The abortion pill would be on hand at virtually every public college in California under legislation introduced Friday in the state Senate.

The bill’s inception comes amid renewed attempts to slash funding for Planned Parenthood, which would no longer receive Medicaid reimbursements under the Republican-backed American Health Care Act.

If the health care plan were passed in its current form, $174 million would be slashed from the budget of California’s Planned Parenthood clinics. Although Planned Parenthood is the largest single provider of abortions in the country, it does not use federal money to provide the procedure.

“If those cuts are made, then I do believe this bill takes on a heightened sense of urgency,” state Sen. Connie Leyva, D-Chino (San Bernardino County), who put forth the bill, told The Chronicle. “Women in 2017 shouldn’t be fighting for access to their bodies.”

The American Health Care Act, a Republican bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, is making its way through the House legislative process. As it does, a somewhat surprising group is reportedly hoping the bill fails.

Leyva’s legislation — which doesn’t cover surgical abortions — would make the pregnancy-terminating pills available at all University of California, California State University and California Community College campuses that have a student health center that gets funding from the state.

The medication, two pills ingested orally, can be taken only within 10 weeks of a woman’s last period.

Kathy Kneer, president of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, said the medication is safe and effective. Since the Food and Drug Administration approved the pill 16 years ago, 3 million women have taken the abortion pill, she said. Of those, 19 died from complications related to the medication — a mortality rate lower than that of giving birth.

“There’s no reason why it shouldn’t be readily available in student health centers,” Kneer said. “There’s no medical justification.”

The availability of the abortion service on campuses would be the first in the nation. Last year, the elected student leaders of UC Berkeley lobbied the administration to provide the abortion pill at the campus health center, but their demands never came to fruition. UC Berkeley spokespeople said they weren’t available to discuss the matter.

“Because our health center includes a pretty comprehensive amount of sexual and reproductive services, not providing abortions reinforces the idea that abortion is not a part of women’s health, when it absolutely is,” said Adiba Khan, 20, a student who pushed for the service to be offered on campus. “For undergrads and graduate students, abortion is part of their life. It’s normal and should be available as easily and cheaply as possible.”

Khan said friends of hers who took the abortion pills were initially met with financial and academic roadblocks. Those who got their health insurance through the campus first had to meet with a counselor before they could be referred to an outside provider — a potential obstacle for the time-sensitive medication — and often missed class or work to travel to an abortion provider off campus, she said.

Marandah Field-Elliot, a student senator who helped organize the campaign to get the abortion service on campus, said an added bonus if the bill passes the state Legislature would be that UC Berkeley wouldn’t be the sole object of antiabortion activists. Already this year, UC Berkeley’s progressivism put the campus in the crosshairs of President Trump’s tweets when violent protests forced an event featuring controversial speaker Milo Yiannopoulos to be canceled.

“This bill would be so amazing, because it would spread the impacts rather than putting a target right on Berkeley,” Field-Elliot said.

Source: SFGate

The Women’s Centre used Google to target woman researching abortionsDADO RUVIC/REUTERS

Google has blocked an anti-abortion group from using advertisements on its search engine that encourage women to visit their rogue crisis pregnancy agency.

Last year The Times exposed how The Women’s Centre on Berkeley Street in Dublin was advising women that abortion caused breast cancer and could turn them into child abusers.

Despite claiming to be an objective source of information, The Women’s Centre is linked to The Good Counsel Network, an extreme Catholic group that has compared abortion to terrorism. The group paid Google so that its website,, was the first or second result when a woman searched for information on how to access a legal abortion abroad. Women who call its “national helpline” are offered appointments at The Women’s Centre or one of the other clinics it claims to run across the country.

Google offers paid advertisements which can present a website as the first result under certain search terms. This week the company blocked The Women’s Centre from using its adverts because it had been found to be deceptive.

“We have a set of strict policies which govern what ads we do and do not allow on Google. We do not allow fraudulent or misrepresentative ads and when we discover ads that break our policies, we quickly take action,” a spokesman for Google said.

The site had specifically targeted women using Irish IP addresses who were entering search terms indicating that they were looking for information about how to access an abortion in the UK. Since the site’s removal from the top search results it has been replaced by a HSE website and the British Pregnancy Advisory service.

