Repeal the Global Gag Rule Now, part Two or Why I’m Glad I Voted for Sherrod Brown

Sherrod Brown’s not letting me down.

 I got an email yesterday from my Senator (or likely his staff) in response to an email I sent him about my desire to support the Global Democracy Promotion Act.  Why do I love my Senator?  Because he said the following:

Dear Mr. Frame:

Thank you for expressing your support for removing the restrictive “Global Gag Rule” as a condition for family planning services funding.

The “Gag Rule” signed into law in 2001 prohibits U.S. funds from being used by international groups to pay for abortions, or to engage in advocacy activities, including making public statements about abortion law or policy.

The global gag rule denies the right of free speech to international organizations working abroad, and its expansion threatens the lives of millions of women by denying them access to vital public health services. It is unfair and unwise for the U.S. to force international family planning clinics to choose between desperately needed U.S. funding and abortion counseling services.

On September 6, 2007, the U.S. Senate voted 53-41 to pass an amendment to the FY2008 Foreign Operations Bill that would overturn the “Global Gag Rule.” I voted with the majority on this issue.

I oppose the “Gag Rule” policy, as well as any reductions in funding for international family planning and reproductive health services. The only way to reduce the number of abortions worldwide is to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies, and the most effective way to accomplish this goal is through voluntary family planning. Thank you again for contacting me.

Sherrod Brown



Pride and Shame in Northwest Ohio

A couple news reports from my very own neck of the woods: Toledo, Ohio.  One makes me very happy and proud to be from the Northwest tip of the Buckeye State.  The other shows me once again that things are not perfect here.  But first, the pride:

Arabic schools gain foothold in the region

I’m somehow not at all surprised that there was great demand for Arabic schools in Toledo.  I was always surrounded by Arab Americans and immigrants, especially during my college years at the University of Toledo.  Thanks to a couple poetry and film courses at UT, I met a young Palestinian woman who became a wonderful friend at the end of my undergraduate years.  The Middle Eastern restaurants have been incredibly successful in Toledo, thanks to Toledoans’ love of food and the fact that Middle Eastern food is fabulous.

And this sounds like a great school.  If I had children (or planned to ever have children), this would be one of the few schools I would feel comfortable sending my child to.  Well done, Toledo.  Well done.

But why am I not surprised that there are people opposed to such a school?  One of the (many) great challenges of this generation will be to overcome the negative sterotypes and downright racism that exists in regard to Middle Eastern folks.  I pray and hope for my nation.

Which is a good segue into the shame:

Former Gillmor aide won’t seek vacancy

I don’t know anything about the politics of Wood County commissioner Tim Brown other than that he is a Republican from a heavily Republican district.  I don’t know if he had a chance of winning and I don’t know if I would have been happy about him winning.  But I find this news story really sad for two reasons. 

First, the fact that he was outed by a blog, to me, seems viscious and unnecessary.  But it is pretty emblematic of how politics is run these days.  The negativity of contemporary political campaigns is not, in my humble opinion, good for our nation or our democracy. 

Nor is pushing people out simply because they are gay.  I don’t want to come down too hard on the Republicans here because I don’t have the evidence to prove that a Democratic candidate who is gay wouldn’t bow out if he or she were outed.  Still, I think I feel comfortable making the assumption that the Republican party is far more homophobic than the Democratic party.  And it is their loss as they push people out of public office who have,  either voluntarily or by force,  come out of the closet. 

I keep hoping something will change in this country.  I keep hoping people will get a clue about this issue.  But, at least we can take to heart what Melissa Etheridge said in 2004 when so many same sex marriage bans were passed.  She told the audience at the GLAAD awards to look at the positives of the 2004 election.  Yes, many states voted for discrimination.  But in order to make that vote — in order to stand in the booth, look at the issue and make a choice on it — they had to think about it.  They had to acknowledge that the gay community exists. 

For Etheridge, that is a step forward.  And in a way it is.  I just hope we have more dramatic steps forward soon.


Repeal the Global Gag Rule Now!

Efforts to repeal George W. Bush’s Global Gag Rule, a policy that prohibits U.S. family planning groups from finacially or organizationally supporting similar international groups, are beginning to work.  The Global Gag Rule, in addition to stoping U.S. groups from spreading pro-choice ideas regarding abortion also stop U.S. groups from spreading any other pro-choice ideas like the availability of contraceptives and other methods to prevent unplanned pregnancies.  Further, one of the many affects of the Global Gag Rule is that it often hinders the ability of developing countries to treat and curb the AIDS epidemic.  But Bush, despite attempting to take a strong stand on the AIDS issue, is fine with that.

