Gender & Sexuality

First in the Nation: New Abortion Restrictions in Kansas

The ban of a common medical procedure is giving the state a dubious distinction.

(Photo: AP/John Hanna)
Protesters rally against abortion at the Kansas Statehouse in Topeka in January. Kansas and Oklahoma both recently banned a medically safe and common abortion procedure, called dilation and evacuation but referred to by opponents as "dismemberment abortions." T ypically, “first in the nation” is a title that a state would feel proud to receive. However, in the case of Kansas’s first-in-the-nation law that criminalizes doctors who perform a certain type of abortion procedure, our policymakers should be ashamed. In a state that is already hostile toward women, this new law prevents doctors from providing the best care to their patients and limits women’s ability to decide what is best for themselves and their families. Even worse, Kansas has already been joined by Oklahoma, with Governor Mary Fallin’s signature on nearly identical legislation. These bills are sprouting up throughout the country as part of an extreme, anti-women agenda that intends to ban abortion care across the U.S...

The Latest Target of 'Religious Freedom' Advocates: Reproductive Rights in the Nation's Capital

A House committee has voted to overturn a local D.C. law that prevents discrimination based on employees' reproductive choices.

(Photo from House Oversight and Government Reform Committee)
Representative Jason Chaffetz of Utah is the chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which voted late Tuesday night to disapprove the District's Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Act. H ere’s a riddle for all you students of the American political system: You are an elected representative, and you would like to curry favor in your home district among right-wing conservatives. One way to do this is to pass a local law sanctioning discrimination against LGBT citizens and women who choose to use birth control, under the guise of “religious freedom.” But you’ve recently discovered that such a law can backfire pretty spectacularly. Just look at poor Mike Pence, Republican governor of Indiana, regarded as presidential material not long ago. What other tactic, besides sanctioning religion-based discrimination, could you use? Well, if you’re a member of Congress, you’ve got the people of the District of Columbia to whom you can teach a thing or two; they’re not...

How the Decline of Southern White Evangelicals Fuels the Passage of 'Religious Freedom' Laws

They've been the driving force behind anti-LGBT legislation. But now their numbers are falling off.

(AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
(Map from Gallup) Southern states still rate among the highest in the country for church attendance, as the map shows. But recent surveys suggest that once-dominant white evangelicals are in decline in the South. This article originally appeared at Facing South , the website published by the Institute for Southern Studies . L ast month, Indiana sparked a national debate over so-called "religious freedom" bills, a controversy that soon flared up in other states across the South and country. A similar bill stalled in the Georgia House amidst the backlash. In Arkansas, Governor Asa Hutchinson, a Republican, signed that state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act only after substantial revisions, although civil rights advocates say it still doesn't go far enough . North Carolina's Governor Pat McCrory, who is also a Republican, said he won't support his state's proposed RFRA bill, which scholars and activists say would allow for a wider range of discriminatory practices based in religion...

The Fight for LGBT Equality is Not Over

Indiana's 'religious freedom' law is just one of dozens of state-level bills that could allow LGBT discrimination. 

(AP Photo/Doug McSchooler)
(AP Photo/Doug McSchooler) Opponents of Indiana Senate Bill 101, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, march to Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on Saturday, April 4, 2015 to push for a state law that specifically bars discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. S ometimes you hate to be proven right. In an article in The American Prospect ’s recent winter issue, I wrote that while marriage equality enjoyed some significant victories in 2014, Republicans would likely use their electoral successes that November to push back hard. Under the guise of “religious liberty,” Republican lawmakers at the state level were poised to legalize and protect discrimination against LGBT people in countless ways. And how. Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) may have grabbed the most attention, but it’s just scratching the surface. Republican lawmakers had, as of April 6, introduced more than 100 pieces of anti-LGBT legislation in 29 states, according to Human Rights...

Playing Offense on Reproductive Rights

With a resurgent right threatening reproductive rights nationwide, abortion activists are getting pro-active.

(AP Photo/Jonathan Bachman)
(AP Photo/Jonathan Bachman) Women with the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health demonstrate outside of 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2015, in New Orleans. E ver since the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, abortion foes and anti-choice activists have been working to roll back progress made in the fight for reproductive justice. Both the 2010 and 2014 midterm elections were decidedly Republican victories, and with those electoral wins came an onslaught of legislation designed to strip women of their constitutionally protected right to an abortion. Missouri , Kansas and Texas , among others, have passed laws that curtail abortion access. But, while it may seem as if pro-choice activists must constantly play defense, several cities and states, including Washington and Oregon , as Nina-Liss Schultz details at RH Reality Check , have begun playing offense on reproductive rights . The National Institute for Reproductive Health works in partnership with...

