Wednesday, February 11, 2009

From the Desk of the President

Hello Smith Dems, Mara here! This is my first real blog post here (or anywhere for that matter…) Most of the other amazing contributions here are from our fabulous VP, Julia Reed!

I realized some amazing things happened in politics that we failed to discuss at our meeting because they technically occurred over break. I intend on rectifying this right now! Yay for the interwebz!

SO, upon taking office, President Obama reversed the Global Gag Rule. For those of you who may not have heard about it, the Global Gag Rule forbids any NGO that works outside of the country and receives federal funding from so much as using the word "abortion," let alone advocating for or performing one. Yes, friends, even to protect the life of the mother, NGOs such as the Red Cross are prevented, under the Gag Rule, from even saying "the a-word." The only exception? If they are speaking out against abortion. This policy has had devastating results in developing countries, where foreign NGOs are often the most medically advanced and affordable services provided and illegal abortions are even more lethal than in the United States. This lovely piece of legislation has a history of partisan presidential ping-pong; after being introduced in 1984 by President Reagan, it was repealed under Democratic President Clinton just to be reinstated by President Bush. On January 23rd, as one of the first major actions of his presidency, President Obama rescinded it. The Smith Dems rejoiced.

Furthermore, after being held up by an assured veto from FORMER President Bush (sorry, it still feels too good to resist), the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act passed congress and was the first bill signed into law by President Obama! The law, which helps to mandate equal pay for equal work for women, is an early sign that President Obama will be a strong advocate of women’s rights. Now that is the kind of friend the women’s movement has been waiting for!

Here's the story of the President and women’s rights in pictures (tip o' the hat to Prof. Carrie Baker for bringing this to my attention):

Bush signing the Partial Birth Abortion Ban of 2003

Obama Signing the Fair Pay Act of 2009: