Based on this exchange, I have a new rule for 2014: The people who benefit from the most privilege—whether based on their race, gender, orientation, economic status, or ability—need to resist the initial impulse to be defensive when called out.

Pointing out a person’s privilege is not an indictment of their character or integrity; it’s about calling attention to the benefits a person is granted based on their station in society and how they act on those benefits, not who they are in their heart.

Based on this exchange, I have a new rule for 2014: The people who benefit from the most privilege—whether based on their race, gender, orientation, economic status, or ability—need to resist the initial impulse to be defensive when called out.

Pointing out a person’s privilege is not an indictment of their character or integrity; it’s about calling attention to the benefits a person is granted based on their station in society and how they act on those benefits, not who they are in their heart.

Emotionally, black feminism reminds black women that the racism and sexism they experience on a daily basis are not a figment of their individual imaginations but are real and structural. Lola Okolosie, As a black feminist, I see how the wider movement fails women like my mother

When Being HIV-Positive Becomes a Prison Sentence

There are plenty of reasons to celebrate the start of the health insurance exchange application period, on October 1, as part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This is especially true for people working to end the HIV epidemic in the United States. For starters, enrolling in health-care plans should help more people with HIV access treatment. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC), an estimated 1.2 million people are HIV-positive in the United States, but only 940,000 know their status. Of those who know they have HIV, only half are receiving care for the virus.

There is also hope that the ACA will help more people who don’t know their HIV status to find out what it is and, if necessary, get linked to care. But what if finding out you have HIV opens you up to criminal prosecution? Even though the health-care reform law has made it illegal for insurance companies to discriminate against such enrollees, people newly discovering their HIV status may find themselves facing prison time.

And that has got to stop.

Read more—>

Two Legal Settlements Highlight Pervasive Problem of Pregnancy Discrimination

In the settlement, CUNY has agreed to adopt a new university-wide policy addressing the rights of pregnant and parenting students under Title IX, publish and disseminate that policy to its faculty, conduct training so that faculty members understand their obligations, and include the policy in the student handbook. CUNY also agreed to reinstate Stewart’s full-tuition scholarship and reimburse her for expenses she incurred taking an extra course this semester in order to graduate on time. The settlement will protect the rights of tens of thousands of parents and pregnant students in this sprawling New York City college system.
The entire CUNY system—spanning all five boroughs of New York City—has over 269,000 students this year. Women account for 58.4 percent of that student population, while approximately 15 percent of the student body are parents. But the national dropout rates among pregnant and parenting students are stark: 61 percent of women who have children after enrolling in community college do not graduate. This number is 65 percent higher than for women who do not have children while in college.
The second settlement involved claims between Tallahassee Memorial Hospital and Amy Crosby, a 30-year-old pregnant hospital cleaner in Tallahassee, Florida. NWLC filed a complaint last month with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on Crosby’s behalf after Crosby was forced to take unpaid leave when the hospital refused to accommodate her doctor’s request that she not lift more than 20 pounds because of her pregnancy.

 “We are encouraged that the hospital and Amy Crosby have been able to resolve this matter,” Emily Martin, NWLC vice president and general counsel, said in a statement. “While the specific terms of the agreement are confidential, we are very pleased that as a result of their cooperation, Amy will be able to continue to work at the hospital. But it’s important to take note of the countless other pregnant women across the country—especially those working in low-wage jobs—who face discrimination on the job when they simply need a small adjustment or accommodation that would allow them to keep working. These women are often forced out on unpaid leave or simply fired, at the very moment they’re relying on their income and job security.”

Read more—>

Two Legal Settlements Highlight Pervasive Problem of Pregnancy Discrimination

In the settlement, CUNY has agreed to adopt a new university-wide policy addressing the rights of pregnant and parenting students under Title IX, publish and disseminate that policy to its faculty, conduct training so that faculty members understand their obligations, and include the policy in the student handbook. CUNY also agreed to reinstate Stewart’s full-tuition scholarship and reimburse her for expenses she incurred taking an extra course this semester in order to graduate on time. The settlement will protect the rights of tens of thousands of parents and pregnant students in this sprawling New York City college system.

