Ross Douthat Wants Women to Be Walking Wombs

Ross Douthat apparently finds it paradoxical that some women want to have children but can’t, and some can have children but don’t want to, and the ones that don’t want to aren’t giving birth for the ones who can’t. Which leads me to believe that Ross Douthat has no idea what pregnancy or childbirth actually entails, since he doesn’t seem to understand that it involves significant physical and emotional difficulty.

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NY Bar Association Assembles Male Lawyers to Tell Lady Lawyers How They Can Do Better

Here’s a great idea: Invite a bunch of lawyers to an annual meeting of the Bar association. At the meeting, have two panels devoted to female attorneys: One titled "What’s Our Problem?," featuring lady-lawyers discussing "a changing legal market where competition is tougher and expectations are higher" for women who "are currently in or are looking to re-enter the legal field" (because we leave to have babies!), followed by a panel titled "Their Point of View: Tips From the Other Side," where "A distinguished panel of gentlemen from the legal field will discuss the strengths and weaknesses of women in the areas of communication, negotiation, mediation, arbitration, organization, and women's overall management of their legal work."

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NY Governor Extends Protections to Transgender State Employees

Today, New York Governor David Paterson signed an executive order barring discrimination against state employees on the basis of gender identity and gender expression. Seeing the high numbers of transgender people who report discrimination in the workplace, this is great news for those current and future employees who will be affected.

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IRS Audits Single Mother For Not Making Enough Money

This is absurd. Via Raven’s Eye, Danny Westneat at the Seattle Times has uncovered a case in which the IRS audited a single mother with two kids, who earns $10 an hour at Supercuts and lives with her parents. What was their reason for doing so? Random selection? An incorrectly completed return? No, they just thought that she was too poor to be telling the truth:

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Is Taxing Plastic Surgery Sexist?

Part of the funding for the Senate's health care bill will come from a 5% tax on cosmetic surgery. The tax would generate $5 billion over ten years, and would only tax procedures where surgery "is not necessary to ameliorate a deformity arising from, or directly related to, a congenital abnormality, a personal injury resulting from an accident or trauma, or disfiguring disease."

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Homelessness Increases Among Female Veterans

It looks like the rates of homelessness among female veterans are rising:

Even including the 20 or so beds that would make up the new women's home, Ms. Kiss described a grim calculus for female veterans. Ten years ago, women represented 3 percent of homeless veterans, she said, compared with 5 percent now. About 180,000 female troops now serve in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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My Earliest Encounters With Sexism Had a Hip-Hop Chaser

Before I discovered feminism I was already neck-deep in hip-hop culture.

The facts are simple: I was raised with hip-hop. That was the emerging culture my parents were immersed in as teenagers in the early 80s*, and even to this day there are older songs I hear that sound like lullabies to me. Old tracks by LL Cool J, the Sugarhill Gang, Kool Moe Dee, even old Common (back when he was Common Sense) fill me with a strange sense of familiarity and peace. My earliest memories are filled with the sweet mana of hip-hop.

So, it should come as no surprise that my earliest encounters with sexism also had a hip-hop chaser.

When I was about ten years old, I remember being at one of my mother’s friends house. They were doing hair in the kitchen, so they expected me to go and amuse myself by playing with the woman’s eleven year old son, Bryan. I was rapidly approaching the age when I could make my own music choices, so I was often getting in trouble for raiding my parent’s CD collections. That day, a lot like any other, I had grabbed a handful of CDs when my mom wasn’t looking, a copy of Word Up magazine, a few books (I always had a book or two on hand) and headed to the basement to try to find music videos on TV.

Amazing Women in Beijing

Where have all the role models for girls and young women gone?

