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.

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A Deceptive Win on Plan B for Women

Our reproductive rights are still in danger.

By 
Kathleen_JoyceGood news for advocates of sensible birth control policy: The Obama administration announced that it’s dropping the fight to impose an age restriction on sales of Plan B One-Step, the emergency contraception pill.

Reproductive rights advocates are celebrating this move toward empowering all women to make their own decisions regarding their own bodies.

gruntzooki/Flickr

It’s about damn time. Considering the glaring need for safe and available contraception for all women, I’m glad the government finally has our backs on this one.

But don’t let your guard down just yet.

Representative Trent Franks (R-AZ) said recently that the percentage of pregnancies resulting from rape is “very low,” so victims of rape shouldn’t be exempt from his proposed ban on abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy.

Thanks to the uproar his remarks made, the bill did wind up with exceptions for survivors of incest and women who are raped and report the crime within 48 hours. The House passed his legislation 228-196. Representative Michael Burgess, a Texas Republican, made yet more weird comments in the course of the debate: He implied that male fetuses masturbate at 15 weeks.

There’s no chance the bill would clear the Senate and President Barack Obama is threatening to veto the measure if it somehow did. But, seriously? This is happening again?

Franks’ ban involves radically shifting the deadline for legal abortions, making it weeks earlier than the standard set by Roe v. Wade.

Summary of provisions of H.R. 1797: Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act

  • Amends the federal criminal code to prohibit any person from performing or attempting to perform an abortion within the District of Columbia except in conformity with this Act’s requirements.
  • Requires the physician to first make a determination of the probable post-fertilization age of the unborn child, or reasonably rely upon such a determination made by another physician, by making inquiries of the pregnant woman and performing such medical examinations and tests as a reasonably prudent physician would consider necessary.
  • Prohibits the abortion from being performed if the probable post-fertilization age of the unborn child is 20 weeks or greater.
  • Makes an exception where necessary to save the life of a pregnant woman whose life is endangered by a physical disorder, illness, or injury, excluding psychological or emotional conditions.
  • Makes an exception where the pregnancy is the result of rape, or the result of incest against a minor, if the rape has been reported at any time prior to the abortion to an appropriate law enforcement agency, or if the incest against a minor has been reported at any time prior to the abortion to an appropriate law enforcement agency or to a government agency legally authorized to act on reports of child abuse or neglect.
  • Permits a physician to terminate a pregnancy under such exception only in the manner which provides the best opportunity for the unborn child to survive, unless termination of the pregnancy in that manner would pose a greater risk of the death or substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function, not including psychological or emotional conditions, of the pregnant woman than would other available methods.
  • Prescribes penalties for violations.
  • Bars prosecution of a woman upon whom an abortion is performed in violation of this Act, but authorizes such a woman or the father or maternal grandparent of the unborn child to obtain appropriate relief through a civil action.
  • Provides for injunctive relief to prevent violations.
  • Sets forth specified privacy protections in court proceedings for the woman upon whom an abortion has been performed.
  • Whoever violates the act shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for not more than 5 years, or both.

It’s safe to say that not all Republicans learned from the fiasco caused by Representative Akin (R-MO) and his incredibly offensive theory of “legitimate rape.” Or the electoral disaster that befell Richard Mourdock, an Indiana Republican who lost his Senate bid last year after implying that post-rape pregnancy was some kind of gift from God.

Though Franks quickly attempted to walk back his outrageous, not to mention false, comment, his statement reveals his total ignorance and insensitivity. It’s a bad sign for women who value their reproductive health. Once again, it looks like medical evidence, especially the kind that involves lady parts, isn’t welcome in the GOP.

Individual states are also advancing anti-choice, anti-women legislation. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker says he’ll sign into law a bill requiring women seeking abortions to look at images of their fetus through an ultrasound — an invasive medical procedure that, in this case, is a cruel and unusual punishment for women already making a difficult decision.

Though there’s no evidence that ultrasounds deter women from having abortions, 21 states already have some form of pre-procedure ultrasound law. Walker told reporters “I don’t have any problem with ultrasound.” That’s nice, Governor. Why don’t you get one?

The state’s legislative drive to strip women in Wisconsin of their reproductive rights also includes a measure that would allow employers to refuse to cover contraception in their health insurance plans.

