Double Dose: Sarah Palin's Priorities; Are All Women "Pre-Pregnant"?; New Data on the Uninsured; Mexico City Abortion Law Upheld ...

By Christine Cupaiuolo — August 30, 2008

The unavoidable news today is John McCain’s VP pickSarah Palin, the 44-year-old first-term governor of Alaska, who couldn’t be anymore unlike Hillary Clinton in terms of her position on social issues, universal health care and advocacy for women.

Palin believes abortion is only acceptable if a woman’s life is in danger. During a debate in 2006, the candidates were asked what they would do if their own daughters became pregnant through rape. Palin’s response: “I would choose life.”

I don’t think I’ve heard Pat Buchanan say the word “feminist” on television so much in one day, or with so much enthusiasm. He was, of course, referring to Palin being a member of Feminists for Life, an anti-abortion group Ruth Rosen describes so well here.

“I don’t think a Hillary person would ever move to her, based on the issues,” Jean Craciun, a strategic research and planning consultant in Alaska who has done political polling for Democrats and Republicans, told The New York Times. “I don’t think before today I would have ever heard someone call her a feminist.”

More reading: Alex Blaze at The Bilerico Project provides a rundown of Palin’s legislative history; Tanya Melich, a co-founder of the National Women’s Political Caucus, has analysis on the symbolism of Palin and the GOP; and Ann Friedman writes about the inherent sexism in the choice for VP.

Now a look at the rest of the week …

Do Doctors View Women as Pre-Pregnant?: New York Times readers give the paper of record a lesson in language when it comes to discussing women of childbearing age. Writer Tara Parker-Pope also talks with Cindy Pearson, executive director of the National Women’s Health Network, about attitudes toward women’s health. Best phrase for describing the focus on women’s reproductive organs: “bikini medicine.”

And be sure to read this comment from a woman whose doctor deliberately didn’t tell her she was pregnant because he was afraid she might terminate the pregnancy. Unfrackinbelievable.

Del Martin, 87, Dies in San Francisco: You may recall when San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom married same-sex couples in 2004, Del Martin and her longtime partner Phyllis Lyon were the first to say, “I do.” They were first again on June 16 of this year, when same-sex marriages were legalized in California (watch the video of their 2008 wedding here).

Sadly, Martin, an author, organizer and leader in feminist and civil rights causes, died Aug. 27 after a long period of declining health, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

“Ever since I met Del 55 years ago, I could never imagine a day would come when she wouldn’t be by my side,” Lyon, 83, said in a statement. “I am so lucky to have known her, loved her and been her partner in all things.

“I also never imagined there would be a day that we would actually be able to get married,” Lyon said. “I am devastated, but I take some solace in knowing we were able to enjoy the ultimate rite of love and commitment before she passed.”

The College Girl’s Guide to Anti-feminist Sex: Jessica at Feministing extracts the best excerpts from “Sense & Sexuality,” a new guide published by the conservative Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute.

New Data and Study on the Uninsured: New data released by the Census Bureau shows a drop in the number of uninsured Americans, to 45.7 million in 2007 from 47 million in 2006. From Raising Women’s Voices (which now has a blog!):

The percentage of women with no health insurance was 13.9 percent in 2007, down from 14.2 percent in 2006, but still higher than the rate in any other year since 1999 (which is as far back as the Census Bureau’s current set of historical tables go). The un-insurance rate in 2007 was far higher for women of color (Black women, 17.9 percent; Hispanic women of all races, 28.9 percent; and Asian-American women 15.7 percent) than for white non-hispanic women (9.6 percent).

Census bureau spokesman David Johnson acknowledged at a press conference today that the decline in the number of uninsured Americans could largely be attributed to increases in the number of children receiving coverage under government health insurance programs. The State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) has been the subject of an ongoing battle between the administration and those members of Congress and Governors who want to increase the numbers of children covered by SCHIP.

“The numbers released today show the potential power of public insurance programs to provide desperately-needed coverage to uninsured Americans,” said Lois Uttley, Director of the MergerWatch Project and co-founder of Raising Women’s Voices for the Health Care We Need (RWV). She pointed out that women also benefit significantly from public health insurance programs.

The percentage of women who relied on government health insurance of any type (Medicaid, Medicare or military insurance) in 2007 was 29.8 percent, compared to 25.7 percent for men. A higher percent of women relied on Medicaid than did men (14.2 percent for women, compared to 12.2 percent for men), and the same was true for Medicare (15.4 percent of women had Medicare coverage, compared to 12.2 percent for men.)

Plus: The Kaiser Family Foundation has also published a new study examining spending on health care for the uninsured, and it projects the costs of care if the population were insured.

