Addicting Info – U.S. Maternal Death Rate Now Highest In The Western World, Thanks To GOP War On Women

via Addicting Info – U.S. Maternal Death Rate Now Highest In The Western World, Thanks To GOP War On Women.


Worldwide, fewer and fewer women are dying during pregnancy or from complications related to childbirth. In fact, women living almost anywhere in the developed world are safer today, than they were in the year 2000. Here in the United States, however,women are twice as likely to die during or after pregnancy, than they were 15 years ago. Thanks to the regressive party, otherwise known as the GOP, the United States is moving backwards, not forwards, when it comes to women’s health.

According to the latest State of the World’s Mothers report, released in May, 2015, the U.S. has the highest rate of maternal deathin any western nation. Women in the U.S. are ten times more likely to die from pregnancy as women living in Poland or Norway. Compared to women living in Belarus, the country with the lowest rate of maternal deaths, women in the U.S. are twenty times more likely to die before, during, or immediately after childbirth.

Globally, the rate of maternal deaths has been steadily declining over the past two decades. Around the world, the rate of maternal deaths has been reduced by 45 percent since the mid-1990’s. Meanwhile, a woman’s risk of death from pregnancy in the U.S. today is double what it was a decade and a half ago.

It gets worse, though. The rate of maternal deaths in the United States is calculated according to the number of deaths reported annually. According to a report published by the US National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health, at least 38 percent of pregnancy-related deaths are not reported as such in the United States. Research also estimates that at least half of all maternal deaths are not listed as “maternal deaths” on the death certificate in cases where the fetus was not delivered, when a woman died more than a week after delivery, or in cases where a woman died from a condition that existed before pregnancy, which was worsened because of pregnancy.

Disturbingly, there is no federal law that requires U.S. hospitals to keep records regarding maternal deaths. So while we know that the maternal death is climbing in the U.S., we don’t really know how many women are dying as a result of a pregnancy.

What we do know is that in spite of all the advances in medicine and technology, the risk of pregnancy-related death in the US is going up every year, not down.

The State of the World’s Mothers report, which is published yearly by the nonprofit Save The Children Foundation, ranks 179 nations on ‘the Mother’s Index,’ illustrating where in the world “women and children fare best.” The U.S. has been steadily falling in rank, since the year 2000, when the study first began.

In 2000 the U.S. ranked among the top ten countries in the world for women’s health and well-being. It was listed as the 4th best country on earth for mothers’ health on the Mother’s Index. Only Norway, Canada and Australia ranked higher.

In the 15 years since the first State of the World’s Mothers report was published, the U.S. has dropped to number 33 on theMother’s Index. America now ranks 61 in maternal health, falling behind every other Western nation when it comes to protecting the health of pregnant women. In the year 2000, a US woman’s risk of death from pregnancy-related causes was 1 in 3500. Today that risk has risen to 1 in 1800, according to this year’s annual report.

The republican War on Women is not just a catchphrase used by the left. Every war has casualties, and this one is no different. Government restrictions on reproductive rights have a direct impact on women’s health and well-being. While national statistics can be informational, it’s also important to understand that not all states are equal, when it comes to maternal deaths.

A 2014 report by the Center for Reproductive Rights shows that states that have the highest number of abortion restrictions, score lowest on women’s overall health. On the contrary, states with the least amount of restrictions on abortion are doing a much better job of protecting women’s health.

image credit: screen capture Center For Reproductive Rights & Ibis Reproductive Health, Evaluating Priorities, 2014 report

This chart shows how abortion restrictions impact women’s health in the states:

image credit: screen capture Center For Reproductive Rights & Ibis Reproductive Health, Evaluating Priorities, 2014 report

The state of Vermont, which does not place any restrictions on abortion, has the second lowest maternal mortality rate in the country, with just 2.6 deaths per 100,000 live births. At the other end of the spectrum, the rate of maternal deaths in Oklahoma, a state with 14 laws designed to restrict a woman’s right to control her own reproductive health, ranks 48th in the country. Oklahoma has a maternal death rate that is almost ten times higher than Vermont, at 20.1.

The state of Maine also places very few restrictions on a woman’s right to choose. As of January of 2015, the Guttenmacher Institute reports that the only restrictions in the state are in regards to the use of public funding to pay for abortion services. Maine has the distinction of being the state with the lowest rate of maternal deaths, at 1.2 per 100,000 live births.

In contrast, states that undermine women’s rights, including their right to decide when or if they will have a child, have maternal death rates that are as much as 20 times higher than those in Maine. Mississippi, which has some of the most restrictive laws in the country when it comes to women’s reproductive health, has a maternal death rate of 19.0. Other states with 11 or more restrictions on abortion access also have alarmingly high maternal death rates. Those states include Michigan, which has amaternal death rate of 21.0 per 100,000 live births, the highest among the 50 states. Georgia’s maternal death rate is 20.9. In Louisiana, the maternal death rate is 17.9.  Arkansas and Idaho have maternal death rates of 16.0 and 15.0, respectively, according to the most recent report on maternal deaths by state.

According to the research from the Center for Reproductive Rights, states that have six or fewer laws regarding abortion access rank highest in the country for women’s health, overall. States that have 11 or more laws restricting a woman’s right to control her own body, rank at the bottom of the country, when it comes to women’s health and well-being.