The Women’s Centre is facing closure after Simon Harris, the health minister, committed to pass legislation to regulate crisis pregnancy agencies that were offering misinformation. Mr Harris said that he was hoping to pass the law this summer.

Other anti-abortion groups and campaigners have also sought to use Google adverts to campaign ahead of a possible referendum on the Eighth Amendment. Over the course of the last meeting of the citizens assembly, a website alleging bias on the part of the forum paid to be the top search result. is a site registered through a proxy. On the site it is stated that it was set up by Josiah Burke, a business student from NUI Galway. Mr Burke is one of ten children in the Burke family in Castlebar. Members of the family are well-known as anti-abortion and anti-marriage equality campaigners. The family linked homosexuality to paedophilia during the marriage equality campaign, sparking a protest at the NUIG campus.

The website claims that the citizens’ assembly, which is considering the need to change Ireland’s abortion laws, is biased in favour of a repeal of the Eighth Amendment. At its last meeting, members of the assembly reacted angrily when Family and Life, an anti-abortion campaign group, used its presentation to claim that the assembly was biased and hearing evidence from “the abortion industry”. The 99 citizens had requested to hear from healthcare professionals who offered legal abortions to Irish women in the UK.

Family and Life has since sponsored its social media posts on sites like Facebook to claim that the assembly is biased.

Ms Justice Mary Laffoy, the assembly’s chair, has repeatedly defended the forum as being balanced and fair. At its next meeting in April the assembly members will ballot on what change, if any, should be made to Ireland’s constitutional near-ban on abortion. The assembly has considered leaving the Eighth Amendment as it is, amending it or replacing it with new legislation.

Source: The Times

A Whole Woman’s Health abortion clinic in Texas is reopening four years after an unconstitutional law caused it to close. This is a great sign for the rebuilding of abortion access in Texas since a restrictive law was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court last summer.

House Bill 2 said clinics had to meet the requirements of an ambulatory surgical center and that providers had to have admitting privileges at hospitals.

These terms are very difficult for clinics to fulfill, and would involve construction for many clinics. After the law was put into effect, half of Texas’s abortion clinics were forced to shut down. The number of clinics in the state dropped from 41 to 19 from 2013 to 2016.

But Whole Woman’s Health fought the law, taking it to the Supreme Court. Last June, the Supreme Court ruled Texas’s law was unconstitutional.

This was a cause for celebration for Whole Woman’s Health and pro-choice women across the country.

The Supreme Court said the burdens on women clearly outweighed the health and safety benefits of the law.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote in a concurrence opinion, Given those realities, it is beyond rational belief that H. B. 2 could genuinely protect the health of women, and certain that the law ‘would simply make it more difficult for them to obtain abortions.’

Before the Supreme Court ruled, these clinic closures caused problems for women seeking abortions.

Many women had to travel further for abortions with local clinics closed — and Texas is a big state.
Meanwhile, because there were fewer clinics, the remaining ones were experiencing long wait times for procedures. Delaying an abortion by a few days is significant as the pregnancy moves along.

Even with a positive Supreme Court ruling, Whole Woman’s Health knew it would take time to rebuild their service.

Clinics can’t just reopen with a snap of the fingers. It takes time and money for space, for rehiring staff, for setting up the medications and materials.

Andrea Ferrigno, Vice President of Whole Woman’s Health, told Elite Daily last year before the decision, The damage that these laws have caused, it’s going to take years to repair. In a statement on Thursday, Amy Hagstrom Miller, President and CEO of Whole Woman’s Health, said she was committed to reopening the Austin clinic as soon as possible.

The Austin clinic was Whole Woman’s Health flagship clinic.

Abortion advocates are celebrating the reopening of the Austin Whole Woman’s Health clinic.

Greg Casar, a council member in Austin, said in a statement that “our community suffered a loss” when the clinic was forced to shut down. With the reopening of the Austin Whole Woman’s Health clinic, the residents of North Austin and beyond will have expanded access to safe, legal abortion care right here in our community. Stephanie Toti, the attorney who argued for Whole Woman’s Health in front of the Supreme Court, said, Today’s clinic reopening not only improves health care access for millions of Texas women, it shows the power of legal advocacy to move us toward a more just world.

