Andrea Host published Is Motherhood For Sale? in Reproductive Justice 2021-02-21 09:36:34 -0500
Is Motherhood For Sale?
Buried in that nearly 400-page New York State budget was a provision to legalize reproductive commercial surrogacy. Passed without the opportunity for legislative hearings or public debates, the law came into effect on February 15, 2021. Many countries, such as France, have banned reproductive surrogacy for many reasons. The DA Global Women’s Caucus Reproductive Justice Action Team takes this matter seriously and will be organizing a webex soon. In the interim, the Coalition Against Trafficking of Women is holding a webinar Feb. 25, 2021 at 12:30 p.m. EST for At the Edge of the Margins: New York legalizes commercial surrogacy — now what? This webinar is open to the public and you can register here.
Buried in that nearly 400-page New York State budget was a provision tolegalize reproductive commercial surrogacy. Passed without the opportunity for legislative hearings or public debates, the law came into effect on February 15, 2021. Many countries, such as France, have banned reproductive surrogacy for many reasons. The DA Global Women’s Caucus Reproductive Justice Action Team takes this matter seriously and will be organizing a webex soon. In the interim, the Coalition Against Trafficking of Women is holding a webinar Feb. 25, 2021 at 12:30 p.m. EST for At the Edge of the Margins: New York legalizes commercial surrogacy — now what? This webinar is open to the public and you can register here.
Andrea Host published Black Women in Biden's Administration in News 2021-02-16 15:37:16 -0500
Black Women in Biden's Administration
Spotlighting Three Black Women in Biden’s New Administration
By: Jamie McAfee, Communications Co-Chair, Global Women’s Caucus
Vice President Kamala Harris, Georgian heroine Stacey Abrams and National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman made headlines around the world for their historic achievements. Their stages were broad, glittering with lights, flashbulbs popping, iPhones recording and reporters shouting. Notoriety well-earned and deserved, African American women are walking across the international stage filled with hope that this change in the air, swept in by Black women voters, is permanent. Black women fought to mobilize voters, and on-the-ground efforts helped turnout people of color, pushing Biden to victory. During his acceptance speech in Philadelphia, President-elect Biden acknowledged the groundswell of support from Black voters throughout the election process when he stated, “…especially for those moments when this campaign was at its lowest—the African-American community stood up again for me. They always have my back, and I’ll have yours.”
Since the Inauguration, the new administration has tackled various crises that directly impact communities of color, but President Biden is going beyond policy. He seems to be living up to his campaign promises by staffing his cabinet to look like America, starting with the selection of Harris as his running mate after a contentious primary. With over 1200 Senate-confirmed appointments to fill, we look at three Black women President Biden has nominated for leadership positions. Each woman has a unique, inspirational story worth exploring beyond these introductions.
Andrea Host published Vaccination Hesitancy in American Women 2021-02-16 15:28:52 -0500
Vaccination Hesitancy Remains for Certain Populations
By: Stayce Camparo, Communications Co-Chair, Global Women’s Caucus
On January 16th, 2021, a doctor by the name of Kimberly D. Manning prepared a vaccination station for Ms. Eloise, an elderly black woman who had come to the clinic to get her vaccine. Soon after Dr. Manning started preparing the syringe, Ms. Eloise started crying, confessing her doubt that she was doing the right thing. Dr. Manning paused the inoculation, and began to talk with her, gently asking her about her hesitations. Ms. Eloise explained that she didn’t want to go another year, not being able to hug her grandkids -- “I’m more scared of going another year not hugging my grands than I am of…whatever.”
“Ms. Eloise, I bet you’ve seen a lot of…whatever,” stated Dr. Manning. Ms. Eloise replied, “Yeah, I have.”
This excerpt was retrieved from the twitter account of Dr. Kimberly D. Manning, illuminating a conflict of trust that many Black Americans are confronted with when making healthcare decisions. Dr. Manning, also a Black woman, ended the post with #BlackWhysMatter, a directive to her followers to listen to the hesitancy of those who have historically been taken advantage of by the medical and healthcare communities.
Among Black Americans, trust in vaccine safety is only 14%, and two in three people believe that the government should “rarely, or never, be trusted to look after their interests.” In Latinx communities, these statists are 34% and 43% respectively -- lower than what many health officials need for public health conformity, yet a bump up from reports by Black Americans, displaying a deep divide in opinion among two populations that have historically been marginalized. The efficacy of any vaccine to provide widespread protection lies within the population’s willingness to get it, and if certain groups are hesitant, then everyone is at risk.
