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niyad's Journal
niyad's Journal
May 24, 2024

Louisiana's Criminalization of Abortion Care Demands We Embrace Reproductive Justice

Louisiana’s Criminalization of Abortion Care Demands We Embrace Reproductive Justice
5/23/2024 by Deon Haywood
The people working overtime to maintain racial and gender hierarchies will not stop at the criminalization of abortion drugs—just like they didn’t stop with the banning of abortion.

The World Health Organization recommends two regimens for medication abortion: misoprostol alone or combined with another medication, mifepristone. (Soumyabrata Roy / NurPhoto via Getty Images)

On Tuesday, the Louisiana House passed legislation criminalizing two drugs commonly used for abortion care: mifepristone and misoprostol. The bill received final legislative passage Thursday, and the governor is expected to sign it into law any day now. Instead of working to address the maternal mortality crisis, the infant mortality crisis or the climate crisis (the list of crises goes on), Louisiana’s lawmakers are looking to lock up our neighbors for up to five years for possessing these life-saving drugs. The move is pigheaded, embarrassing and downright dangerous—but not surprising. Thirty-five years ago—at the height of the war on drug users and the HIV/AIDS crisis—a small collective realized how the public health institutions supposed to serve our communities had, at best, abandoned Black folks and, at worst, were actively terrorizing our communities. Women With a Vision’s foremothers took matters into their own hands, operating illegally for decades distributing sterile needles and condoms to those most at risk for HIV/AIDS infection and criminalization. Today, the organization my mother helped found, where I now serve as executive director, works at the intersection of public health, reproductive justice and criminalization—recognizing the ways racial capitalism, queerphobia and the patriarchy function together to isolate, blame, criminalize, erase and take. This week’s move to ban abortion pills in Louisiana is a continuation of the long tradition of infringing on the bodily autonomy of birthing people, Black folks in particular.

WWAV foremothers Danita Muse, Catherine Haywood and Deon Haywood with red AIDS ribbons in their hands, as featured in the Source in April 2001. (via Instagram)

Our lawmakers’ assault on our right to determine what we do with our bodies started with the enslavement of our ancestors, the attempted genocide of Indigenous people, and the taking of their land, and continues by criminalizing and incarcerating folks at the bottom of racial, gender and class hierarchies. Audre Lorde said, “There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle, because we do not live single-issue lives.” Every day I’m reminded that our oppressions are woven together—each oppressive action reinforcing the one that came before and laying the groundwork for the next one. Two years ago, when the Supreme Court toppled Roe and Louisiana’s trigger ban went into effect, our history showed us the next step would be criminalization.
. . . .

Not long after Women With a Vision’s founding, a group of Black women and women of color were building the human rights framework today known as reproductive justice. They recognized the ways the abortion rights movement failed us and worked to bring our disparate movements together, knowing that the right to abortion was not enough. Their vision for a world where we all have the right to have children when and how we choose, not have children, and live in whole, healthy, thriving communities is a clarion call to counter the white supremacist vision driving the anti-abortion movement. Through a reproductive justice lens, we realize the movements to end mass criminalization and the war on drug users isn’t supplemental to the fight for abortion rights. It is only through embracing a vision for a whole, healthy, liberated future that we can put an end to the assault on our rights. Through a reproductive justice lens, we realize that when we partner with those most vulnerable, when we work as their accomplices, we aren’t just doing good deeds. We are moving towards collective liberation together, the only thing that will save us from the ever-present march of white supremacy. The war on drugs and the HIV/AIDS crisis of the ‘80s and ‘90s are inextricably linked to the terrors of our politics today. And it is only through embracing the lessons learned during those fights—allyship, refusal, speech and dreaming of a world otherwise—that we can equip ourselves for the fights ahead.

