Morning Roundup: Mikulski Longest Serving Female Senator

Barbara Mikulski is the longest serving female senator, Virginia sees a personhood bill, Scalia doesn’t read briefs on anything controversial, birth debates heat up, and the new Executive Director of the UN Population Fund has started his tenure.

  • You know that bumper sticker, women belong in the House – and Senate? Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) has done both, and as she is sworn in for her fifth term today, she’ll be the longest serving woman in the U.S. Senate. When she joined the body in 1987, there was just one other woman in the Senate. This year, there will be seventeen.
  • Anti-choice Virginia delegate Bob Marshall has pre-introduced a fetal personhood bill in Virginia that would define life as beginning at conception, and give fetuses “all the rights, privileges, and immunities available to other persons, citizens, and residents of this Commonwealth.” Not really surprising, but the interesting part is the bill is intended to amend a wrongful death statute, essentially allowing a parent to sue for the wrongful death of a fetus (or embryo or zygote), although it would apply to all other areas of Virginia law.
  • Dear Supreme Court lawyers, you can write briefs until your fingers turn blue, but if it’s on something controversial, Justice Antonin Scalia won’t be reading it. According to the Wall Street Journal, in an interview with a law professor, Scalia said:

    I do not pretend that originalism is perfect. … We don’t have the answer to everything, but by God we have an answer to a lot of stuff … especially the most controversial: whether the death penalty is unconstitutional, whether there’s a constitutional right to abortion, to suicide, and I could go on. All the most controversial stuff. … I don’t even have to read the briefs, for Pete’s sake.

    Lawyers, you should start inserting Scalia jokes in your controversial briefs, because he’ll never know!

  • The New York Times highlights the home birth vs. hospital debate going on at, and asks readers to explain why everyone can’t just meet in the middle ground (a home-like environment in a hospital).
  • Babatunde Osotimehin has taken over as Executive Director of the UN Population Fund. The announcement of the new director was made back in November, and was applauded by the women’s rights and health communities. (See Jodi’s piece on announcement for more.)

Jan 4

Like this story? Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

For more information or to schedule an interview with contact