Dec. 23-29, 2008
Note: No Tuesday Blast will run next week (Dec. 30). We return Jan. 6, 2009.
HHS enacts so-called "conscience" rule
The Bush administration on Thurs., Dec. 18 enacted a "conscience protection" rule for medical providers, the Los Angeles Times reports. The rule goes into effect 30 days after the announcement, which is President Bush's last day in office. Under the regulation, all federally funded medical facilities must allow employees the "right to refuse" to provide services and information about any topic to which they morally object.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services publicly announced the rule and solicited comments in August, when we urged Tuesday Blast readers to tell HHS how the rule could limit a woman's access to health care and information. President-elect Obama and many members of Congress are identifying strategies to terminate the rule swiftly.
We will keep readers up to date on advocacy strategies and any effects on health services.
Mary Mitchell, Chicago Sun-Times columnist and editorial page writer, has appeared several times as a guest expert on MSNBC's "The Rachel Maddow Show" this month, discussing the criminal complaint filed against Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Mitchell will be one of the women honored with our Action Award at the 2009 Impact Awards on Thurs., March 19. Prue Beidler, a former public school teacher and long-time supporter of women’s organizations (including Chicago Foundation for Women), also will receive our Action Award. Additionally, we are proud to recognize Dolores Huerta, a leading activist and organizer for workers’ rights and president of the Dolores Huerta Foundation, as the recipient of the Ruth Bader Ginsburg Award for a Pioneer in Women’s Rights. Stay tuned for more event details in January.
Vera Glaser, a pioneering journalist whose reporting revolutionized media coverage of women’s rights and feminism, has died at age 92, the Washington Post reports. Glaser, a Washington correspondent and bureau chief for a 90-newspaper syndicate, asked President Nixon at a 1969 press conference why only three of his 200 appointments thus far had gone to women. Impressed by Glaser’s question, U.S. Labor Department researcher Catherine East sent Glaser women’s employment statistics. The data spurred Glaser’s “definitive work, a five-part syndicated newspaper series about discrimination against women in employment and government policy.” Though her name may not be well known, Glaser was a “behind the scenes” force respected by experts in journalism and feminism alike.
The 2007 National Crime Victimization Survey, using new methodology, has uncovered a more realistic statistical picture of violence against U.S. women. The Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics samples random U.S. households every two years, then uses the data to project incidence rates of personal and property crimes. The 2007 findings reveal 42 percent more reports of domestic violence and 25 percent more reports of rape and sexual assault since 2005. Human Rights Watch reports, "Due to criticism from experts in the subject, the survey's methodology was adjusted in 2007 to capture more accurately the incidence of gender-based violence." Interviewers now "describe types of sexual assault," and "computer-assisted telephone" surveys have been replaced with "field representatives" interviewing via telephone or in person. Women’s advocates estimate that one in three women worldwide have experienced violence. Across all violent crime categories, the 2007 data show a rate similar to 2005.
Only 20 percent of cardiologists are women, though cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death for U.S. women. A survey of 1,100 cardiologists in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology finds institutionalized sexism plays a major role in the gender discrepancy. For example, women doctors in general are less likely to choose a specialized field of medicine due to "the intensity and length of training…during peak childbearing years," says Dr. Athena Poppas, chair of the American College of Cardiology's Women in Cardiology Council, in the Washington Post. She goes on to say, "We need to find ways to reduce discrimination, establish greater flexibility in work hours and expand opportunities for mentorship to better meet the needs of women and men as they plan their careers in cardiology."
A new female condom is on the horizon—but will women use it? In the Chicago Tribune's "Triage" health blog, Judith Graham asks a young woman who uses the currently available version. Linda Arnade, who works at the Chicago Women's AIDS Project—a grantee organization that participates in the Chicago Women and Girls HIV Prevention Coalition, of which we are a part—tells Graham she enjoys using the woman-controlled contraceptive. Arnade and her partner admit the feeling is different than a male condom, but that they find sex pleasurable using either method. The new, less expensive female condom awaits official FDA approval for U.S. distribution.
