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work & the workplace:

Opt-Out Revolution? Not happening.
A new issue brief from the Council for Contemporary Families finds no evidence of a strong downward trend in mothers' workforce participation -- the true trend is that rates stopped rising in the early 1990s.

New EEOC guidelines address Family Responsibilities Discrimination

No-vacation nation:
U.S. is the only advanced economy that doesn't guarantee paid vacation time

More notable news and commentary on women, work and family

motherhood & mothering:

State of the World's Mothers 2007, round up of Mother's Day news stories and commentaries -- and more


Noteworthy news and commentary on women's issues and feminism

social issues:

U.S. health care costly, low quality

Progressive proposal would cut U.S. poverty in half

reproductive health & rights:

Backline offers toll free talk line

More reproductive health & rights news

past editions of mmo noteworthy ...
work & the workplace:

Opt Out Revolution? Not happening.

A new briefing paper by David Cotter, Paula England, and Joan Hermsen for the Council on Contemporary Families reports that contrary to recent press accounts, mothers are not "opting out" of the workforce. "Rather than a strong downward trend," the authors explain, "there has been a flattening out of the trend line, so that mothers' employment has stabilized, with a majority employed."

As has been previously reported here and elsewhere, rates of maternal employment rose steadily between 1962 and the late 1980s, and then leveled off at around 65 percent for mothers with children under five, and 78 percent for mothers with school-age children. (The CCF analysis only includes mothers between the ages of 24 and 54, so figures may vary slightly from oft-cited Census data.) Although husbands earnings had some influence on married mothers' labor force participation, significant declines were seen only for wives with husband in the lowest 25 percent and top 5 percent of male earners. Mothers with more education were more likely to be employed, and those with less than a high school education were least likely to be in the paid labor force, regardless of children's ages. Trends were fairly consistent across time, although the labor force participation rates of married mothers with husbands in the lowest earning quartile show a pronounced decline after 1994.

News reports that massive numbers of college-educated women are fleeing from careers mask the more important trend in maternal employment, which is that the workforce participation rate of mothers with children under five rose dramatically during the last three decades of the 20th century -- from 28 percent in 1962 to 60 percent in 1992, an average increase of 10 percentage points per decade (employment rates for mothers with no children under five rose by 22 percentage points during the same period). But over the last 15 years, the labor force participation rate of prime-age mothers has been virtually flat, despite a slight uptick between 2000 and 2004. The news is not that mothers are dropping out of the paid workforce -- it's that they are no longer flowing in at the rapid rates seen during the second half of the last century.

Why did the trend in mothers' workforce participation level off? It's possible that most mothers who can work are already working as much as they can. "Social scientists really aren't sure," about all the factors that have contributed to the stall, the authors say:

One possibility is that women's employment, which has gotten much closer to men's, can't move all the way to parity with men's unless men take on a more equal share of child rearing, and unless employers or the state adopt policies making it easier for parents to combine work and family. Men have increased the time they spend caring for children and doing housework, but nowhere near enough to offset women's increased employment. And the U.S. lags way behind other countries in family leave, child care provision and other policies that make it easier for people to be parents and workers. Perhaps a cultural backlash to the women's movement is a factor as well.

What will happen next? "We do not know if the trend in moms’ employment will turn up again, go down a bit more, or stay stable. It is too early to tell. But it seems extremely unlikely that it will go down significantly. What is clear is that, as in most affluent nations, women's employment in the U.S. is at high levels, with about 80 percent of all American mothers and 64 percent of even women with preschoolers in the workforce last year."

The briefing paper includes a number of useful charts and is also available for download in .pdf format.

Council on Contemporary Families

Moms and Jobs:
Trends in Mothers’ Employment and Which Mothers Stay Home

David Cotter, Paula England, and Joan Hermsen
Briefing paper, Council on Contemporary Families, 10.may.07

Fact sheet in .pdf, with color charts (10 pages)

Also from the CCF web site:

Motherhood Stalls When Women Can't Work
Stephanie Coontz, Harford Courant, 13.may.07
"Women are in the workforce to stay. Where employers and policy-makers refuse to accommodate women's desire to combine work and family, we see one of two outcomes: Either women stop having babies, as in Italy or Japan, or, as in the United States, many women who need to work can't afford to (because of expensive and uneven-quality child care) and many women who want to work feel guilty about the choices they are forced to make." (from the Council on Contemporary Families web site).