What Ms. Eloise and many others are afraid of, however, is not unjustified; throughout history, Black Americans have suffered from unspeakable tortures, prejudices, and disparities in medical research and healthcare. In 1932, the Tuskegee Institute, along with the Public Health Service, began to study the natural course of syphilis by recruiting 600 Black men, half with syphilis and half without, without their informed consent. In return for the study (originally supposed to last six months), the men received free regular medical exams, free meals, and free burial services. The study went on to last for 40 years, and in 1947, when penicillin became the chosen drug to cure syphilis, the men of the Tuskegee study were not offered it, with later investigations finding no evidence that the participants were even given a choice to quit the study. This incident sparked the establishment of the International Review Board, and a strict code of ethics that is rigorously analyzed for the use of human subjects in research.
Though the research community has taken strides to assure equality in experimentation and scientific study, we are far from rectifying the persistent systemic racism embedded in the American medical system; inequalities and prejudices still exist and are evident in the high mortality rates among Black mothers and infants, and in the striking disparities in Coronavirus cases among Black Americans. And to say that the problem is being confronted flies in the face of reports showing that race is not being adequately tracked in vaccination distribution. Moreover, the process for acquiring a vaccination appointment, even by those who are eager to get it, is displaying racial inequities, in terms of the time and resources needed to book such an appointment. If we are to take on the labor of Sisyphus and tackle the predominant vaccine hesitancy among Black Americans, then we must confront the bleak reality of medical racism, and learn more about the groups that are being targeted by disinformation campaigns looking to suppress and mislead.
Unfortunately, women, particularly Black women, are one of the more vulnerable populations targeted by propaganda. Broken down only by gender, a recent National Geographic survey showed that 51% of women reported that they were likely to take the covid vaccine, compared with 69% of men. Some research shows that the anti-vaxxer movement, primarily made up of women, has infiltrated mainstream, predominantly female, domains, like wellness and cuisine. These campaigns are succeeding in spreading false information to a population that is chiefly responsible for making health decisions for their families. Furthermore, there is warranted hesitancy among Black women given the history of distressing medical outcomes during childbirth, compounded by a lack of medical research for this demographic. Though some policy leaders have considered targeting Black communities first with the vaccine, given that those communities have been hit the hardest by the pandemic, an established and reinforced distrust in healthcare and health professionals have left many Black women wary to be first in line.
Professionals and experts in the study of disinformation and inequality have a few suggestions to help everyone stay savvy to credible information and hopefully help increase willing participation in vaccination. For one, we need to listen to those who are hesitant because of a long-established system of medical racism. We also need to become informed consumers of accurate information, and use the tools available to us to call out and combat false messaging. Remember Occam’s razor? Some stories are just too convoluted to be true. Lastly, we need to get this vaccine. Though some experts theorize that hesitancy in women arises partly from research showing that women fare better than men when infected with the coronavirus, our physical health, mental health, and futures all depend on stepping up as a community and listening to science.
Ms. Eloise had a fear of being disconnected from the people she loved, and that fear ultimately helped erode the fears she harbored as a Black woman. Thank you, Ms. Eloise. Our neighbors and leaders must learn from your example, and from your #why.
Here are some resources about vaccination, and the different vaccines offered.
- #sleeveup to fight covid-19
- Did you get your COVID-19 vaccine?
- Additional information for those still hesitant.
Andrea Host published State of the VAWA in Violence Against Women 2021-02-16 15:12:18 -0500
State of the VAWA
By Kathryn Tullos
Congress probably will consider reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) during the current session. Authored by then-Senator Joe Biden, the bill originally passed in 1994. VAWA must be reauthorized every five years, and Congress approved that reauthorization several times during both Democratic and Republican administrations. However, in 2019, legislation to reauthorize the law died in the Senate. Opposition to the 2019 measure came from critics of measures expanding opportunities for immigrant victims of domestic violence to remain in the United States legally and protections for persons in same-sex relationships, as well as opponents of provisions limiting gun ownership by perpetrators of domestic violence or sexual assault.
VAWA is important because it changed the legal landscape in domestic violence and sexual assault cases. The original Act contained a number of measures that helped close loopholes in domestic violence cases. For example, the Act required each state to recognize protective orders issued in any other state and provided incentives for states to enact laws mandating that police make arrests when they respond to domestic violence incidents. VAWA also created an Office on Violence Against Women in the Department of Justice and enabled federal prosecutors to act in cases of domestic violence and sexual assault crimes that had crossed state lines. The Act also has provided approximately $8 billion in grants for education and crisis assistance related to domestic violence and sexual assault. More recent iterations of VAWA have focused on outreach to marginalized persons, such as immigrants, Native Americans, and people of color and have prohibited measures that discouraged reporting of violence and assault, such as requiring rape victims to pay for their testing in hospitals and clinics.
Advocates of VAWA point to significant progress in the area of domestic violence since it became law. Roughly half of the states enacted mandatory arrest laws during that period. Too, the United States has seen substantial declines in rates of violence against intimate partners since 1994. According to the Congressional Research Service, the incidence of serious intimate partner violence against women declined 70% between 1994 and 2018; the incidence against men declined 87% in the same period. Advocates note, however, that domestic violence and sexual assault remain significant problems. Experts estimate that as many as one in three American women will experience one or both of these during her lifetime.