As a young woman about to enter the workforce, this is a particularly scary one. I don’t want to have to turn down my dream job because of gaping holes in my potential employer’s insurance plan. Forget dream job — in today’s hyper-competitive conditions, I can’t afford to turn down any job.

And I feel like my rights are under siege. My right to choose what happens to my own body should be inviolable, plain and simple. I shouldn’t be forced to undergo an unnecessary medical procedure before I can choose what’s right for me and for my family. It insults me that these lawmakers want to make such an important decision for me, a decision that should belong to me and to my doctor.

So the federal government’s decision to stop standing between women and effective emergency contraception is a great start, but it’s just that: a start. Women may have just gotten a new tool with which to fend off the anti-choice lobby, but the threat to our control over our own bodies is still looming as large as ever.


Kathleen Robin Joyce is a student at Georgetown University and an OtherWords intern at the Institute for Policy Studies.  Photo Credit to: gruntzooki/Flickr Distributed by OtherWords.org

I’m So Flipping Angry, Yet I’m So Flipping Proud

by Xio Rodriguez, a proud Democrat

On my way out of a local supermarket, there was a voter registration table by the exit.  To tell you the truth, I had not noticed the table on my way in.  As I approached, there was this young woman who might not be older than maybe 20 talking to a man who I gather was doing the registration.  There was no political affiliation attached to the voter registration group.  So I approached to hear what the man was telling the young woman.

But what about “preexisting conditions” the young woman asked.

“Look, the market and the insurance companies would take care of that, that whole idea that insurance companies would deny service or coverage is just something that is not really true,” he said.

At this point, the blood in my veins started to boil, but I kept my cool.

“But what about contraception,” the young woman asked.

“Look darling, the best method of contraception for a young and beautiful girl like you is to avoid sex; abstinence is the best way to avoid getting pregnant. Just remember that we are just trying to protect you,” he said

Once again, I had to control my temper; I wanted so much to ask him if abstinence is the best way to control a pregnancy, does that also go for men.  Does it not make more sense to teach our young people the importance of making sure they are protected to avoid an unwanted pregnancy?

Also, “protect” me against what?  Women are very capable of making decisions about their bodies.  We don’t need some man or the government to tell us what is and what is not best for us.  Many of us, in our daily lives, make life or death decisions in an instant; we are in war zones, we pilot planes (both commercial and military), we are astronauts, doctors, firefighters, police officers, and so on and so on.  We can make the hard everyday decisions, but we CANNOT MAKE DECISIONS ABOUT OUR BODIES.  REALLY!

Yes, I was just one step away from going off on this man when the young woman looked at me as if to say “please keep calm” and then she continued:  “But what about abortion in cases of rape and incest,” she asked.

“Look darling, you know as well as I do that many cases of so called rape are women trying to cover up an indiscretion and that way being able to have an abortion.  Remember that legitimate or as some want to say forcible rapes are really not all that common, and looking at you, I know you are a good girl and that will never happen to you,” he said.

After those words my young friend was calm.  I, on the other hand, was about to jump the table and tell him a few things, because as a two time rape survivor (yes I said it two times), I know a little bit about what being raped is all about.  Rape is something that has no social, racial, or economic barriers.  It can and it could happen to anyone.  It is something that is with you for the rest of your life.  What is this “retrograde” saying?  What does he really know about being raped?  There was so much I wanted to tell him, but my young friend once again gave me one of those looks.

Then she said, “Can I have one of the forms?”  I watched her fill in each box very carefully and I watched the expression of triumph on his face I was sure he was thinking “one more for my side.”  After she finished and signed the form, she handed it to him.  He looked it over and then said, “I can’t take your form, you are going to have to mail it in or take it personally.  All forms for THEM have to be mailed in or taken in.”

My young friend took her form back and without a word walked away.  I followed her and asked if I could see her form. She showed me and, yes, it was the wrong party for him, but the right party for me.

She looked at me and said, “I just needed to find out what they were saying and doing, so we can give our young people the proper information to face people like him.  Thanks for keeping your cool.”  Then she walked away.

So, my question to all women reading this today is simple:  Come November, which way are you going to go, the way of those who want government DICTATING control over your BODY or the way of those who are going to let you make your own decisions REGARDING YOUR BODYThink about it!