It’s a question that gets asked a lot, in all kinds of circles, from feminist ones to the family around the dinner table ones; where are the good role models for girls today? In the eyes of some, the female youth of the world have nothing other than Disney Princesses, Pop-Princesses, Super Models and (erm) Porn Stars to look up to…

To them I say, look at a television, where the Olympics are on…

There really are some pretty amazing women doing some pretty amazing stuff in Beijing. I mean, I love the Olympics, I love sports, and I love seeing women athletes from all over the world out there doing their thing, competing hard, giving it all they’ve got, win or lose. There are some awesome women doing just that, right now! And I can’t help but think that’s not only cool, but yeah, it could be mighty inspiring.

Take a look:

From top left to bottom right, we have…

Gender Policing is Harmful to Children

My good friend recently confessed that she wished her eight-year-old daughter were more interested in 'fashionable' shoes, lamenting that little Maria always insists on wearing sneakers- even with skirts. "Some day soon," my friend comforted herself, "Maria will want to be more like a girl -- she'll want to wear make-up, and shoes that compliment her outfits. I guess she's still just a little young for all that."

In light of that remark, I should have known when I agreed to babysit that Maria would show-up wearing shoes that limited her mobility. Had I been thinking of that conversation with her mother while arranging our day together, I could have saved the kid some pain. Instead, I thought of my own sneakered childhood, and planned to tour the neighborhood playgrounds, gardens, libraries, and ice-cream parlors with her -- on foot. Since I don't usually think of eight-year-olds wearing high-heels (although it seems to be a growing phenomenon), I didn't even notice Maria's 'fashionable' shoes until the poor kid started complaining of blisters and aching feet. Her mom had bought her the 'pretty grown-up shoes' the day before, and told her that big girls don't wear tennis shoes with skirts.

Little Maria's feet had fallen victim to gender-policing, the imposing of perceived 'typical' gender behaviors on another person.

As it turns out, gender policing is far from rare, and any kid who escapes adolescence with just a few blisters as a result can count herself lucky. According to research published in the journal Sex Roles, kids who's parents over-correct " ... gender atypical behavior (GAB) i.e. behavior traditionally considered more typical for children of the opposite sex" are at greater risk of developing adverse adult psychiatric symptoms:

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CNN Spreading Innacurate Info on Cervical Cancer Vaccine

By Habladora

I can’t decide if this is an example of careless reporting, or of intentional fear-mongering. While there is no solid evidence that Gardasil is dangerous, CNN’s article “Should parents worry about HPV vaccine?” seems to be written with the aim of confusing the public into believing otherwise:

Gardasil has been the subject of 7,802 “adverse event” reports from the time the Food and Drug Administration approved its use two years ago, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Girls and women have blamed the vaccine for causing ailments from nausea to paralysis — even death. Fifteen deaths were reported to the FDA, and 10 were confirmed, but the CDC says none of the 10 were linked to the vaccine. The CDC says it continues to study the reports of illness.
While the idea that the HPV vaccinations might be unsafe is scary, at this point in CNN’s article I’m most appalled by a major news organization’s apparent lack of interest in conveying any real information to readers about an issue that concerns the safety of women and girls, and that could impact people’s decisions on whether or not to get vaccinated.

Let’s start with the first statement - that 7,802 “adverse event” reports have been filed. The obvious follow-up question that should occur to any reporter is “well, how many of these adverse events have actually been linked to Gardasil?” One might also wonder what the average adverse event report rate is for any vaccine, and if those reports decline after the vaccination is proven to be safe. Readers naturally want to know, after such a sensational headline, well - should we be worried, or are people drawing connections between illnesses and the vaccine where none actually exist?

The article’s second sensational statement, that “[f]ifteen deaths were reported to the FDA,” immediately looses its steam when we realize that none of those deaths have been linked to Gardasil. At this point in my reading, I began to doubt CNN’s motives - they wouldn’t strum-up fear just because it’s good for ratings, would they?

Finally, CNN presents us with the terrifying story of a teenager who developed pancreatitis not long after taking the vaccine. While I am not insensible to how horrifying such a serious illness would be for a young girl and her family, it should be CNN’s responsibility to verify whether or not her fear that it was related to the vaccine could be founded - by researching how many of those incident reports dealt with pancreatitis, for example, or other autoimmune diseases. This type of reporting is important, after all, since it could impact women’s decisions and, consequently, their health.

