(Some) Good News for Summer
In the arena of justice and equity for women and girls this can be equally true, with a recent Facebook posting by a male UU ministerial colleague mine this past week bleakly reminding all of his “friends” on social media that in 2013 alone there were 624 bills introduced in states and on the federal level intended to regulate women’s bodies — vs. none in the entire history of men. As a former journalist, I would have liked to have fact checked this statement, but intuitively I believe this is in the ballpark of accuracy. Which can make the dog days of August even more disconsolate for me than ever, with gratitude only that our elected bodies are mostly on summer break, with at least a respite from further inroads into our human dignity — privacy and sovereignty over our own lives. But then there are some good pieces of news, that I clip and save in a folder called just that good news for females — some of which I want to share because we need some sense of hopefulness as we gear up for yet another year of attacks and challenges:
- A bipartisan group of US Senators has introduced legislation aimed at curbing the number of sexual assaults on college campuses, requiring these schools to make public ( publish online) the results of anonymous surveys documenting these occurrences and imposing hefty fines for violations of this requirement for all colleges and universities receiving federal financial aid. The proposed bill, the Clery Act, would also require these schools to provide confidential advisors to help victims report their crimes and receive follow up services. There is also a prohibition for punishing students for surrounding behaviors—like underage drinking—if they are reporting a sexual violence incident.
- Last week a federal appellate court ruled that Mississippi’s 2012 law requiring doctors performing abortions to obtain admitting privileges at local hospitals, creating such a chilling effect and barrier — as many hospital reject or ignore these applications and will not grant privileges to out of state doctors — that the initial implementation of the law nearly forced the closure of the state’s last abortion clinic. The ruling was 2-1 with the majority judges holding that every state must guarantee constitutional rights, including the right to end a pregnancy through abortion, as determined through the US Supreme Court decision in l973. The doctor’s privileges law that had been signed by Gov. Phil Bryant had, in their view, “effectively extinguished that right within Mississippi’s borders.”
- An interview in last Sunday’s NY Times book review section with popular novelist Amy Bloom gave a boost to the notion that there needs to be more and more compelling writing about why women’s reproductive rights are so important to this country, as she told her interviewer when asked to say what one book she wished someone else should write. She would hope that such a book, “clearly and persuasively articulated,” would make all opposition to reproductive rights “vanish like morning mist.”
Next week: A look at the new sermon resource from the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, of which the UUWF is a founding member and I am your representative to the Coalition Council.