Just two days after referring to Democratic women as “abortion machines,” on Friday’s show serial sexist Rush Limbaugh made a vulgar reference to single mothers as “receptacles for male semen.”
The right wing talk show host made the comment about unmarried Democratic mothers voting in this week’s Virginia gubernatorial race between Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Ken Cuccinelli.
Let’s hope Congress also appropriates the funds for this.
Thursday’s development represents the biggest step that Congress has taken to expand mental health care in nearly a full year since Sandy Hook. If passed, the bill will “establish criteria for certified community behavioral health clinics to ensure the providers cover a broad range of mental health services — including 24-hour crisis care, increased integration of physical, mental, and substance abuse treatment so they are treated simultaneously rather than separately, and expanded support for families of people living with mental health issues,” according to a press release from Stabenow’s office. The version passed in committee today would set up federally-funded pilot programs in 10 states to expand access to mental health care along those lines.
“Our bipartisan bill expands access to care and improves quality of care so people living with mental illness can get the treatment they need,” said Stabenow in a statement. “Instead of merely talking about this issue in the wake of tragedies, it is time for Congress to finally take action.”
Other bipartisan federal legislation such as the Mental Health First Aid Act and Mental Health In Schools Act are still stuck in Congress. On Thursday, Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA) — a former psychologist — introduced his own legislation aiming to boost outpatient mental health care, make it easier for Americans in rural regions to get treatment, and create behavioral health awareness programs for teens to reduce the stigma of mental illness among young people.
Catholic Bishops Call ‘Baseless’ ACLU Lawsuit Over Abortion Doctrine, Woman’s Miscarriage at Muskegon Hospital
MUSKEGON, MI - The president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops calls “misguided” and unfounded an ACLU-backed federal lawsuit stemming from a woman’s alleged experience at Muskegon’s Mercy General Health Partners before she miscarried in 2010.
The ACLU lawsuit against the U.S. bishops’ conference, filed on behalf of Tamesha Means of Muskegon, claims the conference’s religious-based policy banning abortions prevented her from getting appropriate care.
The lawsuit seeks damages and a declaration that the conference’s actions were negligent, “not only to provide a remedy for the trauma she suffered, but also to prevent other women in her situation from suffering similar harm in the future,” in the words of the legal complaint.
“This claim is baseless,” Archibishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Ky., said in a Dec. 6 statement about the ACLU lawsuit. Kurtz is president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Calls for the closer integration of science in political decision-making have been commonplace for decades. However, there are serious problems in the application of science to policy — from energy to health and environment to education.
One suggestion to improve matters is to encourage more scientists to get involved in politics. Although laudable, it is unrealistic to expect substantially increased political involvement from scientists. Another proposal is to expand the role of chief scientific advisers1, increasing their number, availability and participation in political processes. Neither approach deals with the core problem of scientific ignorance among many who vote in parliaments.
Perhaps we could teach science to politicians? It is an attractive idea, but which busy politician has sufficient time? In practice, policy-makers almost never read scientific papers or books. The research relevant to the topic of the day — for example, mitochondrial replacement, bovine tuberculosis or nuclear-waste disposal — is interpreted for them by advisers or external advocates. And there is rarely, if ever, a beautifully designed double-blind, randomized, replicated, controlled experiment with a large sample size and unambiguous conclusion that tackles the exact policy issue.
In this context, we suggest that the immediate priority is to improve policy-makers’ understanding of the imperfect nature of science. The essential skills are to be able to intelligently interrogate experts and advisers, and to understand the quality, limitations and biases of evidence. We term these interpretive scientific skills. These skills are more accessible than those required to understand the fundamental science itself, and can form part of the broad skill set of most politicians.
Sylvester J. Schieber
Sylvester J. SchieberFmr. chair of the Social Security Advisory Board
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Ignoring Sexual Assaults Can Be Deadly
Posted: 12/10/2013 12:38 pm
Inside DC, Metropolitan Police Department, Dc Council, Rape, DC News
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On May 7, 1998, my daughter, Shannon, a 23-year-old student at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, was raped and killed by a man who broke into her apartment at 2 a.m. Her killer previously had raped at least four other women before Shannon, all students living alone within a six-block radius of Shannon’s apartment, and all in early morning attacks.