This is great news for women in Texas, as it shows the clinics are recovering from the damage of the unconstitutional HB 2. With one more clinic open, the others will have less of a burden and more clients will be able to get responsible care.

Source: Elite Daily


As a referendum seems tantalisingly close, BuzzFeed News went on the road with Ireland’s growing pro-abortion rights movement.

“Hands up who’s ever had sex?” Sean Shinners, a man in his sixties from Limerick, shouted across the road to a row of anti-abortion rights protesters.

The group of around twenty protesters – men and women in their sixties and seventies, some wearing cheerfully coloured woolly hats and tasteful floral scarves – stood silently behind banners depicting graphic photographs of aborted foetuses. Looking stony-faced and sombre outside Limerick’s branch of the Bank of Ireland on Tuesday, they refused to engage with the heckler.

“Do you think any of them have even had sex before, let alone impregnated anyone or been pregnant?” Shinners went on, addressing a growing group of passersby who had gathered to see what all the fuss was about.

“Why is it the ones who know nothing about the subject are always so passionate about it?” he continued. “You’re looking at the residual effect of the Catholic Church in Ireland. It’s residue. It’s what’s left at the end of the pot when you’re cooking.”

“Bunch of bastards,” he added under his breath.

The protesters had arrived earlier that day to oppose an abortion rights rally by Rosa (for reproductive rights against oppression, sexism and austerity), who were making a lunchtime stop-off with the “Bus4Repeal.”

Shinners wasn’t invited to speak at the rally; he was merely a passerby who felt incensed enough by the anti-abortion campaigners opposing the group to speak out.

BuzzFeed News joined 48 abortion rights activists and their supporters on the bus, as they spent three days driving around Ireland this week protesting against the country’s highly restrictive abortion laws.

The eighth amendment of the Irish constitution states that abortion is illegal in all circumstances except when a pregnant woman’s life is seen to be in immediate danger. Undergoing or carrying out the procedure is punishable by up to 14 years in prison.

Around 10 representatives of the Irish Centre for Bioethical Reform (ICBR), a recently formed group affiliated with UK-based anti-abortion rights group Abort67, trailed the bus throughout our trip, setting up counterprotests at its stop-offs in Waterford, Cork, Limerick, Galway, Maynooth, and Dublin.

One of them, Christian Hacking, had prompted Shinners’ outburst, by calling out to Limerick locals going about their lunchtime errands for a “dialogue” on “the scientific precedent of whether the unborn is a human being” through his megaphone.

ROSA / Facebook / Via Facebook: ROSAwomen2014

He also turned his attention to four mums at the rally with their babies, assuming that, as parents, they were there in support of the anti-abortion movement. He became visibly irritated when they informed him they were not.

“Just because we’re mothers and pro-motherhood doesn’t mean we’re anti-abortion,” one of the women told BuzzFeed News. “I don’t have a right to tell anyone what they should do with their bodies in the same way that I wouldn’t expect anyone to tell me what’s right for me.”

Nurphoto / Getty Images

“I am saddened to see mothers of young children in support of ending the life of an unborn child and refusing to engage with the simple scientific argument,” said Hacking in response. “That the unborn child is a human being. It has the exact same DNA as you or me. The only difference between the unborn child and you is time.”

“When have you ever been pregnant?” Shinners hissed, intervening.

He told us he was “absolutely 100%” pro-abortion rights. “I’m pro minding your own bloody business,” he added, and encouraged Hacking and his followers to do the same.

The group on Rosa’s “Bus4Repeal” included men and women, several students, a secondary school teacher, and a representative for Women on Web, a charity that provides safe abortion pills to women in countries where the procedure is illegal. Representatives for local Rosa groups got on and off the bus that sped through the grey and green Irish countryside, to join protests calling for the eighth amendment to be repealed, coinciding with International Women’s Day.

The atmosphere on board was urgent, frustrated, and fired up but also often jovial. Rita Harrold, one of Rosa’s organisers, gave updates on the campaign over the coach stereo, interspersed with blasts of Beyoncé and self-care tips. Chat ranged from sex to studies, and everything was politicised. One student, whose seatmate took an unflattering Snapchat selfie, told her to “repeal your face”.

