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[personal profile] mistersandman

WASHINGTON – A lawsuit targeting the Pentagon contains an astonishing anecdote about a retired Sergeant's experience after being sexually assaulted by a colleague during a deployment to Afghanistan.

The lawsuit, available here, was filed by 17 military women against Secretaries of Defense Robert Gates and Donald Rumsfeld in Virginia. It assails "the military's repeated failures to take action in rape cases created a culture where violence against women was tolerated, violating the plaintiffs' Constitutional rights."

Sergeant Rebekah Havrilla alleges in the complaint that in 2006, after her military supervisor repeatedly sexually harassed her, she was raped by a colleague she was working with at the time.

"He pulled her into his bed, held her down, and raped her. He also photographed the rape," it reads. Havrilla reported the incident within a month.

In February 2009, she reported for active duty training and, upon seeing her rapist, went into shock.

"She immediately sought the assistance of the military chaplain," the lawsuit reads. "When SGT Havrilla met with the military chaplain, he told her that 'it must have been God's will for her to be raped' and recommended that she attend church more frequently."

The complains adds that "SGT Havrilla suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and chronic depression."

Havrilla's harrowing story, and the broader lawsuit, sheds light on the ongoing and widely reported problem of sexual assault in the military.

Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said it was "a command priority" to "ensure all of our service members are safe from abuse" and pledged to commit more resources to the goal.

"Sexual assault is a wider societal problem and Secretary Gates has been working with the service chiefs to make sure the U.S. military is doing all it can to prevent and respond to it," Morrell told NBC News.

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[personal profile] treesahquiche
Tussling Over Jesus
By Nicholas D. Kristof

The National Catholic Reporter newspaper put it best: "Just days before Christians celebrated Christmas, Jesus got evicted."

Yet the person giving Jesus the heave-ho in this case was not a Bethlehem innkeeper. Nor was it an overzealous mayor angering conservatives by pulling down Christmas decorations. Rather, it was a prominent bishop, Thomas Olmsted, stripping St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix of its affiliation with the Roman Catholic diocese.

The hospital's offense? It had terminated a pregnancy to save the life of the mother. The hospital says the 27-year-old woman, a mother of four children, would almost certainly have died otherwise.

Click for the full story. )



Please read Manson's original column and the National Women's Law Center report; they're linked within the body of the article and are worth the read!

I've really disapproved of the direction that the Vatican has been going, and this just makes me so happy that it's not just non-Catholics who are fed up with the bullshit from the higher-ups. And a million kudos to Sister McBride for doing what she did, and another million kudos for St. Joseph's for unifying behind her.

The closing quotation and paragraph made me tear up.
mistersandman: (SHAME)
[personal profile] mistersandman

COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina Democratic Senate nominee Alvin Greene was just trying to flirt with a teenage college student when he allegedly showed her online pornography in a campus computer lab last year, his attorney said Thursday.

"He was attempting to flirt with a young lady who had no interest in him," Eleazer Carter told The Associated Press. "While the charges are very serious, I think it boils down to, when a lady turns you down, has it reached a criminal offense?"

Greene, an unemployed military veteran who shocked his party by winning the Democratic Senate primary this year, faces misdemeanor and felony charges stemming from his November 2009 arrest. He is charged with communicating and disseminating obscene materials.

Read more... )


Between Greene and O'Donnell, this election proves that you really do have to be crazy to work in politics.

mistersandman: How would you feel if you had to put on a really stupid hat? (comical hat)
[personal profile] mistersandman
Given the building consensus that shackling pregnant women is not only unnecessary--the vast majority are in prison for non-violent crimes in the first place--but degrading to say the least, it was a shock to find out this morning that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed a bill passed by the California Legislature to end shackling of pregnant women in his state.

Read more... )
When this issue last came up, it was under happier circumstances. I had hoped that out of all the male politicians in America today, Schwarzenegger would be one most sympathetic to reproductive rights, but perhaps you shouldn't believe everything you see on TV?  His veto message is such bullshit, too.  Fortunately, they'll be able to overturn this no problem.


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[personal profile] mistersandman
It's a horrifying thought: Is Sarah Palin progressives' fault? Could it be that we brought this on ourselves?

Anna Holmes and Rebecca Traister think so. As they argued in their New York Times op-ed yesterday, "If Sarah Palin and her acolytes successfully redefine what it means to be a groundbreaking political woman, it will be because progressives let it happen." By not doing enough to nurture their own women leaders, Holmes and Traister say, it was Dems who cleared the way for Palin and her raging pack of grizzlies to maul our politics. Progressives "have done nothing to stop an anti-choice, pro-abstinence, socialist-bashing Tea Party enthusiast from becoming the 21st century symbol of American women in politics."
Read more... )

But, after being sidelined by the male-dominated McCain campaign, vilified by the left and ridiculed by the media, Palin found a warm embrace among conservative women, who were thrilled to see one of their own enjoy a taste of power for a change. "My experience with Palin's supporters left me alert to the fact that she was building an army of followers—not just scared and angry xenophobes…but women (and men) who felt that their support for this candidate was about an expansion of opportunities for women," Traister writes.