In Anxious Times Women Candidates Don't Guarantee Women's Votes

As a party identified with women, Democrats face a distinctive challenge in 2016. 

(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster) Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks in Gaston Hall at Georgetown University, in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2014. This article appears under the title, "Anxiety Itself," in the Spring 2015 issue of The American Prospect. Click here for a free PDF download of our 25th Anniversary issue . T he success of the Democrats in 2016 will depend on women as candidates and as voters, up and down the ballot, as never before. That identification with women creates distinct political challenges at a time when public worries are high. Unless Democrats confront those anxieties effectively, Republicans may be able to win over voters, including women, by presenting themselves as the more reassuring “daddy” party. The identification of the Democrats with women starts at the top with presumptive presidential favorite Hillary Rodham Clinton and the leader of the party’s progressive faction, Senator Elizabeth Warren. The number of visible women in the...

Janet Mock's Brilliant Cultural Insurgency

As perhaps the most visible trans woman in the public eye, being herself—and having fun doing it—is the feminist TV journalist's wildly effective form of activism.

(Photo: janetmock.com)
MSNBC Janet Mock hosts So POPular! on MSNBC's Shift platform. “ We got new music, I like it,” Janet Mock says, in a break between segments of her video show on a Friday morning in March. “Well done, Nick!” she exclaims to her producer, who’s in another room, communicating with her through her earpiece. Mock sings the tune and snakes her neck, snapping her fingers and rolling her torso in the chair from which she commands her set, which looks like a fancy but somewhat sterile living room. The music is new, but not much newer than the show, So Popular! , which premiered on MSNBC’s digital platform, Shift, in December. Mock’s panel of guest commentators has just left the set, after a discussion that covered Madonna’s stance on women’s rights, Kelly Osborne’s and Kathy Griffin’s departures from E!’s Fashion Police , and President Barack Obama’s remarks at the Edmund Pettus Bridge on the 50th anniversary of the march from Selma to Montgomery. Today, the “feminist clique,” as Mock dubbed...

Miscarriage of Justice: Asian-American Women Targeted -- and All Women Threatened -- by Feticide Laws Like Indiana's

Purvi Patel's pregnancy ended with a medical emergency—and a 20-year prison sentence. 

(AP Photo/South Bend Tribune, Robert Franklin)
(AP Photo/South Bend Tribune, Robert Franklin) Purvi Patel is taken into custody after being sentenced to 20 years in prison for feticide and neglect of a dependent on Monday, March 30, 2015, at the St. Joseph County Courthouse in South Bend, Indiana. Yet she may simply have had a miscarriage. L ike many women, Purvi Patel, a 33-year-old woman living in South Bend, Indiana, had an unplanned pregnancy. But unlike most women’s experiences, her unplanned pregnancy and subsequent stillbirth led to a criminal conviction. Today, she was sentenced to 30 years in prison. Patel, an unmarried Indian-American woman living with her parents in South Bend Indiana, kept her pregnancy a secret for months, while working a low-wage job to support her parents and grandparents, who suffer from costly health conditions. Last summer, Patel believed she had suffered a miscarriage. She went to an emergency room seeking assistance for heavy vaginal bleeding. Just a few hours after she underwent medical...

With New Protections Tied Up in the Courts, Home Health-Care Workers Aren't Waiting Around

From New York to California, domestic workers are fighting to make new rights a reality. 

(AP Photo/Richard Drew)
(AP Photo/Richard Drew) Ai-Jen Poo, center, Executive Director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, reads her statement at a Women for Paid Sick Days rally on the steps of New York's City Hall, Wednesday, July 18, 2012. A lmost two years after the Obama administration extended historic labor protections to the nation’s 1.79 million home health-care workers, those new rights remain in limbo. In September 2013, the Department of Labor (DOL) announced plans to amend a longstanding regulation that has excluded them from earning the federal minimum wage, overtime pay, and compensation for travel on the job. For home healthcare workers in the United States—a group that is nearly 90 percent female —this move marked a significant step towards setting a floor of decent labor standards. But the rule-change, which was set to go into effect on January 1, now faces a challenge in federal court, and critics say state legislators are using the ongoing litigation as an excuse to avoid...

March Madness: How Title IX Just Totally Rocked Your Sunday

During Women's History Month, it's important to remember how recently female athletes were excluded from college basketball.

(AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
(AP Photo/Gerry Broome) South Carolina's Tiffany Mitchell (25) and Alaina Coates (41) react after defeating Florida State in a women's college basketball regional final game in the NCAA Tournament in Greensboro, North Carolina, Sunday, March 29, 2015. A t two minutes to go, Tiffany Mitchell dribbles to the top of the court and passes to teammate Aleighsa Welch . Welch takes the ball through the middle for an inside layup. South Carolina is up on Florida State, 69-67. Then with a little more than a minute on the clock, Mitchell makes a three-pointer. South Carolina is leading 72-67. Taking on Florida State in this year’s March Madness competition, South Carolina is the first of the elite eight to make to the final four, with a final with a score of 80-74. Over the length of the entire game, South Carolina led for less than four minutes. Mitchell went into the final two minutes of the game with 14 points under her belt. Then she scored seven more. Seeing the sport played at such a high...

Legions of Women Workers in U.S. Still Lack Minimum Wage and Labor Protections

The legacy of slavery and prescribed gender roles continues to rob millions of their fair share.

(AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
AP Photo/Houston Chronicle, Billy Smith II In this Dec. 2014 photo, Eileen Merize, left, helps 93-year-old U.S. Air Force veteran Harold Utsler look through some of his paper work at her home in Katy, Texas near Houston. The Houston Chronicle reports Utsler is one of three veterans who live in Merize's home through the Medical Foster Program, which helps disabled elderly veterans live with "foster families" rather than in large nursing homes. I t’s Women’s History Month—what a nice idea to recognize that women actually make history and aren’t just along to make dinner for the history-makers! In 1980, President Jimmy Carter declared seven days in March to be National Women's History Week, and President Ronald Reagan followed suit. In 1987, Congress expanded the commemoration on the calendar, giving women a whole month. We have come so far. Putting sarcasm aside, it is true that the 20th century included concrete advances for women in America. Starting with the New Deal, women workers...

Chart: The Way We Pay Tipped Workers Disproportionately Harms Women

They're the majority of the people who work primarily for tips, and they make even less than their male counterparts.

(Photo: iStockPhoto/ © powerofforever)
This article was originally published on the website of the Economic Policy Institute . U nder federal law, employers of tipped workers are only required to pay their tipped staff a base wage of $2.13 per hour—an amount that has not been raised since 1991—provided that the sum of an employee’s weekly tips plus their base wage equates to an hourly rate of at least the minimum wage. Consequently, tipped work is overwhelmingly low-paying, even after accounting for tips. In 2013, the median hourly wage for tipped workers, including their income from tips, was $10.22 per hour, compared with a median hourly wage of $16.48 for workers overall. Low-paying tipped work disproportionately harms women: as the figure below shows, 67 percent of tipped workers are women, yet they still make less than their male counterparts—$10.07 for women at the median versus $10.63 for men. (These data include tips.) Economic Policy Institute CLICK HERE TO VIEW LARGER IMAGE. This loophole for tipped employers is...

The Dance of Liberals and Radicals

(AP Photo)
(AP Photo) U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson, right, talks with civil rights leaders in his White House office in Washington, D.C., January 18, 1964. The movement leaders, from left, are, Roy Wilkins, executive secretary of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP); James Farmer, national director of the Committee on Racial Equality; Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference; and Whitney Young, executive director of the Urban League. This essay originally appeared at The Huffington Post . M arch 15 was the 50th anniversary of Lyndon Johnson's best speech, his "We Shall Overcome" address applying the final round of pressure on Congress to enact the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Much of the speech invoked the bravery, dignity and historical rightness of Martin Luther King, Jr., and his fellow movement activists. All of which puts me in mind of the complex relationship between liberals and radicals. History shows that liberals...

Why Liberals Don't Trust Hillary Clinton

(AP Photo/Denis Paquin, File)
(AP Photo/Denis Paquin, File) Then-first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton talks to reporters outside the U.S. District Court in Washington in this January 26, 1996 file photo, after testifying before a grand jury investigating Whitewater. Mrs. Clinton went to court to offer her explanation of why her law firm records turned up inside the White House living quarters two years after they were subpoenaed. D ear Secretary Clinton: Watching the story of your State Department emails emerge last week, liberals were possessed by an old familiar feeling. It's the one that makes them say two things at once: "This seems ridiculously overblown," and "What the hell is wrong with her?" It was like reliving a trauma, one they got through in the end, but nevertheless left its emotional scars. When I talk to liberals about the endless scandal wars of the 1990s, the word that comes up most often is "exhausting." It's true that it's been pretty exhausting arguing for six years about Barack Obama's birth...

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