Video from the Senate Committee Armed Services heard testimony earlier this week on sexual assault in the military, including military leaders as well as representatives from outside groups. The hearings were aired on C-SPAN, and video is archived on that site for viewing, split into 3 parts.
Panel 1 – Lots of questions to a panel of military leaders – I think all of one of them was a woman. Senator Joe Manchin points out, in response to a leader talking about how change should start at the top and responsibility should stay with Commanders, that the problem has been known for more than 20 years and “it’s almost intolerable that we can continue on the current path by allowing the Commanders to be in charge at the level they are.”
Panel 2 – Senator McCaskill says of the military leaders at about 47 minutes in, “It sounds like you all are very bullish on the status quo.” Then, “The status quo is not acceptable.”
Panel 3 – outside experts, includes representatives from Protect Our Defenders and the Service Women’s Action Network. Includes commentary on how victims have completely lost faith in the military justice system, and were threatened with charges of adultery when reporting rape.
More on this when I’m not sick with a sore throat. For now I will just say that I consider it morally repugnant to mislead teens and to present them with religious opinions about sex in a public school setting instead of facts that could help keep them healthy. Want to complain about the possibility of condoms failing? Then talk about correct use, back-ups, and emergency contraception. This lecture was nothing more than fear-mongering and trying to drum up new clients for a faith-based “clinic” that will not provide birth control or refer for abortion services – in other words, they want women to make very specific choices around sex and pregnancy, rather than in actually providing a full range of information and services around reproductive health.
The claim that “all” scientific, medical, and biological texts define life as beginning at conception is an outright lie, by the way. Apparently that’s what you get when you invite an anti-sex, anti-choice Christian religious messenger into schools about sex – lies and deliberately misleading takes on truth.
In Case You Thought a Doctor Who Acknowledges Sleeping with His Patients Might Actually Get Punished
In a few previous round-up posts, I mentioned the case of Scott DesJarlais, anti-abortion Tennessee Republican who, as a physician, had sex with some of his female patients and recorded himself pressuring one to get an abortion. The Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners reviewed the complaints against DesJarlais this week.
You’d think such an abuse of the authority of and trust patients have in a physician would warrant serious punishment, right? Like loss of one’s medical license?
Nope. DesJarlais remains a practicing physician. He’s being fined $250 per patient (so $500 fine for the actual offenses), plus any administrative costs associated with the complaint, for a grand total of up to $1500. He keeps his medical license, and simply gets reprimanded.
According to the Tennessean, “The $500 fine is the same amount assessed against another doctor in 2012 for failing to pay her professional privilege taxes. At least two other doctors who admitted sexual misconduct with patients faced harsher penalties.”
The Tennessean also reports that “DesJarlais, a Jasper physician, said the medical ethics board had largely absolved him of complaints.” According to this consent order shared by the Huffington Post*, it is listed as a stipulation of fact that DesJarlais had a sexual relationship with two female patients, and that documentation did not exist to show whether or not he continued serving as their physician after the sex started. I would assume that’s because there’s no documentation of the exact time period of the sex, because if there were there would be records showing whether the women presented to DesJarlais as patients during or after that time.
This is not a process I know much about, and minutes of the meeting are not yet available. Judging from this site, there are meetings as far back as July 2011 that have never had their minutes posted, so who knows when they’ll be up there. I am not in a position to speak about evidence around DesJarlais’s actions or what the board discussed or found. However, I find both the idea of DesJarlais abusing his professional position and the lack of a serious punishment just gross and disturbing. I really hope we hear some more detailed reporting out of the Board soon.
Her: Add something zippy to the beginning of this article.
Me: Here are some percentages about HPV types and cervical and anal cancer!
Sometimes I feel sorry for my editor for National Women’s Health Network newsletter articles. Susan Flinn, you’re terrific!
Tomorrow I’ll go back to work after being out since Friday, May 3rd. Since that time, I’ve cleaned house for an overnight family guest, prepped and packed for a conference, spent 4 days at or traveling to/from the annual Medical Library Association conference (where I gave a presentation, attended a committee meeting, and served as an official conference blogger, along with various other conference obligations). Then I came home where I updated my resume, looked at job descriptions, worked on a cover letter, wrote the first draft of my next NWHN newsletter article, and had introvert recovery time. I also threw in a quick post on reproductive health content a Terry Pratchett book. Whew. I might still need a vacation.
Although I have been woefully isolated from the news for the past week, some things that have caught my attention:
- Bears repeating, and imagine how many *men in politics* are completely ignorant of this fact: Half of Women Unaware that Pregnancy Is More Dangerous Than Contraception. These are results released by ACOG from a very small study presented at their annual meeting, so complete methods and data is not available. I’d be interested in the results of a larger study that would also look at public knowledge about the safety of pregnancy vs. abortion (abortion similarly is safer than pregnancy/birth for women).
