Pema Levy

Pema Levy is an assistant editor at The American Prospect.

Recent Articles

Budget Negotiations Threaten D.C. Needle-Exchange Programs

After Republicans took back the House in November, I predicted three ways in which the new majority would try to interfere with the District, based largely on what Republican majorities did in the 1990s: prohibiting local funding for abortion services and needle-exchange programs, and bringing back a school-voucher system. This weekend, Republicans were able to secure two of these goals as rider amendments to the budget deal that avoided a shutdown late Friday night. The third is still on the table. The GOP won reinstatement of the Hyde Amendment in D.C. -- previously in effect from 1995 to 2009 -- which prevents local D.C. funds from paying for abortions for poor women on Medicaid. Second, Republicans got their prized school-voucher program; the GOP under Newt Gingrich introduced the program in 1996, and it remained until Obama and Democrats ended it in 2009. The remaining battle involves cutting funding to D.C. for needle-exchange programs that prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS. D.C...

Idaho Follows God's Plan in New Abortion Law

Not to be outdone by all the draconian anti-abortion laws being passed in states like South Dakota, the Idaho legislature has jumped on the Fetal Pain bandwagon and passed a law restricting abortion at 20 weeks. But they've added a twist of their own: No exceptions for rape or incest. It’s a cheap shot, but the logic behind making victims of sexual crimes bear the children is really absurd and deserves to be revealed as such. For example, Republican state Rep. Shannon McMillan justified the bill by arguing that the rape wasn’t the fetus’s fault: “It didn’t ask to be here. It was here under violent circumstances perhaps, but that was through no fault of its own.” So, we should only allow abortions in the case that the fetus did determine the circumstances under which it was conceived? But if that weren’t enough, we have the bill’s House sponsor, Republican state Rep. Brent Crane, pulling a real deus ex machina to defend the legislation: “the hand of the Almighty.” God, he says, “has...

Only a Pawn in Their Game

Although Republicans, and particularly the Tea Party, preach the virtues of local governance, free from federal overreach, they never seem to be speaking with Washington, D.C., in mind. One of the budget riders currently attached to the House budget would extend the Hyde Amendment to D.C., preventing the District from putting locally raised funds toward abortion coverage for women on Medicaid. Looking at the long list of riders Republicans are proposing, it's easy to see why this is probably one that will stick: because residents of D.C. aren't constituents of anyone. When it comes to presidential elections, D.C. is so Democratic there's no reason for Republicans to try to win them over, and the GOP has been successful at keeping District residents politically powerless by opposing D.C. statehood initiatives. They even took away D.C. Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton's committee vote when they came into power in January. In addition, the abortion-funding ban (which was put into place by the...

How Men Need Feminism

At Newsweek , Jesse Ellison has a harrowing story on sexual assault against men in the military. I highly recommend the whole thing, but I found these tidbits particularly interesting: [I]t is the high victimization rate of female soldiers—women in the armed forces are now more likely to be assaulted by a fellow soldier than killed in combat—that has helped cast light on men assaulting other men. For most of military history, there was neither a system nor language in place to deal with incidents of soldier-on-soldier sexual assault… By the Pentagon’s own estimate, figures for assaults on women likely represent less than 20 percent of actual incidents. Another study released in March found that just one in 15 men in the Air Force would report being sexually assaulted, compared with one in five women. What’s interesting here is that both admitting to and confronting the problem of male-on-male sexual assault is dependent on eschewing the stereotypes used to attack female rape victims,...

The Conservative Nanny State

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has a plan to save the state’s cash-strapped Medicaid program: Charge $50 to obese people on the plan who fail to make improvements under a weight-loss regimen, and smokers. The proposal is a nice case study in conservative policy-making. Via The Wall Street Journal : Republican Gov. Jan Brewer proposed the idea as part of a broader plan to raise money that would allow the state to offset recent cuts she engineered to its Medicaid program. If ratified, the measure would revive coverage of organ transplants, which Arizona limited last year as a way to save money. It would also reduce the number of childless adults disqualified from Medicaid to 135,000, compared with the original proposal of 250,000. Conservatives are uneasy with the idea of Medicaid, a program in which everyone pays for the health care of those who can’t afford it themselves. So Brewer’s solution is to make cuts to the program by reducing the funding from taxpayers and then partially filling...

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