The holy war over Kathleen Sebelius – Los Angeles Times

The holy war over Kathleen Sebelius – Los Angeles Times

Catholic leaders’ threats to deny Communion to the Health and Human Services nominee have serious ramifications.
By TIM RUTTEN
April 25, 2009

When Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius this week vetoed another in the seemingly unending series of restrictive abortion bills her state’s Legislature churns out, it guaranteed that her confirmation as secretary of Health and Human Services would become a battleground in the increasingly nasty campaign being waged against officeholders who are both Catholic and Democratic.

Politics in Kansas has long been poisoned by extremism on both sides of the abortion question. This latest bill is one of a number that Sebelius, who is not a lawyer, has been advised to veto as unconstitutional. The measure would have amended an existing statute on late-term abortions, which Kansas permits after the 21st week of pregnancy only if the mother is at risk of death or severe physical or mental injury. The amendment would have required far more detailed reporting by physicians and would have allowed prosecutors who disagreed with the doctor’s judgment to file criminal charges. Husbands who objected to the abortion would have been allowed to file civil suits. Continue reading

From Salon Life: Rebecca Traister writes on Palin’s effect

Have you found yourself conflicted about Sarah Palin? She is a woman, after all, but her nomination to the Vice Presidency just did not feel right to a lot of people. There will be lots of discussion on this as we sort it all out. I’ll post the best of what I find. Here are two places to start.

Zombie feminists of the RNC

How did Sarah Palin become a symbol of women’s empowerment? And how did I, a die-hard feminist, end up terrified at the idea of a woman in the White House?


I have been writing about feminism for more than five years; I have been covering the gender politics of the 2008 presidential election for more than two. And I am absolutely gobsmacked by the intensity of my feelings about Sarah Palin. I am stunned not only by the way in which her candidacy has changed the rules in the gender debate, or how it is twisting and garbling the fight for women’s progress. But I’m also startled by how Palin herself is testing my own beliefs about how I react to women in power.

Read more at Sarah Palin, feminism, 2008 election | Salon Life

The second was posted on the WMST listserv. Thanks to Mary Celeste Kearney for pointing us to the October 17, 2008 special issue of Flowtv.org: Sarah Palin and the Media.

There’s so much to talk about.

Below The Belt: Don’t Take His Word For It

Kim Gandy, President of NOW, column on Palin. Link to original at bottom.

Don’t Take His Word For It

Below the Belt: A Column by NOW President Kim Gandy

She’s been on the covers of publications from Time and Newsweek to Us Weekly. Alaska Governor and Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin could be a heartbeat away from the highest office in the country. There could be a woman in the White House, and the nation’s a-buzz over this rising star.

So why aren’t I more excited about this?

Maybe because being a strong woman doesn’t necessarily make you strong on women’s rights.

Governor Palin is a mother of five who, like many women, balances being a mom and having a full-time job outside of the home. But feminism isn’t just about being a mom or a working woman or both — it’s about believing every woman deserves an equal opportunity to utilize her strengths and control her destiny — that every woman deserves a level playing field and a fair chance to succeed.

For me, this election has never been about getting one woman into office. It’s about opening doors and opportunities for all women. “We don’t think it’s much to break a glass ceiling for one woman and leave millions of women behind,” said Ellie Smeal of the Feminist Majority.

And make no mistake, the McCain-Palin ticket will leave millions of women behind.

Just for starters, Sarah Palin, like John McCain, vows to overturn Roe v. Wade. In fact, she opposes abortion even in the case of rape or incest. Let’s think for a moment what that means — a girl raped by her own father would be forced to carry her pregnancy to term, despite the risks to her young body. Has she no human compassion? She wouldn’t even allow an abortion to protect a woman’s health — only to prevent her “imminent death.” Wonder how many of a woman’s internal organs would have to shut down before “Dr.” Palin would consider her death to be imminent? And by then, would it be too late for an abortion to save her?

Her heartlessness doesn’t end there. While she was mayor of Wasilla, rape victims were required to pay up to $1,200 for the cost of processing the police evidence (called “rape kits”) in their cases. Just imagine – during perhaps the most traumatic moments of their lives, Sarah Palin made women pay, before the law would protect them. And it didn’t stop until Democratic governor Tony Knowles signed statewide legislation prohibiting the practice.

How does this demonstrate respect for women and girls? How is this feminism?

Advancing feminism requires ending sexism, and NOW has been speaking out for over 18 months against the sexism aimed at women candidates and leaders, including Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama, and Sarah Palin. But you already know that, because you know NOW. But when Palin was asked during the primaries about the sexism Senator Clinton was experiencing, she implied that Clinton was whining, and said women just need to “work harder” and “prove yourself to an even greater degree that you are capable.”

What?! This is the same line that has been used against women for decades — that we aren’t trying hard enough, and besides we’re just a bunch of whiners anyway.

Women are still being paid an average of 77 cents for every dollar earned by a man. Are they whining, too? According to John McCain they are. He explained his opposition to the Fair Pay Act by saying that women (who want equal pay) need more training – never mind that women tend to have more training and education that similarly-situated men, and still they earn less.

Lilly Ledbetter, an employee of Goodyear Tire and Rubber for 19 years, sued Goodyear once she’d amassed evidence that she was being grossly underpaid compared to her male counterparts. She won her case, but what could have been a landmark decision to end pay discrimination turned sour. Appeals by Goodyear took her case to the Supreme Court, where a narrow majority overturned the ruling in a dramatic reinterpretation of pay discrimination law. According to the majority, Ledbetter should have filed her discrimination lawsuit within 180 days after the first instance of pay discrimination – even if she didn’t know about it (which she didn’t). Huh? It was her fault? Now Ledbetter is speaking out and fighting back so that this injustice doesn’t happen to anyone else. Is Lilly Ledbetter “whining” too?

So we whiners are supposed to herald Sarah Palin as bringing in a new wave of feminism? Who is telling us this? Pundits and politicians who’ve offered nothing in their long careers demonstrating so much as a mild interest in women’s rights, that’s who. “You might say,” said Rush Limbaugh, “she’s the face of feminism.” Well, Rush Limbaugh might say so, but forgive me if I don’t take his word for it.”

Below The Belt: Don’t Take His Word For It

Ugh, here we go: On McCain’s VP pick | Bitch Magazine

Ugh, here we go: On McCain’s VP pick | Bitch Magazine

Do we have a new Phyllis Schlafly in our political midst?

On the lighter side, a video from Paris

See Paris Hilton Responds to McCain Ad.

Third wave? No wave? Post your comments.

Why More Women Don’t Hold Office

Jennifer Lawless, a political science professor at Brown University, author, with Richard Fox, of It Takes a Candidate: Why Women Don’t Run for Office, describes the barriers to public office women face.

Why More Women Don’t Hold Office

Gender bias and sexism heighten women’s inclinations to doubt their abilities. After all, they are accustomed to operating in an environment where they feel they face a double standard and a doubting atmosphere. It follows that even women who think they are qualified to run for public office believe they need to be more qualified than men just to compete evenly. In fact, women who think they’re qualified to run for public office tend to state very specific credentials. In contrast, most men do not make specific linkages between their professions and the political environment. Instead, they reference passion, leadership, and vision. An attorney from Oklahoma captured this distinction well when he explained that “All you need is the desire to serve. That makes you qualified for the job. You can learn the details of policymaking later.”

Sounds about right. Why do we need to feel so qualified but men only need to want to serve? But that sure explains our government.

FactCheck.org: Subscribe to Newsletter – FactCheck.org

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