Congress likely will consider reauthorization and expansion of VAWA in its current session. During his campaign, President Biden marked this as a top priority. He called in particular for expansion of access to services for victims of violence who live in rural areas and for more resources to house women fleeing abuse. In addition, a number of professional groups that deal with domestic violence and sexual assault have announced support for reauthorization. In the legal field, the American Bar Association has called for reauthorization. And in the medical field, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists supports VAWA and has urged Congress to appropriate emergency funds to expand services to domestic violence victims trapped with their abusers during the COVID pandemic.
Andrea Host published Abortion Rights Update in Violence Against Women 2021-02-16 15:04:14 -0500
Abortion Rights Update
Abortion Rights Update: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, but a little Good
by Kathryn Tullos
Laws regulating abortion have changed recently in several countries.
As of 24 January 2021, abortion is now available on demand in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy. This development marks a substantial departure from previous Argentinian law, which allowed terminations in only cases of rape and danger to the woman’s life. Under the new law, abortions performed after 14 weeks will be subject to the same restrictions that were previously in place throughout the entire pregnancy.
This legislative change resulted from a combined effort by Argentina’s president, Alberto Fernández, and sustained grass roots pressure from the group Ni Una Menos, or Not One [Woman] Less. Ni Una Menos formed in 2015 to protest widespread violence against women. The organization has also lobbied and protested in favor of gender parity issues, marriage equality, and the rights of transgender persons.
Research indicates that thousands of illegal abortions have occurred in Argentina each year. In 2016, the last year for which data was available, roughly 40,000 of these procedures led to health complications requiring hospitalization.
On 25 January, the Thai Parliament passed legislation allowing abortions during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. The legislation now proceeds to a review by Thailand’s Constitutional Court. If the Court rules that the legislation comports with the country’s constitution, the King will sign and publish the bill, which then becomes a law.
Previously, abortion had been available in Thailand only in cases of rape or danger to the health of the woman. Cases of illegal abortion could result in the imprisonment of both providers and patients. Under the new law, women who have abortions after the prescribed 12-week period are still subject to fines, imprisonment, or both, unless the procedure is deemed necessary under Thai medical guidelines.
A near-total ban on abortions has taken effect as of 27 January in Poland. The country’s Constitutional Court ruled in October 2020 that abortion would no longer be allowed in cases of fetal abnormalities, even when those abnormalities were severe or fatal. Terminations because of fetal abnormalities make up 98% of the annual legal abortions in Poland. Facing the largest country’s largest protests since the fall of Communism, the socially-conservative government had delayed publishing the law, which puts the law into effect, until late in January.
Polish law still allows pregnancies to be terminated in cases of rape, incest, or danger to the woman’s life. However, such terminations are uncommon, and experts estimate that approximately 200,000 Polish women receive abortions illegally in country or abroad.
The Ugly and Some Good
United States of America
The United States has seen conflicting recent developments in the laws and judicial decisions governing abortion.
In a move restricting access to abortions, the Supreme Court ruled that a federal judge erred in overruling a Food and Drug Administration rule requiring women to pick up pills to end pregnancy in person. The lower court had ruled that, in light of the health risks and reduced access to hospitals and medical offices caused by the COVID pandemic, making a woman pick up pills in person placed an undue burden on her right to an abortion.
The 6-3 decision in Food and Drug Administration v. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, came down on 12 January 2021. Justices Sotomeyor and Kagan dissented, and Justice Breyer voted against the majority without stating his reasons for doing so.
In contrast, on 28 January, President Biden rescinded the Mexico City Policy, commonly known as the Global Gag Rule. This measure had barred US funding to international medical groups that used non-US money to fund providing abortion information or services. Biden’s decision frees up approximately $7.3 billion in funding for health groups around the world.
President Biden also announced that he would restore $69 million in funding for the United Nations Population Fund. The Fund’s Director, Dr. Natalia Kanem, estimated that the additional funding could prevent 1.4 million unintended pregnancies and 32,000 unsafe abortions. She also stated that the funds would be used to provide reproductive health services to 4.2 million people and counseling to over 75,000 victims of sexual violence.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Please help us fight for our reproductive freedom! All you need to do is join the Reproductive Justice Action Team. We had our first planning call on February 8, 2021 and will post the minutes.
If you are interested in working with us, please contact Salli Anne Swartz [email protected]
Andrea Host signed up on Women's Caucus 2021-02-03 05:55:20 -0500
Andrea Host commented on Contact 2020-08-14 03:14:59 -0400In preparation for returning ballots via fax, I’d like to know if you have a recommendation on the best fax app to use. We plan to help DA members in our area return their ballots and knowing which fax app is best would be greatly appreciated. I started doing some research today then had an aha moment figuring you may have already done the research. Thanks in advance for your help! And keep up the good work.
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Andrea Host signed up on Join 2017-09-14 11:47:06 -0400