Deon Haywood, Gloria Steinem and Angeline Echeverria attend the Ms. Foundation For Women’s annual Gloria Awards on May 8, 2019, in New York City. (Astrid Stawiarz / Getty Images for Ms. Foundation For Women)

As a Black, queer, woman working in the Deep South, I know the people working overtime to maintain racial and gender hierarchies will not stop at the criminalization of abortion drugs—just like they didn’t stop with the banning of abortion. And they are not limited to the Deep South: Our state is a testing ground for some of white supremacy’s worst policies because our home is Black and brown and queer. It’s us, the folks who have been working to counter these forces for decades, who best understand our opposition. And so, as the news of the criminalization of mifepristone and misoprostol spreads across the country, I ask you, those who profess to be with us in this fight, to embrace reproductive justice. We need you to understand the ways our fights are connected and to keep resourcing the folks on the front lines—the Black, queer, poor and working-class Southerners. When they’re using the same tools they used to wreak havoc on Black and brown communities for decades to criminalize anyone for simply possessing abortion care drugs, we know that our collective struggle transcends abortion rights alone.

May 24, 2024

Barbie's Existential Crisis and the Fight for Reproductive Justice

Barbie’s Existential Crisis and the Fight for Reproductive Justice
1/11/2024 by Tomi-Ann Roberts and Jamie Goldenberg
Women’s bodies present a special problem for death denial—and these concerns motivate patriarchal cultures to seek control of those bodies from women themselves.

Margot Robbie in Barbie. (Warner Bros. Pictures)

Awards season is here, and while it first it seemed like Barbie would rake in quite a few, after securing more Golden Globe nominations than any other film this year, it now looks as though Gerwig’s film may get passed over for final awards and end-of-year “best of” lists, despite its overwhelming box office popularity. Perhaps critics could not allow for a seemingly shallow storyline to carry such a deeply existential, feminist message. Some will call it sacrilege for us to compare Barbie, a film that appears to celebrate artificiality and superficiality, with the deeply noir multiple award-winning film many say is the greatest of all time, Citizen Kane. However, we suggest that both films are owed acclaim for the risks their directors took in broaching the most anxiety-provoking of all human concerns: death. Both Orson Welles and Greta Gerwig deliver their existential message through toys—but where Rosebud the sled restores the dying Kane’s lost promise of masculine youth, Barbie the doll depicts the central thesis of our work as feminist social psychologists: that fear of death that undergirds the control of women and their bodies, and women’s own efforts to conform to societal expectations for their bodily control. Considered this way, Barbie is relevant not only to the impending decisions of the Academy of Motion Pictures, but also to the Supreme Court, as they are once again set to adjudicate women’s right to manage their own reproductive bodies.

In our field of social psychology, terror management theory offers an existential framework for viewing the world, with empirical research to back up its claims. The gist is that, unlike dolls, humans are aware of the inescapable fact that they are going to die. This existential threat is quelled by creating and immersing ourselves in a contrived, artificial world that offers an illusion of immortality. As Barbie’s creator Ruth Handler explains to her in the film, “Ideas live forever. Humans, not so much.” Women’s bodies present a special problem for death denial, with their monthly bleeding, lactation and pregnancies. And what women’s bodies giveth, they can take away. In our research, we find that death concerns are what motivate the patriarchal oppressive contrivances of objectification and self-objectification. Objectifying “strips” women’s bodies of their more natural, mammalian, and hence threatening mortal qualities, emphasizing an idealized, contrived attractiveness. Not only are women treated this way, but they also come to treat themselves this way, investing time and resources in attaining flawless, symbolically immortal beauty.

. . . .

From Barbie’s very first tear that felt “achy, but good,” she begins to recognize that being plastic comes at a price. For her, there’s no getting back in the death-denying box, no matter how nostalgic it smells. So even after working to restore Barbieland to its neoliberal, empowerment feminism utopia, she has to make a choice: Stay perfect, plastic and immortal in Barbieland—or become human. “You understand that humans only have one ending,” Ruth said. Holding hands with her creator, Barbie sees a vision of ordinary girls and women who have not chosen to deny death by investing in the plastic world of self-objectification. Some are young, some old, some are laughing, some crying, some are fat, some thin. All are human, all too human. When Barbie opens her eyes, she chooses Reality. She chooses mortality.