But legislation is starting to pass to repeal the Global Gag Rule.  Senators Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Olympia Snow (R-Maine) offered the legislation and it passed 53-41.  But, once it makes it through committee, Bush has promised a veto of any bill that repeals the Global Gag Rule.  So there is another bill going through Congress called the Global Democracy Promotion Act.  It may be possible to get enough votes to make this second bill veto-proof, a necessary backup to the current bill that will not survive a Bush veto.

But the second bill will still need votes.  Stand up and let your Senators know you want the Global Gag Rule repealed.  Let them know that you, their boss, are ordering them to vote for the Global Democracy Promotion Act.  The National Organization for Women has even made it easy for you.  They have a letter already written that they will happily email or snail mail to your representatives in the Senate and the House.  You can find it here.


What is an “Existing Human Being”?

Last week, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that a doctor has no duty to tell a woman considering an abortion that the fetus is an “existing human being.”  Read all about it, from The San Diego Union-Tribune:

Top New Jersey court scraps trial on whether doctor misled woman on abortion

The particulars of this specific case in question are difficult and I feel bad if this woman experienced emotional distress due to what happened during her abortion.  After reading her story, I can see, emotionally, why many advocates against abortion rallied to her side.  I could also see why some pro-choice advocates would be wary to criticize the original ruling.  The emotional rhetoric here is high.

But the courts made the right decision.  Ruling that a doctor must inform a woman that the fetus is an “existing human being” simply does not reflect medical or public consensus, as the judges here explained.

Now, this ruling does not forbid a doctor from telling a woman that the fetus is an “existing human being” but requiring him or her to do so, one of many requirements that those opposing abortion have tried to pass, would be a backdoor attempt to undermine reproductive rights. 

As we gear up for 2008 and the candidates get whittled down, we will start to see where the Republican Party will stand on the issue (the Democratic candidates are pretty much all on the same page here).  Many Republicans follow strict pro-life guidelines, often generated from religious beliefs, that a life is a life is a life.  Some, like Rudy Giuliani, call themselves “strict constructionists.”  This means that, following the strictest reading of the Constitution, they believe abortion laws should be decided by states. 

Guiliani is an interesting case because he has taken a lot of heat from the GOP base for his “socially liberal” views.  Many say he is pro-choice — and he may indeed be pro-choice.  But like many Christian Democrats who have said they will never let their religious views affect their governing rules, Guiliani, if he is pro-choice, would never let his liberal views affect his conservative governing rules. 

So, for those of you moderate readers who are considering Guiliani as your candidate in hopes that he will please conservatives with his foreign policies and liberals with his social policies, think again.  There is no doubt in my mind that given the chance, Guiliani will do everything he can to overturn Roe v. WadeHe is no ally of reproductive rights. 

But don’t believe me.  Read Eric Johnston’s recent Op/Ed piece:

Anti-Roe and Pro-Rudy

UPDATED 9/19/07: 8:00 AM

According to The New Jersey Record, Rosa Acuna’s attorney plans to take this case to the Supreme Court.  Here we go again.

UPDATED 9/26/07: 5:44 PM

Rosa Acuna’s attorney has officially asked New Jersey’s Supreme Court to take a look at this case.  The attorney, Harold Cassidy, says this is the last step before filing an appeal with the United States Supreme Court.  Here we go again, indeed.  Read all about it:

State Supreme Court asked to reconsider abortion ruling

“America’s Guardian Myths”

Less a post than an announcement.  Susan Faludi has a wonderful editorial in today’s New York Times.  Check it out:

America’s Guardian Myths

I’m excited about her new book, The Terror Dream: Fear and Fantasy in Post-9/11 America, due out in October.  And if you haven’t yet, you should read her other books:

Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women

Stiffed: The Betrayal of the American Man

Updates, The Smashing Pumpkins and More

Okay, so I have a few updates about previous posts that I need to make.  So here goes.

“Good News, Part Two”

As expected, Judge Hanson’s ruling didn’t last very long.  A stay on the ruling was issued less than 24 hours after Hanson made his decision.  In between the ruling and the stay, 27 same sex couples filed applications for marriage but only one made it to the courthouse.  Read all about it:

Iowa Gay Marriage Applications Halted

“Grand Rapids Literary Review Issue Two is Now Available”

I don’t know what is going on with the web site for The Grand Rapids Literary Review, except that the site is down.  I have emailed the editors in hopes of finding out.  If the site is down permanently and the journal no longer exists, then I don’t know what that means regarding the poems that were published there.  I still have the interview in my email, so at the least I will post that here.  The poems, if I am allowed, will likely have to be resubmitted elsewhere if the site is down.  I may be overreacting though and it may be resolved soon, in which case I will post another update.  My apologies to anyone who has been trying to find the poems and the interview.

