- “Sex and the City”‘s Cynthia Nixon is speaking out for abortion rights in light of the restrictive Stupak-Pitts Amendment in the House health care reform bill and the Nelson-Hatch Amendment in the Senate’s bill. Nixon recently told CNN.com: “My mother had an illegal abortion pre-1973, and it’s something that I would never want to face or want my daughter to be facing or any of her friends. Abortion is a right I feel must not go away, and I feel like people aren’t mobilizing so much because it’s so complicated and it’s difficult to understand.” [CNN]
- … and speaking of abortion rights, the Senate passed its version of the health care reform bill on Saturday night, which included a provision intended to appease Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE), an anti-choice senator who had threatened to withhold his vote. This provision allows states to refuse coverage for abortion in their insurance markets; if insurance plans do cover abortion, the payee must pay for abortion coverage separately from their regular insurance. The next step will be for the House and Senate versions of the bill to be merged together. [New York Times]
- Tonight Diane Sawyer debuts as lead anchor of ABC’s “World News,” kicking off with an interview with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Sawyer is only the second female to solo anchor an evening broadcast, after Katie Couric. [L.A. Times]
- … and The New York Observer asks the burning question: What will Diane Sawyer wear?!?!?! [NYO]
- President Obama signed into law Sen. Al Franken’s (D-MN) amendment that will forbid defense contractors from restricting their employees’ abilities to take sexual assault cases to court. Previously, some defense contractors required employees who’d been raped to settle behind closed doors in arbitration. [Think Progress]
- Watch out, service members! Pregnancy is now a punishable offense! Major General Anthony Cucolo in Iraq recently added pregnancy as a reason to be court marshaled. “I’ve got a mission to do, I’m given a finite number of soldiers with which to do it and I need every one of them,” Maj. Gen. Cuculo told the BBC. “So I’m going to take every measure I can to keep them all strong, fit and with me for the 12 months we are in the combat zone.” At least the new policy addresses both male and female soldiers, though only time will tell whether the policy is applied fairly. It might make sense to allow a servicewoman to terminate a pregnancy, though, if she and her partner will be court marshaled for getting knocked up. Just saying. [BBC]
- An appeals court in California has denied Roman Polanski‘s request to have his case dismissed. Polanski was arrested by Swiss authorities in September, ostensibly so he could be extradited to stand trail for drugging and raping a 13-year-old girl in 1977. [New York Times]
- A judge in Oklahoma extended the temporary restraining order against legislation which would have required doctors to post details about abortions online. Doctors would be forced to post online a woman’s age, race, marital status and years of education, among other details, and opponents of the law say that info steps over the bounds of protecting women’s privacy. A judge ruled the restraining order will remain until a lawsuit over the constitutionality of the law is resolved. [AP]
- Filmmaker John Waters (“Hairspray”) spoke in Austin, Texas, recently and said this: “I hate driving by abortion clinics and seeing dirty old men standing around outside. I feel like yelling at them, ‘Impregnators!’” ROFL. [The Feminist Texican via Feministing]
- On this day in 1937, actress and activist Jane Fonda was born. She’s most famous for her anti-war activism during Vietnam, but Fonda has been a longtime supporter of women’s rights, including her involvement with VDay: Until The Violence Stops, a global movement to end violence against women and girls. (You may have heard how they stage showings of the play “The Vagina Monologues” on college campuses and donate the proceeds earned to survivors of sexual violence.) In 2005, Fonda joined feminists Gloria Steinem and Robin Morgan to start the Women’s Media Center, which, among other things, trains women to participate in the media. Check out her website for more about her extraordinary life. [Feministing].
- A member of the Egyptian government has filed a lawsuit against a newspaper for supposedly “promoting vice” when it published an article by a female journalist which questioned why husbands are allowed polygamous relationships in Islam but wives are not. Nadine al-Bedair’s article suggested that polygamy be allowed for both men and women, an idea critics have denounced as un-Islamist. [BBC]
- This is really weird: Paul Ouellet, the brother of Quebec’s Roman Catholic Archbishop, took out newspaper ads to explain why he sexually assaulted a 13-year-old and a 15-year-old back in the ’80s and ’90s. A newspaper ad? Really? Even weirder is how Ouellet blamed the victims by referring to the “advances” these girls made on him. [Canadian Broadcasting Center]
On Friday in Today’s Lady News, we learned a plastic surgery clinic in Connecticut was shut down after numerous health violations were discovered, including mouse poop on the tools. Ewww.