Sunday, June 28, 2015

The bill to eradicate Title X

Since the Republicans took over the House of Representatives in 2011, they have been trying to eliminate the highly effective federal family-planning program known as Title X. In 1970, Title X was enacted by an overwhelming majority in Congress. This program gives millions of lower-income and rural women access to contraception, counseling, cancer screenings, and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases. 
In 2011 they tried to shut down Title X completely, but were only able to extract significant cuts from this already underfunded program. Now, a House subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services proposed to eliminate all of the Title X funding from the 2016 spending bill. The subcommittee voted to double abstinence-only education, despite the fact that it has been associated with higher rates of teen pregnancy. Since Title X is a federal program, it cannot provide any funding for abortions, yet it is caught up in the nation’s abortion wars.
The Title X grants actually help prevent unwanted pregnancies. The program helped avoid about 363,000 abortions in 2012. Also, the public money spent on family planning reduces costs related to pregnancy, birth and infant care, sexually transmitted diseases, and cervical cancer. The bill to eradicate the program takes aim at some of the most vulnerable women in the country. These women are poorer and typically live in rural areas with little access to health care.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Today, Love Wins

The Supreme Court of the United States decided today, in a 5-4 decision, same-sex marriage would be legal across the United States. Continuing with the tradition of divided court decisions, court watchers sat on the edge of their seat waiting what could have been a disastrous decision for the LGBTQ/Equal Rights Movement. But today, history has been made and the United States has taken one more step toward equality.
President Obama, in a moving speech he gave in the Rose Garden, categorized the ruling as a “victory for America”.  He stated, “America should be proud” and that although progress is sometimes slow, “there are days like this, when that slow steady effort is rewarded with justice that arrives like a thunderbolt.”
In Massachusetts Same-Sex Marriage was official legalized in roughly 10 years ago but the battle for marriage equality has been raging for roughly forty years. Although the battle for full equality is not over today is certainly a time of celebration for both queer and straight community members a like!
To follow the response on twitter check out the twitter hashtags:


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

More than Fun and Games: Title Nine

Over forty years ago the U.S. government passed Title Nine, a law passed to prevent discrimination on the bias of sex in schools receiving federal funding.  Historically Title Nine has been known for its impacts on athletic departments within the U.S. educational system, however this is only a small part of its legal reach. Specifically, Title Nine addresses 8 other key areas: Access to Higher Education, Career Education, Education for Pregnant and Parenting Students, Employment, Learning Environment, Math and Science, Sexual Harassment, Standardized Testing and Technology.

Today Title IX has become a rallying point for student activists working to end sexual assault on their college campuses.  

In response to the epidemic of campus sexual assault, in 2013 the group Know Your IX was founded.  The organization, which advocates for the civil right to an education free from sexual violence and harassment, is a “national survivor-run, student-driven campaign to end campus sexual violence.”  They work to do this through three major avenues: educating students about title nine, pushing for policies that better enforce title nine, and providing students with a space to engage in activism.

To learn more about Know Your Nine please see their website:

Friday, June 19, 2015

The new face of the $10 bill

The U.S. Treasury Department has recently announced its plan to put a woman’s portrait on the $10 bill. This monumental decision will replace Alexander Hamilton, and will be the first time a female is printed on U.S. paper currency. The new bills will begin circulation in 2020. In the past, famous female Americans have only been printed on limited edition coins. The U.S. will finally catch up to the many other countries who already present women on their currency. Countries such as, Syria, Turkey, Mexico, Argentina, Sweden, England, and Australia, have banknotes with faces of women on them. It is disappointing that it took the U.S. this long to come to the decision. It is the year 2015, yet women are still playing catch up to their male counterparts.
Secretary of the Treasury, Jacob J. Lew, asked for the publics’ comments on the announcement. The public took to social media to voice their opinions and concerns. The woman on the bill needs to have played a major role in U.S. history. Some believe the bill should display Harriett Tubman, the trailblazer of the Underground Railroad. Others believe it should depict the famous social reformer and feminist, Susan B. Anthony. I do not think the Treasury Department can make a wrong choice since they have so many valid options. Whatever the final decision may be, it will be a step in the right direction.  

Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Politics of Prison Sentencing

Last Tuesday (June 9th), during a public hearing, Beacon Hill lawmakers met to debate mandatory minimum sentencing for drug offenses.  These laws create a set minimum amount of time judges must mandate for crimes and cannot reduce even in extenuating circumstances. This debate is not new to the Commonwealth, in 2012 legislators passed a bill reducing mandatory minimum sentencing for non-violent drug offenders as part of the “three strikes” provision – however it still remains a contentious topic.

Those who advocate for mandatory minimum sentences have argued minimum sentencing laws have helped reduce drug-related crime both in Massachusetts and the nation as a whole.  Suffolk County District Attorney, Dan Conley, has stated he believes the public would not benefit from a reduction in minimum sentencing but criminals would.

Attorney General Maura Healey and opponents to minimum sentencing laws, however, disagree. In a letter to lawmakers Healey wrote, “History shows we cannot incarcerate our way out of this public health crisis, and we need smart reforms that will allow us to focus on treatment for those we are most able to help.”

In 2014 the MWPC endorsed candidate Maura Healey in her run for Attorney General. She has since won her election and begun to work for the Commonwealth. 

Monday, June 15, 2015

Women's World Cup and Title IX

The Women’s World Cup is currently underway in Canada. The team has continued its streak as one of the top teams in the world. Their successes can be attributed, in part, to the hard work from the female coaches of the U.S. team. Many women, such as April Heinrichs, are lifelong fans of the sport and dedicate their expertise to the game. Having a unique perspective as a former female professional athlete can make a difference in coaching strategies. They know what it takes to motivate their players and make them a better team.
            Because of the federal law, Title IX, more girls have access to their own leagues at a younger age. This law, which prohibits discrimination based on gender, has been successfully applied to sport over the past four decades. It is necessary for girls to feel comfortable and progress at their own rate. Girls can gain a competitive edge by practicing the sport against girls that are in an older age group. The players on the Women’s U.S. Team have definitely benefited from Title IX. These women were able to develop and practice their skill in a manner that is equal to that of the men’s.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

52nd Anniversary of Equal Pay Act

52 years ago today, President John F. Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act into law. The Equal Pay Act sought to eradicate gender-based wage differences as part of President Kennedy’s progressivist New Frontier Program. The Equal Pay Act had a monumental impact on salary disparities between men and women and lead to a rise in women’s salaries from 62% relative to male counterparts in 1971 to nearly 80% in 2004. However, it is clear that the Equal Pay Act’s mission has yet to fully come to fruition.
The United States Department of Labor Women’s Bureau cites that women make some 78 cents to the dollar earned by men, on average. With such data, the average American woman would have to work an additional 104 days to earn what the average American man makes in 365 days. Women lose hundreds of thousands of dollars over their lifetime because of unfair wage practices, money that could be put towards retirement, educational expenses, and various other investments which would ultimately stimulate the economy as a whole. This disparity becomes even more pronounced when one considers women of color who earn even less to the dollar than men. African American women make 64 cents to every dollar earned by a white man  while that number drops even lower for Hispanic women who make a meager 56 cents to the dollar of white male earnings. The problem persists in virtually all strata of all occupations, including ones requiring advanced degrees and those where women make up the majority of those employed within it. Such is the case with nursing, where 90% of all registered nurses are women yet female nurses make 12% less than their male nurse counterparts.

While we as a country have come a long way in providing equal pay for equal work, we still have quite a ways to go. We need to continue to endorse programs which actively encourage women to pursue careers in the highest paying, male dominated fields, namely those involving science, technology, engineering, and mathematics and reduce discriminatory barriers which exist both in the educational and hiring practices involved in procuring such careers. We need to supplement and strengthen laws which are already in place prohibiting wage discrimination and endorsing pay transparency so that there can exist greater workplace accountability. More efficient and adequate tools must be implemented to make oversight and investigation of wage disparities easier as well as increase penalties for enterprises found to be violating protection laws such as the Equal Pay Act. Nearly half of the United States workforce is women, and in the words of President Barack Obama, “it’s time to do away with workplace policies that belong in a ‘Mad Men’ episode.”

- Sarah Maureen Bazir