Despite the large groups cheering on the Bus4Repeal on at each of its stops, smaller numbers of anti-abortion activists were a constant presence. In Galway, local police asked them to take down their banners after receiving numerous complaints from members of the public about the images of foetuses. “We’ll consider making arrests if they continue to refuse to get rid of them,” one officer sighed as he took notes in the freezing rain. He told us that he dealt with this kind of thing quite regularly.

Protesters and members of the Strike 4 Repeal campaign gather on O’Connell Bridge in Central Dublin on 8 March. Nurphoto / Getty Images

“People find your images offensive and frightening,” another officer told protesters, who had barricaded themselves behind their banners.

“The Germans found pictures of the Holocaust very frightening,” one protester snapped back, making a comparison often drawn upon by the anti-abortion rights movement, before the rain got the better of them and they dispersed.

Other than Hacking, the ICBR campaigners seemed unwilling to engage one-on-one when BuzzFeed News approached them, preferring to convey their messages through their megaphones.

Harrold had warned Rosa volunteers to be careful when talking to ICBR activists, all of whom wore body cameras.

Hacking told us they wore the cameras for their own protection and safety. “As you can imagine, people accuse us of all sorts of false allegations, such as harassment of women, following them, hate speech, so we wear cameras so that we have a definitive account,” he said.

In Cork, where the bus had its biggest turnout of supporters, an elderly woman clutching rosary beads walked up and down a row of around 30 women in witch’s hats, who held signs like riot shields, depicting an 8 crossed through with knitting needles.

She was faced with increasingly urgent chants of “our bodies, our choice” by the witches, a local group of abortion rights activists who came out to create a “protective circle” around the stand where Women on Web shared information about medical abortion and one Rosa volunteer took a call from a woman who was worried she might require their services.

Alongside them, a man shouted his support for Trump’s crackdown on American women’s reproductive rights, and another anti-abortion rights supporter wore a fluorescent vest decorated with cherubic babies, chanting “lies, lies, lies” into his megaphone.

During the Cork rally, Rosa raised over 1,000 Euros selling jumpers baring the slogan “health, equality, freedom” and in cash donations from the public.

Their supportive reception showed how the balance of public opinion seemed to be shifting. “It’s been a long time coming,” one Cork local and a mother of two teenage daughters told us. “When I was a teenager in the ’90s, we had to put up with a lot of this,” she said, gesturing to aborted foetus banners. “But we didn’t have people standing up for choice,” she continued. “I think it’s amazing.”

“I don’t normally like to take a stance on these kinds of things, but it’s really up to an individual person what they do with their body,” a young man, working behind the counter in a newsagents next to the rally, told us.

As the bus pulled up at each new town, Rosa organiser Harrold would pull out her megaphone and chant to get her volunteers riled up ahead of the rally. “Not the church, not the state!” she shouted, receiving a chorus of “women must decide their fate!” in response, before the group stomped off the bus calling: “Get your rosaries off our ovaries!”

ROSA / Facebook / Via Facebook: ROSAwomen2014

Both slogans, along with numerous other religious wordplays, have become synonymous with campaigns to repeal the eighth. At Dublin’s March4Repeal on Wednesday night, one woman held a protest sign that read: “If I wanted religion in my vagina, I’d fuck a priest.”

The entanglement of church and state never seemed to be far from discussion around abortion both on the bus and on the street.

“I just don’t understand how the pro-lifers can talk about the suffering of unborn babies when we’re making women suffer so much by not allowing them to get an abortion,” one student on the bus said while sweets were passed around on a stretch of motorway between Dublin and Cork. “Yeah, but Catholics think suffering is a virtue,” her seatmate retorted, reaching into a bag of big pink marshmallows. “They want women to suffer.”

Critics’ increasing distrust of the Catholic influence on state affairs was further exacerbated when the remains of more than 700 babies and children under 3 were discovered in a septic tank beneath a former mother and baby home in the town of Tuam, just days before the Bus4Repeal set off on its trip.

A shrine in Tuam, County Galway, erected in memory of up to 800 children who were allegedly buried at the site of the former home for unmarried mothers run by nuns. Paul Faith / AFP / Getty Images

From 1925 to 1961, around 35,000 unmarried pregnant women were sent to the institution run by the Bon Secours order of nuns in county Galway.