Fewer Albanians Are Becoming Sworn Virgins

There’s an interesting article about in the Times about the decline of Albanian sworn virgins. Sworn virgins are people who were born as women but take an oath of virginity and live as men. The article theorizes that they’re declining because of increased gender equality; it’s no longer shameful to have a woman-headed household, and the lines between “man� and “woman� are not as rigid as they used to be � meaning that women can do things that were traditionally in the male sphere while still living as women. It’s an interesting look at both the fluidity and rigidness of gender �while it’s possible for people born as women to “cross over� and live as men (and be totally socially accepted and understood as men), the only way they can do that is to fully embrace traditional gender roles. Further, only women can cross over � there aren’t men who can acceptably choose to live as women.

It’s an interesting piece. Thoughts?

[Ed: Watch an interview with an Albanian sworn virgin from a documentary by Elvira Dones. More information on the sworn virgin tradition is available here.]

LA Teacher Fired for Teaching Students to Think

Posted by: Jack, cross-posted at AngryBrownButch

Yesterday while listening to Democracy Now! I heard about Karen Salazar for the first time. She is a high school teacher who was fired from her position at a school in LA because her curriculum was too “Afrocentric” - instead of, you know, the usual Eurocentric curriculum that’s delivered to American students on the daily. From a letter by Salazar posted on the Vivir Latino site:

Conservative Pundit Dennis Prager Fears the Whippersnapper Vote

Shorter Dennis Prager: “Get offa my lawn!"
Most adults throughout history have recognized that young people are likely to be unwise given their minuscule amount of life experience. After all, most adults, even among baby boomers, believe that they themselves are wiser today than 10 years ago, let alone than when they were 20 years old. It is remarkable, then, how often adults romanticize youth involvement in politics � “Isn’t it heartwarming to see young people getting involved?�
Actually, for a wise adult, it is not heartwarming.
And by “wise adult,� he means Republican. Of course, the best part is that he starts his column like this:
We regularly hear about Barack Obama’s appeal to youth, about how he has been able to excite and mobilize a generation of young people to become politically involved, his rare ability to excite young people, and about how many new voters will register (and vote Democrat) as a result.
All this seems to be true. The question, however, is whether it is a good thing for the country and not just for Barack Obama and the Democratic Party.
The answer is that it probably is not. With a few exceptions � and those exceptions are usually those rare cases when young people confront dictatorships � when youth get involved in politics in large numbers, it is not a good thing.

Has Feminism Lost Its Focus?

That’s what Linda Hirshman argues in the Washington Post. And, not surprisingly, I think she’s wrong.

FYI: There will be a live discussion about the article here at 1pm today. Join in.

Full disclosure: Linda interviewed me for this article. I’m quoted in the second-to-last paragraph. I really enjoyed speaking with her — it was clear during the interview that we have very different visions of what feminism should be, and we pushed back against each other quite a bit, but it was an engaging conversation. I didn’t expect to convince her or anything, nor her I — and from the article, I feel like we’re speaking different feminist languages.

Linda seems to be arguing that feminism has lost focus by way of intersectionality — because we’re so busy looking at things like race and class, we’ve forgotten about women. Race and class are “divides” that fragment the movement, making us less able to, say, get a woman elected president:

So what keeps the movement from realizing its demographic potential? First, it’s divided along lines so old that they feel like geological faults. Long before this campaign highlighted the divides of race, class and age, feminism was divided by race, class and age. As early as 1973, some black feminists formed a National Black Feminist Organization; in 1984, the writer Alice Walker coined the term “womanism” to distinguish black women’s liberation from feminism, the white version. In the early 1970s, writer and activist Barbara Ehrenreich argued on behalf of “socialist feminism,” saying that the women’s movement couldn’t succeed unless it attacked capitalism. The movement was barely out of its teens when Walker’s daughter, Rebecca, announced a new wave to distinguish her generation’s feminism from the already divided feminisms of the people who had spawned it.