Margot Robbie in Barbie. (Warner Bros. Pictures)

The final scene of the film enlists viewers in wondering what downtown appointment Barbie is rushing to make, and the reveal could not be more illustrative of our existentialist feminist perspective, nor more well timed to the moment in which we find ourselves: holding our breaths not for award nominations, but for the highest Court in the land to hear an appeal regarding medication abortion in the wake of the Dobbs decision. Because real women live in the bodies that can create and sustain life, cultures fear and thus seek to wrest control of those bodies from women themselves. Barbie the doll symbolizes that control in the form of objectified beauty, and instructs girls in self-control through self-objectification. But Barbie, the real woman, starts her mortal human journey at an appointment with the gynecologist—which is, of course, a much more appropriate place than a politician’s office or a courtroom for such a journey to begin.

May 24, 2024

What Happens When Sex Dolls Can Talk? (DEFINITELY NSFW)

(Dear Goddess, I had absolutely NO idea about this insanity!!!)

What Happens When Sex Dolls Can Talk? (DEFINITELY NSFW)
5/23/2024 by Julie Wosk
The difference between a real-life adult film star and a simulated one tells us much about the kind of sex dolls many users prefer: ones with tightly controlled conversations.

Adult film star Stormy Daniels poses and signs autographs at Chi Chi Larue’s adult entertainment store on May 23, 2018, in West Hollywood. (Robyn Beck / AFP via Getty Images)

Recently, rapt readers could find out about the testimony presented by adult film star Stormy Daniels at Donald Trump’s criminal trial in Manhattan. Her language was amusing and startling, and she didn’t mince words: At one point, she acknowledged she had once called him an “orange turd.” Daniels’ language was a far cry from the kind of words uttered by today’s talking sex dolls, like the ones produced by California’s RealDoll, a subsidiary of Abyss Creations. These are sexy, custom-made AI-enabled dolls that are programmed to never say anything mean or insulting. They are designed to flatter the user and always be compliant. They never say, “No, don’t do that,” or “Get lost!” Daniels herself gave RealDoll the license to produce Stormy Daniels sex dolls—but these dolls were silent and couldn’t talk. The difference between a real-life adult film star and a simulated one tells us much about the kind of sex dolls many users apparently prefer: ones that have tightly controlled conversations. And the difference tells us much about users social attitudes towards women themselves.

Finished silicone RealDoll sex dolls at the Abyss Creations factory in San Marcos, Calif. (David McNew / Getty Images)

The Implications of Talking Sex Dolls

Sex dolls—adult-size dolls with silicone skin—have come in many different configurations over the years. The California-based Realdolls gives users a choice of eye color, hair style, skin tones, height, breast and nipple size and labia formation with varying vaginal inserts. The dolls don’t move, but their bodies—arms, legs, torsos—can be manipulated. Initially the dolls couldn’t talk but starting in 2018, RealDoll introduced dolls with robotic heads that could be attached to a RealDoll body with magnets and could talk. The two-way conversations were based on the type of personality the user chose for the doll. There were 16 traits to choose from and the user could pick 10.
. . . . .

There is a long-standing cultural stereotype of the annoying talkative woman—a chatter box, a gossip and nonstop talker that men would like to control. In the 1970s television series All in the Family, Archie Bunker liked to tell his talkative wife Edith, “Stifle yourself!” Matt McMullen has said the “talkative” trait on a RealDoll could be “dialed down to zero.” Unlike real women, the talking sex dolls have no voice of their own. Their conversations are tightly controlled and programmed to never say anything assertive, combative, hostile, complaining, arguing, disagreeing, debating or unpleasing to the user.

Artificial Women: Sex Robots, Robot Caregivers, and More Facsimile Females by Julie Wosk, published by Indiana University Press, April 2024.

. . . . .

Are all talking female sex dolls just vapid creations that simply serve as soothing substitutes for real women? Cody Heller’s witty 2020 television series Dummy presented a tart-talking feminist sex doll who comes to life. She wears a T-shirt with Ruth Bader Ginsburg printed on it and impishly wears a sex doll vaginal insert around her neck. Last-year’s award-winning film Poor Things gave us a wonderfully comic counterpoint to the perfectly controlled talking sex doll model. Bella (played by Emma Stone) is a composite being created from dead body parts and a live brain, and quickly develops a mind of her own. Ever resourceful, this totally articulate simulated woman goes to Paris and cheerfully makes money as a sex worker. In the film, she has a voracious sexual appetite and takes on johns while always celebrating her own individuality and independence. The manufacturers of today’s talking robotic sex dolls are a long way from marketing dolls that have a mind of their own and can resist, rebel, challenge or voice their own needs. The manufacturers seem to assume that most users wouldn’t even want that type of conversation with their sex dolls. Stepford Wives-type sex doll models win out every time. Still, given the artificiality of these sex doll conversations, real women probably won’t have to worry about being permanently supplanted by a talking sex doll. At least not yet! (Seriously, I would not be that optimistic!)
. . . . .