This data tells us that, while the maternal death rate is climbing in the United States, not all states are equally responsible for the increase. As a nation it’s time for us to come together to ensure that the health and well being of all women is protected, no matter where in the United States they choose to live.

The United States also needs to catch up to the rest of the civilized world when it comes to collecting complete and accurate information on maternal deaths. More than a decade ago, the United States set a goal of reducing the maternal death rate to 3.3 per 100,000, by 2010. If this had actually been a priority for state and federal representatives, then accurate data collection would also have been a priority. But that never happened.

The reality is that saving women’s lives is not a priority for too many U.S. representatives. Religious fanatics elected to office view women as baby-makers, nothing more, nothing less. The life a woman matters to the extent that it doesn’t interfere with a man’s right to procreate by using her body. That becomes all too clear when Republican politicians go to great lengths to protect rapistsand child molesters, or when they advocate for laws that would allow men to sue women for not giving birth to their fertilized sperm. In their warped minds, a woman’s body is not her own. A woman’s body only exists to be used by men, in an act of procreation. If the woman does not want to be impregnated, if she doesn’t want to birth a kid, as far as republicans are concerned, she can go ahead and die.

While the rest of the civilized world is working to protect women from the risks associated with pregnancy and childbirth, regressive US republicans are working to ensure that women birth those babies, or die trying. As a nation we cannot accept these horrifying statistics. We can not accept Republican policies that fail to protect the lives of the women we love because of their religious devotion to the idea that someone that was never born is just as important as someone who is obviously born.

*Featured image credit:, creative commons license 3.0


The plague of angry white men: How racism, gun culture & toxic masculinity are poisoning America –

via The plague of angry white men: How racism, gun culture & toxic masculinity are poisoning America –


Dylann Roof is just the latest in a long line of men clinging to dangerous ideology that spiraled out of control


The plague of angry white men: How racism, gun culture & toxic masculinity are poisoning America

Dylann Roof (Credit: AP/Chuck Burton)

Dylann Roof was not silent before he murdered nine black people in their church, shooting and reloading multiple times, destroying their bodies with his white rage. He did not shout obscure or difficult to translate Latin phrases. Dylann Roof was not a blank slate or deep and nebulous well who left no written justification or explanation for his evil deeds. White racial terrorist Dylann Roof told his African-American victims why he was going to kill them. As though it was a type of forced civic duty and obligation, Roof said to his victims: “I have to do it.” He then shared his grievances: “You rape our women and you’re taking over our country and you have to go.” Then he let off a fusillade of bullets.
A superficial reading would suggest that the “our” is simple to decipher: Roof is channeling his white nationalist understanding of “America” as a country synonymous with and exclusively for “white” people. This is the logic of the phrase that “America is a white man’s country.” The “our” also signifies the control and possession of white women’s bodies and personhood by white men.

The idea of black men raping white women is a centuries-old white American fantasy: It is the justification for the lynching tree, where thousands of innocent black men were made into “strange fruit.” The lynching tree also reinforces a cultural lie, that white women are the most desired among all others, and tries to conceal how many white women from both before the founding of the United States, through to the Age of Obama, willingly have had relationships with black men, a perfectly banal observation that nonetheless enrages white supremacists.

Nationalist and politically chauvinistic ideologies tend toward patriarchy and sexism. White nationalism is no exception. As such, Dylann Roof’s white racial terrorism is an act of violence, and one that is grounded in a particular understanding of gender: “Male” or “female” are designations of human, sexual, biological difference. “Masculine” and “feminine,” however, are social constructs that are not fixed, which change over time, and in response to particular arrangements of social and political power. Here, gender is a type of performance (in its most binary and simple form) as a given person acts “male” or “female.” And toxic masculinity is a performance that emphasizes violence, control over others, sexual aggression and a lack of emotion and vulnerability. Dylann Roof—with the guns, violence, resentment, right-wing politics and racism—is the extreme embodiment of toxic white masculinity.

The color line is not separate from gender: The two are deeply connected to one another in the United States and the West more broadly. Dylann Roof’s performance of gender involved an understanding that he should have power over and was inherently superior to people of color because of his skin color. Moreover, as understood by his racist political ideology, Dylann Roof was granted an additional claim on power and authority because he is a man. Roof’s racism and sexism thus intersect in what philosophers Carol Pateman and Charles Mills have described as“racial patriarchy.” This is a system of racial domination in which people of color are subordinate to whites. It is also a relationship where white men have more power than white women. But all white people have a higher place than any person of color—either male or female. Women of color occupy the basement level of a society organized around a system of racial patriarchy.

This system, in its most unapologetic and honest form, is the dream of white nationalists.

But while tethered to ideals of the past, white nationalism also lives in the present; thus, it must deal with and negotiate questions about feminism, immigration, cosmopolitanism, globalization and other related matters if it is to remain viable as a community and belief system. Consequently, white nationalism has its own type of “gender troubles.” Can one be a feminist and also a white nationalist? Are white men and white women equal because they are both “white”? Should white women be subordinate to white men? These are the types of questions that white nationalists have been debating with one another online and in other spaces. Dylann Roof’s manifesto demonstrates knowledge, however superficial, of these various currents and controversies in contemporary white nationalist “political thought.”