“Bring Anthony Bourdain to Toledo”

The Toledo Blade has an article in today’s paper about a project in Columbus that is similar to the Live/ Work/ Create project that Toledo artists and Mayor Finkbeiner recently announced.  Check it out:

Short North in Columbus offers vision for Toledo

“Poetry Challenge”

There are a lot of great spontaneous poems in the comments section of Rane Arroyo’s “A Challenge And Be Eye Candy Too” posting.  If you haven’t read them yet, you are missing out.

“A Question for Young Americans”

The comments section of this posting has involved a discussion of the current U.S. economy that has mentioned many issues, including the housing market, interest rates, and the unemployment level.  The New York Times issued a report last Wednesday about the economy based on the results of the recent census.  Read the report, by Abby Goodnough:

Census Shows a Modest Rise in U.S. Income

“And So Ends Another Summer”

My classes are settled, the students are registered and I’ve compared the gender ratio of my students to the average reported in “And So Ends Another Summer.”  The national average says that 57 percent of students registered nationwide are female.  Approximately 62 percent of my students are female.  I’m above average!

“Election Fatigue”

Many of us might be fatigued, but Reuters apparently is not.  Today they announced:

Race for the White House kicks into high gear

Many debates, rallies and speeches to go.  And four more months before the first vote is cast.  Meanwhile, everyone is still asking if Fred Thompson is in the race or not.  It seems this week we will find out, according to The New York Times:

After Months of Flirting, Thompson Is Almost In

“Let’s do the Time Warp Again”

Read this interesting article, also from The New York Times (what can I say, I get free copies at school), regarding the Supreme Court’s ruling to ban using race to assign children to public schools.  Unfortunately, to read it you have to have TimesSelect (meaning you pay for the ability to read “older” articles) or you have to purchase the ability to read just this one article.  But here’s the link anyway:

A Successful Plan for Racial Balance Now Finds Its Future Uncertain

If you google the title and find the full text of the article for free, let me know so I can post it.

And because I’m upset no one can see my poems, here is something fun:

Smashing Pumpkins – Rocket” posted by jfu79

Finally, I’m adding three new editorials to the Supplemental Readings page (yes, from The New York Times) by Paul Krugman.  One is about Race and the G.O.P.  The other deals with the current administration’s failures, highlighting Hurricane Katrina.  The last has to do with the attacks on universal health care and that scary, scary word, “Socialism.”  The full text of these are archived on the blog Economist’s View .  And you can read them here:

Paul Krugman: Seeking Willie Horton

Paul Krugman: Katrina All The Time

Paul Krugman: A Socialist Plot


UPDATED 9/19/07: 7:59 PM

The New York Times has changed its policy regarding the TimesSelect articles.  They are now available for free on their website.  You may have to endure a short ad, but there is a “skip this ad” button for those of you who, like me, are impatient.

And So Ends Another Summer

Summer vacation is coming to an end and millions of young Americans are preparing for a new year at college.  They’re going to K-Mart, Wal-Mart and Target to buy furniture and the latest gadgets for their dorm rooms and soon about 85% of them will learn that those gadgets and furniture don’t fit into their tiny little dorm rooms.  Those who are going to live at home are debating with their parents about curfews and the number of hours they will be allowed to work while going to school while trying their best to avoid subjects like sex, drugs, and parties. 

Ah, I remember it well.  And now, as a college instructor, I find the beginning of the new school year even more exciting than I did as a student.  Soon, I will meet a whole new crop of students.  Some will want to learn, some won’t want to learn and some won’t know whether or not they want to learn (an interesting twist of Donald Rumsfeld’s “The known knowns” theory).  And each year I try to look at a few things. 

The first is the list of cultural and historical references my students don’t know about because they were born after they occured.  Beloit College puts out the list every year and it’s always a fun read.  The Mindset List, as it is called, has not yet been released for the class of 2011, but you can read it the Mindset List for the Class of 2010 by clicking here.  Once the new list is out, I will post it somewhere on the blog.

I also like to take a look at any interesting enrollment statistics that pop up at me in the newspaper or online.  What I’ve noticed this year (though it has been occuring a lot in recent years) is the overwhelming increase in female enrollmentThe Macon Telegraph, a newspaper out of Macon, Georgia, describes “a nationwide trend that has emerged over the past decade in which more women than men are enrolling in college.  Currently, 57 percent of students enrolled in colleges nationwide are women.”

What does this mean for women in America?  What does this mean for men in America?  Does it mean anything?  Only time may tell.  But I think it does show that young women continue to reap the rewards of the American Women’s Movement, which is a good thing.  How much they understand what they have gained thanks to centuries of hard, dangerous work by various feminists, activists, working women, stay-at-home moms and countless other women, both famous and anonymous, who championed opening the doors of opportunities remains debatable.  But that young American women have those opportunities is a victory of the Twentieth Century.