May 24, 2024

The Daily B***h*: "I accept the fact that every piece of furniture in my house

is basically a cat bed. I am most fortunate!!!"

*Both a noun, and a verb, depending on usage.

May 20, 2024

A Moral Justification for Civil Disobedience to Abortion Bans

A Moral Justification for Civil Disobedience to Abortion Bans
5/6/2024 by Carrie N. Baker
Fighting for better laws and challenging bad laws are critical parts of the fight for the freedom and dignity of women and pregnant people—but so is the underground abortion pill movement, which enacts that freedom and dignity directly.

A protester holds an “I object” placard during the demonstration outside the Royal Courts of Justice. Crowds marched in central London in support of the right to choose and demanded a change in UK abortion laws in response to the recent arrest of a woman who took abortion pills later than the UK limit. (Vuk Valcic / SOPA Images / LightRocket via Getty Images)

This article was originally published on The Daily Hampshire Gazette.

Over the last several years, in response to abortion bans and restrictions, advocates around the country have developed an alternative supply network for abortion pills outside of the medical system and the law. As a lawyer and law-abiding citizen, I recommend people follow the law. If they don’t like a law, I recommend challenging it, either in the courts or legislatures. But when voter suppression and gerrymandering have skewed the political system in a way that has led to laws that do not represent the majority nor protect vulnerable groups from harm, civil disobedience may be the morally right and just thing to do. In thinking through the issue of when civil disobedience is justified, I turn to Martin Luther King Jr.‘s Letter From Birmingham Jail, written in August of 1963. In the letter, King distinguishes between just laws and unjust laws. Citing St. Augustine, King explains, “An unjust law is no law at all.” In answering the question of how to distinguish just and unjust laws, King appeals to “moral law” and “eternal and natural law,” citing St. Thomas Aquinas. He argues that just laws “uplift human personality” and unjust laws “degrade human personality.” He argues that an unjust law “distorts the soul and damages the personality.” Quoting Jewish philosopher Martin Buber, he argues that an unjust law “substitutes an ‘I -it’ relationship for the ‘I -thou’ relationship and ends up relegating persons to the status of things.”

Applying King’s arguments to current day abortion laws, we can ask several questions: Do abortion bans uplift or degrade human personality? Do they “distort the soul and damage the human personality?” Do they give people supporting them “a false sense of superiority” and make people seeking abortion feel “a false sense of inferiority?” Do they “substitute an ‘I -it’ relationship for the ‘I -thou’ relationship, and relegate persons to the status of things?” I would answer an emphatic “yes” to all of these questions. Headlines over the last year and a half since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade gives us ample evidence of how abortion bans harm the dignity, rights and health of women and people who can become pregnant. There have been more than 70 documented cases of women almost dying when they were denied emergency medical care because of abortion bans enacted across the country. The first woman to die because she was not offered a life-saving abortion due to an abortion ban was Yeniifer Alvarez, who died in July of 2022 in Luling, Texas.

Abortion bans have led to denial of medically necessary healthcare, putting people’s lives in danger, and they have led to threats of criminal prosecution. These laws enable healthcare providers, police and the public to bully and control pregnant women and the people who support them. These actions degrade and damage the human personality, and distort the soul, to use King’s words. These laws give some people “a false sense of superiority” and impose stigma on people who have abortions, which gives them “a false sense of inferiority.” I would argue these laws “substitute an ‘I -it’ relationship for the ‘I -thou’ relationship and relegate pregnant women to the status of things,” whose lives are not valued, whose dignity is not respected, and whose rights are disregarded.

. . .

