Siobhan Sam Bennett, President/CEO - Women's Campaign Forum, at the Pennsylvania Progressive Summit in 2010. (Flickr/Daniel Alexander)
Few things in the progressive world have changed as dramatically since 1990 as the role and power of women in public life. But the change has not been all in one direction. And 20 years later, it's fair to ask the question: Do women, on the issues of highest priority to women, have the clout that they ought to in progressive politics?
There's no doubt that 30-year-old Theresa Hernandez has had her troubles. An intermittent user of methamphetamines, she had her 32-week pregnancy end in April 2004 with the birth of a stillborn boy.
But "troubles" doesn't begin to describe what came next: Doctors told police her stillborn baby had tested positive for meth, and that September Hernandez was charged with first- and second-degree murder, both based on child abuse. It was the first time in Oklahoma history that a woman had ever been prosecuted for murder after suffering a stillbirth -- despite the absence of evidence tying meth use to prematurity or stillbirth.
Good news! if you are an ordinary mortal living in the United States, your chances of staying alive are better than ever. According to new government numbers, the rate of Americans dying in 2004 (the most recent year to be calculated) hit a record low, while life expectancy -- for blacks and whites, men and women -- hit a record high. Men were closing their historic life-expectancy gap with women, and African Americans were closing their life-expectancy gap with whites. Even the babies were doing well: The infant mortality rate dropped, too.
SEEKING ANTI-ABORTION LAWYER, ASAP. There's a lot of mopping up to do after Gonzales v. Carhart, and Americans United for Life, one of the central addresses for model anti-abortion legislation, is getting busy. In a letter on AUL's website, under the headline "A New Dawn," the group's president lays out its strategy for a post-Carhart era. The decision, he writes, restores deference to the states, reinforces the importance of informed consent, and "opens the door for utilizing all our research on the negative impact of abortion on women."