Allison Stevens

Allison Stevens is Washington bureau chief of Women's eNews.

Recent Articles

The Politics of Stillbirth

A new movement seeks to award special certificates to fetuses that are stillborn, but pro-choice advocates worry that this is yet another step toward fetal personhood that could endanger abortion rights.

Thirteen years ago, Joanne Cacciatore delivered a stillborn fetus, a trauma that was compounded by the fact that she received a death certificate in the mail but no birth certificate -- a tangible memento she said would have helped her grieve. Motivated by her loss, she mounted a grassroots campaign in her home state of Arizona to get the government to give parents who deliver stillborn fetuses the option of receiving a "certificate for stillborn birth" -- and in so doing unintentionally waded into the turbulent waters of abortion politics. Although reproductive rights advocates say they sympathize with Cacciatore, they also fear her effort -- which has since ballooned into a nationwide campaign -- could aid anti-choice groups as they attempt to chip away at or eliminate abortion rights. "There's no question in my mind that the anti-abortion crowd will look for some way to use this," Kim Gandy, president of the National Organization for Women, has said. At issue is the question of "...

Race, Gender, and the Politics of Segregation

What the Supreme Court's school desegregation ruling could mean for women's rights.

In the last three months, the Supreme Court fired off a trio of rulings that women's rights advocates say have wounded women's equality. But it saved a final bullet in for the last day of the 2006-2007 term. In a 5-4 decision, the court on Thursday struck down a pair of voluntary plans to integrate public schools in Seattle, Washington, and Louisville, Kentucky. On their face, the cases are about race, but women's rights advocates say the court's decision will also have a profound impact on girls and women. "The decision negatively affects all students, including girls who continue to be subject to both race- and sex-based stereotypes in school and in other academic and social arenas," officials at the National Women's Law Center, an advocacy group in Washington, D.C., said in a statement. Diverse environments encourage students to think beyond stereotypes of all kinds and recognize individuals as unique and complex, the group's Co-President Marcia Greenberger wrote. That is...

Do Low-Income Women Have a Right to Choose?

The cost of abortion makes it inaccessible to many women -- which is why the Dems should be pushing to repeal the ban on public funding for it.

In March, a 14-year-old girl in foster care walked into a reproductive health clinic in Washington, D.C., seeking an abortion. She was HIV-positive, on dialysis because of kidney failure, and recently had spent time in a psychiatric ward after trying to commit suicide. Even though the girl could not afford the abortion she so badly wanted, she was able to get it thanks to funds provided by private donors. But for millions of other low-income girls and women seeking abortions, the money hasn't been there. That is the intended result of a 31-year-old law known as the Hyde Amendment, which bars the federal government from funding most abortions through Medicaid. Over the past three decades, states have followed suit: Currently, 33 states ban the use of state funds for abortion except in limited circumstances. This obscure law poses the single greatest barrier to abortion, reproductive rights advocates say. At an average cost of $370 at 10 weeks gestation (not including attendant expenses...

What the Left Didn't Do

Terri Herring is on a mission from God. Twenty years ago, the Mississippi resident, as a young, stay-at-home mom, headed “from the kitchen sink to the state capitol” to persuade lawmakers to restrict access to abortion. She and her friends celebrated their first victory that year when, in 1986, Mississippi passed a law requiring physicians to obtain written consent from both parents before performing an abortion on a minor. Now president of Pro-Life Mississippi, an independent advocacy organization in Jackson, Herring can say much of her mission has been accomplished. Over the past 20 years, Mississippi has enacted legislative initiatives that restrict access to abortion or lay the legal framework to overturn the right to abortion. Stacked on top of one another, the laws effectively bar access to abortion for many young, rural, and poor women -- the same women who often need access to abortion the most. Herring and her friends had help and guidance from Americans United...

Gender Contender

An old joke in Washington has it that every member of the Senate sees a future president when he or she looks in the mirror. Actually, make that he . Once again, it appears that the Democrats will entertain any number of pretenders to the presidential throne from the Senate -- among them John Kerry of Massachusetts, Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, John Edwards of North Carolina, Tom Daschle of South Dakota, Bob Graham of Florida and perhaps Joseph Biden of Delaware and Chris Dodd of Connecticut -- plus several candidates from outside the Senate. But none will be female. The last woman to mount even a halfway serious Democratic bid for the White House was former Rep. Patricia Schroeder of Colorado in 1988. It's soon to be 2004, for crying out loud. Where are the women candidates? None of the Senate's 10 Democratic women is likely to run this time around, even though one -- Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York -- currently finds herself in the enviable (and historic) position of trouncing...