- Weld County Board Renews Decision to Ban Plan B at Health Clinics – in Colorado, where people are still completely wrong about how emergency contraception works, but also don’t want to help low-income people afford birth control. *headdesk*
- First the Egg is announcing a book project on feminist parenting, and is soliciting word-spreading, help, and story-sharing.
Among the issues to address: “Mainstream parenting culture–and books–make big assumptions about what men and women, boys and girls are like. And what we ought to be like, too. On top of this gender essentialism, most advice about parenting either ignores or participates in heteronormativity, classism, racism, ableism, and the power of commodity culture.”
So, as is often the case but not always executed in feminism, I think it would be good to get some voices in there that aren’t just secure, middle class, white highly educated feminist perspectives. Seriously.
- Go here to help out with fundraising for a Queer Women of Color Reproductive Justice event – “Sister Song will host a gathering of LGBTQ Indigenous women and women of color who are leaders in the reproductive justice movement in order to help strengthen a shared vision, build support of peer-leadership, strengthen intersectional movement alignment and develop potential policy agenda action items.”
- SisterSong is also having a live-streamed symposium on May 22 on “a mother’s right to parent her children.”
- The judge in the Plan B case has refused to issue a stay delaying over-the-counter emergency contraception access for young women in response to the Department of Justice’s appeal.
Props to Judge Korman, who is quoted as stating that “If a stay is granted, it will allow the bad-faith, politically motivated decision of Secretary Sebelius, who lacks any medical or scientific expertise, to prevail” and calling the appeal’s argument about women’s confusion both “silly” because the appeal itself creates confusion, and “largely an insult to the intelligence of women.”
- Haven’t read this, but definitely want to check it out: the Dari Project book, the first bilingual collection of LGBTQ Korean American stories (found via I am Korean American)
- These Mama’s Day e-cards from Strong Families are amazing.
- Resource of interest: Native Youth Sexual Health Network
- James Perry asks, “Is sexism obscuring the cure to American poverty?” – looks at America’s lack of paid pregnancy leave, the wage gap, and argues “Affording women equal rights, fair salaries, maternal support and the right and easy access to reproductive health care will go a long way stemming poverty.”
- Random media notes: Neil Gaiman did an episode of Doctor Who. The Doctor’s line near the end referring to Clara as a mystery wrapped in a “skirt that’s just a little too tight” just really ruined the episode for me, regardless of its other problems. Too bad that instead of being a companion through whose eyes we can see the Doctor – and someone who is interesting, courageous, clever, and a leader in her own right – Clara is reduced to an object for both the Doctor and the viewer, a mystery to be solved and a skirt open to policing comments by others. Just, no.
I just finished reading Terry Pratchett’s Equal Rites, and noticed several somewhat coded references to women’s reproductive health topics, and would love to know if other readers caught others.
First up, “Old Granny is up with my wife right now,” said by the smith, whose wife is giving birth. “Granny” is a common old term in the U.S. south for a lay midwife. Granny Weatherwax is a witch, too, the concepts of witches and midwives as women healers being somewhat intertwined in the imagination and history.
Later: “Esk knew that she [Granny] was famous throughout the mountains for special potions for special illnesses that her mother-and some young women, too, once in a while-just hinted at with raised eyebrows and lowered voices…” The mention of the occasional young women along with the secrecy here suggests that we are likely meant to think of herbal remedies for a late period (i.e., methods of terminating early pregnancy). Infertility and other menstrual problems are a possibility as well, but we can be fairly sure that Granny is working within the realm of women’s reproductive health.
“..a number of mysterious potions that Granny said she might learn the use of in good time.” Potentially a reference to sex or menstruation-related potions young Eskarina wouldn’t have need of just yet.
Esk out with Granny, Hilta Goatfounder speaking at her shop at the market: “…I say, there’d be many a family in this town a good deal bigger and poorer if it wasn’t for Madam Goatfounder’s Pennyroyal Preventatives.” Pennyroyal is well-known for its use to end pregnancies.
(Disclaimer: do not attempt! You can read about this elsewhere, and I do wonder how much knowledge we can pull together given MS, ND, and other states, but I’m emphatically not encouraging anyone to dive into this in a self-experiment-y kind of way.)
This is the first of Pratchett’s witches books that I’ve read – has anyone caught similar references in the other books?
PS – I’m reading books again! *For reasons,* I had to go on hiatus for a bit, enjoying briefer blog posts, fanfiction, and other online materials. Also reading: Dorothy Roberts’s Fatal Invention : How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-create Race in the Twenty-First Century. I’ll probably have to return it before I’m finished. I also just finished the last book in the Southern Vampire Mysteries series, about which I have *feelings.*