For these reasons and more, I support the robust alternative delivery system providing abortion pills to people in all 50 states, including those banning or restricting abortion (see plancpills.org). I support these systems because I believe that we cannot become habituated to the injustice of abortion bans. Martin Luther King described civil disobedience as a rejection of the habituated acquiescence to the injustice of segregation. Civil disobedience creatively enacted new habits and new relations required for a functioning multiracial democracy. According to King, nonviolent direct action enabled a recovery of agency by the oppressed. By burying the “psychology of servitude,” King said, “we can make ourselves free” not only by fighting for freedom and dignity, but by enacting that freedom and dignity directly. Fighting for better laws and challenging bad laws in the courts are critical parts of the fight for the freedom and dignity of women and pregnant people, but so is the underground abortion pill movement, which enacts that freedom and dignity directly, and resists the “psychology of servitude” and “habitual acquiescence” to unjust laws.

May 20, 2024

To Defend Democracy, We Must Protect Bodily Autonomy

To Defend Democracy, We Must Protect Bodily Autonomy
5/13/2024 by Julia Reticker-Flynn
Pro-democracy funders must see attacks to reproductive freedom, LGBTQ liberation and racial justice as attacks to U.S. democracy itself—and fund accordingly.

Abortion rights supporters celebrate winning the referendum on Issue 1, a measure to enshrine a right to abortion in Ohio’s Constitution, in Columbus, Ohio, on Nov. 7, 2023. (Megan Jelinger / AFP via Getty Images)

It is no coincidence that at the same moment U.S. democracy is facing existential threats, we are also witnessing profound assaults not only on the body politic but on our bodily autonomy. Consider the former: a violent insurrection threatening the peaceful transfer of power, disinformation campaigns intended to undermine trust in election results, state lawmakers attempting override the popular will through gerrymandering, new state laws criminalizing dissent, preemption being used to limit the power of local control, and attacks to the integrity of state and federal courts. At the same time, the Supreme Court ignored 50 years of precedent to overturn Roe v. Wade, leading state politicians to ban abortion and local law enforcement to criminalize pregnancy outcomes, as school boards ban books about LGBTQ people and people of color. Trans people’s health and lives are on the line, as state legislatures target gender affirming health care and the very ability to participate in civic life. The sum and substance of these attacks are clear: to consolidate power, particularly the power of white Christian nationalist men. One of the biggest threats to the consolidation of power is an empowered and engaged populace—particularly women, the LGBTQ community and people of color. Which is why anti-democratic leaders are doing all they can to limit and curtail the power of these communities. This moment requires progressive and pro-democracy funders to understand the attacks to reproductive freedom, LGBTQ liberation and racial justice not as distinct or disparate—but as central to the attacks to our democracy itself, and to fund accordingly.

The Authoritarian Playbook

Authoritarian regimes and backsliding democracies across the globe are undermining bodily autonomy as a fundamental strategy to consolidate power. In Brazil, Bolsonaro forged partnerships with conservative evangelists, espousing traditional gender roles and regressive policies, ultimately propelling him to power. Once in power, he has worked actively to undermine the voting rights and the judicial system, while simultaneously working to further restrict abortion access. Putin, like many autocrats, consistently relies on homophobic and misogynistic messaging to sew distrust in the West, and to engender nationalism and support for his power and actions. In Poland, Human Rights Watch notes that the attacks to reproductive freedom are directly linked to the dismantling of the democratic norms including the capture of the judicial branch and crackdowns on the right to protest. A recent report by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law finds that attacks on LGBTQ people and their rights are a precursor to democratic backsliding.

These global trends should be sounding the alarm for everyone who is invested in the future of U.S. democracy. There are clear parallels between Russia’s 2012 law banning discussion of sexuality in schools and the “Don’t Say Gay” law in Florida. The threats to judicial independence and abortion access in Poland mirror what we are seeing at the state and federal level in the U.S. The moral panic that political leaders are inciting around trans people in the U.S. harkens back to Bolsonaro and Putin’s rhetoric demonizing the LGBTQ community.
. . . .

What are some practical tips for moving out of our own silos?

Joining donor collaboratives that are focused on the intersection of these issues.
Attending funder and field convenings such as the 22nd Century Initiative that are bringing people together across every movement to build a united front.
Funding cross movement work at the state and national level that addresses structural barriers to full participation.
Asking grantees about how they are seeing the threats to reproductive justice and democracy intersect.
Funding reproductive justice and LGBTQ groups to work on democracy issues and partner with democracy organizations (and vice versa).

