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Dispatches from the Revolution: Part 2

In the second installment of my coverage of From Abortion Rights to Social Justice: Building a Movement for Reproductive Freedom, a conference hosted by the Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program (CLPP), I thought I'd focus on some incredible youth organizing that was a part of the conference.

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Dispatches from the Revolution

This week, I break from regularly scheduled blogging to bring you some first-hand coverage from Massachusetts.

This weekend I left the bustle of Chicago to retreat into the lovely lair of western Mass. for the From Abortion Rights to Social Justice: Building a Movement for Reproductive Freedom, a conference hosted by the Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program. I've just retuned from the conference having been challenged, energized, inspired and exhausted in the best ways possible.

Over 1000 activists came together to forge a path towards reproductive freedom by learning, strategizing and networking for reproductive rights and social justice. There were more than 60 speakers from organizations and communities all over the U.S. and around the world. The speakers addressed a broad range of social justice issues by relating them to reproductive rights and health. They spoke about issues of economic justice, immigrants rights, health care, racial justice, anti-war activism, youth liberation, LGBTQ rights, civil liberties and freedom from violence.

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Fitting Into Your Genes: Abortion, Disability and the Politics of Genetic Testing

Not so many years ago, genetic testing and selection seemed like a thing of the future. Gattaca-like scenarios seemed far off. Now, however, those scenarios are more imminent and as reproductive rights activists we've got to sort through the science and politics of it all. Since my post about sex-selection in India, I've been thinking quite a bit about the convolutions of this debate and how to configure a political stance on these issues that incorporates all the things I value. There are debates raging in the blogosphere, in the activist communities and in the world at large about genetic testing and reproductive rights. The New York Times is running a series of articles called "The DNA Age: Choosing to Know" (see sidebar for all articles). The questions are moral and political and because these phenomena happen on the site of women's bodies, the answers are crucial to a vision of reproductive justice. I can't say that I have any clear answers to these but I thought I'd take this opportunity to lay out the debate and offer some thoughts on it.

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Women and War: Japanese Women Still Waiting for Justice

Last week, as we heard about American women in war, another story about women and war surfaced. An article in the NY Times reported that the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is refusing to acknowledge that Japanese (and other) women were forced into sex-slavery by the military during World War II.

This weekend, after a great stirring of emotions and controversy, the government of Japan reiterated its stance. The women who lived through it, however, are refusing to accept this distortion of history.

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Sex and Selection: Nuances in Creating a Global Reproductive Justice Movement

In the past week there have been two sets of startling stories about India and reproductive rights in the news.

The first story is based on a government survey finding that 40% of Indian women have not heard of AIDS. India has 5.7 million people living with HIV/AIDS per UN figures. The National Family Health Survey (NFHS), the most extensive study on health and nutrition in India, said in its latest report only 57 percent of women have heard of AIDS. In rural areas, where most Indians live, a mere 46% of women were aware of the disease.

The second story reports that GE ultrasound machines in India are being used for sex selection. Under Indian law, doctors who operate ultrasound machines can only use them in the case of an abnormal pregnancy and must fill out forms showing the reason for each procedure. However the only machines that the government can monitor are the 25,770 machines that are registered. The London Daily Main places estimates of the actual number of machines in use at anywhere from 70,000 to 100,000, according to the British Medical Journal. The portable ones that make it to rural areas, if unregistered and unregulated can allow any woman to determine the sex of her child. The fetus can then be terminated at a government hospital, where abortions, like other procedures, are free for those who cannot pay.

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The Tale of the Not-Quite All American Baby: Immigration and Reproductive Rights

Let's kick off 2007 with a little immigration mania, shall we?

Yuki Lin, born on the stroke of midnight this New Year's, became the winner of a random drawing for a national Toys "R" Us sweepstakes. The company had promised a $25,000 U.S. savings bond to the "first American baby born in 2007." However, Yuki lost her prize after the company learned that her mother was an undocumented U.S. resident. Instead, the bond went to a baby in Gainesville, Georgia, described by her mother as "an American all the way."

The question is unambiguously answered by the 14th Amendment, which asserts that a child born on U.S. soil is an American citizen, having equal standing with all other American citizens. Nevertheless, this incident brings to light some pretty deep-seated beliefs about who is legitimately American and who, clearly, is not.

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Now You See It: Crisis Pregnancy Centers pull Rabbits out of Hats and Strip Rights from Women

Last week, an article in Time Magazine, written by Nancy Gibbs, addressed the burgeoning business of so-called, "crisis pregnancy centers" or CPC's. If you recall Tyler's post about the L-Word episode that featured such a center, you'll remember what hypocritical hoaxes they conjure and the trickery and deceit they market.

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Objectionable Objectors: Is YOUR Doctor Telling You Everything You Need to Know?

An alarming number of physicians do not feel obligated to tell their patients about certain medical procedures they morally oppose. Often falling into this category are teen birth control and abortion. A recently published study in the New England Journal of Medicine, led by Dr. Farr Curlin, a bioethicist at the University of Chicago has brought forth new information. The researchers surveyed 1,144 doctors from all around the US and found some truly disturbing facts about medical care in this country. Many doctors who morally oppose certain treatments do not feel obligated to refer people elsewhere for care they do not wish to provide.

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Science In the Classroom? Stop the Presses!

In Iowa, Oregon and Milwaukee the sex-education tide's-a-turning. Each of these places is on the path to offering sex education in their schools that is based on truthful information about sex. Well, the statistics don't lie and it's about time that we started paying attention to the grand failure that is abstinence-only sex ed.

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Baby Border Patrol

Each year many pregnant Chinese women try and cross the border into Hong Kong in order to give birth. Apparently, in the past few years tens of thousands of women have crossed the border from mainland China into Hong Kong to deliver their children. Last year this number reached approximately 12,000. By making the trek into Hong Kong, women from mainland China are able to circumvent the country's one-child policy, and gain automatic residency rights (that come with health and education benefits) for their child in Hong Kong. The numbers of births by Chinese women from the mainland now account for almost a third of Hong Kong births, and are placing a burden on local hospital wards.

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