• Chip Somodevilla/Getty

    Civil Rights

    The Hobby Lobby Case and Sex Discrimination

    The Supreme Court recently upheld the right of corporations to exclude birth control from health care coverage. But the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says that’s discrimination, and it’s against the law.

    While the U.S. Supreme Court recently upheld the right of corporations to exclude birth control from health care coverage, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says that doing so actually violates federal anti-discrimination law. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from discriminating on the basis of sex, including enacting policies that disproportionately hurt men or women. Which means that corporations that single out contraceptives – while covering other medical care – discriminate based on gender. Last week, in the wake of the Hobby Lobby decision, the EEOC reaffirmed that excluding contraception amounts to sex discrimination. In Hobby Lobby, the Court wasn’t asked to address Title VII, only religious freedom, but Bloomberg View argues that the government’s historic interest in protecting women from pregnancy discrimination could – and should – have been used to tip the scale against Hobby Lobby. Which means there may still be a successful challenge to insurance policies that deny contraceptive coverage based on what it truly is: discrimination. 

    Read it at Bloomberg View
  • Getty

    Persecuted

    Death Threats for Iraq’s Women & Gays

    Religious groups are threatening to kill the members one of the few Iraqi organizations dedicated to helping women and gays.

    BAGHDAD — A little girl toddles around shopping bags brimming with relief supplies that are heading for Iraqi refugees and into the arms of Dalal Jumaa, who heads this office of the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq. Jumaa hugs the little girl and lets her go, then turns to me. “Today I am very scared,” she says in a low voice. “This morning they called and said if you do not move from this house we will kill you.”

    It was the police who phoned the organization Sunday morning, Jumaa said. They told her they had heard she harbored gay men and runaway girls. But the threat, which the police were relaying, came from Asaib Ahl al Haq, a powerful and notoriously brutal Shia militia in Baghdad. “I cannot stop Asaib Ahl al Haq,” the policeman told her, “they received this information and will kill you if you don’t leave.”

    Permalink
  • Girl On Fire

    FDNY Calendar Features First Woman

    Bronx firefighter Danae Mines will heat up the 2015 FDNY calendar as the first woman ever featured in it, with a surprising picture.

    Danae Mines knew she wanted to be a firefighter since she was 10 years old, and now she's one of only 41 female firefighters in the department. During her eleven years with the FDNY, she had another dream: to be in the famous annual FDNY Calendar of Heroes, which is known for displaying shirtless, herculean firemen and raising money for the FDNY Foundation. She was the only woman who auditioned for next year's calendar, along with over 100 men, and she broke ground by being one of 13 people who were selected. "They said if I made it in the calendar, I would look like a pinup girl," Mines said, who is now Miss March. Refusing to be told how to dress, she opted to wear a tactful gray FDNY tank top and an equipment belt instead. "I wanted my picture in the calendar so that young girls and young women can see me and know that they can do this job." Inspiring words from a woman who made history. No wonder she's the FDNY's face for Women's History Month.

    Read it at THE DAILY NEWS
  • Home Alone

    Was She Abandoned?

    A mom was arrested for leaving her nine-year-old daughter in the park while working. Was more harm done by the state?

    In South Carolina, a 46-year-old black woman was arrested for leaving her nine-year-old daughter at a park while she went to work. Though the daughter had been staying at work with her mom and playing on a laptop, when the laptop was stolen she asked her mother if she could play in the park instead. Her third day there, an adult asked where her mother was, then called the cops, who declared the girl "abandoned" and proceeded to arrest the mother. The Atlantic points out 1) that putting the daughter in foster care caused the girl more trauma than she was likely to suffer in the park and 2) the decision to do so comes at a time when the state’s child protective services are overwhelmed by serious allegations. The author also questions whether the safety of the girl was actually in danger, arguing that “state employees … wouldn't think of preventing many statistically riskier parenting decisions so long as those decisions jive comfortably with social norms.”  

    Read it at The Atlantic
  • Radius Images/Corbis

    THE MORE YOU KNOW

    Men, Your Breasts Aren’t Safe

    The FDA is encouraging drug companies to include men in breast cancer clinical trials. At present, there’s surprisingly limited knowledge on male treatment methods.

    It’s a call to action that might make even the most seasoned oncologist do a double take. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is urging drug companies to include an unexpected—and vanishingly small—demographic in future breast cancer clinical trials: men.

