Marcia G. Yerman

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Texas Vs. Women’s Reproductive Rights

Texas Vs. Women’s Reproductive Rights

The Supreme Court has been asked to review a June 2015 ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which upheld a law that would bolt the doors to 3/4 of the abortion clinics in Texas. This would leave the state’s women, in an area of 268,820 square miles, without ready access to abortion that was “safe and legal.”

February 4, 2016 | No comment | Read More »

Love Her, Love Her Not: The Hillary Paradox

Love Her, Love Her Not: The Hillary Paradox

In this anthology, editor Joanne C. Bamberger wants to get to the essentials of why Hillary is repeatedly judged by benchmarks markedly different than those facing a male candidate.

February 7, 2016 | No comment | Read More »

Lauren Zapf: Changing the Dialogue For Women Vets

Lauren Zapf: Changing the Dialogue For Women Vets

Female vets must be recognized as contributing members of society, with valuable abilities and talents to bring into their communities.

November 12, 2015 | No comment | Read More »

“Keep It in the Ground” Keeps Up the Pressure

“Keep It in the Ground” Keeps Up the Pressure

Stats from the last ten years show that almost 25 percent of American emissions have resulted from the fossil fuels that were burned as a result of federal leases. That number translates to a contribution of 4 percent of global emissions.

November 29, 2015 | No comment | Read More »

Spotlight

Love Her, Love Her Not: The Hillary Paradox

Hillary Clinton Book Cover ArtFull disclosure. I supported Barack Obama in the 2008 primary. There were plenty of times I was annoyed and agitated with Hillary’s posture and demeanor toward Obama (I’m still willing to blame that on Mark Penn’s bad advice.) Then again, I wasn’t happy with Obama’s, “You’re likable enough,” comment. I celebrated Hillary’s role as Secretary of State, but got angry when I learned that during her tenure she had pushed a fracking agenda to countries overseas. It was a red flag, like her reticence to slam the XL Pipeline.

Then the email situation came up, and we were off once again with another issue to assess Hillary’s truthfulness. Yet, she dazzled me with her performance in front of the House Select Committee during her eight plus hours of testimony.

Love Her, Lover Her Not: The Hillary Paradox was released on November 3, this past Election Day, with the obvious irony that in 2016 we would all be going to the polls to chose our next President. Editor Joanne C. Bamberger (also a contributor) outlines in her foreword the motivations in digging beneath the polarity of emotions generated by Hillary. Most importantly, Bamberger wants to get to the essentials of why Hillary is repeatedly judged by benchmarks markedly different than those facing a male candidate.

Bamberger explained in response to questions I sent her, “One of the things I found during my research is that there have been several studies that show women voters must find women candidates ‘likable’ in order to see them as qualified. These essays give the larger picture about the obstacles women in general, and Hillary Clinton in particular, face, even when they are objectively well qualified for elective office.”

Essayists were chosen to represent a range of ages and backgrounds — both politically and culturally. Bamberger hopes to jumpstart a “new” conversation about Hillary. In her piece, Bamberger questions why women need Hillary to be faultless, positing that perhaps women are projecting their need for perfection onto Hillary.

So what did the book illuminate for me, other than the fact that I’m also conflicted?

It took me through a roadmap of opinions, where I checked off stops along the way. They fell into thematic categories, connected by the common thread of each writer elucidating where she stood on the Hillary conundrum. The obsession with Hillary’s clothes, hairstyles, and appearance intersected with reflections on ageism and sexism. There were parsings of Hillary’s pseudo-progressive bona fides, the “Bill” factor (and escapades), and some real drill down on how Hillary can navigate her way to the White House via unapologetically clear policy initiatives. Midway through the book, I happened to get an Associated Press alert that they would henceforth move forward referencing the candidate as Hillary Clinton (no Rodham), as per the campaign’s instructions.

Hmm.

Younger women, despite their different life experiences, have clearly noticed how Hillary got slapped down in 2008 for her efforts to present herself as unambiguously equal to men. Jolie Hunsinger suggests that her Gen Y contemporaries “shake things up” and “break the molds” with a vote for Hillary.

