Filling the majority of the gender-related news hole this week, and throughout the month of February, was the ongoing Republican action on the issues of abortion and women’s health that have been called a “War on Women.”
On the federal level, the U.S. House of Representatives voted at the end of last week as part of a spending bill to eliminate funding to Title X programs, which help low-income families with family planning and contraception, and block Planned Parenthood from receiving federal funding. Roughly a third of Planned Parenthood’s budget comes from federal, state and local governments, according to a New York Times article.
Though the focus of the debate is around its abortion services, the organization doesn’t currently receive federal funds for abortions. The organization’s website highlights that only about three percent of all its health services are abortion related. Planned Parenthood provides family planning, cancer screenings, treatment for sexually transmitted diseases and other services for both men and women but particularly for low-income women.
The House vote was emotional, being preceded by Democratic Rep. Jackie Speier sharing her personal experience with abortion on the floor.
In response to the decision, a campaign to stand with Planned Parenthood was launched, along with a petition and other letter writing campaignsto legislators. A “Rally for Women’s Health” is planned for today, Feb. 26, in New York. A number of public figures have spoken out on the issue this week from Jon Stewart on “The Daily Show” to New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.
Some of the other budget actions that would affect women include cuts to international family planning (including barring funds from going to the United Nations Population Fund), Head Start and Women Infant Children (WIC) program, which provides food and nutrition assistance for low-income women with children under age 5.
Several state legislatures were in the news for reproductive health and abortion issues in the past week. Here are some of the highlights:
- A proposed Georgia law could give the death penalty for miscarriages (as described by Mother Jones)
- Virginia’s General Assembly voted Thursday that abortion clinics should be regulated as hospitals in a move that may put the majority of the clinics out of business.
- Iowa bills that would allow for “justifiable homicide” in defense of an unborn child, similar to legislation introduced and shelved in South Dakota earlier this month and proposed in Nebraska, have stirred concerns that they could be used to condone the killing of abortion doctors.
Also making headlines was a controversial anti-abortion billboard erected in New York City this week (and subsequently taken down) that angered some residents. The board showed a young black girl with the words “the most dangerous place for an African-American is in the womb.”
Also in the news: Movie time
With the Academy Awards slated for Sunday, in discussion is the representation of women in the film industry, including looks at the “most powerful women” at this year’s Oscars.
Following last year’s history-making awards season in which a woman (Kathryn Bigelow) won the coveted best director award for the first time, no women are up for the prize in 2011. Additionally, no women are up for awards in cinematography. For writing, only nominees for “Winter’s Bone” for adapted screenplay and “The Kids Are All Right” for original screenplay have female authors listed.
A study by the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University in 2010 found that women made up only “7 percent of directors, 10 percent of writers, 15 percent of executive producers, 24 percent of producers, 18 percent of editors and 2 percent of cinematographers,” according to a post by Martha Lauzen for the Women’s Media Center.
This is the Gender Report’s Week in Review, 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.