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Abortion rights and immigration reform collide in Texas, while the conversations sparked by Harvey Weinstein’s sexual assault crimes continue to reverberate across the internet, through Congress and beyond.
#MeToo, senators say
On Sunday morning, female senators came forward to say, “#metoo” in a powerful way in a special segment of NBC’s Meet the Presswith Chuck Todd. Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), all shared personal accounts of their experiences with sexual harassment and assault that occurred early on in their careers.
The accounts ranged from the lewd (the Speaker of the Missouri House of Representatives asked a 20-something McCaskill, who was seeking his advice for getting her first bill out of committee, whether she had brought her knee pads,) to the violent (a senior faculty member tried to attack Warren when she was a young law professor).
Prefacing the segment, Todd said that MTP had reached out to all 21 female members of the US Senate to see who wanted to share their #metoo stories after the hashtag, originally conceptualized by activist Tarana Burke more than a decade ago, blew up on social media this week, elevating issues of sexual violence against women far beyond Harvey Weinstein’s systematic attacks on the women of Hollywood. On Sunday, Weinstein announced he had completed a whopping one-week outpatient program for his “sex addiction.” Pretty sure that’s not going to cut it, dude.
I’ve had longer periods than this https://t.co/Si3sWZgnVz— Ziwe (@ziwe) October 22, 2017
On Sunday, The NYT dropped another damning report on Harvey’s esteemed contemporary, Bill O’Reilly. The former Fox News personality was ousted from the network in April after the NYT first reported on five settlements he had reached with women over claims of sexual harassment at work. In their latest report, a sixth settlement, the largest one of all, was revealed to have been reached prior to Fox’s original decision to renew O’Reilly’s contract in January. The NYT report claims that Fox knew about this $32 million settlement before renewing the contract, a revelation that goes a long way to exposing the fractious systems from which these few “bad guys” were able to emerge and thrive.
Speaking of, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos continues to chip away at the Title IX guidance in place for the handling of campus investigations of sexual violence, the Education Department on Friday announced in a newsletter that it has rescinded 72 guidance documents from the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services.
According to the Washington Post,“Advocates for students with disabilities were still reviewing the changes to determine their impact. Lindsay E. Jones, the chief policy and advocacy officer for the National Center for Learning Disabilities, said she was particularly concerned to see guidance documents outlining how schools could use federal money for special education removed.”
Jane Doe vs. everyone
In recent weeks, an undocumented 17-year-old woman, currently being detained in Texas after attempting to enter the US illegally last month, has found herself at the center of a debate conflating two of the hottest politicized issues. While under federal guardianship in a detention facility for undocumented minors, “Jane Doe,” as she is being referred to in court documentation, discovered she was 12 weeks pregnant. Jane’s decision to terminate her pregnancy created a foothold for President Donald Trump’s administration to re-launch their dual-attacks on immigration reform and abortion rights simultaneously.
While Congress has yet to officially pass the controversial, reportedly unconstitutional 20-week abortion ban championed by the House earlier this month, some states, including Texas, have already had similar legislation in place for years. Additionally, minors in Texas are required to have parental consent, or a judicial waiver, in order to legally get an abortion. Jane acquired the waiver, but the government prevented her from moving forward with the (legal) procedure, claiming it was not their duty to facilitate an abortion.
The ACLU sued and a federal judge ordered the government to allow “Doe” to go through with the abortion. Then, on Saturday, the appeals court acquiesced to the government’s defense that Doe be released to the custody of a health-department sourced sponsors in order to get the abortion.
The issue(s)—aside from the obvious and mind-boggling absurdity? The US Department of Health and Human Services is one of the three defendants in the ACLU’s lawsuit, which hardly positions them as an invested party in the search for Doe’s sponsor, a process which can take up to several months, according to the New York Times.The health department has until October 31 to find the sponsor, at which point not only will Doe will be almost 16 weeks pregnant (leaving less than a month for her to legally attain an abortion in Texas), but the government will have the opportunity to appeal the federal judge’s ruling. Again.
I’m thinking of Jane Doe today. She’s a 17 year old girl who wants an abortion, but they’ve turned her personal decision into a circus.— Tina Vasquez (@TheTinaVasquez) October 20, 2017
While things may seem bleak here in the good old US of A, the very concept of democracy is at stake in Spain. On October 1, the citizens of Catalonia, a northeastern autonomous community of Spain, voted to make their region an independent state in the form of a republic, a referendum which the Spanish government tried to prevent through violent police activity and immediately declared illegal.
Catalonia is an affluent region and rumblings of secession have reverberated through daily life for many years. It is one of the more affluent regions of Spain with a distinct history and culture. Despite warnings from Madrid, the Catalan government has continued to pursue secession over the past few weeks.
On Saturday, the Spanish prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, announced he would remove the Catalan leadership and institute direct rule over the region. Spain instated democratic rule in 1975 after the death of the dictator Francisco Franco in 1975, and Rajoy’s response to Catalan’s desire for independence has many worried about the future of independence in the country.
This is the Barcelona Stadium chanting “Independence”… can Spain supress it too with a coup?— Help Catalonia (@CataloniaHelp2) October 22, 2017
2018, where you at?
Words: Kaylen Ralph