Anti-Abortion Groups Shut Down Habitat for Humanity Project

I know we’ve said it over and over: “Pro-lifers” don’t seem to care much for “life” once people actually enter the world. They oppose contraception access, which could prevent millions of abortions; their political allies take no steps to assist low-income women; they oppose universal health-care; and they generally stand against any social program that would actually help women and children. In fact, 100% of the worst legislators for children are “pro-life.”

So it shouldn’t come as a surprise when anti-choicers oppose programs that help born people secure shelter. And yet, even I was stunned at this:

An anti-abortion group has broken up a deal between Planned Parenthood and Habitat for Humanity by blasting out 10,000 e-mails to Habitat supporters.

Planned Parenthood is building a 23,000-square-foot regional headquarters on Central Avenue, and planned to sell Habitat the land next door for a token $10 to build three below-market-cost houses. The deal benefited Planned Parenthood because the city required the clinic to put up buildings as a buffer between its parking lot and Cohen Way.

“We could have put up any building we wanted,” said Barbara Zdravecky, president of Planned Parenthood. “We wanted to donate the land so Habitat could build more attainable housing.”

Religion Is Not An Excuse For Refusing to Give Medical Care

We’ve all heard the stories about the nutbag pharmacists, nurses and doctors who refuse to provide women with adequate health care because of their “religion.” Women are refused emergency contraception, and even standard birth control pills and devices, with alarming regularity. Anti-choice groups have pushed for “conscience clauses” in state law, allowing medical professionals to refuse to do their jobs.

But it’s not just about contraception any more: It’s also about the right to have children. Pamela reports that a woman in California was refused IVF treatment by a doctor who said that treating her would be against his religion.

Now why in the world would a doctor who disagrees with IVF be working at a fertility clinic, you ask? Because he doesn’t oppose IVF, exactly — he just doesn’t like lesbians, and this woman happened to be one.

But at least they’re being honest here: It’s not about “life.” It’s not about babies. It’s about social control. It’s about whose lives are deemed worthy, and which choices fit into the narrow worldview of religious conservatives. The “pro-life” opposition to abortion and contraception doesn’t come from a serious concern for all those fertilized egg-babies out there; it comes out of a concern for changing gender roles, and the evolution of the family into a unit that is increasingly non-patriarchal, egalitarian and diverse. It’s very much about a class of viewpoints: The feminist/humanist/scientific/modern view, which wants to allow individuals the right to self-determination, and the conservative/regressive view, which wants to take us back to a Golden Era of the family that never actually existed in real life, wherein men were in charge and women knew their place.

Widespread Sexual Abuse Against Children Commited by Peacekeeping Forces

Trigger Warning: this post contains descriptions and links to descriptions of sexual abuse against children.

I woke up this morning to two emails from readers, and they both contained this story (thanks Jean and Rich): a new study shows that peacekeepers and aidworkers in post-conflict areas are sexually abusing children much more than we’d like to believe.

Children as young as six are being sexually abused by peacekeepers and aid workers, says a leading UK charity.

Children in post-conflict areas are being abused by the very people drafted into such zones to help look after them, says Save the Children.

After research in Ivory Coast, southern Sudan and Haiti, the charity proposed an international watchdog be set up.

Save the Children said it had sacked three workers for breaching its codes, and called on others to do the same.

The three men were all dismissed in the past year for having had sex with girls aged 17 - which the charity said was a sackable offence even though not illegal.

The UN has said it welcomes the charity’s report, which it will study closely.

Save the Children says the most shocking aspect of child sex abuse is that most of it goes unreported and unpunished, with children too scared to speak out.