To stop the U.S. from backsliding into an autocracy, we must recognize attacks on bodily autonomy as part of the larger effort to consolidate power—and out-organize, out-strategize and out-fund our opposition at every turn. We need to build a pro-democratic united front.

May 20, 2024

Malnutrition: The Hidden Struggle of Afghan Women and Children

Malnutrition: The Hidden Struggle of Afghan Women and Children
Arezu Fayyazi | April 23, 2024

In times of conflict, political instability, and social unrest, women and children have always been the ones who face the most dire consequences compared to the rest of the population. It is nearly three years since the Taliban returned to power and their extremist views and restricting edicts against Afghan women has been one of the major human rights crises. Afghan women’s rights are under constant attack by the Taliban. However, the silent struggle that Afghan women are facing on top of the restrictions on their rights and existence is food insecurity and malnutrition. Women are struggling to feed their children and themselves, leaving them all malnourished.

Currently, 15.5 million people are considered to be facing acute food insecurity, 2.7 million of which are in an emergency situation. In 2023, it is estimated that 1.2 million Afghan women were malnourished. According to the World Food Programme, this number is only expected to grow this year. The statistics for Afghan children are also supposed to grow this year, reaching 3 million malnourished children. Acute malnutrition is at a dire point for women and children as about 50% of children under five years of age and 25% of pregnant and breastfeeding mothers need nutritional support in the coming 12 months in order to survive.

. . .

Afghanistan’s hunger and malnutrition crisis is often forgotten given the other wars around the world where famine and food crises are more visible. However, in addition to food insecurity, Afghanistan is one of the top 10 countries facing maternal and child mortality due to several reasons, including malnutrition. The health of women and children will continue to drastically decline unless sustainable interventions, such as allowing women to work and earn an income, are put in place to support families. The consequences of a malnourished population of women and children are severe. With malnourished children, the next generation of Afghanistan will face life-long health consequences, such as cognitive impairment, and will have far worse quality of life. The economy will suffer as well because of a lack of a qualified and educated workforce. The GDP will continue to face losses and the recovery will take even longer.

Importantly, when an expecting mother is malnourished, it is more likely that their child will be born of a low-birth weight. This opens a large possibility of future health concerns for the child, including increased risk of adult chronic disease, frequent infections, and reduced mental and physical capacity. Targeting malnutrition in Afghanistan and working to improve the nutrition of women and children must become as much of a priority as it has been in other parts of the world where there’s more visibility on food starvation. Targeting malnutrition means improving the health, physical growth, cognitive development, school performance, and productivity of Afghan women and children. By supporting the growth of a strong and prepared population of women and children, there is the potential to improve Afghanistan’s social and economic development in addition to the empowerment of women.

Sources: Ariana News, Khaama Press, Human Rights Watch, World Food Programme, Relief Web, UNSCN, UNICEF

May 20, 2024

Abortion Bans Are Empowering Abusive Men--and Prominent 'Pro-Life' Activists Are Representing Them (trigger warning)

Abortion Bans Are Empowering Abusive Men—and Prominent ‘Pro-Life’ Activists Are Representing Them (trigger warning)
5/8/2024 by Jill Filipovic
Murder is a leading cause of death for pregnant women. The anti-abortion movement wants to hand more power to abusive men anyway.

Anti-abortion activists (including a monk from the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal) are confronted by abortion rights protesters in front of a Planned Parenthood clinic on June 3, 2023, in New York City. (Robert Nickelsberg / Getty Images)

This story originally appeared on Jill.substack.com, a newsletter from journalist, lawyer and author Jill Filipovic.

The way abortions bans are designed and written allow for all kinds of horrors: women losing their organs, women bleeding out without help, women losing their lives. But they’re also written to empower abusive men. After all, the very foundation of an abortion ban is an assumption that a woman’s body does not belong to her. Abusive men agree.And so it’s perhaps not a huge surprise that several men have indeed taken advantage of these laws in an effort to control their ex partners. And it’s also not particularly surprising—although it is appalling—that they’ve found support and legal representation from some of the most powerful people in the U.S. anti-abortion movement.