Almost everybody we asked about their opinion on abortion around Waterford, Cork, Limerick, and Galway mentioned Tuam. The shocking discovery showed that women and their children faced serious neglect and distress, a reminder of Ireland’s long history of abandoning its “fallen women”. Magdalene Laundries, where women who were thought to have engaged in sexual activity outside marriage were sent, operated from the 18th century until 1996. Mass graves have been discovered where they stood.

For many, that children, and often their mothers too, were neglected to the point of death when under the care of the church only highlights the hypocrisy of its stated wish to protect the rights of the unborn child by opposing abortion.

“To hear the bishops acting the high moral ground about women’s bodies, women’s lives, and women’s futures is absolutely disgusting,” Ruth Coppinger, the Irish Anti-Austerity Alliance TD [the Irish equivalent of an MP], said during Rosa’s rally in Cork on Monday. “As long as the church and state combine to control and determine the lives of women, their reproductive lives and their futures, we will have the horrors such as we had in the homes.”

“The scandal in Tuam exposes hypocrisy to a huge extent,” a man in Galway told us when asked whether he would support the repealing of the eighth amendment.

One woman in Limerick said it was important that Ireland took the opportunity to learn from the discovery. “We forget very quickly as we move from one scandal like that to the next,” she said. “In a few years that will all be forgotten, but then there will be another Tuam.”

ROSA / Facebook / Via Facebook: ROSAwomen2014

Another, on her way to meet her son for lunch in Limerick, said that even though she didn’t necessarily like the idea of abortion, Tuam proved that preventing it had far worse consequences. “Anything is better than that,” she said.

Ireland’s reputation as one of Europe’s last socially conservative stalwarts, frozen in a time when you wouldn’t admit to doing anything you wouldn’t tell the priest at confession, seems to be thawing. “Twenty-three years ago when I came to Ireland, abortion was a word that people wouldn’t even say,” Stella, a woman in her sixties who was selling “repeal the eighth” badges during the “March4Repeal” in Dublin on Wednesday told us. “I am happy about the way things are changing. The time has come.”

The 2015 referendum on marriage equality, a groundbreaking victory for LGBT rights, represented a massive sea change in progression for the country. Almost everyone BuzzFeed News spoke to during the Bus4Repeal’s tour also cited the Irish government’s recent scrapping of controversial water charges following social-media-led grassroots campaigns as proof that ordinary people could be empowered to shape government policies.

For many, campaigning to legalise abortion is a logical next step for those striving to modernise Ireland. An estimated 12 women per day travel from the country to the UK to access abortion at private clinics, and a further three women per day illegally purchase abortion pills online.

“The Dail [Ireland’s parliament] is a conservative, cowardly institution that does not represent the huge sea change in attitudes there has been on abortion,” Coppinger told the rally at Cork. The crowd, who ranged from students to pensioners, cheered.

ROSA / Facebook / Via Facebook: ROSAwomen2014

Many have been advocating for a repeal of the eighth amendment since it was introduced through a referendum in 1983, but the death of Savita Halappanavar in 2012 lent the battle a new urgency. Halappanavar asked for an abortion as she had severe back pain and was miscarrying, but was told abortion laws meant doctors were unable to terminate her pregnancy. She had a septic miscarriage, and died days later.

“Everyone in the city felt that,” a young woman listening to speakers at Rosa’s rally in Galway, where Halappanavar died, told us. “It was horrific what happened to that woman.”

“The eighth amendment has to be repealed and women need to be allowed access to abortion,” she continued, huddled under her umbrella during an especially dreary early-evening downpour. “We have to support a woman’s right to have a choice over her own body.”

Two other young women in Galway also told us the shadow of Halappanavar’s death had played a huge part in shifting opinion on reforming abortion rights in Ireland. “I think the public wants this,” one said.

As the bus set off from University College Dublin on Monday morning, Niahm Plunkett, who is studying biomedical science, told us she had become interested in campaigning for abortion rights as a teenager when she learned what had happened to Halappanavar: “I just remember coming home from school and hearing about it on the news and feeling like, how can this happen?”

In Limerick, a woman rushing to collect her grandchildren from school told us she had campaigned in the 1983 referendum, and worried there was “still quite a big hill to climb” in winning abortion rights now. “There are politicians who just think women should have lots of babies,” she said.