A "Stalled" Revolution or a Still-Unfolding One?
The Continuing Convergence of Men's and Women's Roles

Molly Monahan Lang and Barbara J. Risman,
Council on Contemporary Families Issue Brief
A disproportionate amount of attention has been given to a few pieces of data suggesting that women are abandoning the effort for equality. As we show here, the bulk of the evidence shows a decades-long trend of convergence between women and men in their behaviors, and in their gender attitudes. Yes, men and women continue to exhibit some differences in these respects. And among low-income groups, where economic stress and job insecurity make family life less stable, there are fewer signs of convergence. Unemployed single men, in particular, have been less likely to adopt egalitarian attitudes or to be involved in caregiving work. Without success at breadwinning, they are less likely to marry or cohabit over long periods of time, and without stable partnerships with women, much less likely to share childrearing. Overall, however, the trend is toward greater convergence in men's and women's values and behavior, in and out of the home.

Related articles:

Are Women "Opting Out" Of Careers?
Scholars Disagree Over Why Fewer Mothers Stay At High-Powered Jobs

Kelly Wallace, CBS News, 10.may.07
"Ever since the New York Times profiled some highly educated career women who gave it up to become full-time moms, “opting out” has been seen as the latest trend in mothering -- a kind of social revolution. …But the question is why did these women turn their backs on corporate America to be home with their kids? Did they opt out or did they run out of options?"

The invisible mommies
Sharon Lerner, Salon, 23.may.07
A spate of new books about opting out adds more fuel to the mommy wars. But will our focus on educated, well-paid women ever trickle down to less fortunate moms?

Rallies magnify the shortage in child care
Rick Wartzman, LA Times, 4.may.07
Discusses shortage of affordable child care in California. The state offers generous child care subsidies to low-income families, but there are over 148,000 eligible families on the waiting list.

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New EEOC guidelines address
Family Responsibilities Discrimination

In an important new development, the EEOC has issued its first formal enforcement guidelines covering Family Responsibilities Discrimination. Although the guidelines explain that federal law and most states do not specifically prohibit employment discrimination against caregivers, the document provides definitions, guidelines for evaluation and various examples of circumstances in which "discrimination against caregivers might constitute unlawful disparate treatment" under existing statutes.

The new FRD guidelines are detailed and extremely clear. Of particular interest to the maternal camp is Section IIA, "Sex-based Disparate Treatment of Female Caregivers," which reads:

Intentional sex discrimination against workers with caregiving responsibilities can be proven using any of the types of evidence used in other sex discrimination cases. As with any other charge, investigators faced with a charge alleging sex-based disparate treatment of female caregivers should examine the totality of the evidence to determine whether the particular challenged action was unlawfully discriminatory. All evidence should be examined in context. The presence or absence of any particular kind of evidence is not dispositive. For example, while comparative evidence is often useful, it is not necessary to establish a violation. There may be evidence of comments by officials about the reliability of working mothers or evidence that, despite the absence of a decline in work performance, women were subjected to less favorable treatment after they had a baby. It is essential that there be evidence that the adverse action taken against the caregiver was based on sex.

Relevant evidence in charges alleging disparate treatment of female caregivers may include, but is not limited to, any of the following:

  • Whether the respondent asked female applicants, but not male applicants, whether they were married or had young children, or about their childcare and other caregiving responsibilities;
  • Whether decision makers or other officials made stereotypical or derogatory comments about pregnant workers or about working mothers or other female caregivers;
  • Whether the respondent began subjecting the charging party or other women to less favorable treatment soon after it became aware that they were pregnant;
  • Whether, despite the absence of a decline in work performance, the respondent began subjecting the charging party or other women to less favorable treatment after they assumed caregiving responsibilities;
  • Whether female workers without children or other caregiving responsibilities received more favorable treatment than female caregivers based upon stereotypes of mothers or other female caregivers;
  • Whether the respondent steered or assigned women with caregiving responsibilities to less prestigious or lower-paid positions;
  • Whether male workers with caregiving responsibilities received more favorable treatment than female workers;
  • Whether statistical evidence shows disparate treatment against pregnant workers or female caregivers;
  • Whether respondent deviated from workplace policy when it took the challenged action;
  • Whether the respondent’s asserted reason for the challenged action is credible.