ICE Detainees Lack Medical Care

Last week, Miss Sarajevo left a comment with a link to this series of articles in The Washington Post, and I’m just finally getting around to writing about it. The series, “Careless Detention,” is about the terrifying, unethical and downright inhumane medical treatment of immigrants imprisoned by ICE, generally while fighting or awaiting deportation for infractions that are usually non-violent and in fact so mild as to verge on the ridiculous. Since 9/11, Bush and his buddies have really stepped up anti-immigrant measures (which were already largely poor and in place), broadened definitions of who could be deported, increased raids and decided that those seeking asylum must do so while behind bars. Our government is imprisoning both documented and undocumented men and women (and though not mentioned in this series, also children), often without due process, and then, quite simply, killing them with medical neglect, or otherwise abusing/torturing them with inappropriate or an outright lack of medical treatment.

If you think that the medical treatment of some immigrants who are not in trouble with ICE is appalling (and it is), be prepared to learn a new definition of the word.

Part 1: “System of Neglect” focuses on those who have died custody due to profound medical indifference:

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Hospital Will Not Deport Honduran Immigrant Over Insurance

Good news, folks: Sonia del Cid Iscoa will not be forcibly (or apparently otherwise) deported to Honduras. Even better, her condition has improved markedly and at an exceptional rate. (Thanks to Lindsay for the update.)

St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center on Tuesday reached agreement with lawyers representing Sonia del Cid Iscoa, ending an international legal drama over whether a legal immigrant could be forcibly transported from the country by a medical facility.

Iscoa, 34, did not have sufficient medical insurance to cover long-term care, St. Joseph’s could not offer it, and there were no apparent programs that could take her.

The hospital planned to fly her to a government hospital in Tegucigalpa, Honduras; Iscoa’s family went to Maricopa County Superior Court to get a temporary restraining order, and all parties were scheduled to appear before a judge on Friday.

But Iscoa’s condition has improved so markedly in the past several days that the discussion has changed.

“She has begun to take semisolid food. She is on room air, as opposed to supplemental oxygen. And she’s not had dialysis for a week, which is a huge improvement,” said attorney John Curtain. “Because of this the hospital at present is not contemplating sending her to Honduras.”
Of course, I find it odd that St. Joseph’s is no longer contemplating forced deportation now that Iscoa is seemingly doing well without dialysis, but was more than willing to deport her to a hospital that had no dialysis equipment back when she did need it. There’s some ethics for ya. One almost has to wonder if the decision came out of newfound financial ability, a moral revelation, or just some really shitty publicity that needed to be plugged up.

Though not entirely clear from the article, it does seem like Iscoa’s family is still going to need money to pay off medical bills, and since she’s still in recovery, her struggle is far from over.

The fact that Iscoa’s immediate crisis has been resolved is also no reason to stop discussing the issue and go back to our happy lives like it didn’t happen. Because this isn’t and never was just about one woman — it’s also about the approximately 8 immigrant patients that this one hospital forcibly deports each month, and who knows how many others that are deported by other hospitals across the nation.

Breathe a sigh of relief for Iscoa, but don’t stop talking.

Hospital Attempts Deportation of Woman With Inadequate Insurance

An immigrant woman from Honduras who has very recently awakened from a coma is being threatened with what can effectively be called deportation, because she does not have the insurance needed to cover her medical bills. (Don’t read the comments in these articles unless you want to lose your lunch.) But here is the real kicker: while it would be repulsive and incredibly inhumane to deport an uninsured/under-insured person with a serious medical condition because of their undocumented status, despite the lack of adequate facilities for their care in their nations of citizenship, it isn’t even the case here. Sonia del Cid Iscoa has a current visa and in the U.S. legally. (All emphasis in quoted text is mine.)

A gravely ill woman at risk of being removed from the country for lack of adequate insurance coverage awoke from a coma Tuesday.

The hospital has been seeking to return her to her native Honduras; her family took the hospital to court.

[. . .]

Iscoa, 34, has a valid visa and has lived in the United States for more than 17 years. She has no family in Honduras.