These discussions of racial patriarchy among white supremacists are not new; Nancy Maclean explored the Ku Klux Klan’s struggles with questions of gender in the first part of the early 20th century in her book “Behind the Mask of Chivalry“:

Klan tracts and speakers dwelt far less on men’s behavior than on women’s. This was in part because male roles were changing less than female roles, and in part because Klansmen were more interested in controlling others than in self-scrutiny. Nevertheless, they expounded a particular model of masculinity. Klansmen expected women to marry, to provide for their families, and to exercise control over their wives and children. “God intended,” affirmed one Klan minister, “that every man should possess insofar as possible, his own home and rule his own household.”

Rule over one’s women was mandated by another staple of the Klan’s conception of masculinity: “honor,” or, as it was sometimes called, “chivalry.” Honor dictated a commitment to protect the virtue of “American” women. Historically honor in fact rested on a man’s ability to control the sexuality of his female relations…

Although hostile to sexual emancipation, the Klan was not an outright foe of all women’s equality. The order’s commitment to moral uplift in fact led it to support rights for white Protestant women…Nonetheless, recognition of women by Klansmen was always shot through with ambivalence. Klansmen’s ideal, after all, was the nineteenth-century petty proprietor—whether farmer, artisan, or merchant. His vaunted independence as a citizen presumed his control over the labor and behavior of the dependents in his household. However much Klansmen might try to cooperate with women who shared their social goals, female initiative set them on edge; the undertow of patriarchal prerogative impeded full solidarity.

Dylann Roof was attracted to white nationalism and white supremacy because of a sense of alienation and anger at the world. Although he was born middle class, Roof somehow came to feel that America — because of immigration, changing demographics and pernicious fictions about “black crime” — had abandoned him. In Roof’s mind, he was forced into action, to be “heroic,” “the Last Rhodesian,” launching an attack on unarmed black people.

Roof’s actions were those of the “angry white man” on steroids. While his feelings of toxic white masculinity could have been insulated by the relative privileges of being born into the middle class, he was instead suckered into a sense of white racial victimology, entitlement and identity politics by the right-wing media and online racist propaganda. Never did he think to identify the system he venerated, racial patriarchy, as the source of his own alienation. Instead, like so many other angry young men like him, he bought into it wholeheartedly. Roof’s translating this anger into violent action is (thankfully) a rare event in the United States. But, as sociologist Michael Kimmer detailed in his book “Angry White Men,” this sense of (white) grievance and anger is all too common.

Guns are central to toxic white masculinity, as well as the broader white supremacist and conservative politics that Dylann Roof exemplified. In the United States, guns have a deep historic relationship to the maintenance and enforcement of hierarchies of race, class and gender. They were a tool for committing mass genocide against First Nations peoples, for example. They were given to white indentured servants in the 17th century as a way of cementing their identities as “free” people who could then be used to oppress and control black slaves and other people of color. Guns have been a tool for American plutocrats and the 1 percent to control the working classes and the poor. The gun is also a powerful symbol of masculinity and virility: A recent ad campaign by the manufacturer of the AR-15 rifle featured a picture of the weapon along with the tag line: “Consider your man card reissued.”

As seen with Dylann Roof and other mass shooters (a group in which white males are grossly overrepresented) such as Elliot Rodger, Adam Lanza, the Columbine killers and James Holmes, toxic masculinity (and a sense of aggrieved white male entitlement) is central to their decision to use firearms to commit acts of mass murder.

The corporate news media does not want a sustained discussion of gun violence as a type of public health crisis. The corporate news media is also unwilling to discuss how domestic terrorism by right-wing white men is now the United States’ leading threat to public order. Very troublingly, the corporate news media considers it impolitic to explore how the right-wing echo chamber is radicalizing and weaponizing its followers.

And there most certainly will not be a “national conversation” about toxic white masculinity and mass murder in the mainstream news media.


Chauncey DeVega is editor and founder of the blog We Are Respectable Negroes, whose work has been featured by the NY Times, Alternet, the BBC, the New York Daily News, the Utne Reader, the Week, and The Atlantic Monthly. Chauncey DeVega is also a regular guest on Ring of Fire Radio and TV. He can be followed on Twitter and Facebook.

‘My Hijab Has Nothing To Do With Oppression. It’s A Feminist Statement’

via distraction. – huffingtonpost: ‘My Hijab Has Nothing To Do With….


Not all Muslim women cover their bodies. Not all Muslim women who do are forced to do so. Like freelance writer Hanna Yusuf, who chooses to wear a hijab in a daily act of feminism. In a new video for The Guardian, Yusuf challenges stereotypes by setting out to reclaim the choice to wear a hijab as “a feminist statement.”

For more on on how the hijab helps women reclaim their bodies watch the full video here.

(via vivianemae)


Hobby Lobby Defeated: Conservative Judge Rules Companies Must Offer Birth Control

via Hobby Lobby Defeated: Conservative Judge Rules Companies Must Offer Birth Control |.

In 2014 the Supreme Court handed down the infamous Hobby Lobby decision which allowed religious employers the right to deny their female employees birth control. The right-wing hailed the decision and “Christian” employers all over the country started joyfully denying women access to contraceptives. The only thing those employers had to do was fill out a form or write a short letter informing the federal government that they were invoking the “right” the misguided ruling afforded them and they’d be exempt from the birth control mandate. Sounds easy enough, right? Well, apparently it wasn’t easy enough for the vapid, women-hating, right-wing Christian employers, because they sued again; but this time one of their very own conservative judges threw them out of court.

