Morning After Pill to be Made Available Without Age Restrictions
On April 6, a U.S. federal judge ordered that the Morning-After Pill be made available “without a prescription and without point-of-sale or age restrictions within thirty days.”
Judge Edward R. Korman of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York issued his Memorandum Opinion and Order in Tummino v. Hamburg which reversed a prior decision by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Health and Human Services (HHS).
Judge Korman found that “[t]hese emergency contraceptives would be among the safest drugs sold over-the-counter.”
Citing the Obama administration‘s “unjustified departures” from established policy to make safe medications available to the public, the court found that the administration invoked arguments that were an “excuse to deprive the overwhelming majority of women of their right to obtain contraceptives without unjustified and burdensome restrictions.”
Referring to “political interference” from the White House, the judge stated “the motivation for [Secretary Sebelius'] action was obviously political. … [I]t was an election year decision that ‘many public health experts saw as a politically motivated effort to avoid riling religious groups and others opposed to making birth control available to girls.’”
And, according to the press release from National Women’s Liberation (NWL): For over a decade, grassroots feminist activists with National Women’s Liberation – who include the lead Plaintiffs in the Tummino case – have been waging the most important fight on expanding access to birth control in decades in the United States: to make the Morning-After Pill available over-the counter without any restrictions on age or how it can be sold. Today’s ruling is a significant victory in the fight for reproductive rights.
Ten years of speakouts, consciousness-raising, petition gathering, phonebanking, flashmobs, sitting-in and putting pressure on the Food and Drug Administration helped make this court decision possible. Women cannot be on equal footing with men if we can’t decide when and if we will bear a child. Morning-after pill over-the-counter gives women an enormous freedom. Organizing pays.
Plaintiff and NWL-New York Chapter organizer Erin Mahoney said, “The Morning-After Pill was already available without a prescription in at least 63 other countries, including the United Kingdom, France, Denmark and Ghana. We are glad the U.S. has finally caught up to women around the world, but it shouldn’t have taken over a decade of pressure from feminists, our allies and a lawsuit.”
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Abortion Ban Trends 2013
According to a recent article in RH Reality Check, Abortion restrictions have have once again been in the forefront of bills introduced in many state legislatures in 2013, as they were in 2011 and 2012.
But unlike in recent years, when many laws were aimed at regulating abortion (for example, requirements that women undergo an ultrasound, clinic regulations or insurance restrictions), this year, legislators seem to be focusing on banning abortion outright—either by declaring that “personhood” begins at the moment of conception or by prohibiting abortion even during the first trimester of pregnancy.
During the first three months of 2013, legislators in 14 states introduced provisions seeking to ban abortion prior to viability.
These bans fall into three categories: measures that would prohibit all abortions, those that would ban abortions after a specified point during the first trimester of pregnancy–as little as 6 weeks into the pregnancy in the case of North Dakota–and those that would block abortions at 20 weeks after fertilization.
All of these proposals are in direct violation of U.S. Supreme Court decisions including Roe versus Wade.
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France to Implement Free Abortion and Birth Control
On April 1st The French state began reimbursing100 percent of the cost of abortions–and giving girls and women aged between 15 and 18 access to free birth control. They are able able to access it anonymously, to avoid embarassment.
Until now, French women over 18 could only receive up to 80 percent of the cost of an abortion. The move to full reimbursement, which was one of French President François Hollande’s 2012 campaign promises and is part of the 2013 social security budget, is designed to improve women’s access to abortions.
And by coupling it with free contraception for younger girls and women, France hopes to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies, and thus the number of abortions.
Abortion was first legalized in France in 1975, though access was limited until 2001.
Despite the expanded access to abortions, France still limits how late in the pregnancy the procedure can be performed, setting the termination deadline at 12 weeks after conception.
These women will be the first generation to experience sex in a society where “sex” itself is not demonized and where protection is not only expected but made readily available.
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Rick Ross Fired by Reebok
Reebok has dropped an endorsement deal with rapper Rick Ross, after much pressure from feminists through protests and social media, including, an online petition with 70,000 signatures, massive tweeting and Facebook ads, a phone campaign and a demonstration at Reebok’s headquarters with signs reading “Hey Reebok: Want my business? Stop promoting rape.” A letter was also sent to the company on behalf of 550 rape survivors. The day after the protest the University of Ottawa cancelled their end-of-the-year concert in which Ross was scheduled to perform
At issue is a lyric by artist Rocko, in which Ross is featured, that goes:
“Put molly all in her champagne/ She ain’t even know it / I took her home and I enjoyed that / she ain’t even know it.”
Molly is a form of MDMA, that distorts the senses and reduces inhibitions.It is considered a date-rape drug
The rapper denied he was alluding to raping a woman after drugging her drink, calling it a misinterpretation and claiming that he had never mentioned the word “rape.”
Reebok fired Ross on April 12, saying: “While we do not believe that Rick Ross condones sexual assault, we are very disappointed he has yet to display an understanding of the seriousness of this issue or an appropriate level of remorse,”
Rocko has since released a new version of his song without Ross and absent the offending lyrics.
Hip Hop Activist and former Green Party candidate for Vice President, Rosa Clemente, called the firing of Ross “a victory for hip hop culture” and said: “We in hip hop culture say NO to rape culture and anyone who thinks it is appropriate to rhyme about rape.”
A number of rappers, such as Talib Kweli have also come out against Ross’ rape lyrics.
Clemente pointed out that 44% of Black and Latina women are sexually assaulted by the time they are age 18.
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Russian Orthodox Leader Warns of the ‘Danger of Feminism’
Patriarch Kirill, the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, warned members of Union of Orthodox Ukrainian Women that feminism is “very dangerous” and could threaten the stability of Russia.
He went on to claim that feminist organizations proclaim the pseudo-freedom of women, which he described as “outside of marriage and…the family” and that while “man must turn his gaze outward” in order to support a family, “woman must be focused inwards, where her children are, where her home is.”
Patriarch Kirill has become a close ally of Vladimir Putin, a connection that was challenged by feminist punk band Pussy Riot in the iconic performance for which they were later found guilty of “hooliganism.”
Krill’s statement takes place against a background of a declining birth rate in Russia, that is not meeting the replacement rate for the population. Putin has called the declining birth rate “Russia’s biggest problem” and vowed to fight with a program he dubbed the “Mother’s Capital Project.” It includes a policy of giving a cash bonus of about $9,000. to each woman who has a second child and for each child after that–as well as increasing childcare services. His goal is 3 children per family–currently the average is 1.3 children per couple.
In 2006, Putin cited the reasons for the low birthrate as being “low incomes, lack of housing, a low level of medical services and the lack of quality education.”
A low birth rate was not a problem in Russia when it was part of the former Soviet Union.
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Below are links to two important stories we wish we’d been able to cover on our April 17 Joy of Resistance show.
1) Issues raised by the trial of Dr. Kermit Gosnell:
As the Dr. Kermit Gosnell murder trial proceeds in Pennsylvania, the Right Wing is trying to make hay out of it by putting out huge amounts of propaganda to the effect that conditions at Gosnell’s clinic are common and raise questions about abortion in general. RH Reality Check took on this issue and JOR recommends articles of theirs below (others can be found at their website).
2) The Sequestration” budget cuts are continuing to have an inordinate impact on women and set us back in our fight for equality.