While Ireland may no longer be such a harsh place for unmarried pregnant women, the stigma persists [#quickhit: link]

Agnes always assumed that her mother would be supportive if she got pregnant, but just as she was working up the courage to break the news, her father was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Now there is so much stress at home that she knows there will never be a good time to drop the bombshell and so she refuses even to think about it.

Eileen sometimes wishes that people would stop talking about the mother and babies scandal because she is in a black hole and the constant handwringing and recrimination on the radio is making her feel overwhelmed.

Her recently laid-off husband has stopped opening the bills, her teenage son has stopped asking if he can go to college, and she can’t face the prospect of another baby at 42.

Every so often, Ireland is transfixed by revelations and reminders of the mothers and babies so cruelly treated by a society with no place for women who got pregnant outside marriage.

But amid all the tut-tutting, hundreds of Irish women continue to hide pregnancies. “Concealed pregnancy has not gone away: it just has another face,” according to Sylvia Murphy Tighe, a former midwife and public health nurse who has been told stories similar to those of Agnes and Eileen.

On The Irish Times.

‘Hobby Lobby’ Is Just the Beginning: A Flood of Corporate Religious Objections Is Coming [#quickhit: link]

In order to find corporations can exercise religious beliefs, Alito must conflate two very different scenarios. The first involves cases where the legal interests of employers and employees are largely aligned against those of the government; the second includes cases like Hobby Lobby, where corporate interests are trying to hide behind constitutional protections to deprive their employees of their rights. It’s a quick, but important, conflation that makes it possible for Alito to continue in the rest of his opinion to ignore the interests Hobby Lobby employees have in being free from religious discrimination by their employer.

With that judicial sleight-of-hand accomplished, Alito moves on to the larger question of just how a corporation can exercise these newly found religious rights. As it turns out, corporations practicing religious beliefs is remarkably simple, and just because a corporation seeks to maximize profit doesn’t mean it can’t do so in the name of religion:

While it is certainly true that a central objective of for-profit corporations is to make money, modern corporate law does not require for-profit corporations to pursue profit at the expense of everything else, and many do not do so. For-profit corporations, with ownership approval, support a wide variety of charitable causes, and it is not at all uncommon for such corporations to further humanitarian and other altruistic objectives. … If for-profit corporations may pursue such worthy objectives, there is no apparent reason why they may not further religious objectives as well.

Did you catch that? If some corporations can support charitable causes, Justice Alito reasons, why not allow others to pursue religious causes such as avoiding complying with federal law?

On rhrealitycheck.

‘Hobby Lobby’ Is Part of a Greater War on Contraception [#quickhit: link]

Emphasis added. On rhrealitycheck:

Hobby Lobby’s complaint in the case that the Supreme Court decided on Monday morning is that the company and its founders don’t think Hobby Lobby employees should be able to spend their own earned insurance benefits on contraception; the company wants to be able to offer a plan that doesn’t meet the minimum federal requirements on contraception coverage. Hobby Lobby argues that even though there is no scientific evidence to back this contention up, contraception methods like the intrauterine device (IUD) and emergency contraception work by killing fertilized eggs, and they claim to believe that a fertilized egg is the equivalent of an actual baby.

That’s the ostensible reason. However, it’s important to remember that Hobby Lobby is not acting alone. Rather, the company is the official plaintiff (along with the Conestoga Wood Specialties Corporation) in a case that is part of a larger legal attack from the Christian right on contraception access. While contraception is largely non-controversial among the general public, chipping away at contraception access—particularly when it’s female-controlled, and particularly when it’s used by young or low-income women—has become a major part of the anti-choice agenda.

Make no mistake: They are coming for your birth control. [Read the rest.]

“These are actual human beings – who kiss their kids goodnight hours after smirkingly calling women whores…” [#quickhit: quote]

These are actual human beings – who kiss their kids goodnight hours after smirkingly calling women whores – who are doing this, not just anonymous trolls.

Jessica Valenti (facebook) on the abuse she received on twitter recently:

So. I spent the better part of the day – like a lot of female writers I know who covered Hobby Lobby – fielding tweets and messages about what a slut I am. That I should be “jizzed on”, that my parents should be ashamed, that the state should take my daughter away, that I want to be gangbanged, that I’m worthless.

I always get a few messages like this a day, but the onslaught today – hundreds of people calling me a whore because I believe in supporting reproductive health – was shocking.

Rest: Jessica Valenti (facebook)

If shame has gone, why do we use secret abortions in England to preserve the myth of holy Ireland?