But St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center sought to have her sent to Honduras when she went into a coma April 20 after giving birth to a daughter about 8 weeks premature. Iscoa has an amended version of Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System coverage that does not cover long-term care, Curtin said. But her family worried that the move would seriously harm her, or, at the very least, prevent her from ever returning to the United States.

Iscoa’s mother, Joaquina del Cid Plasecea, obtained a temporary restraining order to keep her from being moved. Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Carey Hyatt also ordered that the family post a $20,000 bond by Tuesday to cover St. Joseph’s costs of postponing the transfer.

However, Curtin said that the hospital gave the family three more days to come up with the money before a hearing Friday.

If the family can prove that Iscoa would suffer irreparable injury by a move, the bond will be refunded and Iscoa will not be transferred. But if Hyatt determines that Iscoa is not in imminent danger by a move, the family will forfeit the bond.

A stipulation to a court order issued by Hyatt Tuesday evening said that the parties were “actively exploring alternative sources of securing payment for the medical bills of Sonia Iscoa.”

Anti-Clinton Misogyny Reaches New Low

This is really beyond the pale. And really, if the “What election sexism?” Democrats can’t see how over-the-top this is, I don’t really know what to say.

Progressives should be better than this.* I haven’t been a Clinton supporter, but the misogynist crap she’s gotten throughout the election has made me a whole lot more sympathetic towards her. There are a lot of questions to raise and a lot of skepticism to be had about both Democratic candidates — we can do that without resorting to sexist and racist crutches. And we can cut the whole “She’s tearing the party apart!” nonsense. You know what tears the party apart? Insulting and attacking the party’s base by launching racist and sexist attacks. Drawing big fat lines between Clinton and Obama, as if either he or she were the bad guy — and in doing so, giving John McCain (the real bad guy) a great big pass.

For thoughts on sexism in the election in general, I refer you to Rebecca Traister and Amanda Fortini.

Contact the TNR editors (letters@tnr.com) and tell them to stick to the issues — not sexist caricatures.

Thanks to Linda for the link.


*And yes, I realize that TNR is not “progressive.” But it’s (pathetically) seen as moderate to left-leaning. And it’s only one example of the nasty misogynistic attacks that have been directed at Clinton.

Please Stop The First Lady Bake-Off

There are a lot of things I hate about election season, but the competition of which potential First Lady has the best recipes is perhaps my least favorite. So I’m actually kind of glad that “Farfalle-gate� has broken, and it turns out that Cindy McCain’s favorite family recipes were pulled directly from the Food Network � and that she didn’t even offer them up herself, some unpaid intern found them and claimed they were McCain family traditions. The whole thing is BS, and it makes me happy that Cindy didn’t waste ten minutes of her life transcribing her recipe for rosemary chicken (although, of course, she should have just said the whole thing was crap and given Rachel Ray the proper credit).

I like food as much as the next person � actually, I probably like food a whole lot more than the next person � but I don’t really understand why Americans care which First Lady has the best cookie recipe. And I really don’t understand this:

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Sexy Hot Vegans

Shocker: Animal rights activism can be sexist.
TWO things that you can find a lot of in Portland, Ore., are vegans and strip clubs. Johnny Diablo decided to open a business to combine both. At his Casa Diablo Gentlemen's Club, soy protein replaces beef in the tacos and chimichangas; the dancers wear pleather, not leather. Many are vegans or vegetarians themselves.
But Portland is also home to a lot of young feminists, and some are not happy with Mr. Diablo's venture. Since he opened the strip club last month, their complaints have been "all over the Internet," he said. "One of them came in here once. I could tell she had an attitude right when she came in. She was all hostile."
Mr. Diablo isn't concerned with the "feminazis," as he calls them. As a vegan himself, he says he hasn't worn or eaten animal products in 24 years and is worried about cruelty to animals. "My sole purpose in this universe is to save every possible creature from pain and suffering," he said.

Except for women, apparently.