Unlawful Disparate Treatment of Female Caregivers as Compared
with Male Caregivers:

Employment decisions that discriminate against workers with caregiving responsibilities are prohibited by Title VII if they are based on sex or another protected characteristic, regardless of whether the employer discriminates more broadly against all members of the protected class. For example, sex discrimination against working mothers is prohibited by Title VII even if the employer does not discriminate against childless women

The new enforcement guidelines should serve as a wake up call to employers who may be skirting the law, and will confirm what some workers with caregiving responsibilities have suspected all along -- their employers treat mothers and other workers with normal family responsibilities less favorably than unencumbered employees, and it's illegal as well as unfair. Now, if we could magically transform the EEOC into an efficient, effective and adequately funded enforcement agency, we'd actually be getting somewhere. Until then, workers who report FRD and other workplace discrimination complaints can expect to wait weeks or months before their cases are reviewed.

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Enforcement Guidance: Unlawful Disparate Treatment of Workers with
Caregiving Responsibilities

For more information on Families Responsibilities Discrimination:

Center for WorkLife Law

Related articles:

EEOC Issues Important Enforcement Guidance on Caregiver Discrimination
WorkLifeLaw Blog, 23.may.07
"Employers who harass, pass over for promotion, and even terminate workers because they care for young children or sick parents have been sued with increasing frequency and have been paying increasing amounts in verdicts. Today, the EEOC took an important step toward ending this discrimination by issuing enforcement guidance that will educate employers and employees about caregivers’ rights and responsibilities."

Taking better care of caregivers: Discrimination against moms and others with family responsibilities is getting hard to defend.
Molly Selvin, LA Times, 12.may.07
"California is among several states and cities that are passing or considering legislation banning job discrimination against workers with the responsibility of caring for children, aging parents or ill spouses."

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No-vacation nation

U.S. is the only advanced economy that does not guarantee
paid vacation time

In keeping with the nation's anti-family and anti-worker labor standards, the United States is the only advanced economy that does not guarantee its workers any paid vacation time. According to a new report by the Center for Economic and Policy Research, that leaves 28 million Americans -- or 1 in 4 U.S. workers -- without a single paid vacation day or paid holiday. The average number of paid vacation and paid holidays provided to U.S. workers in the private sector -- 15 in all -- would not meet even the minimum required by law in 19 other wealthy countries.

The report, No-Vacation Nation, by Rebecca Ray and John Schmitt, finds that European workers are legally guaranteed at least 20 paid vacation days per year, with 25 and even 30 or more days common in some countries. The gap between paid time off in the United States and the rest of the world is even larger when legal holidays are included. The United States does not guarantee any paid holidays, but most rich countries provide between 5 and 13 per year, in addition to paid vacation days.

According to the study, lack of paid vacation and paid holidays in the U.S. is particularly acute for lower-wage and part-time workers, and for employees of small businesses. Employees of small businesses are less likely to have any paid vacation (70 percent) than those in medium and large establishments (86 percent). Workers earning less than $15/hour are even less likely to have paid vacation time: only 69 percent have paid vacation, compared to 88 percent of higher-wage workers. Part-time workers in the U.S., who are much more likely to be women, are far less likely to have paid vacations (36 percent) than full-time workers (90 percent).

The full report is available for download from the CEPR website.