‘Most “fallen” women knew well enough that they were expected to create a narrative of disappearance, usually one that involved the boat to Holyhead.’ Photograph: HJ Allen/Evening Standard/Getty Images

‘Most “fallen” women knew well enough that they were expected to create a narrative of disappearance, usually one that involved the boat to Holyhead.’ Photograph: HJ Allen/Evening Standard/Getty Images

The Irish psychosis whose latest expression is thousands of dead babies in unmarked graves is a compound of four elements: superiority, shame, cruelty and exclusion. The Taoiseach last week called the deaths of those children “yet another element of our country’s past”. Are we so sure that these forces are not also our country’s present?

The superiority complex in Irish society came from the desperate need of an insecure middle class to have someone to look down on, an inferior Other against which to define its own respectability.

In 1943, the Joint Committee of Women’s Societies and Social Workers compiled a well-meaning memorandum on children in institutions. It noted of those in mother-and-baby homes that “These illegitimate children start with a handicap. Owing to the circumstances of their birth, their heredity, the state of mind of the mother before birth, their liability to hereditary disease and mental weakness, we do not get, and we should not expect to get, the large percentage of healthy vigorous babies we get in normal circumstances. This was noticeable in the institutions we visited.”

These were humane and compassionate reformers. And it seemed obvious to them that children born out of wedlock would be physically and mentally weak and that “we should not expect” them to be normally healthy.

Rest: irishtimes.com.

Sunday feminist roundup (13th April 2014)

And here’s what else I’ve been reading this week.

- The Government has a women problem – and its down to the feminist men to fix it (the guardian)

- Fox News Hails Doctor Who Said Gay Rights Lead to Child Molestation (mother jones). Sweet Lord.

- How the Cult of Internet Openness Enables Misogyny (mother jones)

- Equality for women isn’t an optional extra (observer)

- What Needs to be Done to End Corrective Rape by @not_alone_uk (aroomofourown)

- Vintage homophobia: Tips for when you meet a lesbian from 1988 (feministing). Can’t actually figure out if this is for realz or not.

- Stop telling survivors they must report to the police (feministing)

- Rape is only ever enjoyed by rapists (content note for rape) (everydayvictimblaming)

- The art of embellishing the histrionics of Pistorius (everydayvictimblaming)

- Good Intentions Don’t Make Sexism OK (lipmag)

- Feminism is not an extreme term, says Penny Wong (guardian)

- What would you do if you needed an abortion in a country where it’s outlawed? (feministe)

- Defining “Real” Feminism: A response to Natasha Devon (elegantgatheringofwhitesnows)

- The Hypocrisy of the Male Gaze (dietofbrokenbiscuits)

- Legal abortions – a case of women’s human rights (thefword)

The Return Of The Back-Alley Abortion

feminism - prochoice, abortion rights

In 1969, when abortion was completely illegal in Texas except to save a woman’s life, Karen Hulsey became pregnant.

She was 20 years old and living in Dallas at the time, and the diaphragm she was using for birth control had failed her. Her boyfriend, she discovered, was married, and refused to help raise or pay for a child.

“It was just at a time in my life where I knew I couldn’t take care of a child, and he wanted no responsibility,” Hulsey recalled in an interview with The Huffington Post.

Instead, the man offered to pay for her to travel to Mexico, where he knew of a clandestine abortion provider. She wrestled with the decision and was three months pregnant by the time she agreed to go.

“I was not only very afraid of the ramifications with God, but very ashamed and embarrassed,” said Hulsey, who was raised Catholic. “I struggled with the decision for a long time.”

Hulsey left Dallas at midnight on a chartered plane, with no idea where she was going, and landed in a field south of the border in the middle of the night. A woman Hulsey had never met before was waiting for her when she stepped off the aircraft.

“I was scared to death,” Hulsey said. “Of course, he did not go with me — I went alone,” she said of her boyfriend at the time. “That was the stipulation.”

From there, things only got worse.

On Huffington Post: The Return Of The Back-Alley Abortion.

Picture: Four decades after the Supreme Court upheld a woman’s right to choose, pregnant women once again find themselves crossing the border to Mexico and haunting back-alleys in search of medical care. Left: Abortion rights demonstrators rally outside of the Texas State Capitol, July 15, 2013 (Tamir Kalifa/AP). Right: Demonstrators march to the U.S. Capitol for a rally seeking the repeal of all anti-abortion laws, Nov. 20, 1971 (AP).

Back to the Fifties: why women’s rights are being chipped away

We’re 14 years into the 21st century, yet hard-won women’s rights are slowly being chipped away. It’s starting to resemble the Fifties all over again. Tanya Gold asks what’s going on…

On Stylist Magazine. (Wouldn’t be my first click for feminist pieces but there you are.)

