represent those of us who are unfortunate enough to live in NV-Congressional District 2!

NOT My Boss’s Business!

NotMyBossBusiness

Corporate owners are NOT entitled to SUPER-CITIZENSHIP RIGHTS that they can wield in a discriminatory fashion against their employees. It’s time to end this culture war once and for all in November. We, as Democrats, need to encourage everybody we know to go to the polls and vote for folks who will actively work for the benefit of not just men, but women too.  If we don’t vote and if we don’t convince our Independent and Non-Partisan friends to vote with us, we’ll have nothing but gridlock in Washington, one government shutdown after another and the introduction of second-class citizenship for women.

Think Supreme Court’s Burwell v. Hobby Lobby ruling was just about birth control? Think again!

— Anthony Romero, ACLU Action team

HobbyLobby01

Immediately after the Hobby Lobby ruling, Rick Warren and other high-profile religious leaders began lobbying the Obama administration. Their demand? A religious exemption from his executive order which would ban federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. This is not about freedom of religion—it’s about corporations using religion as a license to discriminate with taxpayer dollars.

This executive order is the next battleground between those clamoring for exemptions and those, like us, who believe that religious liberty shouldn’t be an excuse to impose your beliefs on others. While we can’t change the Supreme Court’s ruling, we can call on Obama to resist the pressure from the religious right.

Urge Obama to protect LGBT workers. Let him know we don’t support giving federal contractors the legal right to discriminate.

The Court’s decision created the potential for far-reaching, discriminatory ramifications. In their ruling, they set a dangerous precedent, sanctioning discrimination against women under the guise of religious liberty. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said it best: “the court, I fear, has ventured into a minefield.”

Just yesterday, the ACLU withdrew support for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act because of a loophole that would grant religiously affiliated organizations free rein to engage in workplace discrimination against LGBT people–the very thing ENDA is intended to prevent.

There is a clear line connecting the Court’s ruling about contraception and the hiring and firing of LGBT employees. That line is allowing bosses to use their personal religious beliefs to discriminate against their employees.

If tens of thousands of us speak out against this today, we can help Obama resist the mounting pressure from religious groups seeking the right to discriminate.

Tell Obama not to water down his landmark anti-discrimination executive order by including religious exemption.

Our bosses’ beliefs shouldn’t impact our rights as an employee. Let’s stop this before the floodgates open. Sign our petition today.

Corporate Rights Trump Women’s Health in Hobby Lobby Ruling

‘This ruling goes out of its way to declare that discrimination against women isn’t discrimination.’

- Lauren McCauley, staff writer at Common Dreams

SCOTUS5

Defenders of women’s health and reproductive freedom are reacting with anger to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on Monday which ruled that an employer with religious objection can opt out of providing contraception coverage to their employees under the Affordable Care Act.

Writing for the majority side of the 5-4 decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, Justice Samuel Alito argued that the “the HHS mandate demands that they engage in conduct that seriously violates [employers'] religious beliefs.”

Rights advocates were quick to condemn the court’s decision.

“Today’s decision from five male justices is a direct attack on women and our fundamental rights. This ruling goes out of its way to declare that discrimination against women isn’t discrimination,” said Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America.

“Allowing bosses this much control over the health-care decisions of their employees is a slippery slope with no end,” Hogue continued. “Every American could potentially be affected by this far-reaching and shocking decision that allows bosses to reach beyond the boardroom and into their employees’ bedrooms. The majority claims that its ruling is limited, but that logic doesn’t hold up. Today it’s birth control; tomorrow it could be any personal medical decision, from starting a family to getting life-saving vaccinations or blood transfusions.”

Ninety-nine percent of sexually active women in the U.S. use birth control for a variety of health reasons, according to research by women’s health organizations.

“The fact of the matter is that birth control is a wildly popular and medically necessary part of women’s health care,” said Nita Chaudhary, co-founder of UltraViolet, a national women’s advocacy organization.Chaudhary adds that despite it’s clear necessity for the reproductive health of the majority of women, one in three women have struggled at some point to afford birth control.

Monday’s ruling focuses specifically on companies that are “closely-held,” which analysts report covers over 90 percent of businesses in the United States.

The dissenting opinion, penned by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and supported by Justice Sonia Sotomayor and mostly joined by Justices Elena Kagan and Stephen Breyer, acknowledges that the decision was of “startling breadth” and said that it allows companies to “opt out of any law (saving only tax laws) they judge incompatible with their sincerely held religious beliefs.”

The opinion was based largely on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which provides that a law that burdens a person’s religious beliefs must be justified by a compelling government interest.

“There is an overriding interest, I believe, in keeping the courts ‘out of the business of evaluating the relative merits of differing religious claims,’” Ginsburg adds, concluding: “The Court, I fear, has ventured into a minefield.”

Echoing Ginsburg’s concern, Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State called the ruling “a double-edged disaster,” saying it “conjures up fake religious freedom rights for corporations while being blind to the importance of birth control to America’s working women.”

Similar reactions were expressed on Twitter following the news. Summarizing the crux of the decision, NBC producer Jamil Smith wrote:

The Hobby Lobby decision means that in terms of personhood, corporations > women. And Christianity > everyone else.

— Jamil Smith (@JamilSmith) June 30, 2014

Others, joining Ginsburg’s outrage that now “legions of women who do not hold their employers’ beliefs” would be denied essential health coverage, expressed their opinions under the banner “#jointhedissent.”

#jointhedissent Tweets

The majority opinion leaves open the possibility that the federal government can cover the cost of contraceptives for women whose employers opt out, leaving many to look to the Obama administration for their next move.