East Texas Baptist University v. Burwell is a group of cases that were consolidated as one and they all involve religious employers who want to deny their employees contraception. Although this is already their right under the SCOTUS ruling, they all have a problem with the guidelines that they have to follow in order to deny the basic medical care: they don’t want to submit the paperwork. When a company doesn’t want to offer the birth control that their archaic rules for social control, they are required to submit the paperwork mentioned above and then the federal government works with an independent insurance company to provide the employees access to birth control. The plaintiffs in this case, claimed that by submitting the paperwork to the federal government, they became facilitators for the birth control they don’t believe in, in a show of incredible self-centered pettiness.

When the case worked its way to the 5th Circuit of Appeals it landed in Judge Jerry Smith’s lap and the attorneys for the plaintiffs probably rejoiced. Judge Jerry Smith is a Reagan appointee with deeply conservative views. In fact, he is so conservative he once denied a man’s death row appeal even though the man’s lawyer slept through most of the trial. This is a judge who called feminists “gaggle of outcasts, misfits and rejects.” So when the judge handed down an opinion that protected women’s access to contraceptives and basically told the plaintiffs to get over themselves, it is a BIG deal.

Judge Smith used the right-wing’s much-loved federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) to rule against the religious employers. When Smith applied the RFRA rule that the federal government “shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion” to the plaintiff’s case, he found that they did prove that the federal government was in violation of the law.

“Although the plaintiffs have identified several acts that offend their religious beliefs, the acts they are required to perform do not include providing or facilitating access to contraceptives,” Smith explains in the judge panel’s unanimous opinions. “Instead, the acts that violate their faith are those of third parties.” Specifically, the plaintiffs object to the federal government working with an insurance administrator to provide contraception to certain workers. But the law does not “entitle them to block third parties from engaging in conduct with which they disagree.”

He also said that if he were to rule in their favor, it would pave the way for all sorts of nonsense:

“Perhaps an applicant for Social Security disability benefits disapproves of working on Sundays and is unwilling to assist others in doing so,” Smith explains. “He could challenge a requirement that he use a form to apply because the Social Security Administration might process it on a Sunday. Or maybe a pacifist refuses to complete a form to indicate his beliefs because that information would enable the Selective Service to locate eligible draftees more quickly. The possibilities are endless, but we doubt Congress, in enacting RFRA, intended for them to be.”

There will, of course, be an appeal to the Supreme Court, because the right is fixated on their war against women. These religious employers don’t really care about Jesus, they care about punishing women for having sex. It is the same mentality conservatives have when they go on and on about being “pro-life.” They aren’t actually “pro-life” because if they were, they’d do everything they possibly do to prevent unwanted pregnancies, thus reducing the need for abortions. They would also support all of the social programs in place to take care of babies after they are born, but they hate those programs too. This is how we definitively know the “war against women” is just that: a war. Religious conservatives want women to be punished for their “scandalous” sex lives; it doesn’t matter to them that birth control also treats a number of painful disorders, like endometriosis. The fact that one woman may take those pills or have that IUD implanted in order to prevent a pregnancy is enough for them to want to get rid of it.

Luckily, for women, now that a judge as conservative as Smith has thrown them out on their ears, it is unlikely the Supreme Court will have to hear their endless complaints anytime soon- until the right regroups and comes up with another excuse to strip women of the power to choose.

Jimmy Carter: ‘Losing My Religion For Equality’

via Jimmy Carter: ‘Losing My Religion For Equality’.

Arguably, Carter is the only President whose reputation has risen since leaving office.  It’s true I opposed many of his actions in office; having voted for him in 1976 (hey, the choice was him or Gerald Ford!) I felt it was my obligation to protest when he strayed from ideal behaviour.  Now I feel…”Come back, Jimmy Carter; (almost) all is forgiven!”

THU APR 23, 2015

by Leslie Salzillo

For most of his life, Jimmy Carter has been an advocate for human rights. In 1982, one year after leaving the Oval Office, the former US President and his wife Rosalynn Carter, founded the Carter Center, dedicated to advancing peace and health worldwide. Still an activist at 90, Carter has authored 28 books, including a new book in 2014 called, A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence, and Power.Over the years, Jimmy Carter, a devout Christian, has become a very strong proponent of women’s rights, to a point where he has spoken out against the falsehoods and extremism we see within the ‘religion’ of Christianity today. In 2009, he penned an open letter, severing ties with the mega SBC/Southern Baptist Convention, after being a member of the Convention for 60 years. Carter said the decision was difficult and painful, yet ‘unavoidable,’ after the Convention leaders chose to take bible verses out of context and claim ‘Eve’ was responsible to for ‘original sin,’ and thus all women must be subservient to men. In Carter’s aforementioned open letter, he expands on his reasons and concerns:

This discrimination, unjustifiably attributed to a Higher Authority, has provided a reason or excuse for the deprivation of women’s equal rights across the world for centuries.

At its most repugnant, the belief that women must be subjugated to the wishes of men excuses slavery, violence, forced prostitution, genital mutilation and national laws that omit rape as a crime. But it also costs many millions of girls and women control over their own bodies and lives, and continues to deny them fair access to education, health, employment and influence within their own communities.

The same discriminatory thinking lies behind the continuing gender gap in pay and why there are still so few women in office in the West. The root of this prejudice lies deep in our histories, but its impact is felt every day. It is not women and girls alone who suffer. It damages all of us.

Carter states how the subjugation of women was not always a part of Christianity.

