Roundup: What’s the Matter With Nebraska?

Robin Marty

Nebraska, forced birth for some, denial of prenatal care for others.  Plus an HPV mini roundup.

It was a busy week in Nebraska, where anti-choice and pro-choice factions both butted heads and managed to find a little common ground.

Last week marked the final death of free prenatal care for the poorest of women in Nebraska.  The funds, which originally came from Medicaid aid, were cut off in March due to being used on illegal immigrant women, despite the fact that the unborn children would be legal residents of the country.

Due to the governor’s threatened veto of any bill that would reinstate funding that might go to illegal immigrants, legislators have been searching for a solution that all parties would agree to.

A tentative plan to restore state-funded medical coverage to pregnant Nebraska women who are legal residents would cost between $2.7 million and $3 million annually.

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 State Sen. Jeremy Nordquist of Omaha released the figures on Friday.

 He is one of a handful of senators trying to craft a legislative proposal to give state-and-federal funded medical coverage to some women. They recently lost coverage after the federal government forced the state to stop allowing unborn children to qualify for Medicaid. That had allowed women who didn’t qualify themselves for Medicaid — including illegal immigrants — to get Medicaid-covered care.

An earlier plan to restore state-funded prenatal care fell flat because it would have helped illegal immigrants.

Legislators opposing the plan are being asked to look at some startling facts about prenatal care, a stark reminder of what denying healthcare can do.

Senators were shocked by one statistic presented at the noon meeting: a 4 percent death rate during the first year of life for those babies whose mothers had no prenatal care at all.

The high death rate has many factors, including that mothers who don’t get prenatal care may be less likely to take their children to doctors after birth. But prenatal care does play a role, McVea said.

“It’s very, very clear that early and adequate prenatal care saves lives,” said McVea.

In the meantime, while Nebraska’s “pro-life” contingent is denying adequate medical care to the unborn, they are at the same time pushing more laws to force women who don’t want to have a child to be forced to have one anyway.  Now, she has to prove she’s mentally and physically sound enough for an abortion.

A proposed bill that would require women seeking an abortion to first be screened got first-round approval Friday in the state legislature.

The measure would require a doctor to make sure the woman was not being pressured into having an abortion. The doctor would also check for mental and physical risk factors.

Of course, anti-choice legislators call this move “common sense practice,” and see no irony in pushing for women who don’t want to be pregnant to jump through hoops that might make them have to have children against their will while others who do want their children are denied medical care.

Opponents, led by Sen. Danielle Conrad of Lincoln, described the bill as unconstitutionally vague, impossible to comply with and an extreme departure from medical standards and ethics.

“This bill does nothing to improve women’s health and women’s lives,” Conrad said.

Some also talked of the contrast between concerns expressed for unborn babies through abortion legislation and failed attempts to restore prenatal care for some 1,500 women, including illegal immigrants.

“We’re already seeing women having abortions because they can’t afford prenatal care,” said Sen. Ken Haar of Malcolm.

Sen. Brad Ashford of Omaha predicted that lawmakers would pass two abortion-related bills this session but take no action to help poor, pregnant women.

“Their babies are going to die,” he said. The other proposal, Legislative Bill 1103, would ban late-term abortions.

In Nebraska, it appears to be better to give birth to an unwanted child than a healthy, wanted one.  

Mini Roundup: Suddenly younger people are developing head and neck cancer.  Here’s an easy fix to that.

March 26, 2010

Abortion bills pass Senate panel – Tulsa World

Social justice, abortion, distributism through the looking glass – American Conservative Magazine

Rep. Stupak: Speaker Pelosi had extra health care votes ‘in her pocket’ – Catholic News Agency

PolitiFact: Health care reform legislation does not expand funding for abortion – Media Matters for America

Conservative pro-life stand will kill women by the thousands – Toronto Star

Obama’s abortion deal reverses pro-choice campaign pledge  – Raw Story

Abortion doctor’s killer to call witnesses at sentencing – Kansas City Star

Health care debate: A 16-month drama, with 8 key moments – Alexandria Town Talk

Georgia Senate Votes To Prevent Coercive Abortions – WCTV

Why I wrote the ‘Stupak amendment’ and voted for health-care reform – Washington Post

