Posted by Maya Paley
Honestly, if I have to hear or see one more radio, T. V., newspaper, or magazine discussing the “Royal Baby”, I might just give up and walk off a cliff.
Seriously? Is this really the most important news of the century? At this point, I’m just going to use the “Royal Baby” attention to try and get you to visit my blog and actually take some important actions that can truly make a difference. Below are some important legislative updates and I’ve even included easy to follow action items so you can turn off that T.V. or put down that magazine and do something today with the time you otherwise would have spent thinking about the “royal welcome” or how Queen Elizabeth feels about the new heir being a boy.
1) Military Sexual Assault: You probably have heard a lot about military sexual assault this year. Did you know that unwanted sexual contact in the U.S. military actually rose by 37 percent in 2012? That’s 26,000 people, both women and men, being sexually assaulted in our military.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York has proposed the Military Justice Improvement Act (S 967) to change the archaic system that allowed commanding officers to investigate and prosecute assault cases among their troops. With S 967, professional military prosecutors will now be responsible for handling sexual assault cases. You can take action to help get the MJI Act passed by writing a letter to your Senator. (For those of you in California, Senators Feinstein and Boxer and are both Sponsors of the Bill so you can thank them for their support.)
At this link you can easily contribute to the fight against military sexual assault by writing a letter to your Senator.
Also, the following Senators really need a push so if you have friends in any of these states, please nudge them to call their Senators. This a bi-partisan issue. You’ll find that there are both Democrat and Republican Senators who have held out in supporting this Bill. We need to contact them today to get them to change their minds.
Senators not yet openly in support of the Bill (all of their contact info and this alert can be found at www.4vawa.org):
Arkansas: BOOZMAN, John
Colorado: BENNET, Michael F
Connecticut: MURPHY, Christopher
Georgia: ISAKSON, Johnny
Idaho: CRAPO, Mike
Idaho: RISCH, James
Illinois: KIRK, Mark
Illinois: DURBIN, Richard J
Indiana: COATS, Daniel
Kentucky: McCONNELL, Mitch
Louisiana: LANDRIEU, Mary L. <
Montana: BAUCUS, Max
Montana: TESTER, Jon
Nevada: REID, Harry North Carolina: BURR, Richard
Ohio: BROWN, Sherrod
Oklahoma: COBURN, Tom
Pennsylvania: TOOMEY, Patrick J.
Rhode Island: WHITEHOUSE, Sheldon
Texas: CORNYN, John
Virginia: WARNER, Mark R.
Wyoming: ENZI, Michael B
When you call, be sure to ask to speak to the staff person who handles military/defense legislation and say:
• I am a constituent from [city and state] and my name is _________.
• I urge Senator [insert name] to co-sponsor S. 967, The Military Justice Improvement Act, which will hold perpetrators of sexual assault accountable for their actions and provide victims of military sexual assault access to safety and justice.
• Thank the staffer for their time.
2) Another action you can take, if you’re a California resident, is in favor or Assembly Bill 271, which would repeal California law that encourages poor women to be sterilized, and you all know from my last post how I feel about that! I’m not going to write a lot about it because you can read it all on this blog post by Assemblymember Holly Mitchell who authored the Bill and Social Justice Advocate Sandra Fluke at www.momsrising.org.
But to take action, click here to sign onto this MoveOn petition. See how easy I'm making this for you?
Yes, I admit that I’m being pretentious and maybe a tad self-righteous here. And I admit that I’m using the “royal baby” phenomenon to get you to read my post and take actions on important issues that require true civic engagement. But, I have no shame and, at the very least, I own up to it. If you agree, let me know. If you disagree, go back to reading your tabloids. I’m over it.
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July 10, 2013 | 5:56 pm
Posted by Maya Paley
“Mark my words, some future Governor of this state will come before the citizens to apologize…Jerry Brown can save that future governor the whole ritual by acting now.”
That is what Chris Hayes had to say on July 8th, when covering the report by Corey G. Johnson of the Center for Investigative Reporting released on July 7th: “Female Inmates Sterilized in California Prisons Without Approval.”
From 2006-2010, 148 women inmates were sterilized without the doctors obtaining approvals required by the state to do so. It’s likely that another 100 women were sterilized in the late 1990s as well.
The report states: “Former inmates and prisoner advocates maintain that prison medical staff coerced the women, targeting those deemed likely to return to prison in the future.”
The residents of California and the United States should be outraged; thank goodness for the few news agencies who have picked up this story!
In the report, former women inmates detail being pressured into tubal ligation during pregnancies. Sterilizations during labor or childbirth are not allowed in prisons if federal funds are used to perform them due to the very real and obvious “concerns that prisoners might feel pressured to comply.” Dr. Dorothy Roberts clearly explains: “soliciting approval for sterilization during labor is coercive because pain and discomfort can impair a woman’s ability to weigh the decision.”
California has a horrifying history with sterilization. From 1909-1964, 20,000 women and men in CA were sterilized. The report also notes that Nazis asked California eugenics leaders for advice on the matter in the 1930s. See the quote by Hitler, which Chris Hayes mentioned on his show, in the photograph.
Hayes connects the issue of sterilizations in prisons with problems in our prisons in general. He notes that prisoners in California are conducting their 3rd hunger strike to protest “subjection to decades of indefinite state-sanctioned torture, via long term solitary confinement.” In California inmates can be held in solitary confinement indefinitely and 70% of those who committed suicide in California prisons in 2005 were in solitary confinement at the time, according to Hayes’ report.
The CIR report states that:
“Under compulsory sterilization laws here and in 31 other states, minority groups, the poor, the disabled, the mentally ill and criminals were singled out as inferior to prevent them from spreading their genes.”
Justice Now, a non-profit organization based in Oakland, has been actively trying to get medical data and records from the prisons for several years. A response they got from the Receiver’s Office acknowledged that tubal ligations were taking place in 2 prisons in California back in 2008. But nothing was done about this until 2010, when Justice Now filed a public records request and complained to Senator Carol Liu, who was then the Chairwoman of the Select Committee of Women and Children in the Criminal Justice System. Dr. Ricki Barnett of the Health Care Review Committee explained in the report that no requests for tubal ligations had come to the Committee for review since she joined the Committee in 2008. Barnett told officials at both prisons and at nearby hospitals to stop the sterilizations, but said in the report that they seemed to not know about the existing restrictions on the procedure, “operating on the fact that this was a perfectly reasonable thing to do.”
Some of the doctors who performed the surgeries have claimed that they just wanted to provide options to the women inmates just as they would have options outside of prison and to ensure that their health is a priority. But inmates have claimed that they were pressured into getting tubal ligations without being given reasons or explanations as to why they should do so.
The doctors who performed these coercive procedures should be held accountable for their actions. Governor Brown must step up and, yes, apologize for the State’s lack of oversight and enforcement of the law and should ensure that those who work in the prison system are held accountable for wrongdoing. Future medical professionals in our prisons must be thoroughly trained to provide proper medical care to inmates, care that respects their human desires and needs, and does not use intimidation or coercion to perform eugenic procedures on disempowered populations. A process for review on the state level is necessary and the residents of California have a right to be informed and to review policies and procedures in our prisons.
Below is a statement made by Governor Davis back in 2003 to the 20,000 victims of sterilization mentioned earlier in the article. I believe it is time for another apology!