Week in Review: Jan. 31 – Feb. 4

*Week in Review is a weekly post that highlights some of the major stories related to gender issues this week. Some of these stories may have already appeared in our News Feed or in the week’s Gender Checks. We’ll at times include a longer analysis of stories as well as bring attention to stories that may have slipped through the cracks of the week’s news cycle.

Healthcare legislation

This week the GOP moved forward with its plan to dismantle Obama’s healthcare plan by focusing on portions of the legislation dealing with federal funds for abortions. On Monday H.R.3, named  the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” introduced language that would redefine the terms under which a woman could receive federal funds for an abortion after rape or incest. The proposed change aimed to limit funding to pregnancies resulting from “forcible” rape. After criticism from several groups, a spokesman for Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), one of the bill’s authors, said the word “forcible” would be dropped. He told the Washington Post Thursday that lawmakers decided to change the term because it was being “misconstrued.” The bill will now revert back to the language already in place through the Hyde Amendment.

The Hyde Amendment*, originally passed in 1976, governs the current uses and restrictions of federal funds used for abortions. Federal funds cannot be used except in cases of rape, incest, or when a mother’s life is in danger. It also bans abortion funding for women on Medicaid, women in the military or Peace Corps, and those who receive medical care from Indian Health Services. The bill proposed by Smith and other sponsors will make the restrictions set in place by the Hyde Amendment a permanent appropriations law. Currently it has to be recodfied in appropriations each year.

Planned Parenthood also took the spotlight later in this week’s news cycle after undercover videos showed employees giving medical advice to men posing as pimps of child prostitutes. One worker was fired as a result of the tapes. Some members of Congress are using the videos as momentum to remove all federal funding from the organization under H.R.614Live Action, the group responsible for the videos, claims staff turned a blind eye to sexual trafficking and exploitation of minors.

Thursday, 27 groups sent a letter to Congress in support of Planned Parenthood, including the NAACP and Sierra Club. “Right-wing groups are once again attempting to destroy an organization dedicated to providing crucial primary care services to Americans that need them most. Armed with heavily edited videos, countless lies, and a shameless echo chamber that repeats unfounded accusations ad nauseam, they’ve now turned their sights to Planned Parenthood, which offers a range of important health and reproductive services,” the letter reads (as taken from POLITICO excerpt).

According to its website, over 3 million men and women received health-related services from Planned Parenthood’s 820 health centers last year, including 1 million Pap tests and 4 million tests and treatment for STDs. Three percent of all Planned Parenthood health services are abortion services. Currently the organization does not receive federal money for any of its abortion services.

In Other News

A study released this week showed that after 10 years, Wikipedia’s contributor base consisted of less than 15 percent female authors.  The disparity also shows up in the emphasis of posts by male vs. female authors. Sue Gardner, the executive director of the foundation, has set a goal to raise the share of female contributors to 25 percent by 2015 (as reported in the New York Times).

*The link to the full text of the Hyde Amendment was taken from the National Right to Life website. The site provided the most easily accessible link to the original legislation, but is not in any way an endorsement of this group or its stance on this issue. Whenever possible the Gender Report tries to link to original sources and primary documents or otherwise fully cites any reprinted quotes or information.

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