The story: Jon Favreau, the 27-year-old who has written speeches for President-elect Obama since 2004 and will serve as his chief speechwriter, is working on the inaugural address. The Washington Post ran a front-page feature story on Favreau, a "minor celebrity" in Washington whose writing process involves drinking Red Bull and playing video games. Post staff writer Eli Saslow mentions Favreau's "silly Facebook photos with a Hillary Rodham Clinton cutout [that] created what passes for controversy in Obama’s so far drama-free transition." Favreau "danced and posed awkwardly" next to the cutout at a party during the primary season, Saslow writes. The photo (see close-up at right) shows Favreau smiling and cupping the right breast of the life-size Clinton cut-out, while his friend grabs her hair, kisses her cheek and tips a beer bottle up to her mouth. Both Obama and Clinton, who has accepted his apology, tell Favreau "not to worry, but he still does," Saslow says.
What’s missing: The photo is not "silly" or just something that "passes for controversy." It is a cruel reflection of the misogynist humiliation that Hillary Clinton faced again and again throughout the presidential primaries. Denigrating a person on the basis of her gender—or any other factor—should not be laughed off. And Favreau's age, which will make him the youngest presidential speechwriter in history, should not permit a "boys will be boys" excuse. We know plenty of savvy young women and men among our grantees—such as the Young Women’s Empowerment Project, the Empowered Fe Fes at Access Living, the Rogers Park Young Women's Action Team and FUFA at Women & Girls Collective Action Network—who can recognize misogyny and take action to oppose it. The media should not dismiss the sexism on display. And perhaps Favreau, who we are heartened to hear still worries about the image, will now know more about how sexism works and how the media has ignored it throughout this election season.
Read more at our Press Room and our Past Events at cfw.org.
Success: Congress passes anti-trafficking bill
The William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, a bill we support, was passed unanimously in both the U.S. House and Senate last week. The act "authorizes appropriations for fiscal years 2008 through 2011 and enhances measures to combat trafficking in persons," according to the Feminist Daily News Wire. Thanks to this bill, federal law now recognizes coercion experienced by victims of trafficking and requires more data gathering and reporting by the FBI and Department of Justice on the domestic sex trade. In addition, "Strong penalties, from fines up to life imprisonment, are included in the Act for traffickers and for those who benefit financially from trafficking activities carried out by others," the wire reports. The bill now awaits President Bush's signature. We thank Samir Goswami, director of policy and outreach at Justice Project Against Sexual Harm (JPASH), for his work to move this bill through Congress. JPASH is a grantee partner.
Update: LGBT change is coming to Chicago
What will President-elect Obama’s policies be on LGBT issues? Chicago Foundation for Women's director of advocacy Lynne Johnson joined LGBT activists and policy makers to review Obama's LGBT policy statement and provide feedback on LGBT civil rights. On Sat., Dec. 13, a city-wide forum at the Center on Halsted addressed hate crime definitions, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," civil unions and workplace discrimination. LGBT youth organizers also addressed homelessness in their community and the imperative need for safe schools. Johnson spoke about two needs: more federal support for microbicides development (PDF) and no more public support for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs, which ignore LGBT relationships and fan the flames of homophobia with insensitive and inaccurate information on HIV/AIDS. The Obama-Biden Transition Team will review the forum's feedback. Learn more about the forum at LGBT Change and share your own ideas with the transition team at Change.gov.
Find more advocacy opportunities at our Online Action Center.
Our website calendar lists all our programs, events and cosponsorships.
In the spotlight
JAN. 9 (Fri.): Grantees: Letter of inquiry deadline for Bayrach and Sophia funds, 5 p.m.
JAN. 12 (Mon.): Women and the Criminal Justice System: Community-Based Approaches
to Supporting Women (cosponsorship with Anti-Defamation League), 8-9:30 a.m.
JAN. 14 (Wed.): Pray the Devil Back to Hell film screening and discussion (cosponsorship),
JAN. 21 (Wed.): Roe vs. The Real World: Performance and discussion on reproductive
justice (cosponsorship with Our Voices Our Choices coalition), 6:30-8:30 p.m.
NEW JAN. 31 (Sat.): Obtaining Peace of Mind: Dealing with the Stressors of Everyday Life
(first program in our Health Series), 10 a.m.-12 p.m.
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