From the July-August 2022 issue of News & Letters
In June, over 50 mothers with babies held a second No Birth Behind Bars “feed-in” at the Ministry of Justice in London, England, demanding an end to the increasing incarceration of pregnant women and new mothers. Protesters delivered a petition with 10,310 signatures to the Justice Secretary. The Prison Ombudsman confirms all pregnancies in prison are “high risk,” with two infant deaths reported recently. One in ten prisoners in labor deliver outside a hospital, often with no medical care. Most women in prison worldwide serve short sentences for non-violent offenses, and eleven countries have laws against incarcerating pregnant women. Protesters demand pregnant women and mothers be allowed to serve sentences in their communities with support and medical care.
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In January, members of 30 abortion rights groups across the U.S. and Mexico held a three-day video conference and then formed a coalition named “Red Transfronteriza” or “Cross Border Network.” Abortion was decriminalized in Mexico last September, but banned after six weeks in Texas. Mexican feminists wanted to share the “accompaniment” model they had built with activists from other Latin American countries. Americans able to travel across the border can abort with help from Mexican groups. The network has mailed abortion pills free of charge to hundreds of U.S. women, guiding them virtually through the World Health Organization’s protocol for safely using them without a doctor. Accompaniment minimizes legal and health risks. Women are told how much bleeding is normal before seeing a doctor, and to tell doctors they are having a miscarriage.
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On June 18, in Montreal, Canada, about 50 feminists protested the prostitution common at the Grand Prix auto race weekend with signs saying, “Stop Buying Women/Girls/Us,” “You Can’t Buy Consent,” “Buying Sex is Not a Sport, It’s a Crime” and “No Client, No Prostitution.” Among the feminists were actors from the film Noemie Dit Oui (Noemi Said Yes), which was projected onto a building. Directed by Genevieve Albert, it tells the common story of a 15-year-old girl running away from foster care, convinced by her “boyfriend”—a pimp—to prostitute herself at the Grand Prix. Activist survivor Valerie Pelletier disputed the “sex workers rights” stance that it “can be a choice like any other.” She said, “We have to stop talking about women. We have to start talking about the right of men to buy us. People will call you ‘whorephobic,’ saying you tell women what to do with their bodies, but that’s not the real point…I was the supposedly happy and consenting whore then, look, now I’m ‘scrap that!’”
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In June, a U.S. study led by labor economist Julia Lane found women are 13% less likely to be credited with authorship on scientific papers and 58% less likely to receive credit for work on a patent. This, despite being almost 50% of the scientific workforce and contributing to more types of work than men. Lane explains this harms careers and erodes diversity “important to the country.” She states heads of research teams can be trained to be better managers.