Spain is about to criminalise abortion. The price will be paid in women’s lives: when abortion is criminalised, women die – from the drugs they will take illegally to end their pregnancies, from unsafe back-street abortion, from their own attempts to abort the child. It will also be paid in growing poverty, because it will be the poor who cannot access safe abortion as their families grow bigger and poorer: the rich will simply go abroad for the procedure. The final price is a growing knowledge that women are, where childbirth is concerned, still prisoners of their gender: a mother of many will never be economically independent – and she may have too many children to be a good mother at all.

This is not an isolated incident in a country that had suddenly decided to force women, no matter what their circumstances, to carry their babies to term (and please do not forget that child-bearing is life threatening, especially without a government-funded health service and especially when the vogue is for having children late); everywhere on earth female reproductive rights are threatened. Is this coincidental?

In America, local laws make it harder for women to access abortion and “Pro-life” groups pray outside abortion clinics and sometimes attack the people who work there; when prayer does not work, they lobby politicians for their closure. In England, a group called 40 Days for Life is praying outside abortion clinics for the whole of Lent, sometimes carrying photographs of dismembered foetuses as a way to express their “support” for pregnant women; in 2012 in Ireland, where abortion is illegal except when the mother’s life is at risk, a 31-year-old woman called Savita Halappanavar died after being denied an abortion, even as she miscarried at 17 weeks. If you’re Irish and want to go to England for your abortion? Well, you can; but you will pass pro-life adverts at the airport, again with the mutilated foetuses, to see you on your way. A woman, says this narrative, has no right not to bear a child. That is her purpose and her destiny, even in the 21st century. [Rest.]

Sunday feminist roundup (30th March 2014)

Here’s what else I’ve been reading this week:

- Teen spirit: the fifth-wave feminists (theguardian)

- Moving Forward (everydayvictimblaming)

- The Invisibility of Disability (bottomface)

- No, I will not stop having ‘feelings’ about women’s lives and human rights (feministcurrent)

- #SexIndustryWeek: Manifesto – Indigenous Women Against the Sex Industry (feministtimes)

- When Cops Rape Crime Victims (msmagazine)

- Unsafe abortions have killed 1 million and injured 100 million in the last two decades (feministing)

- #SexIndustryWeek: The Future of Porn (feministtimes)

- Schools Policing Gender (echidneofthesnakes)

- Marlborough College is now running a school for “wives” (elegantgatheringofwhitesnows)

- RAINN – when support services fail to eradicate victim blaming attitudes (everydayvictimblaming)

- Let’s Talk About Domestic Violence in the Trans* Community (everydayfeminism)

- Stalked and beaten up: student stories of sexual violence in clubs (theguardian)

And the best of the quickhits this week:

American women like birth control and don’t think companies have right to trample on people’s freedoms

On feministing:

As the Supreme Court takes up the challenges to Obamacare’s contraception coverage mandate today, here are a few more numbers to add to this infographic from Ultraviolet.

According to a new poll conducted on behalf of a few reproductive rights organizations, 68 percent of female voters firmly reject Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood’s argument, saying companies shouldn’t be allowed refuse to cover contraception in their health plans — and more than half disagree strongly. Eighty-four percent agree that the choice about using birth control should be a personal decision and a woman’s boss should not be able to interfere with it. 

The poll shows that support for no-copay birth control coverage is strong – and non-partisan. A huge 81 percent of respondents said they agree with the contraception mandate, including 92 percent of Democrats, 83 percent of independents, 63 percent of Republicans, and 79 percent of Catholics. [Rest.]

“The same thing that motivates conservatives to try to ban abortion and restrict access to birth…

The same thing that motivates conservatives to try to ban abortion and restrict access to birth control is the same thing that makes them blame single mothers’ choices regarding men and sex for their poverty: a combination of sex-phobia and misogyny. Both attacks are based on the premise that a woman’s life is meant for service and suffering, and that poor women in particular don’t deserve to have anything. Not a moment’s rest. Not the ability to have sex without getting pregnant. Not a puppy for their kids. There’s a sadism at the heart of it and documentaries like this that put a human face on the person who is the victim of all these anti-woman, anti-working class, anti-human policies matters. So I highly recommend watching the documentary, and, more importantly, sharing it with people you know.

- Amanda Marcotte, “Myths About Contraception Insurance Coverage and a New ‘Paycheck to Paycheck’ Documentary” (via rhrealitycheck)

good point. sometimes strawmen arguments make important points.

good point.

sometimes strawmen arguments make important points.

While Hobby Lobby opposes offering contraceptive coverage, it does sell three types of knitting needles, just the kind that in the not-so-distant past, women who became pregnant and didn’t have access to legal abortion used to try and end their pregnancies themselves. So maybe they shouldn’t be selling those. [On rhrealitycheck]

Sunday feminist roundup (16th March 2014)

A double edition this week. Since the last roundup, we have, of course, had #IWD14. I was torn about it this year, for  reasons you can see here.