The carefully selected verses found in the Holy Scriptures to justify the superiority of men owe more to time and place – and the determination of male leaders to hold onto their influence – than eternal truths

I am also familiar with vivid descriptions in the same Scriptures in which women are revered as pre-eminent leaders. During the years of the early Christian church women served as deacons, priests, bishops, apostles, teachers and prophets. It wasn’t until the fourth century that dominant Christian leaders, all men, twisted and distorted Holy Scriptures to perpetuate their ascendant positions within the religious hierarchy.

In his letter, Carter discusses the independent group of global leaders to which he belongs, called The Elders. Founded by the late Nelson Mandela, the members have come together on this issue and collectively published this statement to all religious leaders around the world:”The justification of discrimination against women and girls on grounds of religion or tradition, as if it were prescribed by a Higher Authority, is unacceptable.” This discrimination can and must end says Carter. He believes it’s within our power:

The truth is that male religious leaders have had – and still have – an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter. Their continuing choice provides the foundation or justification for much of the pervasive persecution and abuse of women throughout the world. This is in clear violation not just of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but also the teachings of Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul, Moses and the prophets, Muhammad, and founders of other great religions – all of whom have called for proper and equitable treatment of all the children of God. It is time we had the courage to challenge these views.

Thank you, Mr. Carter, not only for the work you do for the sake of our daughters, our granddaughters, and their daughters, but also for our sons, grandsons, and the whole of humanity. Thank you, to you and Rosalynn for creating The Carter Center. And thank you for living by example. You are a good and true man, and this world is a better place by your presence.

Special thanks to Indiana Progressives on Facebook for sharing the original piece, and to Sixty-Something, Leevank and the Daily Kos community for helping to make this story stronger.


The abuse of Irish women can go on no longer – abortion must be legalised

via The abuse of Irish women can go on no longer – abortion must be legalised.

Surely if Ireland can arrive at marriage equality, the time has come to bring it’s attitude toward women and their bodies into the 21st century as well…

In Britain, women’s options are constrained and conditional, but there are at least options. In Ireland, there are none.


Women protesting in Dublin after the death of Savita Halappanavar in 2012. Photo: Peter Muhly/AFP/Getty

Women protesting in Dublin after the death of Savita Halappanavar. Photo: Peter Muhly/AFP/Getty

There are two stories in the latest set of statistics on abortion from the Department of Health. The first one is that, for women in England and Wales, abortion continues to become safer and more accessible. More abortions are taking place in the first ten weeks of gestation. That’s good because it implies that women are increasingly able to get the medical care they need as early as they need it. For the first time, medical abortions account for the majority of procedures – that’s good because it means that fewer women had to go through invasive procedures to end their pregnancies.

The abortion rate overall fell again as well. This is generally understood to be desirable, even if the “right” number of abortions we should be moving towards as a society is not necessarily “fewer” but rather “exactly the same as the number of abortions that women want”. The 1967 Abortion Act – asfudged, flawed and faulty as it is – is working for women, just about, just enough of the time. Women need better legislation, but while we wait for it, this will do, if we don’t think too much about the women it fails, if we don’t make the time to be appalled that abortion in England and Wales remains criminalised under the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act and is only legal under the stringent condition that two doctors agree a woman knows her own mind.

And then there’s the other story, hinted at in the abortion rate for non-resident women, which increased slightly in 2014. Many of these women will have come from Ireland and Northern Ireland – just a short plane trip away, and in the case of Northern Ireland not even another country, but an entirely different kingdom when it comes to women’s rights and women’s bodies. In Britain, women’s options are constrained and conditional, but there are at least options. In Ireland, there are none: any pregnant woman in Ireland who wishes to decide what happens inside the borders of her own person must begin by leaving the borders of her country.

As the Amnesty report published on Tuesday puts it, women in Ireland are treated like “child-bearing vessels”. This is no hyperbole: a theocratic obsession with exploiting female flesh has led to Irish women living under one of the most restrictive abortion regimes in the world. In Northern Ireland, the 1967 Abortion Act has never been applied, and in the Republic of Ireland, abortion is covered by the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution, which states that “the right to life of the unborn” is “equal [to the] right to life of the mother” – and note that under the Eighth a woman is legally deemed a “mother” purely by dint of being pregnant, whether she wishes to be so or not. She is instantly subsumed into her relationship to the foetus.

 The result of this is that abortion is illegal in almost every circumstance apart from direct risk to the pregnant woman’s life. That means no abortion for victims of rape and incest. It means no abortion in cases of fatal foetal abnormality. No abortion for women whose health will be compromised by pregnancy as long as it won’t actually kill them. No abortion for women in violent or abusive relationships. No abortion for women who can’t afford to care for a child. No abortion for any woman unless it’s so she can be kept alive to fulfil the state’s ultimate expectation that she become a “mother”.

The atmosphere is one of fear. We know the names of some of the women who have suffered the worst of this brutalising system: Savita Halappanavar, who died of septicemia and E.coli after doctors refused to terminate the pregnancy she was miscarrying; Miss Y, a migrant who was compelled to continue a pregnancy resulting from rape, force-fed while on hunger strike and then subjected to a court-ordered C-section. But there are also all the other, unnamed women: the women who travel to England for abortions with the help of Abortion Support Network, and the ones who don’t appear in ASN’s figures at all because they pay their own way and make their own arrangements, making the lonely passage to be get the treatment that should be their right.