Froma Harrop nails sexism and ageism with her observations on the insidious messages pushed on girls and women via Hollywood, outlining the narrow strictures that deem them desirable. Broadcast news and media culture also garners Harrop’s disdain (except Rachel Maddow, who is always dressed to deliver and analyze the news with authority). Additionally, Harrop points out that with baby boomers getting pushed out of jobs, the road paved to criticizing Hillary’s age (the same as Ronald Reagan when he became President) may not be such a winning strategy.

I found myself falling in between the unequivocal support of Hillary outlined by Jennifer Hall Lee and Linda Lowen, and the “after all things considered” rejection of Hillary by Nancy Giles. Rebekah Kuschmider poses many of the questions I have pondered, specifically, “Why was Hillary with Bill in the first place?”

Hillary embodies the different hats that women wear. Why so much criticism from the sisterhood when one hat is exchanged one for another? When Hillary rang the doorbell to Lisen Stromberg’s suburban home and asked to use her bathroom, the incident became an opportunity for Stromberg to contemplate the reality that the aspirations of youth don’t always travel a straight line to desired expectations. Stromberg poignantly captures her feelings while describing how Betty Friedan’s book, The Second Stage, helped her to pinpoint that our society harbors a “bias against motherhood” and “doesn’t value parenting.” Rather, our culture would prefer to “fix women” than a “failed system.”

This is where the policy wonks come in, with their clearly outlined treatises on how Hillary can take the lead and direct attention to fundamental concerns faced by families.

KJ Dell’Antonia advocates for a “Put Families First Campaign.” This includes paid maternity and sick leaves, significant access to childcare, and early education programs. Veronica Arreola also wants family policy brought to the fore, but she needs Hillary to dig into her “privilege knapsack” and get real about “readjusting her view.” This means listening to the concerns of low-income women and women of color, and fully comprehending their challenges. Arreola recommends that Hillary relinquish her standard platform and instead reach out to these women respecting both their innate power and their experiential difficulties of schedule flexibility, lost workdays, and food insecurity.

American Association of University Women policy advisor, Lisa M. Maatz, delivers a 12-Step manifesto telling Hillary what she can do to “earn” votes. Top takeaway: Don’t take female voters for granted. Transparency, accountability, a multigenerational and multicultural approach are essentials. Maatz advises Hillary, “Embrace” policy issues that impact women and families. Connect with the “liberal” side of your persona that will appeal to those voters who harbor longings for Sanders and Warren.

Patricia DeGennaro, a geopolitical advisor for the U.S. Army, takes on the Commander-in-Chief reservations, which seems to be more central than ever with the world devolving into one crisis after another. DeGennaro points to the presidency as a “male institution” — and a mindset that is ready to be challenged. DeGennaro underscores that Hillary gets the connection between global and domestic issues, and would be able to “wield both diplomatic and military power.”

My inner dialogue, which fluctuates between making an idealistic choice or a pragmatic choice for a presidential candidate, was reflected in the thoughts of Lisa Solod. I loved her analysis of George McGovern as the “famously liberal, anti-Vietnam candidate who sank like a stone.” Solod reminds me of a female friend who keeps insisting, “We need someone who can win! Think of the Supreme Court!”

Right. Besides, can an openly progressive president get things done in a country that feels more and more to the right of center? I’m still waiting for Gitmo to close.

The final essay in the book by Lezlie Bishop, “The Long Road to Yes,” embraces many of my concerns and doubts. However, it also strikes a note of optimism. Bishop believes that “Hillary is the only one who understands how to work her ideological agenda within the brutal realities of global government.”

If Hillary is elected, I hope she will forge her own individual path, have Bill run the social calendar, and ultimately surprise those on the continuum — from haters to conflicted hopers — with her accomplishments.

 

This article originally appeared on the website Ravishly.com

 

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Feb 7, 2016 | No comment | Read More »

Texas Vs. Women’s Reproductive Rights

What happens in Texas may not stay in Texas — a good reason for women across the United States to be concerned.