However, the police failed to realize they had a serial rapist on their hands because detectives had classified two of the cases as “non-criminal offenses” and failed to investigate. According to the police statements, they did not believe the victims or found the victim’s memory of events unclear.
A report about the Metropolitan Police Department’s response to sexual assault cases in the District of Columbia identified similar issues. On December 12, the public will have its first chance to voice its opinions on proposed legislation to improve the MPD’s response to sexual assaults at a hearing of the DC Council.
The proposed DC legislation was prompted by a January Human Rights Watch investigation that concluded that the MPD failed to properly investigate scores of sexual abuse cases between 2008 and 2011 and often mistreated survivors who sought police assistance. A June report, conducted at the Council’s request by attorneys at Crowell & Moring, disputed Human Rights Watch’s methodology but echoed their recommendations for transparency and external oversight.
Initially, the Police Commissioner, John Timoney, downplayed the misclassification of cases, chalking the lapses up to bad training or occasional “sloppiness.” Fortunately, the Philadelphia City Council, rather than letting the matter drop, pressured Timoney to review cases going back five years. Ultimately, 2,000 sexual assault cases classified as non-crimes were audited. As a result, 700 of the cases were reclassified as rapes and another 500 as alternative forms of felony assault. In other words, there was sufficient evidence in the police files to suggest a serious crime had been committed in fully 60 percent of the cases.
he women’s health organization Planned Parenthood has found itself under assault in recent years. Laws passed in states like Texas, which recently became one of 13 states to ban abortion after 20 weeks, will now shutter many local Planned Parenthood clinics. But as the nearly 100-year-old organization struggles to keep its doors open, it has found a newly invigorated source of support. Black women have begun to emerge as some of the organization’s key spokespeople, decision-makers and leaders.
On Wednesday, media personality Star Jones joined Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards for an off-the-record discussion of reproductive health and Planned Parenthood’s future with a room full of African-American female influencers, including BET President Debra Lee, producer Crystal McCrary and CBS medical expert Dr. Holly Phillips, among others from the worlds of business, media and entertainment. The event was hosted in the home of Alexis McGill Johnson, a former political adviser to Sean “Diddy” Combs and Russell Simmons, who is now chairwoman of the Planned Parenthood board of directors.
Of her participation, Jones told The Root, “Women’s health is one of my primary issues. I work so hard to make sure women are aware of ownership of our own bodies, and I see everything Planned Parenthood does as connected to women’s health.” She continued, “I know the nation thinks of Planned Parenthood in a very myopic way.” She said that too many people see Planned Parenthood through the lens of providing abortion, which accounts for less than 10 percent of the organization’s services. “When it comes to women’s health, they are the first line of defense for most lower-income women in America,” she said.
GREAT FALLS, Mont. — A teenager who pleaded guilty to raping an 11-year-old girl as she walked home from school last year was sentenced to 75 years in the Montana State Prison.
Ten years of Kaleb Kuebler’s sentence was suspended, but the 16-year-old also must register as a sex offender and complete treatment before he is eligible for parole, Judge Greg Pinski of Cascade County District Court said Wednesday.
According to court documents, Kuebler approached the girl as she walked home from school in October 2012. He stole her hat, lured her into an alley, assaulted and raped her. The girl went to her grandparents’ house and reported the assault, spurring a daylong police manhunt for a suspect. Kuebler was apprehended after officers matched him to the description the victim provided.
Fifteen at the time of the crime, Kuebler would have been tried as an adult because of the serious nature of the charges against him if he had not pleaded guilty.
Small steps forward
Not all of the news is bad. Innovative responses to gender-based violence include one-stop centers, where victims receive health, welfare, counseling, and legal services in one location. A study published this year by Rachael Pierotti suggests that women around the world are becoming less likely to accept justifications for intimate partner violence, including the circumstances referenced above. Pierotti argues that global cultural diffusion has played an important role in this change.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, where infrastructure and personnel are lacking to try perpetrators accused of sexual assaults, international organizations have provided funds and technical assistance to help local institutions set up mobile courts. Countries like Zambia and Kenya are also beginning to train sexual assault forensic examiners.
