Roundup: Private Life, Public Policy, Mexico City’s Quick Evolution, Human Rights for Sex Workers

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Roundup: Private Life, Public Policy, Mexico City’s Quick Evolution, Human Rights for Sex Workers

Emily Douglas

Bristol Palin's pregnancy raises questions about Sarah Palin's positions on contraception and sexuality education; Mexico City's reproductive health climate evolved dramatically in just three years; sex workers need their human rights respected.

Private Life, Public Policy…

For the Washington Post’s Ruth Marcus, Republican VP pick Sarah Palin’s daughter Bristol’s pregnancy does have public policy consequences. Writes Marcus, "Like it or not, Bristol Palin’s pregnancy is intertwined with an
important public policy debate about which the two parties differ and
on which Sarah Palin has been outspoken." Bristol’s pregnancy sends a message: that "talking about abstinence turns out to be easier than abstaining." Marcus observes, "More
than 60 percent of high school seniors report having had sex at least
once…The most we as parents can hope for is to insulate our children, as best we can, from the consequences of their own stupidity."

On Feministing, Ann Friedman has pointed out that the Palins and the McCain campaign are co-opting the language of choice — suggesting that Bristol made the decision to carry her pregnancy to term — while neither Sarah Palin herself nor John McCain support Bristol’s right to have that choice. "It’s absolutely absurd for the campaign to emphasize the fact that
Bristol ‘made this decision,’ and then push for policies that take away
that choice…the reason that the McCain campaign chose to emphasize Bristol’s
agency in this decision was to reassure the public that this pregnancy
is not coercive," Friedman writes. "They know the public wants to feel secure in the
knowledge that it was Bristol’s choice to keep the pregnancy."

The Chicago Sun-Times’s Carol Marin steers the question away from Palin’s family life to the consequences of Palin’s positions for every other American family’s life, specifically around issues of contraceptive access and family planning: "We have no right invading this young woman’s life. But we have every
right and responsibility in this presidential campaign to question John
McCain and Sarah Palin about the Bush administration’s attack on family
planning and how, if at all, they would change it."

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And Rebecca Traister is frustrated that the nomination of the second woman ever for vice-president by a major political party immediately devolved into soap opera.

Mexico City’s Abortion Legalization Marks Rapid Change…

Mexico City’s legalization of abortion would have been unthinkable even three years ago, says Jo Tuckman on The Guardian’s Comment Is Free.  Even recently, the pro-choice movement in Mexico was more focused on promoting safety measures for illegal abortions (readily accessible to Mexican women of means) than on legalizing the procedure.  And conservative groups didn’t seek prosecution of women who sought illegal abortion.  But in 2007, writes Tuckman, everything changed:

The same leftwing party in power in the capital for a decade in which it had done little more than tinker with the theoretical restrictions, suddenly changed tack. It passed a bill not only permitting legal abortions in the first trimester, but also obligating city medical services to provide them for free. The issue was suddenly out of the cupboard and the unwritten hush code smashed.

The bigger picture? Societies are often far more ready for social change than we might think: "The story of the recent advance of abortion rights in Mexico is beginning to sound like a fable for how societies are often much readier to face their taboos than they are given credit for."

Sex Workers’ Rights Are Human Rights…

Sex Workers Project director Juhu Thukral offers a comprehensive explanation of the essential human rights needs of sex workers, and outlines the differing beliefs among feminists about the use of law and the criminal justice system in addressing violence against sex workers.