The entire CUNY system—spanning all five boroughs of New York City—has over 269,000 students this year. Women account for 58.4 percent of that student population, while approximately 15 percent of the student body are parents. But the national dropout rates among pregnant and parenting students are stark: 61 percent of women who have children after enrolling in community college do not graduate. This number is 65 percent higher than for women who do not have children while in college.

The second settlement involved claims between Tallahassee Memorial Hospital and Amy Crosby, a 30-year-old pregnant hospital cleaner in Tallahassee, Florida. NWLC filed a complaint last month with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on Crosby’s behalf after Crosby was forced to take unpaid leave when the hospital refused to accommodate her doctor’s request that she not lift more than 20 pounds because of her pregnancy.

 “We are encouraged that the hospital and Amy Crosby have been able to resolve this matter,” Emily Martin, NWLC vice president and general counsel, said in a statement. “While the specific terms of the agreement are confidential, we are very pleased that as a result of their cooperation, Amy will be able to continue to work at the hospital. But it’s important to take note of the countless other pregnant women across the country—especially those working in low-wage jobs—who face discrimination on the job when they simply need a small adjustment or accommodation that would allow them to keep working. These women are often forced out on unpaid leave or simply fired, at the very moment they’re relying on their income and job security.”

Read more—>


The effort to take away a woman’s ability to make independent decisions is rooted in abortion stigma: the process of dehumanizing and discriminating against women, not for who they are, but because they need an abortion. How is it that in the 21st century women still do not have the right to make a decision about one of the most profound and life-transforming decisions any person can make: whether or not to carry a pregnancy to term or to become a parent for life?
Abortion stigma is a form of gender discrimination and punishment, and it represents social control of both women who need abortions and providers who provide them.
We have to keep naming abortion stigma for what it is; we have to keep calling it out. And we have to work together to find ways to both mitigate it and reflect on the societal mechanisms that produce it and structures and systems that support it.
- Leila Hessini, Ipas / Global Fund for Women

The effort to take away a woman’s ability to make independent decisions is rooted in abortion stigma: the process of dehumanizing and discriminating against women, not for who they are, but because they need an abortion. How is it that in the 21st century women still do not have the right to make a decision about one of the most profound and life-transforming decisions any person can make: whether or not to carry a pregnancy to term or to become a parent for life?

Abortion stigma is a form of gender discrimination and punishment, and it represents social control of both women who need abortions and providers who provide them.

We have to keep naming abortion stigma for what it is; we have to keep calling it out. And we have to work together to find ways to both mitigate it and reflect on the societal mechanisms that produce it and structures and systems that support it.

Leila Hessini, Ipas / Global Fund for Women

The effort to take away a woman’s ability to make independent decisions is rooted in abortion stigma: the process of dehumanizing and discriminating against women, not for who they are, but because they need an abortion. How is it that in the 21st century women still do not have the right to make a decision about one of the most profound and life-transforming decisions any person can make: whether or not to carry a pregnancy to term or to become a parent for life? — Leila Hessini, Confronting Abortion Stigma

Four Things You Probably Don’t Know About Title IX

Written by Becka Wall for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

Tomorrow, Wednesday, February 6th, is National Girls & Women in Sports Day, which has people singing the praises of Title IX from soccer fields, softball diamonds, tracks, pools and countless other sporting venues — and for good reason! Title IX is an enormously important law for female athletes — no other law has done more to expand opportunities for women and girls in athletics. While there is still work to be done, the progress we have made thanks to Title IX is tremendous.

But what many people don’t know is that the benefits and protections of Title IX aren’t limited to athletics. Here are four other ways Title IX is there for young women (and men, too):

1. Equal opportunities in career and technical programs in traditionally male-dominated fields

Title IX requires that girls and boys be given equal opportunities in career and technical education programs, particularly in traditionally male-dominated fields. Getting more women in these fields may be the key to closing the gender wage gap, since predominantly female occupations pay lower wages than predominantly male ones. Women still face barriers and a lack of encouragement in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (often referred to as STEM), but Title IX has broadened opportunities for a number of women and girls.

Read the rest here.

Dear Schools, Please Stop Discriminating Based on Pregnancy. Thanks, Title IX

Written by Lara S. Kaufmann for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

Imagine you’re an honors student at a community college. You’re doing great: you’ve got a merit-based scholarship and you’re enjoying your classes. You’re also pregnant and excited to welcome the new addition to your family. 

