Karen O

[Australia] Medicare funding for abortions up for removal, decriminalisation in Victoria

POLITICIANS will be allowed to follow their conscience on a proposal that Medicare funding be removed for abortions carried out between 14 and 26 weeks.
There is a facebook group about the issue -- Guy Barnett get your hands off my right to choose! -- but so far I can't find any other online organising sites. If you live in Australia, please write to your state or territory senators about this issue!

Also, Victoria is considering decriminalising abortion (removing it from the Crimes Act). Here's a great article about it: http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/abortion-law-reform-promises-better-health-care-20080903-484x.html
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Sarah Palin: Extremist Against Abortion Even In Cases Of Rape And Incest

Palin On Abortion: I'd Oppose Even If My Own Daughter Was Raped

In November 2006, then gubernatorial candidate Sarah Palin declared that she would not support an abortion for her own daughter even if she had been raped. Granting exceptions only if the mother's life was in danger, Palin said that when it came to her daughter, "I would choose life."

At the time, her daughter was 14 years old. Moreover, Alaska's rape rate was an abysmal 2.2 times above the national average and 25 percent of all rapes resulted in unwanted pregnancies. But Palin's position was palatable within the state's largely Republican political circles.

Now that she's John McCain's vice presidential candidate, Palin's abortion policy (among others) is undergoing renewed scrutiny. The Alaska Republican has long declared herself pro-life. And her credentials on the topic make her the belle of the ball among religious conservatives. But Democrats and abortion rights advocates say her stance, specifically her unwillingness to grant her own child a choice to end a pregnancy induced by rape, is drastically at odds with public opinion -- even among many Republicans.

"This is absolutely outside the mainstream. Even in South Dakota they rejected [outlawing abortion in cases of rape] in '06 because it has gone too far and everyone can identify that in a case of rape or incest a woman should have the chance to make the decision with their family or doctor," said Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro Choice America. "Women voters are going to reject both her and John McCain, and I think we see it specifically because we reach out to Republicans and independent pro-choice women. They live in the suburbs and exurbs. They are very much part of the mainstream America. And woman in general will reject that ticket."

Palin makes no secret of her abortion views. A member of the group Feminists for Life, she told the Alaska Right to Life Board in 2002 that she "adamantly supported our cause since I first understood, as a child, the atrocity of abortion." In an Eagle Forum Alaska questionnaire filled out during the 2006 gubernatorial race, Palin again stated that she is against abortion unless a doctor determined that a mother's life would end due to the pregnancy. . .

While Palin's positions have drawn the ire and concern of the pro-choice and progressive community, they are largely -- save abortions in the case of rape -- in line with John McCain's own stances. The Senator is against federal funding of birth control and sex education. He has called for the overturning of Roe v. Wade and received a zero rating from NARAL. Once, aboard the Straight Talk Express, McCain was asked if he supported the use of contraception or President Bush's abstinence-only education program to stem the spreading of AIDS.

"After a long pause, he said, 'I think I support the president's policy.' Does he believe that contraceptives help stop the spread of HIV? After another long pause, he replied, "You've stumped me."

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New comm: South Asian Women

Hi everyone, you might remember I posted last month about wanting to start a community for South Asian feminism and women's issues.

It's called southasianwomen, and it's open for business!

I actually need to find someone to help or take over moderation of the community because I absolutely do not have the time to dedicate to moderating an online comm. If you're interested, please don't hesitate to ask (by PM, in the comm, or in comments here). I'm especially interested in sharing moderation with women who live in South Asia, or know about feminisms from parts of South Asia other than India.

Membership is moderated at the moment, but I'm letting pretty much everyone who seems legit in. If I've seen you around any of these comms before, you'll almost definitely be approved!

So join up and start posting, ladies!
Bay of Islands


Hi I just wanted to let everyone know I'm going to be without internet access for a couple of weeks so if anyone is waiting on a membership request or anything I'll deal with it after 30 July.

Thanks and have a good couple of weeks! I hope I come back to lots of lovely new posts!! :)

London - Southall Black Sisters protest

Today and tomorrow, all day! On the occasion of their High Court appearance.

All info here. Come to the Strand and make a noise if you can! It's from 9.30 am today and tomorrow, but I don't know when it finished each day.