Charlie Crist Was Pro-Abortion in 1998, Video Surfaces as Rubio Debate Comes –

Bill Would Force Doctors To Screen Women Before Abortions – KETV Omaha

Stupak: We protected life and health care – Detroit Free Press

Kathleen Parker: Abortions coming soon to newly funded health clinics – Pasadena Star-News

Kansas abortion rate shows sharp decrease in 2009 – Kansas Liberty

In Subway Ads on Abortion, a Pretense of Neutrality – New York Times

Health-care reform a win for women – UI The Daily Iowan

New Millennium, Same Old Backlash – Ms. Magazine

The FDA Ignores Court Order on Emergency Contraception – Big Think

The sad truth about Harper and maternal health – Globe and Mail

What the Child-Abuse Scandal Teaches the Church – Newsweek

March 27, 2010

Federally funded abortions are in our future – Washington Post

Senate passes ban on race-based abortions – Augusta Chronicle

Abortion ban proposal to be on Colo. ballot – The Associated Press

GOP unrealistic on health battle – Paradise Post

Conservative bills advance in Kansas –

Senate OKs ban on race-based abortions – Macon Telegraph

Colorado Dem takes national abortion role – The Aurora Sentinel

The key moments in Obama’s struggle to pass health reform – The Hill

ACLU seeks to keep abortion initiative off ballot – Las Vegas Sun

Voters to be asked a 2nd time about abortion –

The Buzz | Rep. Bart Stupak is taking heat from the left and right – Kansas City Star

Anti-abortionists snub women’s rights – Columbia Daily Tribune

Help women negotiate for safe sex – PPAG – Ghana News Agency

March 28, 2010

Hiding behind the Hyde amendment – Fort Worth Star Telegram

Judge Expected to Making Ruling on Illinois Abortion Law – Chicago Public Radio

Stupak: Anti-abortion groups ‘used me as best chance to kill healthcare’ – The Hill (blog)

Utah’s Abortion Bill –

Battle lines on abortion – Los Angeles Times

Anti-abortion bills may be challenged –

Many provisions support abortions –

Stupak feels arrows from his own side – Detroit Free Press

Yooper Anger Both Ways Over Stupak’s ‘Yes’ Vote – NPR

Health clinic assisted a student seeking abortion properly under the law – Seattle Times

Georgetown Students Vote To Fund Abortion Rights Panel – Philadelphia Bulletin

Neugebauer’s nastiness on display – Norristown Times Herald

Most adoptions from China now special-needs cases – The Associated Press

Contraception begets promiscuity – North Shore News

Maternal health includes contraception – Calgary Herald

Majority of Chinese people want two children – Sify

Catholics On Both Sides Protest In Washington – WJZ

HIV positive woman spreads hope in UP – The Hindu

South Africa to launch mass HIV testing drive in April, to test 15 million in … – Aidsmap

Sir Elton John spends his birthday celebrating at HIV awareness centre – Monsters and

HIV/AIDS now in curricula – Business Mirror

Economic crisis could worsen HIV/AIDS epidemic: UN – Reuters

Cabral sees rough sailing on sex education – Malaya

Guru of data takes aim at myths, takes home an HIV tie – Seattle Times

Feminist speaks out against contemporary gender inequality – The College Reporter

March 29, 2010

Anti-abortion movement gains momentum in Mexico – Dallas Morning News

Coloradans To Vote On Abortion Ban In The Fall –

Ruling expected in Ill. abortion notification case – Belleville News Democrat

Headlines: Texas rep. admits to being Stupak heckler – TMD Celebrity News

Med schools vary on abortion instruction – The George Washington University The GW Hatchet

Family planning can reduce maternal deaths by 70% – New Vision

PM’s decision on contraception aid could spark backlash from social conservatives – Hill Times

Speaker Challenges League Members to Advocate for HIV/AIDS Prevention … – eNews Park Forest

Broward County OK’s Safe Schools for LGBT Youth –

The Catholic stance on condoms and HIV – News & Observer

T-cells may limit HIV vaccine success – Scientist Live

Academics less likely to have AIDS – Times LIVE

Legislators let down working families on paid sick leave – Kennebec Journal

Oral sex triggers risk of head and neck cancer in young people –

Cancer: Improve HPV vaccine access – Jackson Clarion Ledger

Korea’s childbirth rate falls for 23rd month – Korea Herald

Nigeria: Why 144 Nigerian Women Die Every Day –

News Law and Policy

California Lawmakers Take Action Against Rampant Wage Theft

Nicole Knight

A survey of people who work for low wages found that wage theft robbed workers of $26.2 million each week in Los Angeles, making the locale the "wage theft capital of the country."