And then there are the ones who never make the trip at all. Not only is abortion restricted in Ireland, but even information about abortion is tightly constrained thanks to the Regulation of Information Act, which makes it an offence for doctors and counsellors to give complete information on accessing terminations. Mara Clarke, founder of ASN, explains that this creates an atmosphere of paranoia around pregnancy for both women and professionals: “In our experience, many women are too afraid to tell a practitioner that they are pregnant, and many more have had experience of being obstructed by clinicians… We do not know if the lack of informed care was because clinicians were afraid of repercussions or if they were against abortion – but either way it is no way for medical professionals to behave towards patients in distress.”

One thin sea stands between possibility and life for women, and helplessness and fear; between being approximately a person in the eyes of the law, and being a container. The abuse of Irish women must go on no longer. The Eighth Amendment must be repealed, and women in Northern Ireland must be given the same rights as every other woman in the UK. The right to abortion is a human right, and until women in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are afforded both that right and the means to exercise it, it is clear that their governments see them as something less than human.


Turkey’s left party leader Selahattin Demirtaş’ call for ‘new way of life’: radical democracy | Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal

via Turkey’s left party leader Selahattin Demirtaş’ call for ‘new way of life’: radical democracy | Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal.


June 8, 2015 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal  — The June 7, 2015, general election in Turkey saw the radical left People’s Democratic Party (HDP) win more than 12% of the vote and around 80 parliamentary seats.

The speech below from HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş’ 2014 presidential bid outlines the HDP’s vision for a new Turkey.

* * *

By Selahattin Demirtaş

People’s Democratic Party (HDP) — My candidacy is not just for a new president, but for a new way of life for Turkey. It is a proposal for rebuilding our fraternity on an equal footing. Our call is to all the peoples and all the beliefs in Turkey, to build a new life in which all are free to express their differences, free from pressure to conform.

The call for a new life is radical democracy!

I did not become a candidate in order to preside over an authoritarian, bureaucratic, anti-democratic, sexist state. The president we hope for is one who will be with the people on the streets.

This means ruling together and making everyone a partner in government. This determination not to be ruled, but for all to take part, will mean gains, not for individuals, but for the people. A new life will grow through the participation of the excluded and those voices against ethnic, religious, sexual and class discrimination which have not been heard up to now.

The new way of life means, in place of the imposition of uniformity, an equal and voluntary union of our differences. We believe that a free and democratic Turkey is possible.

Turkey is at a crossroads. Either we will choose to further consolidate the authoritarian state or we will pave the way for a fundamental change by taking radical democratic measures to realise the desires of all the oppressed.

By gathering the strength of all who object, we have the opportunity to root out the system in which the bureaucratic mechanisms of Ankara make all the decisions. Therefore, while we are presented with three candidates, there are in reality only two political choices.

Our policy: the people administers itself, freely expressing its differences with pride. The people can speak freely and determine their own future. Faced with the neoliberal and anti-democratic order, we refuse to make the false choice between nationalism and religious sectarianism.

We believe that the best government is the least government. We aim to make the state smaller and create a system where democracy and citizens’ rights prevail.  We propose to transform the state, whose current aim is to protect itself and its power, into an efficient vehicle to serve the people.

No longer will the state revolve around one person and the hierarchy around him. Peoples’ assemblies will ensure the direct participation of the people in running the state.

We will establish assemblies of women, youth, the disabled, belief groups, cultural and ethnic groups, farmers, workers and labourers. Instead of increasing the powers of the presidency, we will undertake a presidency which will guarantee the increased power of the people.

All the channels of the system will be opened up to the people and be democratised. Turkey will no longer be run by institutions that defend the status quo or the products of military coups, such as the National Security Council. Strengthened local government and democratic committees will replace these institutions.

The state will no longer audit itself. In place of the State Audit Commission, we will have the Peoples Audit Commission. This is a fundamental pre-condition of an open and transparent state.

The call for a new life is the belief in peace!

The will for peace of the peoples of Turkey is the guarantor of the peace process. The determination shown in the presidential election by those who want peace will lay the foundations for a quicker resolution of the peace process.

The solution of the Kurdish problem is an inseparable part of the democratisation of Turkey. As we bring the problem toward solution, Turkey will become more democratic. The more democratic Turkey becomes, the faster we will move toward a solution.

The will to achieve comes first from those of us who have fought for peace for years and from the forces of democracy in Turkey.

Our candidacy for the presidency has strategic importance for the achievement of a lasting peace. We are aiming for a transformation that will democratise Turkey from top to bottom and root radical democracy in society. This is the objective of our call for change.

Our diversity is our strength, not our weakness. Our democratic nation is made up of Turks, Kurds, Alevis, Armenians, Greeks, Ezidis, Suryanis, Keldanis, Arabs, Circassians, Laz, Pomaks, and Romanies.  We will move away from every form of imposed uniformity to a pluralist democratic model for the nation. We will move from the era of the state constitution to the era of the peoples’ constitution.

The call for a new life is justice!

The architects of our existing constitution were recently given life prison sentences. We have been under the oppression of the junta’s illegitimate constitution for 35 years now. To defend the provisions of this constitution is to defend the military coup.

We can no longer postpone the need to completely replace this constitution that sanctifies the state and tramples underfoot peoples, languages, beliefs and cultures. This has become an urgent need.