_____________________

  This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

Related Posts:

An Anti-Shackling Wake-Up Call

Image

Anti-shackling protestors in NY in 2009

— By Heather Schultz

Female incarceration rates are growing twice as fast as male incarceration rates and the prison system remains decades behind on women’s reproductive rights. The majority of states do not protect incarcerated women against shackling procedures, where they are forced to give birth while physically restrained. This unnecessary practice is both inhumane and humiliating as it involves the placement of shackles and handcuffs around a woman’s ankles and/or wrists, as well as chains around their stomach throughout labor and delivery. Those in favor of shackling also argue that it is necessary to prevent incarcerated women from harming themselves and others, but in fact, the majority of incarcerated women are nonviolent offenders.

This month, Massachusetts and Minnesota enacted laws that prohibit the shackling of incarcerated women during labor, childbirth, and recovery. They join 19 other states that have adopted anti-shackling legislation. As the prison system gradually learns to apply a gender-sensitive lens, the unconstitutional and barbaric practice of shackling must be abolished entirely at the local, state, and federal levels.

Read more here.

You’re Allowed To Carry A Gun Into The Texas Senate Gallery, But Not A Tampon

By Tara Culp-Ressler on Jul 12, 2013 at 4:08 pm

imageOn Friday afternoon, the Texas Senate will vote on a package of abortion restrictions that Republican lawmakers have been attempting to push through a special session. After State Sen. Wendy Davis (D-TX) successfully blocked a vote on the legislation last month with a 13-hour filibuster that was aided by disruptions from hundreds of protesters in the gallery, Senate Republicans aren’t taking any chances this time.

According to Jessica Luther, a freelance writer and pro-choice activist who has been coordinating much of the push-back to the proposed abortion restrictions over the past few weeks, Senate officials are confiscating any objects they believe may cause a similar disruption in the gallery during Friday’s vote. Protesters aren’t allowed to carry water bottles or even feminine hygiene products, just in case they might throw them at lawmakers:

image

Even though the Texas legislature may not be comfortable with feminine hygiene products, it’s a bit more relaxed when it comes to firearms. Individuals with concealed carry licenses are permitted to bring their guns into the Senate gallery. In fact, a Texas Republican recently insinuated he might do just that during the current special session.

In a recent interview with the National Review Online, state Rep. Jonathan Strickland (R) expressed concern over becoming the target of violence as thousands of angry pro-choice activists rally at the capitol. When asked whether those concerns would inspire him to carry a hidden gun this session, he said he couldn’t legally answer that question. But he did add, “I very, very often do concealed-carry, I can say that.”

Since activists aren’t allowed to carry tampons or pads on their person, they have asked supporters to send feminine products to the capitol building so they can stock the bathrooms for the women who may need them.


This material [the article above] was created by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It was created for the Progress Report, the daily e-mail publication of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Click here to subscribe.

The confiscation of Tampons and Kotex at the Texas Statehouse started a trend on Twitter: #FamousTamponQuotes.  Some of the modified quotes were hilarious.

Today’s Mad Men

The military justice system needs a 21st century wake-up call.

— by Colleen Teubner

Colleen_Teubner

I remember when I first started watching Mad Men. Like most of America, I got hooked. How could I not? The glitz and glamour of 1960s Manhattan was irresistible. But from the very first episode, I knew there was something deeply wrong with this world — the business-as-usual, casual attitude towards sexual harassment.

As a modern “working gal,” I can’t imagine being productive in that kind of environment. In fact, I know I wouldn’t be. I’d be uncomfortable and unhappy, and my performance would suffer. We may not have equal pay for women yet, but at least workplace sexual harassment is no longer considered playful banter.

Aren’t we mostly past the Mad Men era? Not if you’re in the armed forces.

Our military men and women risk their safety everyday — but not in the ways you might think. The most recent Pentagon survey revealed that out of the estimated 26,000 sexual assaults that occurred in the military in 2012, only 3,374 cases were reported. That brings the report rate to a meager 13 percent, compared with the national average of 46 percent.

With all the progress women have made in the military, why is the sexual assault reporting rate so low?

The answer is clear: Military commanders have created an environment where women are afraid to stand up to their attackers. Of the women who reported instances of sexual assault, 62 percent suffered retaliation. The current system forces survivors to make an impossible choice: career or due process? It looks like the military justice system needs a 21st century wake-up call.

And Senator Kirsten Gillibrand agrees. The New York Democrat proposed a bill that would remove prosecuting power from the military chain of command. She wants to replace this outdated system with a new one that would inspire confidence through accountability.

That makes sense, doesn’t it? Not to Senator Carl Levin (D-MI). Instead, Levin agrees with the top brass that the prosecution of assault cases should be kept within the ranks.

This won’t work. It’s already failed.

And James Taranto isn’t helping. The Wall Street Journal writer offers living proof that misogyny remains alive and well today. Taranto wrote that any attempt to address the military’s sexual assault problem is the equivalent of declaring a “war on men” and an “effort to criminalize male sexuality.”

Really? Justice for sexual assault survivors threatens your sexuality? Tell that to the 70 women and men who are attacked every day.

I think we can all agree that this hasn’t been the best year for women. First, there was the media sympathy toward the Steubenville rapists. Then came the news that the already overwhelming number of sexual assaults in the military had increased yet again. And recently, the House of Representatives passed a bill that would prohibit abortion procedures after 20 weeks of pregnancy, down from the current 24 weeks.

It’s unrealistic to expect that the sources of these problems — the media, military, and the misinformed — can, or will, develop constructive solutions.

I understand that military commanders want the opportunity to reform from within, but the time for Mad Men style, backroom meetings is over. When Gillibrand reintroduces her bill later this summer, Congress needs to give change a chance.

Colleen Teubner is a student at the George Washington University and an OtherWords intern at the Institute for Policy Studies. OtherWords.org.  Photo credit to www.feedtacoma.com