By Helen McBride
Under the backdrop of International Women’s Day, parties on opposite sides of the sectarian divide in Northern Ireland have come together in order to attach an abortion amendment to Stormont’s Criminal Justice Bill. Paul Givan of the DUP and Alban Maginness of the SDLP have tabled an amendment that would prevent private clinics from performing abortions, and restrict the practice to the NHS. It seems typical of political parties here to unite on a non-existent threat. The Marie Stopes Clinic, of which this amendment is undoubtedly the target, has always maintained an agreement to carryout medical procedures only within the legal framework that exists in Northern Ireland. Terminations are provided in Northern Ireland up to nine weeks gestation and only when the life of the pregnant women is at risk. Yet the motivation for this amendment has been a response to what Givan calls “the challenge that was presented when the Marie Stopes clinic opened in Northern Ireland and that revealed a loophole that private clinics are wholly unregulated.” This amendment will effectively criminalize the Marie Stopes Clinic, and with it, the women who need access to its legal services.
By Ashley Baggett
About damn time! Despite its bi-partisan support from its inception in 1994, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) lapsed in 2012. Republicans and Democrats engaged in an intense debate on the terms of the bill as did the rest of the country. But on February 28, 2013, the House of Representatives renewed it. Not the watered down one. They passed the all-inclusive VAWA that provides resources for Native American, immigrant, and LGBT victims. Now we can continue the fight against domestic violence without regressing decades in the larger campaign for women’s rights. While most agree much more has to be done to end the violence, governmental intervention through VAWA is crucial to solving the problem.
By Jacqueline Antonovich
-Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is not amused by your 19th-century parlor games.
-1960s Playboy Bunny recruitment brochure.
‘-Downton’ house may reveal lost history.
-Why black dolls matter.
-Back when Catholic universities supported birth control.
-Which state has the highest anti-depressant use?
By Helen McBride
Prompted by the UN Committee against Torture in 2011 to set up an inquiry, the Irish government has released a report on State collusion with the Catholic Church in the treatment of girls and women in the work houses known as the Magdalene Laundries. These Laundries were run by four Roman Catholic orders of nuns.
The laundries were institutions started by the Catholic Church in 1922, in which thousands of vulnerable women were incarcerated. While in reality those sent to the laundries were products of poverty, homelessness, and dysfunctional families, the myth of the “bad girl” and “fallen woman” sent to the laundries to reform has persisted. Those that were sent to these institutions spent months or years in hard labour, with no access to education, little respect and in many cases lived in constant fear. Work included doing laundry for hotels, hospitals and prisons.
By Heather Munro Prescott
Today is NARAL’s annual Blog for Choice day, which falls this year on the 40th anniversary of the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade. One this day, NARAL invites bloggers and activists to get people to talk about reproductive rights online. By participating in Blog for Choice day, we join NARAL’s mission to “let readers and the mainstream media know that a woman’s right to choose is a core progressive value that must be protected.” NARAL’s deliberate decision to retain the word “choice” is quite a contrast to Planned Parenthood’s commemoration of Roe’s 40th anniversary. In advance of this event, Planned Parenthood launched a new campaign, Not in Her Shoes which seeks to move beyond labels in the abortion debate:
By Austin McCoy
Some political observers have pointed out how President Obama’s second inaugural address contained plenty of memorable lines. The President’s affirmation of women’s rights, civil rights, and gay rights, via his Seneca Falls, Selma, and Stonewall allusions, does not just stand out as an impressive use of lyrical alliteration; it represents the acknowledgement of Obama’s electoral coalition. Also, Obama’s nod serves as a ringing validation of the same manifestations of “identity politics” that some critics have chided while lamenting the fate of the U.S. Left after the 1960s. Obama’s adoption of the rhetoric in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution highlights feminists’, civil rights advocates’, and gay rights activists’ efforts to expand democracy by forcing the nation to live by its own creed articulated in the founding documents.
By Helen McBride
The TEDxBelfastWomen event was the first of its kind to be held in the new Skainos building in the East of the city, as part of the Skainos urban regeneration project. TED is a non-profit organisation that aims to spread ideas. Started 25 years ago, it has broadened its scope to include more than the original Technology, Entertainment, Design and added the ‘x’ element. The x marks independently organised events that stimulate dialogue through TED-like experiences at the local level.
By Austin McCoy
Reports of a deal between Democrats and Republicans to avert the so-called fiscal cliff finally surfaced a few hours before they all turned to pumpkins at midnight. I know I am not the only one who grew tired of hearing about the fiscal cliff, curb, or whatever metaphor you used to describe the crisis. Actually, I learned that I did not want anything to do with this when I sat down to write because the fiscal cliff negotiations were tiring, and frankly, rather annoying. Yet, in all of my annoyance, the outcomes of these negotiations had very tangible consequences for anyone receiving unemployment benefits, living on Medicare and Social Security, or relying on their payroll tax cut. Yet, the current deal only postpones sequester for two months, possibly setting up another conflict over long-term budget cuts. This aspect of the deal is the most disconcerting. It means the 2012 fiscal cliff crisis signified just one event in what has become a rolling crisis—a series of failed negotiations and compromises that lead to more failed negotiations, weak compromises, and crises.
By Jacqueline Antonovich
-Japan may un-apologize to WWII “comfort women.”
-Meet the perfect woman circa 1912.
-MythBusting the corset.
-New Zealand’s weirdest archival secrets.
-An imperial tomb too deadly to explore?
-Jack Klugman’s unheralded role in America’s medical history.
By Adam Turner
I celebrate with all my heart the recent victories of the campaigns in Washington, Maine, and Maryland to to legalize same-sex marriage. It brings me immense pleasure every time I see another crack in the wall of discrimination against LGBT people – and all people. Now the Supreme Court has taken up the issue as well and there is a lot of excellent coverage on what this might and might not mean for the marriage equality movement. That’s not going to be my focus here, though. I also don’t intend to get into the clear parallels with interracial marriage and the Loving v. Virginia case. Instead, I’ll explore the issue of marriage itself in thinking about the question: Why is marriage the goal?