We need a non-sexist, ecological, democratic constitution that reflects Turkey’s multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, religiously diverse and multi-identity reality. The new constitution must be the foundation document of a democratic Turkey and should be written by the people.

The call for a new life is freedom for all faiths!

Life together can only be based on equality and freedom. The pressure on all the oppressed and excluded faiths—Alevis, Christians, Jews, Ezidis—must be lifted. The way must be opened for all faiths and worldviews to coexist freely in a pluralist democracy.

The right to worship in one’s mother tongue must be ensured. The Department of Religious Affairs, which exists to make religion serve the official ideology of the state, must be abolished. The state must abandon any attempt to influence or control religion through any institution. All hateful and discriminatory words directed at different beliefs must be removed from school textbooks and all incitement must be punished.

Legal status must be granted to the Alevi djemevis and the places of worship of all faiths and religions.

We must develop a libertarian secularism that frees all from the state monopoly over religion and enables those of any faith or of none to live freely as they chose.

The call for a new life is Green!

From the resistance of the villagers of Bergama to cyanide gold mining in the 1990s to today, attacks on nature are never out of the news.

In every corner of our country we see similar stories with different actors: women of the Black Sea coast beaten by the gendarmerie for resisting the construction of a hydro-electric scheme on their local river, farmers in Thrace protesting the pollution of their waters with industrial waste, and villagers threatened by the construction of nuclear or fossil fuel power stations where they live.

The earth which feeds us, the air that cleans our blood, water which is the source of life, and the other species with which we share the earth: those not prepared to defend this shared inheritance cannot possibly talk about democracy, justice and humanity.

The right to life is not just a right for people; defending the right to life of all animals is one of our basic principles.

The call for a new life is young!

Our youth are in revolt against the attempt to force them into a predetermined mould by those who imagine themselves the owners of this country. Our young people are besieged by systemic problems such as unemployment and the failures in education. The new way of life we are proposing will give voice to our youth.

The “peoples’ assemblies” we will set up will include youth assemblies which will ensure the active participation of young men and women in every arena and remove every legal obstacle to youth self-organisation. Ensuring the effective exercise of the political economic social and cultural rights of young people will be a responsibility of the state.

In place of the mentality that understands youth only as a problem of “maintaining order” without any attempt to deal with the problems facing young people, the new life will give our youth a voice.

Our youth will not be led, but will be leaders.

The call for a new life is the right to education!

Education is a public right afforded to every citizen free of charge. Access to education should be opened up to all equally, regardless of language, religion, faith, ethnicity, sex, sexual identity or race. Public expenditure on education must be increased and the education budget should be utilised in a just and equal way.

The educational curriculum should be freed from nationalism and sexism. We should offer a scientific, democratic, high-quality, secular education, without rote learning, that develops the creativity of individuals and that orients students in accordance with their abilities. Compulsory religious education lessons should be abolished and, instead, elective lessons in individuals’ own religions should be offered in accord with their own wishes.

Education in one’s mother tongue should be recognised as a right. At all levels of education, alongside the teaching of the official language, Turkish, there should be an opportunity to receive education in the student’s mother tongue. Education must be become multilingual on the basis of mother tongue education. It should be made possible, even if only one person requests it, for this right to be exercised without obstruction.

Education should no longer be exam-centric. The Higher Education Council should be abolished and the academic and administrative autonomy of the universities should be strengthened.

The call for a new life is for women!

Every day at least five women are murdered [in Turkey]. In this patriarchal society that allows women neither a voice nor a share in power, the oppression and slaughter continue unabated. We have taken a principled stand against all forms of discrimination against and violence to women. In this, we will continue.

Only if women take a leading role can we achieve our new way of life. Every society is only as free as the women in that society.

The call for a new life means a sexually free society. The system ignores the fate of those LGBTI individuals who face oppression and murder because of their sexual orientation or sexual identity. The very existence of LGBTI individuals is seen as a crime. Homophobia and transphobia are encouraged. In the way of new life, every citizen, whatever their sexual identity, will have equal rights and be able to live freely life without facing discrimination.

The call for a new life is for world peace!

Turkey is obliged to make a structural change in its foreign policy. Before, we had a foreign policy that ignored the problems resulting from the period of military domination of Turkish politics. Now we are face to face with the grave consequences of a foreign policy, with Ottoman references, that has the ambition to become a regional power.

Turkish foreign policy perpetuates itself by fanning the flames of sectarian hatred and opening the way for organisations like ISIS [Islamic State]. In the West, the EU membership process has virtually come to a halt, as have the related plans for reform in Turkey.

Our radical democratic belief in the possibility that people with different beliefs and identities can live together freely and equally, without assimilation, must also be the basis of our foreign policy.

The call for a new life is to get organised!

The neoliberal period has brought fundamental changes in property relations, production and employment. The production process has been atomised, split into small units and reorganised.

Under the heading of “flexible working”, workers face insecure, subcontracted, uninsured employment conditions that not only divest workers of their basic employment rights, but also rights in all aspects of their lives.

We aim for a presidency that will make direct interventions for the investigation of industrial murders, the prevention of the use of child labour, and the reorganisation of the conditions of seasonal agricultural workers.

The new life must guarantee the social rights of all workers, especially those in precarious employment.

