Last night, more than 500 students, faculty, and community members crowded the Glass Pavilion at Johns Hopkins University to hear “The Feminist Debate: The Role and Struggle of American Women Today” between Feminist Majority Foundation President Eleanor Smeal and Eagle Forum founder Phyllis Schlafly.
Schlafly painted an idealistic picture of life for women in the 1800s, saying that women in the 1800s had wonderful standing that has been eroded by the feminist movement. Smeal countered that, in the 1800s, women could not vote, own property, or go to school, and that non-whites, immigrants, and blacks enjoyed virtually no rights, and that slavery was legal and widely practiced at the time. Smeal outlined the accomplishments of the feminist movement, citing the gains it has made for women, people of color, and gays and lesbians, from winning Title IX to the Family and Medical Leave Act to the recent Violence Against Women Act. Smeal asserted that there is still much work to be done, for example, combating gender apartheid in Afghanistan, and securing the reproductive rights of women not only in the United States but around the world. Schlafly condemned the feminist movement, saying it was only about “baby killing and lesbians.” Smeal took her statement head on, saying, “Our movement doesn’t back off from what we stand for” but proudly advocates safe, legal, and accessible abortion as well as lesbian and gay rights.
When asked what role college students could play in the future of the feminist movement, Smeal responded, “Young people are the movement. Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance members from St. Mary’s College, the University of Maryland at College Park, Goucher College, and the University of Maryland at Baltimore Country attended the forum, as well as students from Shippensburg University and Johns Hopkins University who will be participating in the Feminist Majority Foundation’s campus program this year.
C-SPAN recorded the debate, and will air it in rotation beginning this evening.
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .