The Republican primaries and why I’m starting to feel good about Poland

I spent a few wonderful years in America as a child and have a lot of fondness for the country. All these years later you could wake me up in the middle of the night and I’d recite the whole Pledge of Allegiance from memory without even properly waking up. I’m a fan of a lot things American – literature, attitude to life, belief in “try and you will succeed” and the ridiculously huge selection of breakfast cereals. Partially out of sentiment and mostly because America is still a major international player, I follow American politics pretty closely. Frankly, I know next to nothing about the economy and taxes, so really by politics I mostly mean the reproductive rights situation.

Earlier this week pro-choicers around the world celebrated the 39th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade. This was particularly meaningful to me, because in my home country – Poland – we still haven’t come as far as to clearly and loudly say that a woman’s uterus is her own effing business and no one else’s. In fact, we’re actually pretty darn awful when it comes to reproductive rights. But I have to say, following what the Republican presidential candidates have been saying about abortion and contraception lately I have trouble believing what I’m reading. I’m starting to think that although the laws are worse in Poland, the attitude of major politicians might just be better.

And this is actually saying a lot as I come from a country where (and I kid you not), we are continually debating the issue of formally enthroning Jesus Christ so that he will join his mother (yes, the Virgin Mary is officially named the queen of Poland) in some sick, incestuous, royal coupling in a supposedly secular country. Abortion is practically illegal, there’s no real sex education in schools and contraceptives are relatively difficult to get and expensive. And I could just keep them coming… So trust me, it’s pretty bad back home, but I’m starting to think that even our right-wing politicians have more common sense than the future president of the US will, if he happens to be Republican (and now that’s real nightmare material!). And here’s why I think so – if the winner of the Republican primaries wins the National election he will most likely:    [Read more...]

The Santorum Double Standard

With the way the Republican presidential campaign is going, it’s entirely possible that Rick Santorum will have dropped out of the race by the time this article runs. Yet before his third-place finish in the South Carolina primary, Santorum had been making a lot of news for his personal experience with terminating a pregnancy.

In 1996, the then-nineteen weeks pregnant Karen Santorum had undergone surgery to address a fetal kidney malfunction. Following the operation, she developed an infection, and the Santorums had to make the difficult choice of terminating the pregnancy, or risking Karen’s life. By all accounts they made the decision together, and Karen was given medication to induce labor.

Rick Santorum is stridently anti-choice. He has signed the Personhood Pledge; he opposes Griswold v. Connecticut, the Supreme Court decision that legalized birth control. Santorum considers late-term abortion procedures “medically unnecessary,” and opposes abortion in all circumstances, including rape; incest; if the fetus has no chance of surviving to full-term; and if a woman’s life is threatened by continuing the pregnancy.   [Read more...]

GOP Candidates and Reproductive Rights

Since there are so many Republican presidential candidates and no clear frontrunner, it may be tempting to entertain the thought of supporting one of them. But before you vote for one of the GOP candidates, you should know where the candidates stand on reproductive justice. We know that all of the Republican candidates are anti-choice and oppose reproductive justice. However, since each candidate opposes reproductive rights in slightly different ways, I’ve have broken down where each currently stands.

Michele Bachmann
Abortion: Favors a repeal of Roe v. Wade.
Parental consent: Supports consent for underage individuals trying to have an abortion.
Planned Parenthood: Supports measures to defund the organization.
Embryonic stem cell research: Opposes any research.

Newt Gingrich
Abortion: Believes individuals should choose adoption over abortion;  would refuse funding for abortion providers.
Parental consent: Supports notification before an underage individual receives an abortion.
Planned Parenthood: Supports defunding the organization
Embryonic stem cell research: Opposes any research, because he believes embryos should be considered life. However, he has contradicted this position a few times.
[Read more...]

Mississippi Politicians Seek to Amend Women’s Rights

Sometimes when I’m having a stressful day at work, I’ll spend five (or fifteen) minutes looking at pictures of adorable dogs on The Daily Puppy or Cute Overload. If I happen to be working at home on a particularly stressful day, I go one better and spend an inordinate amount of time staring at, playing with, and generally annoying my perpetually sleepy and rumpled Shih Tzu. But look at that picture – can you really blame me?

After reading about Mississippi’s proposed Amendment 26, which would define a fertilized egg as a legal person, I had to wonder if that state’s legislators were taking a similar routine a bit too far. After all, babies are cute, and staring at pictures of babies is a fun distraction from a crappy economy, so why not just talk about babies and hypothetical babies all the time instead of actually working to improve our country’s myriad problems, pretty much none of which have anything to do with private decisions about pregnancy? [Read more...]

Should Hillary Run in 2012?

A recent article from HuffPo says that Hillary Clinton needs to throw her hat into the ring in order to prevent a Tea Party takeover of the White House.

I love me some Hillary, ya’ll. I wrote Clinton my own letter back in 2004 begging her to run in ’08. I like to think her presidential campaign was my own little brain child. The idea of Hillary Clinton in the White House is completely irresistible because Hillary is a woman who won’t take crap from anybody. And yet I’m still pining . . .

What’s your take on the possibility of Hillary Clinton running for president in 2012? Should she challenge Barack Obama? Why or why not? I’d love to get your take.

For more Hillary lovin’ links, check out these articles:
Would we have been better off with Hillary than Obama? – The Guardian
Hillary can’t resist running – Politico
Stop pining for President Hillary Clinton – Washington Post


It’s a Pregnancy, Not a Political Prop

One woman became unexpectedly pregnant for a third time. Another woman very briefly considered having an abortion after learning that she was pregnant with a special-needs child.