Los Angeles has earned the distinction as the country’s wage theft capital, but a new California law is tackling the rampant problem of wage theft with new enforcement tools.

The law, SB 1342, signed last month by Gov. Jerry Brown (D), gives city and county authorities subpoena powers when investigating wage violations. Until now, the state Division of Labor Standards Enforcement was the primary agency charged with investigating wage theft cases.

State Sen. Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia) authored the legislation to “ensure that our low-wage workers, who already face many challenges, receive the pay that they have earned,” Mendoza wrote in an Orange County Breeze op-ed.

Wage theft is the illegal practice of failing to pay overtime and minimum wages, denying lunch breaks, or forcing employees to work off the clock. A survey of people who work for low wages by the UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment found that wage theft robbed workers of $26.2 million each week in Los Angeles, making the locale the “wage theft capital of the country.”

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Some 654,914 workers in L.A. County are subjected to at least one pay-based violation in any given week, researchers noted.

Most people who work low-wage jobs in L.A. were born outside the United States, and the majority are Latino (73.4 percent), Asian (17.9 percent), or Black (6.3 percent), researchers found.

Wage theft is not only illegal, it contributes to food insecurity and housing instability in low-income families, Mendoza noted.

“This bill protects hard-working Californians by clarifying the ability of cities and counties to investigate non-compliance with local wage laws,” Mendoza said.

A legislative analysis of SB 1342 cited research noting that minimum wage violations are rampant in industries such as garment manufacturing, domestic service, building services, and department stores, where wages are low.

The measure comes as states and cities are increasing minimum wages as lawmakers in Congress have refused to consider raising the federal minimum wage of $7.25.

Brown in April signed a law lifting the statewide minimum pay rate to $15 per hour by 2022. More than a dozen cities, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle, have proposed or enacted $15 minimum wage rates, according to the National Employment Law Project.

Commentary Violence

When It Comes to Threats, Online or on the Campaign Trail, It’s Not Up to Women to ‘Suck It Up’

Lauren Rankin

Threats of violence toward women are commonplace on the internet for the same reason that they are increasingly common at Donald Trump rallies: They are effective at perpetuating violence against women as the norm.

Bizarre and inflammatory rhetoric is nothing new for this election. In fact, the Republican presidential candidate has made an entire campaign out of it. But during a rally last Tuesday, Donald Trump sunk to a new level. He lamented that if Hillary Clinton is elected president in November, there will be no way to stop her from making judicial nominations.

He said, “By the way, and if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don’t know.”

For a candidate marred by offensive comment after offensive comment, this language represents a new low, because, as many immediately explained, Trump appears to be making a veiled threat against Clinton, whether he had intended to or not.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) called it a “death threat” and Dan Rather, former CBS Evening News host, called it a “direct threat of violence against a political rival.” Former President Ronald Reagan’s daughter Patti Davis said it was “horrifying,” and even the author of an NRA-linked blog initially tweeted, “That was a threat of violence. As a real supporter of the #2A it’s appalling to me,” before deleting the tweet as the NRA expressed support for Trump.

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This kind of language is violent in nature on its face, but it is also gendered, following in a long line of misogynistic rhetoric this election season. Chants of “kill the bitch” and “hang the bitch” have become common at Trump rallies. These aren’t solely examples of bitter political sniping; these are overt calls for violence.

When women speak out or assert ourselves, we are challenging long-held cultural norms about women’s place and role in society. Offensively gendered language represents an attempt to maintain the status quo. We’ve seen this violent rhetoric online as well. That isn’t an accident. When individuals throw pejorative terms at those of who refuse to be silenced, they are attempting to render public spaces, online or on the campaign trail, unsafe for us.

There is no shortage of examples demonstrating how individuals who feel threatened by subtle power shifts happening in our society have pushed back against those changes. The interactions happening online, on various social media platforms, offer the most vivid examples of the ways in which people are doing their best to try to make public spaces as uncomfortable as possible for marginalized populations.