- Of Frats, Rape Culture and #TFM (Ms Blog)

- International Women’s Day: In defence of feminist dissent (Guardian)

- This Is Feminism: Speech at Cambridge Union Debate (Week Woman)

- Alison Bechdel: A Review (Lip Magazine)

- 25 Everyday Examples of Rape Culture  (Everyday Feminism)

- Sorry, Men’s Rights Activists, You Don’t Have Abortion ‘Rights’ (RH Reality Check)

- Men who need cookies are not feminist allies. (My Elegant Gathering of White Snows)

- Sexual harassment is ‘normal’ in clubs, but are things about to change? (Guardian)

- How To Attack A Feminist (Week Woman)

- This Is How Anti-Choice Brainwashing Starts (RH Reality Check)

And on the quickhits lately:

“Two-thirds of the world’s illiterate are women

Two-thirds of the world’s illiterate are women. Sixty-six percent of countries have no laws to protect women from domestic abuse, and battery is the largest cause of injury to women in America. Native American women are two-and-a-half times more likely to be victimized, but no one from the House Republicans voted in favor of the Violence Against Women Act that would have protected undocumented immigrants, Native Americans, and LGBT women.

African women are responsible for 75% of agricultural work and never see fair pay. In America, women still average 77 cents to every man’s dollar. An average American woman will get ripped off $431,360 in her career for not being a man. Two thirds of lobotomies are done on women. Older white men dictate women’s right of choice— there were 604 abortion and reproductive provisions at state level as of June 1. Fifty-four percent of rapes will remain unreported to the police, and 97% of rapists will serve no jail time. There are over 12.3 million victims of human trafficking for sex slavery, and less then 1% have been identified. The average age for trafficking minors in America is 12-14.

Addressing the issues is the first step. There needs to be more awareness.

- Alice Glass, Crystal Castles

Birth Control Doesn’t Encourage Risky Sex. Someone Tell the GOP

Birth Control Doesn’t Encourage Risky Sex. Someone Tell the GOP

Porque Yo Decido: Spain’s war on abortion is not about morality – it’s about austerity

photo 466343451_zps6dfd333e.jpg

Porque Yo Decido. Because I decide. That was the title of a manifesto handed to the Spanish government on 1 February on behalf of the millions of men and women across the country who oppose the conservative People’s Party’s push to ban abortion. “Because it’s my choice,” reads the manifesto. “I am free, and I live in a democracy, I demand from the government, any government, that it make laws that promote moral autonomy, preserve freedom of conscience, and guarantee plurality and diversity.”

In late December, the People’s Party (PP) government, led by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, approved a bill that will make abortion illegal in all but the most extreme medical circumstances and in cases of rape. “That was when the explosion of resistance happened,” says feminist activist Cristina Lestegas Perez. “Since then, there have been hundreds of street protests, debates, demonstrations, parades, conferences, seminars, exhibitions and performances all over the Spanish states and overseas.”

Under the Franco regime, abortion was illegal in Spain. In 1985, laws were passed permitting termination of pregnancy in very limited cases, but so many Spanish women were travelling to Britain to have abortions that dedicated flights had to be chartered. In 2010, the law was finally liberalised by the then socialist government to permit abortion up to the fourteenth week of pregnancy. [Rest.]

Photo: A placard reading “A mother by choice” at a pro-choice protest in Spain. Getty

Porque Yo Decido: Spain’s war on abortion is not about morality – it’s about austerity

“Jean tells me from the outset I have three options

Jean tells me from the outset I have three options. “Keep the baby, and be a parent. You have a termination. Which obviously has consequences. Or you take the brave option… for adoption.” Nothing new so far, but then Jean throws me a curveball. She tells me, in no uncertain terms, that abortion has “been linked to crime”. This is a new one. Education for Choice have had reports of mystery shoppers being told they will contract breast cancer, but this is new territory. She waxes lyrical about the grief, anger and trauma of abortions having often led to women acting on those emotions and committing crime; “the anger it gets so bad that it can lead to crime… it’s definitely, definitely linked.

- Undercover at One of the UK’s Anti-Abortion Pregnancy Clinics

Unbelievable misinformation.

“The dusty old argument that female sexuality is a subversive force…

The dusty old argument that female sexuality is a subversive force that needs to be strictly controlled isn’t as dead as we thought. The mainstream conservative movement is bringing it out of hibernation, and this time with a twist: now they’re arguing that women need to have their rights taken from them for their own good.

- Amanda Marcotte, Female Sexuality Still Terrifying to Conservative Lawmakers