Both women decided to continue with their pregnancies. Not every woman would have made the same choice, but these women were able to make the decision that was best for them and their families. The first woman had a miscarriage; the second woman had a child with Downs’s Syndrome.

Unexceptional, common stories, right? Except that the first woman is GOP presidential candidate Michelle Bachmann, and the second woman is perennial maybe-candidate Sarah Palin. Both women have spoken publicly about how their very personal pregnancy decisions have underscored their commitment to anti-choice policies and beliefs.  [Read more...]

Stephanie Schriock of EMILY’s List Explains Why Women Must Run for Office

Editor’s Note:Feminist Conversations is a regular column, where we talk to pro-choice activists from across the interwebs to find out what folks are up to in their neck of the woods.

Today we’re talking to Stephanie Schriock, the president of EMILY’s List. Founded in 1985, EMILY’s List is the country’s largest resource for women in politics, and has worked to elect 85 pro-choice women to the U.S. House of Representatives, 16 to the Senate, nine governors, and hundreds of women to state legislatures, constitutional offices, and other local offices.

When did you first call yourself a feminist, and what influenced that decision?
I was raised with feminist ideals by parents who were clearly feminists, but at the time and place I was growing up, the word itself was seen as a negative. So I never thought of myself as a feminist – just a strong woman who could do anything. I think there are lots of 30- and 40- somethings who feel the same way. Nothing makes me happier than seeing a new generation of women and men take back the word – and I am proud to join them.

What does feminism mean to you?
That women should be as free as men to pursue life, liberty and happiness. And I believe we will be. [Read more...]

Where Do Romney & Huntsman Stand on Abortion?

Yesterday Jon Huntsman announced his bid for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination. Huntsman is the former governor of the state of Utah, and he recently resigned as the US Ambassador to China.  So far the media has focused primarily on Huntsman’s positions on foreign policy and economic issues, as has Huntsman himself.  Huntsman has often been called a moderate on social policy issues, such as immigration and same sex marriage.  Nevertheless, he did sign three anti-abortion bills his last year as governor of Utah.  The overwhelming lack of information about Huntsman’s stance on abortion on his campaign website makes me wonder: where does Jon Huntsman actually stand on abortion?

Mitt Romney came under fire last week for his refusal to sign a pledge from the Susan B. Anthony List. Ever the moderate, Romney argued that the pledge, which rejects federal funding for health care facilities that provide abortion, would be very costly to hospitals who rely on federal Medicaid dollars. The anti-choice group took Romney’s refusal as a sign that he’s a “flip-flopper” on abortion, especially given the mudslinging Romney received in the 2008 election for his perceived support of Planned Parenthood. Romney is currently the GOP frontrunner (which means next to nothing this far out from the election), but his stance on abortion could hurt his campaign much more than people’s questions surrounding his Mormonism. [Read more...]

The Eleanor Roosevelt Legacy is Powerful Women

Monday morning I took my own advice and went to The Eleanor Roosevelt Legacy’s Annual Spring Breakfast. Eleanor’s Legacy is dedicated to supporting Democratic women candidates, voters, and activists throughout New York State; and there was an abundance of each present. If my faith were ever to waver that New York is where Progressives have progressed most, I would need only to remind myself that three of the purported front runners in the upcoming mayoral election (none have declared their candidacy), City Council President Christine C. Quinn, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, and Comptroller John Liu all made a point to appear first thing in the morning of a busy work week. In New York, at least, women matter.

I don’t think I was the only one seeking some femme-positive spiritual affirmation. When President Nora Bredes introduced the newest Congresswoman from New York, Kathy Hochul, the applause that erupted in the room felt like a collective sigh of relief at having palpable proof that our sometimes frustrating efforts to promote feminist causes do pay off on occasion. If we are lucky, the reward can come in the form of a public servant like Hochul, who considers political activism a noble calling and believes it her duty to mentor women similarly inspired.

Bredes repeated the conventional narrative of Hochul’s election: Hochul’s win in the most Republican-leaning district in the state was a repudiation of Republican Paul Ryan’s plan to “reform” Medicare. Then she added that while she wished this were true, the real reason Hochul won was because she was a great candidate. [Read more...]

Who’s Too Hormonal?

Before I use my angst for good, a moment or five of piling on: Should Anthony Weiner have known better?  Of course. The poor schnook may have delusions of grandeur and an adolescent’s case of cause-and-effect amnesia, but if his week of weaseldom has proven anything, it’s that he is painfully and horrifyingly in touch with reality. Much as he might wish at this particular juncture to pull the rip cord, he has and has probably always been, well-aware of the difference between right and wrong. (And by “right and wrong,” I’m shooting for the realm of meaning somewhere in the vicinity of the moral, self-protective sense of the words—Representative Weiner doesn’t seem to be guilty of  much more than abject stupidity and lying in a wish-fulfillment fantasy effort to deny the aforementioned stupidity.)

So yes. Anthony Weiner did know better, and he did it anyway. And, sadly for all of us, the good(ish) news, at least on June 8th at almost 8am EST, is that it seems the man is guilty only of supremely bad judgment and an enviable ability to rig the risks vs. rewards equation in his favor.

I leave it to kinder, wiser, more patient souls like Nancy Gibbs to  ponder what it is that makes powerful men so powerfully and predictably undone by their libidos. I have at least as many flaws as Representative Weiner, if not a million more, though none of them include sending any picture of me (or any part of me) to any person with even the faintest hope that they might find that picture sexually attractive. But I would be somewhat less risk-averse than myself if I were to believe with any real conviction that this afforded me any but the most qualified, equally-within-glass-house-living insights. [Read more...]