One man in Texas sued his wife’s friends for allegedly helping her to get abortion pills (she was trying to leave him, saying that, duh, he was abusive); Jonathan Mitchell, an anti-abortion lawyer who wrote the Texas abortion bounty law and also represents president Donald Trump, represented him. Another Texas man murdered his girlfriend after she traveled to Colorado for an abortion. And now, a third Texas man found out his ex-girlfriend was planning to travel out of state to end her pregnancy, and he also hired Jonathan Mitchell to help stop her. Mitchell has splashed her name all over public court filings, and even though she has not actually broken the law—since traveling out of state for an abortion is perfectly legal—he’s seeking to depose her and any of her “accomplices” in what can only be described as a blatant campaign of harassment and abuse, on behalf of an nauseatingly controlling man.

. . . .

In the United States, it is legal to cross state lines for medical care, including abortion. But the anti-abortion movement wants this long-standing legal allowance to end. The Texas woman who planned to leave the state for an abortion no more broke the law than a person who lives in New Jersey but goes to the doctor in New York. Abortion opponents, though, want to make abortion a special category—and by extension, want to make pregnant women a subcategory of citizen who are, unlike everyone else, disallowed from seeking healthcare in places where it is perfectly legal.

. . . .

The ideology that underlies this abuse is both insidious and common—and it underlies the anti-abortion movement more broadly. The idea seems to be that, by impregnating a woman, a man has laid claim to her body, and has ownership over it. Should she remove the pregnancy, she hasn’t just made a choice that involves her and a fetus or embryo, but she has violated his rights—his right to have her body used for the end he desires. This is the logic of the anti-abortion movement, of every rapist everywhere, of every abusive man. And so it’s no wonder that the anti-abortion movement is going to legal bat for these abusers, as they also write abortion laws without rape exceptions and use the law not to protect children, but to punish women.

*********It’s not about protecting life. It’s just about abusive misogyny. And these cases could not make that truth more clear.*********

May 20, 2024

Meet the Anti-Feminist Women's Group Leveraging Their 'Independence' to Convince Americans to Vote Republican


(disturbing, important read)

Meet the Anti-Feminist Women’s Group Leveraging Their ‘Independence’ to Convince Americans to Vote Republican
5/15/2024 by Ansev Demirhan
The anti-feminist Independent Women’s Voice/Forum, backed by billionaires and anti-abortion zealots, is poised to use its leaders’ identities as women to convince voters that the GOP will protect Americans’ rights and freedoms.

Kellyanne Conway, former advisor to former President Donald Trump, previously sat on IWF/Vs board. (Drew Angerer / Getty Images)

The anti-feminist Independent Women’s Voice/Forum (IWF/V) has officially launched its 2024 election agenda. An internal fundraising document provided to True North Research shows one way it is putting that agenda into action is by continuing to try and blunt the horrific repercussions of the Supreme Court overturning Roe, while deploying their veneer of independence to sway centrist and independent voters. The document details a two-phase plan and a budget that is almost twice the amount it proposed in its 2022 midterm fundraising documents, as reported by The Washington Post. Despite claiming to take no position on abortion, IWF/V launched a PR campaign ahead of the 2022 midterms—the first election cycle following the Dobbs decision—which included advertising trying to convince younger women that reproductive rights were less important than other issues the group listed.

One way IWF/V’s agenda for this election cycle stands out from its previous midterm action plan is its emphasis on reassuring women that access to contraception is not in jeopardy—despite key voices in the anti-abortion movement making it clear otherwise. The group is a member of Project 2025, a MAGA blueprint that includes detailed plans to attack contraception access, promote the rhythm method, deploy the CDC to increase “abortion surveillance” and data collection and much more. IWF/V also has a long history of undermining contraception access, though the group has a talking point about supporting over-the-counter availability of the contraception pill.

. . . . . .