The Supreme Court has been asked to review a June 2015 ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which upheld a law that would bolt the doors to 3/4 of the abortion clinics in Texas. This would leave the state’s women, in an area of 268,820 square miles, without ready access to abortion that was “safe and legal.”

In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court decided in Roe v. Wade that women have the “constitutional” right, guaranteed by the 14th Amendment, to determine the course of a pregnancy. 

In a move to “supposedly” insure the highest possible health standards for women, Texas passed House Bill 2 (HB2) that requires doctors to have admitting privileges at a local hospital within 30 miles from the facility where they are performing abortions. In addition, the law outlined protocols that would require clinic standards to be commensurate with that of an “ambulatory surgical center.”

The Court will be hearing oral arguments for the case, Whole Women’s Health v. Cole, in March. The Center for Reproductive Rights will be representing Whole Women’s Health. Amicus curiae briefs have been filed to embody a continuum of voices — from the Republican Majority for Choice (12/31/15) to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (1/4/16). The 45 amicus briefs encompass those from the fields of medicine, law, religion, the military, and economics. Government is represented by 39 Senators and 124 Representatives. The goal is to bring the personal stories of women to the fore (one in three women has had an abortion), and contextualize how this law is placing an “undue burden” on women.

If the HB2 ruling stands, only 10 clinics in the state of Texas will be operative. (There were 42 in 2013; currently 19 remain open.) 

What will that means for the 5.4 million women in Texas of reproductive age who need an abortion? Presently, average wait times have grown from five days (pre-HB2) to as long as 20 days. This leads to a potential increase in second trimester abortions. 

Who are the women who will be the most severely affected? Those who are poor, from underserved communities, and women of color.

The Texas Policy Evaluation Project has presented concerning findings in a November 2015 study they conducted. They learned that “between 100,000 and 240,000 women age 18-49 in Texas have ever tried to end a pregnancy on their own without medical assistance.”

The stated objectives of ensuring high health standards, as put forth by Texas lawmakers, has been challenged by The American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (both filed amicus briefs). They maintain the law makes access to abortion less safe and accessible. 

Are these laws based on medical necessities or are they politically motivated versions of other anti-choice initiatives, like the over 250 new laws in 38 states that have been instituted since 2011?

The intent of the law can be surmised from a quote delivered by Republican State Rep. Jodie Laubenberg, who spearheaded the legislation. “I am so proud that Texas always takes the lead in trying to turn back what started with Roe v. Wade,” she stated. Editorial boards from USA Today to the New York Times have pointed to the motivations underlying the escalation of stringent restrictions. The Times referenced the Texas law as “an insulting ruse.”

The ruling of the Supreme Court will be closely watched by other states, particularly those that are waiting for a signal that it’s acceptable to move forward with restricting abortion access, despite what those in the medical field have termed “flawed pseudo-science.”

Economist Heidi Hartmann, president of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, commented via email, “The status of women’s health in each state does not exist in a vacuum. Socioeconomic factors such as poverty and race, and policies that exacerbate inequalities in health care access and economic opportunity, all contribute to lower health status. Texas has consistently shown up on the bottom of state rankings for women’s status and HB2, if upheld, would be sure to keep them there.”

On January 5, the Center for Reproductive Rights hosted a press call drilling down on “stakeholders” who had signed amicus briefs. Wendy Davis, former Texas State Senator, Jessica González-Rojas, executive director of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, and Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood were featured speakers. 

Davis qualified HB2 as a “sham law” designed to “sneak around the Constitution.” She pointed to the amicus briefs as helping to inform the justices of “the very real human stories, not abstract legalities.” González-Rojas described HB2 as a “perfect storm of barriers to prevent a woman from getting an abortion she may need,” comparing the process to “navigating a state-created obstacle course.”

Richards described the outcome of the Supreme Court’s ruling unequivocally. “The stakes in this case can not be overstated. The fundamental right for women to access safe and legal abortion is squarely before the [Supreme] Court.”