Leslee Unruh’s Facts of Life: Amanda Robb, niece of Bart Slepian, the obstetrician-gynecologist who was killed by an anti-abortion activist, profiles South Dakota anti-choice activist Leslee Unruh, executive director of the Vote Yes for Life Campaign, in the September issue of More magazine. Though they bond in some strange way, Robb uncovers the truth about Unruh’s first marriage, and the story includes reactions like this from Unruh:

I asked why she refused to work with Planned Parenthood on teen pregnancy prevention programs or contraceptive initiatives. Leslee Unruh, the media’s go-to resource on abstinence, whose views have been solicited by MTV, CNN, ABC, NPR, and more than 100 newspapers and magazines, answered that Planned Parenthood wants to sexualize children and that taking oral contraceptives is like ingesting pesticides. She went on to tell me that masturbation is dangerous, that abortion increases the risk of breast cancer, and that young girls should pledge to give themselves as a “wedding gift” to their husbands.


Mexico City Abortion Law Upheld: “The Supreme Court upheld Mexico City’s abortion law by an 8-to-3 vote on Thursday, allowing unrestricted abortions during the first trimester of pregnancy,” reports Elisabeth Malkin in The New York Times. Earlier in the week, Malkin reported on the struggle women face in securing an abortion in Mexico City, even though abortion was made legal last year.

“Since the city’s legislature voted for the law in April 2007, some 85 percent of the gynecologists in the city’s public hospitals have declared themselves conscientious objectors,” notes Malkin. “And women complain that even at those hospitals that perform abortions, staff members are often hostile, demeaning them and throwing up bureaucratic hurdles.”

Plus: Also this week, Mexico City’s legislature passed a law “making it easier for transsexuals and transgender people to legally change their names and obtain revised birth certificates that reflect their gender identification,” reports the AP.

More From the Abortion and Politics Files: “A new anti-abortion group has its sights set beyond just running ads and launching viral Internet attacks on Barack Obama. The group wants to overturn the federal election law that could rein in not only its own activities but those of any so-called issue advocacy groups,” writes Marianne Lavelle at the Center for Public Integrity’s blog, Paper Trail.

Labor Day Reminder: “On Labor Day weekend, consider this: As many as 43 percent of American workers in private industry don’t have paid sick days, according to 2007 data from the federal government. If they call in sick, they lose their pay and, sometimes, their jobs,” writes Shari Roan of the L.A. Times.

“That number has risen over the years, part of a larger trend to cut back on sick leave. Among workers who do still have the once-venerable benefit, many have found their days reduced or lumped together as part of their vacation time. The United States — unique among industrialized countries — doesn’t mandate a minimum number of paid sick days for workers.”

The numbers are even higher among low-wage and part-time workers; close to 80 percent of each group do not have paid sick time, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.

And with that, hope everyone enjoys the weekend!

5 responses to “Double Dose: Sarah Palin’s Priorities; Are All Women “Pre-Pregnant”?; New Data on the Uninsured; Mexico City Abortion Law Upheld …”

  1. I wrote about Palin on my blog @

    and quoted my friend Tanya Melich’s article in her Women’s Media Center Commentary…”John McCain may think he can seduce American voters by having Sarah Palin by his side, but when the majority of Americans learn the Republican platform does not bring health care to Americans, will not protect woman to make their own reproductive choices, does not bring legal protection for equal pay for equal work, Sarah Palin, the McCain Trojan filly, will not fool American women.”

    The trick will be to inform what appears to be an ineducable American public on these facts – a public that appears to still believe that McCain is a moderate on reproductive choice.

  2. Please double-check history of the so-called Feminists for Life. Some references claim they started in 1972 but that is not true. There was no Feminists for Life organization until 1974 more than a year AFTER the Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion in the USA and when some women, part of religious organizations and angry with the National Organization for Now for pro-choice stance, formed FfL. They were considered “reactionary”women, reacting, not a proactive political group. Professors and women’s liberation groups in Ohio from 1972-1974 should be able to verify the facts and university documents on the origins of that group. Palin’s membership to FfL is being touted as important but it’s also important to correct the historical errors. There was no an ANTI-abortion movement prior to the Supreme Court decision. The reactions came in the aftermath,

  3. I cried tears of joy when Mondale selected Geraldine Ferraro. Now I am crying tears of sorrow for McCann’s choice in Sarah Palin. She could become the president of the United States. I am so scared for our country.

  4. The College Girl’s Guide to Anti-feminist Sex stance on a young lady’s rectum was enough to send me to the lady’s room. If I hadn’t seen this on Feministing I would have thought it was a brilliant joke. Thanks for the laugh!

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