So who's to blame for Palin? Of course, there's no simple, single answer. Perhaps we're all a bit guilty. I'd lay much of the responsibility on the media, for casting her as the Republican starlet and then treating her to a spectacular tabloid meltdown, for celebrating her beauty and earthy charm and then glorying in her every humiliation, and now blasting her every inane tweet into a vast and thought-killing echo chamber. But it's we media consumers who can't stop looking and listening.


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[personal profile] mistersandman

When she became a mother, her body was shackled. She gave birth to her son with her ankles shackled to the hospital bed. Arnita remained shackled as she held her son for the first time and while she nursed him. Like Arnita, most mothers behind bars are restrained during labor, delivery and post-delivery as a matter of routine practice in our nation's jails and prisons.

Shawanna Nelson, who was also shackled during labor, brought a lawsuit against the Arkansas Department of Corrections for cruel and unusual punishment. Thanks to her courage and the common sense of a panel of judges, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that the shackling of prisoners during labor is unconstitutional.

Read more... )

By Malika Saada Saar, Founder and Executive Director of the Rebecca Project for Human Rights, a national policy and advocacy organization for vulnerable families.
This story is almost a year old, I'm posting it because it's a lot more interesting than any I could find reporting the news that Ed Rendell signed a bill that forbids this practice in Pennsylvania.  As it stands, there are still 43 states that allow this barbaric practice.   If you do not live in Vermont, Washington, California, Illinois, New York, New Mexico, or Texas, please contact your local representative.

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[personal profile] treesahquiche
Republican Senate candidate Sharron Angle has moderated a host of policy positions in her transition from a primary candidate to general election contender battling Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. One thing she has not backed away from has been her insistence that abortion should be outlawed universally, even in cases of rape and incest.

Click to read the full story. )


Right, because being brutally violated -- especially by a parent -- is simply a lemon and carrying, giving birth to, and raising a child that has the DNA and face of your rapist is exactly like lemonade.

I call bullshit.
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[personal profile] treesahquiche
(Trigger warning: semi-graphic depiction of abortion, mention of violent physical and sexual assault)

Dr. X is a physician at a community health center and a medical school faculty member in the Midwest. Health Affairs does not normally publish articles under pseudonyms, but given recent murders of abortion providers and other violent attacks against them, we decided not to publish the physician's real name out of concern for her personal safety. As always, we welcome Narrative Matters essays from varying perspectives.

"This is a clinic where they kill babies!" A woman in a black beret stopped me as I entered an abortion clinic. Pamphlets in hand, she asked me with concern, "Are you pregnant? Do you need help?"

I wasn't pregnant. I was on my way to work.

I went to medical school to promote life. I defined that loosely: I wanted to do what I could to keep individuals healthy so we could be part of loving families and build healthy communities, supporting each other and enjoying being alive. While I was in medical school, a friend became pregnant after date rape, and I supported her through an abortion.

Around that time, I attended a talk at the medical school by the journalist Jack Hitt. He discussed "Who Will Do Abortions Here?" -- his powerful, eye-opening New York Times article from 1998 about the threat to legalized abortion in the United States because of the lack of providers.

Then, as now, the number of abortion providers was dwindling. The number went from 2,680 providers in 1985 to 1,787 in 2005, the latest year for which statistics are available. Hitt described the upcoming retirement of the generation of obstetrician/gynecologists (OB/GYNs) who had watched women bleed to death from botched abortions and had responded to those tragedies by staffing clinics when the U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion in its 1973 ruling in Roe v. Wade.

But no new generation of abortion providers was being trained, Hitt told us. When teaching hospitals merged with religious hospitals where abortions were banned, abortions were no longer done -- or taught -- at the teaching institutions. Other programs began to make abortion training optional: OB/GYN or family medicine residents who wanted the training needed to add it to their already heavy loads of required courses. Threats to the lives of abortion providers and their families dissuaded some practitioners from providing these services, even though they were trained to perform them and the procedure is legal. More than half of all abortion practitioners were past retirement age, Hitt said. One elderly practitioner flew his own plane to reach women in four states -- he was the sole abortion provider in North Dakota -- despite regular death threats.

There are now an estimated 1.5 million abortions each year in the United States, making it the most common surgical procedure. Yet there are fewer and fewer abortion providers available. One-quarter of women needing abortions must travel more than fifty miles for the procedure; 6 percent must travel to another state. During my medical training, I saw many women with an unwanted pregnancy, and I witnessed wide variation in the options that doctors offered patients in that situation.

Click for the full essay. )


Reposted from this community's LiveJournal counterpart.

This is an issue that's extremely important to me, not only because I'm a feminist. Even though I grew up after Roe v. Wade, I know too well what the consequences of not having access to safe and legal abortions are. My grandmother was a prenatal surgeon who was relocated by the Chinese government to a labor camp during the Cultural Revolution; my mother worked in one of the largest hospitals in Shanghai (the one where I was born in) and, as a pharmacist and clinician, assisted in several medical abortions. After immigrating to the United States, my life would have been very different if, while my family was still struggling to make ends meet as strangers in a strange land, my mother did not have access to a safe, legal, and affordable abortion.

It makes me very sad that a woman's right to choose is even an issue for political debate in this country, which touts itself as the land of the free and home of the brave.


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