Perhaps Nancy Northrup, President and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights summed it up best when she brought home that women’s ability to control their reproductive lives is central to their ability to “participate fully in the economic, social and political life of the nation.”

It is beyond ironic that a woman’s right to choose will be facing scrutiny this year during Women’s History Month.

 

This article originally appeared on Ravishly.com

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Feb 4, 2016 | No comment | Read More »

“Keep It in the Ground” Keeps Up the Pressure

A cabal of senators is on track to overturn the Clean Power Plan (CPP) and send a message to the upcoming COP21 Climate Summit that Americans are not on the same page as their president supporting a robust climate change agenda. On November 17, their resolution passed the Senate by a vote of 52 to 46. (The White House noted that the President would veto any resolutions.)

On the other side of the aisle, two weeks earlier, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) announced a new piece of legislation they are calling the Keep It in the Ground Act. Flanked by environmental activists, they introduced a bill that would ban new leases for fossil fuel extraction on federal public lands and waterways (the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic oceans and the Gulf of Mexico). Co-sponsors included Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), the Minority leader of the EPW committee, along with colleagues Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Ben Cardin (D-MD), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

It is now part of standard scientific knowledge that 80 percent of the fossil fuels, not yet resourced, must remain untouched if climate change is to be arrested. “The impacts will only get worse in the coming decades if we keep burning fossil fuels unchecked,” Merkley underscored during the announcement.

EcoShift Consulting put together a study in August of this year called, “The Potential Greenhouse Gas Emissions of U.S. Federal Fossil Fuels.” On their blog, EcoShift principal Dr. Alexander Gershenson wrote, “We believe that this analysis finally puts the issue of continued development of federal fossil reserves to rest.”

The IPCC recommendation to keep global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2099, references that a specific “carbon quota” must be put into play.

The S. 2238 bill is a reaction to the current Obama policy which includes an “all of the above” point of view, allowing federal agencies to lease federal properties to private companies for the purpose of extracting and selling the resources from these properties, both onshore and offshore. These “leases” can be decades long, and in terms of area covered, the report states, “leases collectively span many tens of millions of acres.”

According to the findings, “Federal agencies do not currently track or report the nation-wide cumulative GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions that result from federal leasing of fossil fuel reserves.” The fuels that are included are: oil shale, crude oil, tar sands oil, natural gas and coal. The analysis breaks down the end product of each specific fuel and its uses.

Through a thorough parsing of a range of variables (illustrated by clear graphics), the study concludes that a cessation of fossil fuel extraction on lands owned by the federal government would actually block 450 billion tons of greenhouse gases from polluting the environment.

Image Courtesy of EcoShift Consulting

Stats from the last ten years show that almost 25 percent of American emissions have resulted from the fossil fuels that were burned as a result of federal leases. That number translates to a contribution of 4 percent of global emissions.

The bill is very clear in its goals: Keep over 90 percent of the potential carbon emissions from gas, oil and coal on federal lands and waters permanently underground. It would:

  • Stop new leases and end nonproducing leases for coal, oil, gas, oil shale and tar sands on all federal lands.
  • Stop new leases and end nonproducing leases for offshore drilling in the Pacific and Gulf of Mexico
  • Prohibit offshore drilling in the Arctic and the Atlantic

Merkley has been extremely proactive on getting the word out.

I contacted him for a follow up comment on his commitment to this legislation. He responded via e-mail:

“Americans expect our public lands to be managed for our public good, but right now the burning of oil, coal and gas extracted from our public lands is producing a huge amount of damaging carbon pollution. As a father and as a Senator, I believe we owe it to our children and grandchildren to transition rapidly away from fossil fuels, and the federal government should be leading that transition. Ordinary Americans need to raise their voices, as they did to stop the Keystone pipeline and Arctic drilling, and let the Administration and Congress know that the time to act is now.”

For those still unsure of the science, check out Merkley’s video. I particularly appreciated the clarity and humor Merkley uses as he explains the need for political will to move the agenda forward.


This article originally appeared on the website Moms Clean Airforce

Tell President Obama: Cut Methane Emissions from existing Fracking Operations

 

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