But she remained positive that change could be on the horizon. “I’m delighted to see so many young women out there and involved in this, and quite a few women of my own age who are really supportive too,” she continued. “Older women especially are sympathetic because of what they’ve suffered in Ireland. They don’t want the same for young people.”

But while recent polling by Ipsos Mori for the Irish Times showed that 67% of people would vote for abortion laws to be relaxed in some circumstances, one man we spoke to in Galway worried many might not be so ready for change. “I think a lot of people are just ignorant about what it means not to have access to abortion and have already made up their minds,” he told us.

Education around abortion, both for members of the public and women in crisis, is key to Rosa’s objective. As the bus drove out of Cork on Tuesday, Harrold gave an interview over the phone to a local radio station during which she was confronted by a vehemently anti-abortion rights caller. Later she told us she welcomed the opportunity to debate openly on the subject.

“Radio is so important, people here listen all the time, so we’re very happy to be part of that discussion,” she said. “When we talk to ordinary people about abortion in an understanding way, we come from a place of wanting to keep people safe. Most people in society do not hold the views of the past.”

The radio appearance was also a success for Rosa for another reason. After hearing about the bus, two women from Cork who believed they were pregnant drove to meet it at its next stop in Limerick to seek advice on medical abortion. There, Harrold was able to connect them with Women on Web.

“They are now doing consultations with Women on Web, and if they choose to go ahead and use that method, they should get pills by the end of the week,” Harrold said.

Harrold said she’d spoken to a further 12 women seeking abortion pills during the bus’s three-day journey, either in person or on the phone. On Wednesday a spokesperson for Women on Web told us that they had seen online requests from Ireland increase “significantly” since the bus had set off on Monday.

“This has without a doubt been a successful campaign,” Harrold told us as the bus made its way towards its final stop at Dublin’s central bank. “Independent Women” by Destiny’s Child was blaring from the stereo. It was greeted by hundreds of cheering students, who earlier in the day had completely blocked the city’s central O’Connell bridge during a mass walkout to demand abortion rights.

A sense of urgency filled the streets of the capital as protesters wearing black “repeal” jumpers began to congregate at the Garden of Remembrance for Wednesday night’s major march, the setting sun turning a few lingering rain clouds a vibrant pink.

ROSA / Facebook / Via Facebook: ROSAwomen2014

Megan, 19, a student and Rosa activist who traveled on the Bus4Repeal, told us that she felt growing up during such a tumultuous era – the start of which she pinpointed as 9/11 – meant her generation couldn’t help but be politicised. “So much has already been changed in my lifetime,” she told us at a social organised for abortion rights supporters in Cork on Monday night. “We have to stand up and speak out to repeal the eighth too.”

Seventeen-year-old Grace, who wore a “Repeal” sweatshirt with her school uniform at the Dublin march, agreed that young people were key to driving change around abortion. “The eighth amendment was introduced in 1983 so the youngest person who could have voted for it is now 51,” she said. “Nobody of child-bearing age has had a say, so we’re here today to say this is a law that affects us, and we’re not going to take this ban on abortion any more.”

“It’s really important for women to come out in solidarity and show that we have strength in numbers. We need to say we’re not standing for this any more,” Ailbhe O’Connor told us, as she arrived at the protest with a group of friends.

A referendum on repealing the eighth amendment could be imminent, after the Citizens’ Assembly – a body set up to consider constitutional questions – holds its final session on the topic in April. Until then, uncertainty remains about the future of abortion in Ireland. Will it ever be fully legalised or only made available in certain circumstances? Will the influence of the Catholic Church loosen enough to make way for the wave of change the younger generation is powering, to override decades of doctrine around women’s reproductive rights?

As Wednesday’s march closed in on Dublin’s official government buildings, the chanting crowd demanded to be heard by prime minister Enda Kenny. There was only one question on thousands of people’s lips: “Enda, Enda, where’s our referenda?”

Women’s Rights Are Under Attack Worldwide, Warns U.N. Chief
Guterres pointed to extremists subjugating women and governments curtailing women’s freedoms and rolling back laws against domestic violence

(UNITED NATIONS) — Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned Monday that women are suffering “new assaults on their safety and dignity” around the world, pointing to extremists subjugating women and governments curtailing women’s freedoms and rolling back laws against domestic violence.