    Over the years, male breast cancer hasn’t attracted a legion of activists and advocates in the fashion of female breast cancer. “Male breast cancer [has] never had an important lobby,” Dr. Marleen Meyers, an assistant professor specializing in breast cancer at NYU Langone Medical Center in Manhattan, told The Daily Beast. “[It’s] a less known and less spoken about breast cancer.”

    Permalink
  • A new Tennessee law criminalizes mothers whose babies are exposed to certain illegal drugs in utero. A week after the law went into effect, the first woman was arrested after her newborn tested positive for amphetamine – which is not an illegal drug.

    In the ongoing trend of whittling away the rights of pregnant women, a new Tennessee law criminalizes mothers whose babies are exposed to certain illegal drugs in utero – specifically if the child is born addicted to or harmed by a narcotic drug. A week after the law went into effect, the first woman was arrested when her newborn tested positive for amphetamine – which is NOT an illegal drug. As RH Reality Check points out, initial reports also make no mention of withdrawal symptoms or that the child was harmed by the exposure. State politicians emphasize that the law is intended to protect children. “The focus of this legislation is to protect babies being born addicted to drugs,” said Shelby County Attorney General Amy Weirich in a statement. But Farah Diaz-Tello, a staff attorney at National Advocates for Pregnant Women, argues that laws like these actually threaten public health, because they deter women who struggle with drug addiction from entering rehab for fear of being held criminally liable. 

    Read it at RH Reality Check
  • Prostitute Halla Muhammed Maarouf, 23, spends the afternoon with a customer in her apartment. (Andrea Bruce Woodall/The Washington Post)

    Death Watch

    Who’s Murdering Baghdad’s Prostitutes?

    The slaughter of 29 women and two men in an alleged house of prostitution shows the danger of the Iraqi government’s reliance on Shia militias for its defense.

    BAGHDAD, Iraq — If the gunmen who carried out a mass killing Saturday night escape punishment it will be not only because the victims were prostitutes, all too often friendless and forgotten, but also because the government needs to keep the murderers on its side.

    Officially, Iraq’s Ministry of the Interior is still investigating the crime, but many Iraqis believe it’s clear who is responsible. They say the killing was carried out by members of a local Shia militia, religious extremists whose armed members both cooperate and compete with the government for control of the area where the killing occurred.

    Permalink
  • Christine Baker/Landov

    SEX CRIMES

    Is the Campus Rape Crisis Overblown?

    The finding that one in five women are sexually assaulted in college may not be accurate.

    The finding that one in five women are sexually assaulted in college is as widely known as it is startling. Countless media reports repeat and recycle the alarming statistic, and it headlined the initial report introduced by Vice President Biden from the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Campus Assault.

    But how trustworthy is that figure of one in five? An earlier poll found it was more like 1 in 40, but should it matter whether the real number is closer to the high or low end of the scale?

    Permalink
  • Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    Pushing Back

    Hillary’s Outside Enforcers

    She’s ostensibly not in campaign mode, but a staff of 20 at the outside group Correct the Record is busily working to defend the former secretary of state against right-wing attacks.

    On a recent sweltering Wednesday in Washington, D.C., when most of the town had cleared out for the upcoming Fourth of July weekend, Adrienne Elrod was at a desk piled high with books—among them both of Hillary Clinton’s memoirs and the 2008 campaign pot-boiler Game Change—emailing with a reporter from BuzzFeed about a small item running later that evening.

    Elrod is the communications director for Correct the Record, a 6-month-old outfit founded by David Brock, the one-time conservative dirty trickster who in the 1990s turned over a new leaf and started Media Matters, which keeps a watchful eye on the latest talk radio or Fox News outrage. The new group was created to, well, correct the record, particularly the right-wing attacks on Hillary Clinton as she mulls a 2016 presidential run.

    Permalink
  • The Daily Beast

    NEW BALLGAME

    Millennials Hate Boomer Partisans

    The future is up for grabs, but neither party has an agenda that can truly excite young voters.

    Millennials are far less partisan than older voters, and their concerns are not being given a voice by either party. And while it’s true that the GOP’s future is about as healthy as cancer, there’s similarly no reason to think we’re entering an era of Democratic ascendancy.

    If that sounds surprising, it’s probably because it seemed that the one loud-and-clear message to come out of the 2012 presidential race was that the kids still loved Barack Obama and the Democratic Party for which he stands. In a contest between two equally unashamed wearers of mom jeans, Millennial voters between the ages of 18 and 29 picked Obama over everybody’s least-favorite uncle, Mitt Romney, by a whopping 60 percent to 36 percent.

    Permalink