I posted about SBS before - one of the UK's longest-running and most experienced services for women of colour in the country. They've been involved in campaigning, crisis support, and advocacy for women of colour for a long time - essential in this area which has one of the UK's highest 'BME' ('Black Minority Ethnic', as the hideous UK political lingo goes) populations. Consequently their work has much wider importance for the UK. 

Their borough council, Ealing, is proposing cutting their funding to a minimum - RIDICULOUS when in honesty SBS basically do SO much work in the area. The reasoning is highly cynical - some kind of latter-day, highly veiled 'reverse racism/sexism' rhetoric to hide what is clearly a cost-cutting exercise. Because women of colour couldn't possibly be a core concern, could they?

Sorry to not post more, but I'm running off there now to see if it's still going on.

x-posted to feminist

Racism within feminism - a bit of a rant

There's been some discussion recently in other LJ communities about the racism that exists within feminism, specifically western feminism. Feminism (especially in academia) in western cultures seems to have been hijacked by middle class white privilege and if you try and bring on board the experience of women who exist outside of this, you are seen as trying to derail the feminist movement in favour of fighting aginst other (irrelevant?) injustices. It amazes me the number of feminists who, while claiming to have read the work of bell hooks, Gayatri Spivak, Chandra Mohanty, still DO NOT GET IT. This is causing divisions within feminim, which let's face it, has plenty of divisions already.

I've seen this happen time and again. When I began my women's studies degree in New Zealand, we had a fantastic Maori lecturer in the first year but she left the department. I heard she was fed up and disillusioned with the approach of her white colleagues and the concentraion on US & European WHITE theories, which were really not that relevant to the New Zealand situation. I've seen it happen in feminist groups I've belonged to, where the few non-white women who joined felt marginalised and silenced by the dominant WHITE group, who in their eagerness to press ahead with their own agenda, ignored and left by the wayside anyone who tried to raise issues of race. Now I'm seeing it again in online feminist discussion groups, with non white contributers saying they feel silenced and can't be bothered contributing any more because they're sick of having to educate white feminists about their own privilege.

Just as the male has been seen as the default model for everything, within feminism, white experience is the default. It's time to wake up, shake up, remove our collective heads from our collective backsides and hear the voices of our non white sisters.

I hope this post can lead to a fruitful discussion.
Bay of Islands

Norway's Quota for Women Board Execs: How it Works


I posted a while ago about how in Norway, the government had legislated to place more women on the boards of directors of large companies and there was some discussion over the merits of this and how it might work.

Last weekend the Sunday Times (a UK broadsheet newspaper, with a centre-right slant) published a very enlightening article on the subject which really explains how and why this has worked so well in Norway when it would be very difficult, well impossible really, to imagine such a system in the UK, or USA.

Surpisingly, the scheme was thought up and instituted not by someone seeking to advance women's rights per se, but by a conservative politician:

"He was not driven by ideology aimed at creating equality between the sexes, he says, despite accusations that the quota law was created by “fetishists of diversity”. The boardroom revolution he ushered in was inspired by studies in the United States showing that the more women there are at the top of a company, the better it performs. The move also made sound national economic sense.

“What’s the point in pouring a fortune into educating girls, and then watching them exceed boys at almost every level, if, when it comes to appointing business leaders in top companies, these are drawn from just half the population – friends who have been recruited on fishing and hunting trips or from within a small circle of acquaintances?” he says. “It’s all about tapping into valuable under-utilised resources.” "

However, it is clear the reason the scheme was accepted and workable is because of Norway's strong history of egalitarianism and welfare ystem, including extensive maternity leave and funded childcare provisions that do not exist in many other countries. The nation's mindset is more focussed on being a member of a common society than on the individualism that has been so prevalent in the UK & US for the last 20 or 30 years.
Bay of Islands

Rape victim not a reliable witness due to learning difficulties???


I read this story with disbelief. A rape prosecution in Scotland has been dropped because the victim has learning disabilities and a mental age of 8. This raises so many questions about the treatment of people with disabilities, and particularly their access to justice. It is really unthinkable in these supposedly progressive times, in a country that considers itself socially advanced, that a woman is being treated like this. Not to mention the (alleged)attackers who are walking free because they picked on someone with a disbility. The Scottish justice system definitely has a LONG way to go.