I am glad, however, to see feminist vegetarians, vegans and animal rights activists speaking out against sexism while still promoting animal liberation theory. I’m happy to see that they don’t buy the line that any means to promote veganism are a-ok.
Isa Chandra Moskowitz, a cookbook author, is among those who believe such images twist the vegan message. "As a feminist, I'm not keen on the idea of using women's bodies to sell veganism, and I'm not into the idea of using veganism to sell women's bodies," she said.
Ms. Moskowitz is the host of an online forum, Post Punk Kitchen (www.www.theppk.com), some of whose members are debating Mr. Diablo's vegan strip club. (Last week Mr. Diablo put the club up for sale, although not because of the criticism, he said. He may have overestimated the appeal of stripping to vegans, or of vegan cuisine to striptease fans; an earlier vegan restaurant he ran was poorly received.)
The issue of sexism in vegan circles is "extremely polarizing," said Bob Torres, an author of "Vegan Freak," a guide to living a vegan lifestyle, which generally means avoiding the use of animals for food, clothing or other purposes. Mr. Torres, like many vegans, disavows the "essential idea at the heart of some animal rights activism that any means justifies the ends," he said. Certain activists, he added, care only about "animal suffering and ignore the suffering of humans," a category into which he would put women who are exploited.

Reproductive Tourism

This kind of out-of-control globalization, wherein wealthier women are able to rent the wombs of poorer ones, makes me extremely uncomfortable.

I'm certainly sympathetic to the plight of couples who can't conceive for whatever reason. And it certainly makes sense for women to voluntarily carry someone else's pregnancy if it means making a lot of money. But I think it's possible to be skeptical of this situation without passing judgment on the people involved in it, most of whom are doing the best that they can in tough circumstances.
An article published in The Times of India in February questioned how such a law would be enforced: "In a country crippled by abject poverty," it asked, "how will the government body guarantee that women will not agree to surrogacy just to be able to eat two square meals a day?"
One could argue that surrogates are simply providing a service like any other. But I'm not sure that we want to turn reproduction into a service industry. The inequalities here are so stark -- and the carrot of thousands of dollars so tempting for women in a country with astounding poverty rates -- that writing if off as purely business is inadequate.
"Surrogates do it to give their children a better education, to buy a home, to start up a small business, a shop," Dr. Kadam said. "This is as much money as they could earn in maybe three years. I really don't think that this is exploiting the women. I feel it is two people who are helping out each other."

Do We Want Judges Who Have Profited Off of Private Prisons and Locking Up Children?

These are the kind of people that President Bush is nominating to the bench -- for lifetime appointments.

Gus Puryear is a well-connected Republican attorney who, after working for Bill Frist, went on to serve as general counsel for Corrections Corporation of America, a massive company that feeds off of the American prison system. CCA made $1.5 billion in 2004, and is the fifth largest prison system in the U.S. -- behind the federal government and three states. CCA also runs the notorious Hutto detention center in Texas, which detains immigrants and their children in prison conditions.

But it isn't Gusyear's CCA employment that's drawing criticism; it's his membership in a discriminatory country club.
Yes, it is true that the club does not allow women to vote. In fact, women have their own class of membership�they're called “lady members��and lady members can't vote or hold office, even Martha Ingram, who is listed on the club's membership rolls. The only people who can vote are the club's resident members and, lo and behold, all of them are men. The club's “constitution,� which Puryear, as a judicial candidate essentially completing a take-home test, must have reviewed before answering Kennedy's questions, notes the following about resident members: “They alone, to the exclusion of all other classes of membership, shall have the right to control, manage, vote and hold office in the club.� So that means that non-resident members, associate resident members (younger members like Puryear) and, of course, lady members can't have any say in the governance of the club.
The club technically allows people of all races to join, but they only have one black member. And he lives in another state.

While I think it's fairly clear that Puryear's club membership -- not to mention his apparent inability to answer straight-forward questions about it -- should disqualify him on ethical grounds, it's his work on behalf of CCA that I find more damning.
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