Being the conscientious student that you are, you approach your professors as soon as classes start, tell them that you’re due near the end of the semester, and ask that if you miss any tests due to a pregnancy-related absence you be allowed to make them up. You even offer to provide a doctor’s note. Three of your professors congratulate you, and tell you that of course this won’t be a problem. 

But one of your professors says she will not excuse any such leave or allow work missed to be made up, even if it’s a labor and delivery emergency. She will not reconsider this policy “just because you find it inconvenient.” You’ll just have to deal with it or drop the class. 

Sheesh, okay, fine, this professor is being unreasonable. But surely when you appeal to the administration — including the dean — they’ll intervene and tell the professor to reverse her decision, right? 

In fact, though, the dean tells you that each professor gets to set his or her own leave and make-up rules, regardless of what those rules are. And if you don’t like it, you’ll have to drop the class. 

You feel defeated, so you do it. You drop the class. And because dropping the class disqualified you from your scholarship program, you withdraw from that too. 

This all could have been prevented if the school had complied with Title IX, the civil rights law that prohibits sex discrimination in education. 

Read the rest here.

Evidence-Based Advocacy: How Do Abortion Providers Experience Stigma?

Written by Steph Herold for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

Evidence-Based Advocacy is a monthly column seeking to bridge the gap between the research and activist communities by profiling provocative new abortion research that activists may not otherwise be able to access.

Ask anyone to tell you who’s doing the most innovative research on abortion provider stigma and they’€™ll tell you it’€™s Dr. Lisa Harris and her interdisciplinary team at the University of Michigan. Together they pioneered the Provider Share Workshop, a pilot project testing the possibility that a support group for abortion providers could help reduce the negative impact of stigma. She writes about topics that others in even the most pro-choice communities shy away from €”the need to have open and honest conversations about second trimester abortion provision, how stigma affects abortion complications, and, recently, the need to recognize conscience as a motivating factor in abortion provision. Now, Dr. Harris and her team, which includes social worker Jane Hassinger, and public health PhDs Michelle Debbink and Lisa Martin, have gone a step further and actually mapped out how abortion providers experience abortion stigma, coining a new term: the legitimacy paradox

Based on their interviews with abortion clinic staff who participated in the Provider Share Workshop, Dr. Harris and her team theorize that the combination of stigma and silence perpetuate a vicious cycle:

"When abortion providers do not disclose their work in everyday encounters, their silence perpetuates a stereotype that abortion work is unusual or deviant, or that legitimate, mainstream doctors do not perform abortions. This contributes to marginalization of abortion providers within medicine and the ongoing targeting of providers for harassment and violence. This reinforces the reluctance to disclose abortion work, and the cycle continues."€        

Read the rest here.

Abortion Stigma is Simply Discrimination: Here Is How We Get Rid of It

Written by Leila Hessini for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

Last week, I attended the annual International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics conference in Italy. During the five days I was there, nearly 500,000 women had abortions. Many of these women faced stigma, a mechanism of social control used to dehumanize and devalue women who need, or decide, to terminate pregnancies.

When we began to examine the social construct of abortion stigma several years ago, we found that very little had been published. And yet, it’s really the root of all barriers that women — and even providers — face to obtain or perform abortions.  Why do we legally deprive women of a health care service that could safe their lives? Why are women forced to undergo a waiting period in order to get an abortion? Why are abortion clinics often separate from other reproductive health care clinics? Why do women trade safety for secrecy and turn to “back-alley” providers? And the questions go on…

Stigma contributes to the idea that women who have abortions are not the norm, although they are. The social construct of abortion stigma creates an “us-versus-them” mentality — in spite of the fact that in the United States one in three women have abortions and a much higher share of all women globally terminate a pregnancy sometime during their reproductive lives, abortion is still constructed as something that is wrong, inappropriate, or deviant. Discriminating against women is therefore considered normal; 26 percent of women live in countries where abortion is legally restricted and many more live in places where they have to justify their abortion. If this isn’t discrimination, I don’t know what is.

"How can this decision be wrong?" asks Dr. Nozer Sheriar, a gynecologist in India. "How can any decision, choice or action taken by 43 million women each year around the world be wrong?" If all the women in the world who have had an abortion live together in one country, he points out, it would be the third most populous country in the world. Think about the level of discrimination against a group so large.

Read the rest here.