Center for Economic Policy Research

No-Vacation Nation
Rebecca Ray and John Schmitt, CEPR, 16.may.07
24 pages in .pdf

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More noteworthy news and commentary on
women, work and family

Want to return to your career?
Many women who left the job market face hurdles getting back on-track

Sylvia Ann Hewlett, MSNBC, 18.may.07
In her new book "Off-Ramps and On-Ramps: Keeping Talented Women On The Road To Success" author and expert Sylvia Ann Hewlett explores why women want to get back into the job market and the hurdles they face in doing so. (Excerpt)

Harvard Isn't Enough
Caryn McTighe Musil, Ms. Magazine, Spring 2007
"One of the explanations for the gender differential in academic careers may be the 'Baby Gap,' according to researchers Mary Ann Mason and Marc Goulden at the University of California, Berkeley. Their investigations have shown that having children, especially 'early babies,' is a disadvantage for women's professional careers -- but an advantage for men's. Women with babies are 29 percent less likely than women without to enter a tenure- track position, and married women are 20 percent less likely than single women to do so."

De-Unionization Hurts Women, Especially Latinas
Linda Chavez-Thompson and Gabriela Lemus, AlterNet, 1.may.07
The 30-year assault on unions has hurt all working Americans, but some groups have felt more pain than others.

Labor Law Reform Not Just For Unions
Peter Dreier and Kelly Candaele, TomPaine.com, 10.may.07
"A bill now moving through Congress to expand workers' rights could be the most important legislation in decades to advance the concerns of environmentalists, public schools, higher education, senior citizens, universal health care, housing, women's and gay rights, and civil rights. The bill—called the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA)—is understandably the top priority for America's labor unions. It would mean better wages, benefits and working conditions for all employees."

A Gift of Flexibility For Our Moms
David Gray, TomPaine.com, 10.may.07
"Workplace flexibility is about innovations in how work gets done. It includes flexibility in the scheduling of full-time hours, flexibility in the number of hours worked and the location of work, career flexibility with multiple points for exit and re-entry into the work force and the flexibility to address unexpected and ongoing personal and family needs."

Support for Caretakers Missing From Mother's Day
Feiner and Barker, Women's eNews, 9.may.07
Even though most U.S. mothers work for pay they often face a myth of women happily at home with the kids. It's a centuries' old story of fiction over fact that will only end when women refuse the role of unpaid caregivers and labor is equal at home.

Happy (Working) Mother's Day?
Elaine Rigoli, ere.net/InsideRecruiting, 10.may.07
"Corporate America, take note: The good news is that 88% of U.S. workers say they admire working moms' abilities to "do it all" when it comes to work and family. Adecco USA's latest Workplace Insights survey also shows 82% think working moms are just as productive as employees who aren't parents. Among working moms, 44% say flextime helps them be more productive. However, the same survey of 1,909 working adults finds that 59% of working men age 35 to 44 say flexibility for working mothers causes some resentment among coworkers."

Higher Education Conformity
Barbara Ehrenreich, Barbaraehrenreich.com, 2.may.07
Is a college degree really a sign of competence? Or is it chiefly a signal to employers that you've mastered the ability to obey and conform?

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motherhood & mothering:

State of the World's Mothers 2007,
round up of Mother's Day news stories and commentaries -- and more

State of the World's Mothers 2007: Saving the Lives of Children Under 5
Save the Children Foundation, May 2007
Every day, 28,000 children die before reaching their fifth birthday. Nearly all these deaths occur in developing countries where mothers, children and newborns lack access to basic health-care services. Most of these deaths could be prevented at a modest cost. While child mortality rates in the developing world have declined in recent decades, renewed commitment is needed to reach those who have yet to benefit from low-cost, lifesaving services. In the industrialized world, children under 5 have higher death rates in the United States than in most other countries. Although the under-5 mortality rate in the United States has fallen in recent decades, it is still higher than many other wealthy nations -- 2.3 times that of Iceland and more than 75 percent higher than the rate of the Czech Republic, Finland, Italy, Japan, Norway, Slovenia and Sweden. Full report, 70 pages in .pdf.

The Mommy Wars, revisited
EJ Graff, Pittsburgh Post Gazette, 13.may.07
"The ballyhooed Mommy Wars exist mainly in the minds -- and the marketing machines -- of the media and publishing industry, which have been churning out mom vs. mom news flashes since, believe it or not, the 1950s. All while the number of working mothers has been rising."

Mother Superior
Bob Garfield, NPR/On the Media, 11.may.07
For decades, a certain story line has cropped up again and again in the media: women are opting-out of the workforce to raise their children, and working moms resent it. But when researcher E.J. Graff looked at the "mommy-wars" stats, she found scant evidence of a real battle. (Transcript and audio download available.)