Social media offers the opportunity for those whose voices are routinely ignored to hold power in a new way. It is a slow but real shift from old, more traditional structures of privileging certain voices to a more egalitarian megaphone, of sorts.

For marginalized populations, particularly women of color and transgender women, social media can provide an opportunity to be seen and heard in ways that didn’t exist before. But it also means coming up against a wall of opposition, often represented in a mundane but omnipresent flow of hatred, abuse, and violent threats from misogynist trolls.

The internet has proven to be a hostile place for women. According to a report from the United Nations, almost three quarters of women online have been exposed to some form of cyber violence. As someone who has received threats of violence myself, I know what it feels like to have sharing your voice met with rage. There are women who experience this kind of violent rhetoric to an even greater degree than I could ever dream.

The list of women who have been inundated with threats of violence could go on for days. Women like Zerlina Maxwell, who was showered with rape threats after saying that we should teach men not to rape; Lindy West received hundreds upon hundreds of violent and threatening messages after she said that she didn’t think rape jokes were funny; Leslie Jones, star of Ghostbusters and Saturday Night Live, was driven off of Twitter after a coordinated attack of racist, sexist, and violent language against her.

And yet, rarely are such threats taken seriously by the broader community, including by those able to do something about it.

Many people remain woefully unaware of how cruel and outright scary it can be for women online, particularly women with prolific digital profiles. Some simply refuse to see it as a real issue, declaring that “It’s just the internet!” and therefore not indicative of potential physical violence. Law enforcement doesn’t even have a solution, often unwilling to take these threats seriously, as Amanda Hess found out.

This kind of response is reflected in those who are trying to defend Donald Trump after the seemingly indefensible. Despite the overwhelming criticism from many, including some renowned Republicans, we have also seen some Trump supporters try to diminish or outright erase the violent aspect of this clearly threatening rhetoric. Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) and former mayor of New York City Rudy Giuliani have both said that they assumed Trump meant get rid of her “by voting.” Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) said that it “sounds like just a joke gone bad.”

The violent nature of Donald Trump’s comments seem apparent to almost everyone who heard him. To try to dismiss it as a “joke” or insist that it is those who are offended that are wrong is itself harmful. This is textbook gaslighting, a form of psychological abuse in which a victim’s reality is eroded by telling them that what they experienced isn’t true.

But gaslighting has played a major role in Donald Trump’s campaign, with some of his supporters insisting that it is his critics who are overreacting—that it is a culture of political correctness, rather than his inflammatory and oppressive rhetoric, that is the real problem.

This is exactly what women experience online nearly every day, and we are essentially told to just suck it up, that it’s just the internet, that it’s not real. But tell that to Jessica Valenti, who received a death and rape threat against her 5-year-old daughter. Tell that to Anita Sarkeesian, who had to cancel a speech at Utah State after receiving a death threat against her and the entire school. Tell that to Brianna Wu, a game developer who had to flee her home after death threats. Tell that to Hillary Clinton, who is trying to make history as the first woman president, only to have her life threatened by citizens, campaign advisers, and now through a dog whistle spoken by the Republican presidential candidate himself.

Threats of violence toward women are commonplace on the internet for the same reason that they are increasingly common at Donald Trump’s rallies: They are effective at perpetuating violence against women as the norm.

Language matters. When that language is cruel, aggressive, or outright violent, it doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and it doesn’t come without consequences. There is a reason that it is culturally unacceptable to say certain words like “cunt” and other derogatory terms; they have a history of harm and oppression, and they are often directly tied to acts of violence. When someone tweets a woman “I hope your boyfriend beats you,” it isn’t just a trolling comment; it reflects the fact that in the United States, more women are killed by intimate partners than by any other perpetrator, that three or more women die every day from intimate partner violence. When Donald Trump not only refuses to decry calls of violence and hate speech at his rallies but in fact comes across as threatening his female opponent, it isn’t just an inflammatory gaffe; it reflects the fact that one in three women have experienced physical or sexual violence.

Threats of violence have no place in presidential campaigns, but they also have no place online, either. Until we commit ourselves to rooting out violent language against women and to making public spaces safer and more accommodating for women and all marginalized people, Trump’s comments are just par for the course.


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