Specialized women’s police stations or units have also been set up in countries around the world, including Ghana, Kosovo, India, Philippines, and countries in Latin America, to address intra-family violence and sexual violence.
These promising developments will provide needed services for victims of gender-based violence and encourage them, more importantly, to feel safe enough to report the violence. Still, primary prevention of gender-based violence should be prioritized.
Much more work is needed.
A Bloomberg report from late November finds that at least 73 U.S. abortion clinics have shut down since 2011, and that roughly half of these closures are due to new legislation passed in a wave of Republican-led efforts to restrict access to abortion.
Bloomberg’s Esmé Deprez reported in September that at least 58 clinics had closed. The sharp increase since then is mostly due to new restrictions in Texas that closed at least a dozen clinics.
Since 2011, legislatures in 30 mostly Republican-controlled states have passed 203 abortion restrictions, about as many as in all of the prior decade. At least 73 clinics have closed or stopped performing abortions. New laws are responsible for roughly half of the closures, while declining demand, industry consolidation, and crackdowns on unfit providers have also contributed to the drop.
According to Bloomberg’s map, clinic closures are concentrated in Texas, Arizona, California (not legislation-related), Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, and on the Eastern Seaboard.
Let’s talk about sexual and physical violence — about how it violates the body, how it violently strips self agency of women — and the anger, powerlessness, silence, confinement, strength, abruption, dreams, hopes, dance that it elicits. We can also talk about the serious health consequences — the short- and long-term physical, mental, sexual and reproductive health problems that survivors must deal with after and because of the violence experienced. Recent WHO figures show that immediate consequences of intimate partner violence and sexual violence include unintended pregnancies, induced abortions, gynecological problems, and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. A WHO 2013 analysis found that women who had been physically or sexually abused were 15 times more likely to have a sexually transmitted infection than women who had not experienced partner violence. Intimate partner violence in pregnancy also increases the likelihood of miscarriage, stillbirth, pre-term delivery and low birth weight babies. The link between violence and its impact on health does not stop there; health effects also include headaches, back pain, abdominal pain, fibromyalgia, gastrointestinal disorders, limited mobility and poor overall health. Does this list seem long? Let me remind you that 1 in 3 women globally will experience intimate or non-intimate partner physical and/or sexual violence. Now read the physical, emotional and psychological effects of violence again, keeping in mind that this is what a third of girls/women on the planet will go through at least once in their lifetime.
This is the world we live in today and it seems like we are beginning to become desensitized, almost complacent to the proliferation of violence against women. Unfortunately, my story is not unique. I will tell you about my girlfriend who once told me about being 8 and being “played” with by her uncle while growing up in our home country, Sierra Leone. I want to tell you about the upheld strength in her eyes as she laughed at the absurdity of it all, quickly going on about other things. I want to tell you about the sexual violence case that gripped Sierra Leone in September, when the former deputy Minister of Education was charged with allegedly raping a 24-year-old university student. For a moment there it was all everyone could talk about. Some recounted their own personal experiences, many glazed through the topic, others were enraged and yet, I will tell you about how the media tore her apart, and how hearsay made many people unsympathetic to her story and how influential men started to have their “guard up” about the women they chose to have affairs with. I could also tell you how society’s response to this high profile case will deter many from speaking out again.
Gender violence affects health; beyond that, it destabilizes the emotional and spiritual core of a girl, of a young woman — as it did to that calm 9-year-old girl, to my girlfriend, the 24-year-old who spoke out against being raped and to millions of women worldwide. As we continue to commemorate 16 days of activism against gender-based violence, better work needs to be done to assign responsibility to gender violence that destabilizes health systems, social ecosystems and economic systems. Better work needs to be done by us Sierra Leonean women in becoming bolder and louder about our stories. These experiences do not make us weak — the experience of violation does — we need to become more comfortable in sharing our own personal stories of physical and sexual violence while making sure that government, society, the laws that be increasingly become more uncomfortable in maintaining the status quo.