37 ways to un-rig the U.S. economy so it no longer favors the rich –

via 37 ways to un-rig the U.S. economy so it no longer favors the rich –

SATURDAY, MAY 16, 2015

Joseph Stiglitz, Elizabeth Warren and the Roosevelt Institute weigh in on the defining issue of the 2016 elections


37 ways to un-rig the U.S. economy so it no longer favors the rich

Joseph Stiglitz

This article originally appeared on AlterNet.


A new report written by scores of progressives economists has laid out an detailed agenda to dismantle, reverse and fix how the laws and policies governing the American economy are rigged to benefit the wealthiest individuals and largest corporoation.

The report, “Rewriting The Rules Of The American Economy: An Agenda For Growth and Shared Prosperity,” has just been released by The Roosevelt Institute, where Sen. Elizabeth Warren and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio joined its chief economist Joseph Stiglitz at its press conference.

“The American economy no longer works for most Americans… What is causing this dysfunction?” the report opens, then answering that question and making dozens of specific law and policy changes, listed below.

“Some point to technological change or globalization,” it said. “Some posit that government has shackled the free enterprise system and hobbled business. Some say that our economy is simply rewarding the risk takers and job creators who have earned the riches coming their way… None of these arguments gets it right.”

“Skyrocketing incomes for the 1 percent and stagnating wages for everyone else are not independent phenomena, but rather two symptoms of an impaired economy that rewards gaming the system more than it does hard work and investment,” it states. “The roots of this dysfunction lie deep in the rules and power dynamics that have prioritized corporate power and short-term gains at the expense of long-term innovation and growth. The outcomes shaped by these rules and power dynamics do not make the economy stronger; indeed, many make it weaker.”

What follows are 37 specific laws and policy changes to restore fairness and balance to the economy without undermining American capitalism.

Fix The Financial Sector

1. End “too big to fail” by imposing additional capital surcharges on systemically risky financial institutions and breaking up firms that cannot produce credible living wills.

2. Better regulate the shadow banking sector.

3. Bring greater transparency to all financial markets by requiring all alternative asset managers to publicly disclose holdings, returns, and fee structures.

4. Reduce credit and debit card fees through improved regulation of card providers and enhanced competition.

5. Enforce existing rules with stricter penalties for companies and corporate officials that break the law.

6. Reform Federal Reserve governance to reduce conflicts of interest and institute more open and accountable elections.

Incentivize Long-Term Business Growth

7. Restructure CEO pay by closing the performance-pay tax loophole and increasing transparency on the size of compensation packages relative to performance and median worker pay and on the dilution as a result of grants of stock options.

8. Enact a financial transaction tax to reduce short-term trading and encourage more productive long-term investment.

9. Empower long-term stakeholders through the tax code, the use of so-called “loyalty shares,” and greater accountability for managers of retirement funds.

Make Markets Competitive

10. Restore balance to intellectual property rights to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship.

11. Restore balance to global trade agreements by ensuring investor protections are not prioritized above protections on the environment and labor, and increasing transparency in the negotiation process.

12. Provide health care cost controls by allowing government bargaining.

13. Expand a variant of chapter 11 bankruptcy to homeowners and student borrowers.

Rebalance The Tax System

14. Raise the top marginal rate by converting all reductions to tax credits and limiting the use of credits.

15. Raise taxes on capital gains and dividends.

16. Encourage U.S. investment by taxing corporations on global income.

17. Tax undesirable behavior such as short-term trading or polluting and eliminate corporate welfare and other tax expenditures that foster inefficiency and inequality.

Make Full Employement The Goal

18. Reform monetary policy to give higher priority to full employment.

19. Reinvigorate public investment to lay the foundation for long-term economic performance and job growth, including by investing in large-scale infrastructure renovation: a 10-year campaign to make the U.S. a world leader in innovation, manufacturing, and jobs.

20. Invest in large-scale infrastructure renovation with a 10-year campaign to make the U.S. a world infrastructure innovation, manufacturing, and jobs leader.

21. Expand public transportation to promote equal access to jobs and opportunity.

Empower workers

22. Strengthen the right to bargain by easing legal barriers to unionization, imposing stricter penalties on illegal anti-union intimidation tactics, and amending laws to reflect the changing workplace.

23. Have government set the standards by attaching strong pro-worker stipulations to its contracts and development subsidies.

24. Increase funding for enforcement and raise penalties for violating labor standards.

25. Raise the nationwide minimum wage and increase the salary threshold for overtime pay.

Expand Access to Labor Markets and Opportunities For Advancement

26. Reform the criminal justice system to reduce incarceration rates and related financial burdens for the poor.

27. Reform immigration law to provide a pathway to citizenship for undocumented workers.

28. Legislate universal paid sick and family leave.

29. Subsidize child care to benefit children and improve women’s workforce participation.

30. Promote pay equity and eliminate legal obstacles that prevent employees from sharing salary information.

31. Protect women’s access to reproductive health services.

Expand Economic Security And Opportunity

32. Invest in young children through child benefits, early education, and universal pre-K.

33. Increase access to higher education by reforming tuition financing, restoring protections to student loans, and adopting universal income-based repayment.

34. Make health care affordable and universal by opening Medicare to all.

35. Expand access to banking services through a postal savings bank.

36. Create a public option for the supply of mortgages.

37. Expand Social Security with a supplemental public investment program modeled on private Individual Retirement Accounts, and raise the payroll cap to increase revenue.

Paid maternity leave by country

The Land Of Maps – Paid maternity leave by country [650×427] CLICK….