Day Two of Women Deliver: Ellie Smeal, Rachel Leigh Cook, Ali Larter

At Day 2 of the three-day international conference Women Deliver 2010 in Washington, D.C., Ms. Bloggers are there on the scene. The conference intends to hammer home the point that maternal and reproductive health is a global priority.

Want to do something to help? You can click here to urge President Obama to keep the U.S.’s promise to ensure women everywhere universal access to reproductive-health services, family planning, and basic education by 2015. Read the rest of this entry »

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Day One of Women Deliver: Melinda Gates, Ban-Ki Moon, Hillary Clinton

The three-day international conference Women Deliver 2010 opened in Washington, D.C., Monday morning, and the Ms. Blog was there on the scene. The conference intends to hammer home the point that maternal and reproductive health is a global priority.

Want to do something to help? You can click here to urge President Obama to keep the U.S.’s promise to ensure women everywhere universal access to reproductive-health services, family planning, and basic education by 2015. Read the rest of this entry »

Sneak Peek at the new Spring Ms.: 5 of the 25 Gains for Women in the Health-Care Bill

By Eleanor Smeal, Ms. publisher

Feminists didn’t get everything we wanted in the historic health-insurance reform package passed in March: The lack of a public option and limits on abortion coverage were the most glaring setbacks, and a single-payer system wasn’t even considered. But bottom line, an additional 32 million Americans will gain health-care coverage—meaning that the vast majority in the U.S., some 95 percent, will be covered.

Considering the hundreds of millions spent by the health-insurance industry in federal lobbying, the intransigence of the Republican bloc in Congress and the lack of a pro-choice majority in either house, it’s a wonder that anything was achieved, let alone historic gains for millions of people, especially women.

For years, insurance companies denied discrimination against women and/or put forth bogus claims to justify it. With the passage of this reform package, the beginning of the end of health-insurance sex discrimination, in both benefits and pricing, is at hand. One attribute, for sure, of the women’s movement—we don’t take no for an answer when it comes to obtaining women’s equality. And we never give up or give in.

Here are 5 gains we can cheer:

1. The legislation essentially contains a “Title IX” for women. It states that, with a few exceptions, an individual cannot “be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any health program or activity, any part of which is receiving federal financial assistance.”

2. As Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, “No longer will being a woman be considered a pre-existing condition.” Gender rating—charging women more than men for health insurance—is eliminated for individuals plans and for employer plans covering fewer than 100 employees. Today, in most states, women with individual plans pay as much as 48 percent higher premiums than men for the same coverage.

3. The legislation requires that insurers provide maternity coverage; currently, about 80 percent of individual insurance policies do not.

4. Companies with more than 50 employees must also provide breastfeeding mothers reasonable break time and a room to express milk.

5. The act funds support services for, and education and research on, postpartum depression.

6. … To find out the rest, you’ll need to get the new issue of Ms. on newsstands May 25—or direct to your door by becoming a Ms. Member!

The Pill Turns 50

Without feminism, it would have been just another contraceptive

By Elaine Tyler May, originally posted on Ms. magazine

Fifty years ago, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the oral contraceptive. As we mark that momentous anniversary, women have much to celebrate. The Pill changed the lives of millions of women and became one of the most successful pharmaceutical products of all time. Read the rest of this entry »

Saving Mothers’ Lives

By Congresswoman Lois Capps

As we celebrate Mother’s Day with our mothers, daughters, and sisters, it is important that we remember the mothers around the world we have lost.  Every single year several hundred thousand girls and women across the world die from pregnancy-related causes.  Ninety nine percent of deaths associated with pregnancy and childbirth occur in the developing world, and the overwhelming majority is preventable. Read the rest of this entry »

Not Just Boys: Catholic Church Abuse of Women + Girls

Originally posted on Ms. blog by Angela Bonavoglia

It was indeed outrageous that the Reverend Raniero Cantalamessa, with the Pope in eyeshot, compared the public outcry over the Catholic Church priest abuse scandal to homicidal anti-Semitism in Nazi Germany. Read the rest of this entry »

Feminist Majority Foundation Hails Roeder’s Sentencing to “Hard 50”

“Scott Roeder will spend the rest of his life in prison, but those who may have aided and abetted his murder of Dr. George Tiller are still walking free,” said Feminist Majority Foundation (FMF) President Eleanor Smeal. “There has been an escalation in violence, threats of violence and harassment at clinics in 14 states, and we fear where it will end if the network of those advocating violence is not brought to justice.”

According to trial testimony, Roeder has collaborated for over a decade with Army of God adherents, a web of violent extremists who actively promote the murder of doctors and other healthcare professionals who provide abortion services. Army of God follower Shelley Shannon was convicted of a 1994 attempt on the life of Dr. Tiller.  In addition, the Army of God claimed responsibility for numerous bombings of abortion clinics, including the bombing of a clinic in Alabama that killed a guard and badly maimed a nurse. Dr. Tiller was the ninth murder victim, with more than two dozen wounded, in domestic terrorism by anti-abortion extremists.  In each of these cases, only a lone perpetrator was charged and prosecuted, despite evidence of nationwide actions that amounted to aiding and abetting criminal activity.

“Doctors are being threatened at their clinics, stalked at their homes, and plastered on WANTED posters. There will be more victims unless the federal government acts swiftly,” said FMF Executive Vice President Katherine Spillar, an expert in clinic terrorism who leads the FMF’s National Clinic Access Project.

“It has been nearly a year since Dr. Tiller’s murder, yet no federal charges have been brought. It’s hard to believe that he acted entirely alone, and we urge Attorney General Eric Holder to vigorously pursue and prosecute those who may have advised or acted in concert with Scott Roeder. Until we stop the network of zealots who recruit, arm, conspire, advise, coordinate and support the Scott Roeders of their movement, the next murder is just around the corner,” said Spillar.

The Feminist Majority Foundation runs the National Clinic Access Project, which is the oldest and largest clinic defense project in the nation – researching and tracking extremist groups, organizing community support for clinics, providing safety assessments, sponsoring litigation to defend clinics, and working with law enforcement to stop violence against abortion providers.  Spillar attended the trial of Roeder in Wichita, Kansas, and leads the project.-