One week from today, women and men in Portland will celebrate a different kind of V-Day -- one that doesn't involve chocolates and flowers. This February 14th marks the 15th anniversary of Eve Ensler's V-Day: "a global movement to end violence against women and girls."
This year's event, dubbed One Billion Rising, calls on women and men to "stop what they normally do, walk out, strike, and dance."
Earlier this week, Maine's two senators -- both of whom are female, in case you've forgotten, voted against the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would have, among other things: a) prevented employers from retaliating against employees who complain or inquire about pay inequity; b)
made employers who violate sex discrimination prohibitions liable in court; and c) encouraged grants to fund negotiation-skills training for women and girls.
Well, what we were worried about last year has come to pass: the likely closure of rural healthcare clinics in Maine that provide screenings, treatment for sexually transmitted infections, birth control, pre-natal care, and other sexual health services to women who qualify for reduced or free care. Some clinics also perform abortions.
There are only a few days left to vote for a finalist in the League of Young Voters's Launch Maine competition.
The contest, which aims to both spur and highlight community involvement among young Mainers, will award $500+ to the winning youth-led project. Although $500 isn't a ton of money (finalists do have the chance to earn more at the April 6th party/winner announcement), Launch Maine has garnered a ton of interest, with more than 30 teams submitting their projects, which address topics such as home weatherization, kids and the arts, organic smoothies, physical activity and health, and alternative transportation.
The legislation I mentioned in last week's story about girls and the trades, LD 1865, An Act to Enhance Career and Technical Education, was the first of four education-related bills to be heard in Augusta this week. The bill, which aims to make it easier for students to take CTE courses, is the least controversial prong of Governor Paul LePage's education agenda; the education committee and most legislators support improvements to vocational education -- especially those that don't cost anything.
We thought Obama's compromise on religious organizations and birth control would quiet the ridiculous few who haven't caught up with the fact that ALMOST EVERY WOMAN USES SOME TYPE OF BIRTH CONTROL IN HER LIFETIME.
We were wrong.
Rather than let the issue drop and move on to, oh I don't know, MORE IMPORTANT THINGS, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Regulation assembled a panel this morning to beat this horse to death.
In the wake of cuts to both Title X, the federal family-planning funding mechanism that provides more than $300 million for health screenings, birth control, and prenatal care (but not abortions) nationwide, and Planned Parenthood (which gets about $75 million annually from the federal government -- none of which can be spent on abortion services), the Maine Choice Coalition held a press conference today, encouraging Mainers contact senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins and urge them to vote against such cuts when a similar bill comes before the US Senate.
Doesn't really have the same ring to it, huh?
As we wait for the FDA to issue its ruling on Ella, the emergency contraceptive that can be taking with lasting efficacy up to five days after unprotected sex (the full FDA usually follows the recommendations of its advisory panels; the sub-committee on reproductive health approved the drug a few weeks ago), here's a brief Q&A between me and Christina Aplington, a PR exec for Ella-manufacturer HRA Pharma.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the birth-control pill (or at least, of FDA approval of the Pill), and you can read its history in this Time magazine article.Consider these sobering stats, though, buried at the end of the article:
A study by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned
Pregnancy found that 86% of young men and 88% of young women say it is
important to avoid pregnancy in their lives right now.
A Reuters investigative report today reveals that Wellpoint, the parent company of Anthem Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Maine, has had a practice of targeting women diagnosed with breast cancer for additional health scrutiny and even cancellation of insurance policies.
If you know someone with breast cancer, or if you have it, or if you know eight women (breast cancer will strike one in eight women in her lifetime) you will want to read this Reuters report.
"Misandry": the hatred of males, an unacknowledged but underlying socio-cultural,
economic, political and legal phenomenon endangering the well-being of
both genders. (Via malestudies.org)
Did anyone from Maine's academic community attend/call into the symposium on Male Studies held at Wagner College in New York on Wednesday? It appears that professors from Hobart William Smith College, Springfield College, and McGill University were in attendence, plus, not surprisingly, Christina Hoff Sommers (who I've written about here before).
Someone's already playing the woman card in the Maine gubernatorial race, but it's not either of the female candidates running for governor (Rosa Scarcelli and Libby Mitchell). Nay, it's former state attorney general Steve Rowe.
A group of women led by former state senate prez Beth Edmonds met yesterday at Amore Styles (because women like getting their hair done!) to kick off the "Women Roweing" campaign, voicing their support for Rowe's candidacy.
Portland activist Jill Barkley, who works for Caring Unlimited, a York County DV awareness and support organization, was on WPOR this morning talking about the Rihanna-Chris Brown situation. (to listen, click the link) The WPOR Morning Crew invited Barkley back to talk about dating violence next week. Jill -- let us know if that happens!
The Maine Family Planning Association has 56 pledges so far in its "Pledge-A-Picketer" campaign. Basically, the model is this: For every anti-choice picketer that shows up at the family planning clinic in Augusta over the next month (Maine Right To Life just launched its 40 Days of Life "peaceful public witness" campaign last week), the pledger donates $X.