IWF’s Ties to Anti-Abortion Power Brokers

IWF/V has received more than $6.8 million in funding from Leonard Leo, the anti-abortion powerbroker who engineered the Supreme Court capture, and his network since 2014. IWF/V’s legal arm, the Independent Women’s Law Center (IWLC) recently filed a lawsuit against the Biden Administration for making Title IX more inclusive. The law firm representing them is Consovoy McCarthy. One of the firm’s partners, Tyler Green, is one of only three trustees listed for the Marble Freedom Trust—a $1.6 billion trust given to Leonard Leo in 2020 by anti-abortion billionaire Barre Seid. IWF/V also played an active role in supporting Supreme Court nominees that were hand-picked by Leo, aiding in his engineered ‘Court capture.’ They helped ensure Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court and viciously attacked Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, the Stanford psychologist who credibly accused Kavanaugh of attempted sexual assault, even though Kavanaugh denied it. IWF/V’s leader, Heather Higgins, even took credit for teaching Senator Susan Collins and FOX how to navigate the Kavanaugh controversies. IWF also rallied behind Amy Coney Barrett during her nomination process, including staging an “I’m with Her” event outside of the Supreme Court.

Additionally, Erin Hawley, of Alliance Defending Freedom fame—the legal team responsible for creating the Mississippi legislation that ultimately allowed the Supreme Court to overturn Roe—was on staff at IWLC at the same time she was working to eliminate federal protections for abortion access. IWF/V, backed by billionaires and anti-abortion zealots, is poised to use its leaders’ identities as women to convince voters that the GOP will protect Americans’ rights and freedoms, like access to birth control and the ability to choose if and when to have children. IWF/V’s past positions, the known agendas of their funders and their membership to Project 2025 belie their true intentions.

Lisa Graves, director of True North, and Alyssa Bowen, director of True North’s Equality Project, contributed to this story.


May 20, 2024

Kazakhstan jails former minister for 24 years over wife's torture, murder (trigger warning)

Kazakhstan jails former minister for 24 years over wife’s torture, murder (trigger warning)

United Nations says about 400 women die from domestic violence in Kazakhstan each year, but many cases go unreported.

Kazakhstan's former Economy Minister Kuandyk Bishimbayev attends a court hearing in Astana [File: Turar Kazangapov/Reuters]
Published On 14 May 202414 May 2024

Warning: This article contains details of violent domestic abuse that some may find upsetting.

Kazakhstan’s top court has sentenced a former economy minister to 24 years in prison for torturing and murdering his wife, following a widely watched trial that many saw as a test of the president’s promise to strengthen women’s rights. Kuandyk Bishimbayev, 44, was found guilty and sentenced by the Supreme Court on Monday. His trial, which has been broadcast live over the past seven weeks, has been seen as an attempt by authorities to send a message that members of the elite are no longer above the law.

Surveillance footage played during the trial showed Bishimbayev repeatedly punching and kicking his wife, 31-year-old Saltanat Nukenova, and dragging her by her hair, near naked, into the VIP room of a restaurant owned by his family in Astana. As she lay dying in the suite with no security cameras, covered in her blood, Bishimbayev phoned a fortune teller, who assured him his wife would be fine. When an ambulance finally arrived 12 hours later, Nukenova was pronounced dead at the scene. Videos were also found on Bishimbayev’s mobile phone in which he insulted and humiliated the visibly bruised and bloodied Nukenova in the hours before she lost consciousness on the morning of November 9 last year.

This June 2017 photo provided by Aitbek Amangeldy shows a selfie taken by his sister, Saltanat Nukenova, in Astana [Courtesy of Aitbek Amangeldy via AP]

President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has said he wants to build a fairer society including improved rights for women. The case has helped rally public support behind a law criminalising domestic violence, which parliament passed last month. Days after Nukenova’s death, her relatives launched an online petition urging authorities to pass “Saltanat’s Law” to bolster protection for those at risk of domestic violence. When the trial began, more than 5,000 Kazakhs wrote to senators urging for tougher laws on abuse, according to local media reports. Government data show that one in six women in the Central Asian nation has experienced violence by a male partner. According to the United Nations, about 400 women die from domestic abuse in the country each year. These figures could be higher as many cases go unreported.

. . . .

Kuandyk Bishimbayev, the country’s former economy minister, is escorted into court in Astana, Kazakhstan. [File: The Kazakhstan Supreme Court Press Office Telegram channel via AP]
Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies


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