He told the opening session of the Commission on the Status of Women that educating and empowering women will unleash their potential and prevent “challenges that arise from violent extremism, human rights violations, xenophobia and other threats.”

While Guterres didn’t name any countries or groups, his message was clearly aimed at the Islamic State extremist group which sells women and girls as sex slaves. It also appeared directed at U.S. President Donald Trump’s expansion of a ban on federal aid to international organizations that provide abortions or abortion information — and to Russia for new legislation decriminalizing some forms of domestic violence.

The U.N. chief said men still dominate in every country of the world and male chauvinism blocks women from getting ahead.

“Our world needs more women leaders,” Guterres said. “And our world needs more men standing up for gender equality.”

The executive director of U.N. Women, the United Nations agency promoting women’s rights, told the commission that changing discriminatory laws in over 150 countries “could affect more than three billion women and girls in the world.” Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka also said that “advancing women’s equality in total could bring a potential boost of 28 trillion U.S. dollars to global annual GDP by 2025.”

But, she added in an echo of Guterres, while there has been some progress toward gender equality, gains have eroded and “the much needed positive developments are not happening fast enough.”

“With the global pay gap at an average of 23%, women are clearly earning consistently less than men,” Mlambo-Ngcuka said.

“Women regard this as daylight robbery,” she said. “Each year they work three months more than men for equivalent pay.”

She said over half of all women workers around the world — and up to 90% in some countries — are informally employed, such as low-cost farm workers, street food vendors and care workers, almost all without legal or social protection. In India alone, this sector accounts for 190 million women, she said.

“They are the under-the-radar and under-valued cogs in the bigger wheels of the formal economy,” Mlambo-Ngcuka said.

At an event Monday night on women’s economic empowerment, the theme of this year’s commission meeting, which ends March 24, UN Women and the International Labor Organization announced a group of equal pay “champions” to mobilize global action to achieve equal pay for work of equal value.

Oscar-winning actress Patricia Arquette, one of the champions, said last year that women were at “breaking point” when it comes to equal pay and this year she said it is “worse than breaking point.”

“Women have waited since the beginning of time to be treated equally,” she said. “I think the time has come now when we can’t wait any more.”

Retired American soccer star Abby Wambach, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and another equal pay champion, said there is definitely a gender pay gap in professional sports, but “it’s about every single industry in every single country.”

“It’s so near and dear to my heart,” she said, “because since retiring I’ve noticed that looking across the aisle, the Kobi Bryants, the Peyton Mannings, they’re having a much different conversation with themselves in retirement than I am.”

“I have to worry about paying my bills — and enough finally has to be enough,” Wambach said.

Iceland co-sponsored the event and Minister of Social Affairs and Equality Thorsteinn Viglundsson said he expects the country to be the first in the world to eliminate the gender pay gap by its target of 2022.

“We are really turning the table and saying to management and the institutions, you bear the responsibility, it is your task to make sure the gender pay gap is eliminated,” he said. “And the Equal Pay Standard that we are implementing is a perfect tool for it.”

Source: Yahoo

Offences Against the Person Act 1861 makes a woman’s decision to terminate her own pregnancy punishable by life in prison

Diana Johnson
The ten-minute rule bill was introduced by the Labour MP for Hull North, Diana Johnson. Photograph: Josh Kearns/Rex

MPs have won the right to introduce a bill to parliament which would decriminalise abortion for the first time by repealing a law that dates back to Victorian times.

A ten-minute rule bill introduced by Diana Johnson, the Labour MP for Hull North, sought permission of the House to change two sections of a law passed in 1861, before women had the vote. It succeeded by 170 votes to 142, a margin of 32.

As the law stands, doing so is technically punishable by life imprisonment under sections 58 and 59 of the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act – both for the woman and for anyone, including a doctor, who helps her.

“This is the harshest criminal penalty of any country in Europe, underpinned by a Victorian criminal law passed before women had the right to vote, let alone sit in this place,” Johnson told MPs.

Poland, a traditional Catholic country, does not criminalise women for having an abortion, she said. In the United States, when the current president suggested women should be criminalised, he was forced to backtrack, she added.

Abortion is legal in England and Wales in restricted circumstances, which were laid down in the 1967 Abortion Act introduced by the then Liberal MP David Steel to stop women dying in large numbers as a result of backstreet abortions.

The 1967 legislation allows a termination before 12 weeks with the approval of two doctors and in the interests of the woman’s health. In rare circumstances, including foetal abnormality, later abortions are permitted.

The new bill will be brought forward by a cross-party group of MPs.

Johnson said in the debate that abolishing criminality need not change the current restrictions, which can be enshrined in regulations. The change in the law would not increase the number of late abortions. “It will not lead to a free for all,” she said.

The pills that bring about early abortion, before 12 weeks, are prescription only, so their use is governed by the Human Medicines Regulations 2012. It would not be any easier for couples to seek abortion for sex-selection purposes. And, she added, the current law did nothing about people who tried to coerce women into having a termination.

Abortion is widely available under the law, she argued, and the wider availability of the abortion pills online “should motivate greater concern for women’s health and make us wary of greater liberalisation of the law”. Removing the criminal sanction “would embolden men to pressure women into abortions they do not wish to have”. Ensuring that the woman must have the consent of two doctors meant that she would have the chance to speak to somebody who could help her, Caulfield said.

She said the bill was being proposed “at a time when the UK abortion industry is knee-deep in allegations of unsafe and unethical practices”, citing alleged failures including the Care Quality Commission investigation into the Marie Stopes clinics.

Source: The Guardian

Watching my new colleagues calm patients disturbed by protesters, I knew this work was more important than any other job I have ever had.

On an afternoon walk with my best friend, we saw a group of people protesting near her workplace. When I asked her what was going on, she said, “That’s the Hope Clinic for Women.” I knew it was an abortion clinic; I had brought a friend there once. But I had never heard the protesters telling men and women entering the clinic they would burn in hell.

There was even a sign showing a woman lying naked on an examining table, bruised from head to toe. It hurt me to look at it. I thought, “Come on now, really! How disrespectful”—especially if you claim to be concerned about women.

So that’s when my life changed. That day, I had been out dropping off résumés and looking for a new job. I had worked as a certified nursing or medical assistant in many different settings. I knew what I wanted to do: helping and caring for people. But I was lost and unfulfilled, and hated to go to work.

I walked right through those anti-choice protesters and gave them my résumé.

Today, I am a proud abortion provider. My first day at the clinic, I knew it was where I wanted to be. All the employees introduced themselves, smiled, and asked about my family. I felt truly welcomed.

I observed and watched patients coming in. Some were physically shaking and crying, angry, or agitated from all that judgmental nonsense being screamed at them. My new co-workers calmed those same patients down with kindness and reason. I knew this was different and more important than any other job I have ever had.

Though anti-choice activists try to say that abortion providers don’t care about women, babies, or families, I consider my co-workers an extended family. When so many Americans dislike their jobs, I love coming to work every day, even on Saturdays. Seeing the most helpful, fun, and loving people every day doesn’t seem like work. We work together—not just in the same place, but collaboratively and with the greater purpose of helping women in need.

I am lucky to have been empowered by so many people in this movement, especially my colleagues in the Abortion Care Network. I was chosen for a program called Uniting Our Voices, which helps train advocates to communicate with media. This group gave me the tools and courage to step out of my box, though it didn’t feel like that at first. I knew no one at the meeting, and I was very much out of my comfort zone.

I remember telling two other people in the program that “I am just a medical assistant, I think they chose the wrong person.” I didn’t realize they were board members. They stopped me right there and said, “No, we chose you because you are a medical assistant.”

This group helped me realize I am not just a medical assistant. I am an advocate for all women. I can help our patients with my voice, but also others who have not had to make the choice to have an abortion and those who have made that choice before.

Our patients endure a tremendous amount of stress just to walk in our door. They are targeted by awful, mean anti-choice protesters. When they come into our clinic, we know something of what they are going through—and respect the choice they’ve made with family, friends, genetic counselors, physicians, or just by themselves.

I share words of support, love, and laughter with our clients. Yes, that’s possible in an abortion clinic. Actually, I think it’s essential. We try to make this long process of paperwork, counseling, and lab tests a more enjoyable experience. I can honestly say these women support me just as I support them.

I come to work knowing that abortion providers do amazing work. We don’t just perform medical services. We help many people achieve goals, follow dreams, and stay true to self. I can’t imagine doing anything else.

Source: Rewire