Happy (Feminist) Mother's Day!
Ruth Conniff, The Progressive, 9.may.06
"The problem is, in our society, where making money is so overvalued, writers on both the left and the right unthinkingly present it as the true measure of an individual's worth."

How the Media Perpetuate Women's Fears of Being a Bad Mother
Caryl Rivers, AlterNet, 12.may.07
Contrary to what the media report, putting your child in day care will not make them grow up to be a criminal or Columbine-like killer.

Motherhood Today: Tougher Challenges, Less Success
Mom's Biggest Critics are Middle-Aged Women

A national survey by the Pew Research Center, conducted Feb.16-March 14 among 2,020 Americans, finds a widespread belief that today's parents are not measuring up to the standard that parents set a generation ago. Mothers are seen as having the more difficult job, but they are also judged more harshly than are fathers. More than half of Americans (56%) say that mothers are doing a worse job today than mothers did 20 or 30 years ago. By comparison, somewhat fewer people (47%) say fathers are doing a worse job than fathers did 20 or 30 years ago.

'Slacker Moms' urge other mothers to chill
Sharon Jayson, USA Today, 10.may.07
"Unlike the much-hyped Alpha Moms, whose desire to be The Perfect Mom sometimes leads them to excess in the name of excellence, the laid-back mothers are gaining ground."

The Joy of Motherhood: Reality or Myth?
The Unwritten Rule Against Saying Anything Negative About Parenting

Helaine Tabacoff, ABC News, 16.may.07
"Helen Kirwin-Taylor, a mother of two young boys, says that 'day after day after day, I think it gets very boring.' She was so disturbed by the unwritten rule against saying anything negative about child-rearing that she wrote an article for London's Daily Mail entitled 'Sorry, But My Children Bore Me to Death.' Now a stay-at-home mom, Kirwin-Taylor admitted that she was bored stiff when taking her kids to birthday parties, to play dates and to school plays, and her article caused shock waves on both sides of the Atlantic."

Nancy Pelosi speaks about being a mom
Kathy Kiely, USA Today, 10.may.07
"Mother's Day this Sunday is historic here because it's the first time a top congressional leader has been one of the honorees. As speaker of the House, Pelosi is also the first woman ever to come so close to the presidency, second in the constitutional line of succession. But Pelosi wants no one to forget that she started out in more traditional women's work."

Rebecca Walker: Baby Love and Other Observations from Writing While Pregnant
By Rachel Kramer Bussel, AlterNet, 30.apr.07
Exploring abortion at 14, her rocky relationship with her mother Alice Walker, and the ecstasy of bearing a child at 37, the content of Rebecca Walker's memoir provides fertile ground for this probing interview.

Feminist Reflections on Motherhood
Amy Richards, RH Reality Check, 3.may.07
"Once I started working as a 'professional feminist,' I began to question my inclination toward having kids: was it a "choice" or a programmed response from my gendered conditioning?"

A Mother's Day kiss-off
Leslie Bennetts, LA Times, 13.may.07
One day a year does not soothe women's anger over the inequities they face full time. "Since publishing my book, I have been pilloried in print and in cyberspace by hundreds of enraged stay-at-home mothers who have attacked everything from my appearance to my marriage and children... Their rage is genuinely frightening, as is their choice of targets. The real problems are systemic, not personal. Women are indeed giving up too much, which may be why so many are so angry."

What's a Mother's Worth?
Riane Eisler, AlterNet, 11.may.07
This Mother's Day let's give mothers what they really need: a more secure old age.

Black Mommi Seeking Other Mommies Like Me - In the Pages, Online and In the World
Rochelle Valsaint, Being Family Magazine (blog), 10.may.07
"As a reader and magazine junkie looking for a voice like mine, I found very little and none more often than not in my monthly visit to the bookstore to cruise the magazines, or daily or weekly in my online visits to parenting sites and African American sites. My voice was barely represented in Essence, Black Enterprise or any other major black magazine on a regular basis. And, as I read Child, logged onto iVillage and skimmed other print or online media, I saw very little that looked or sounded like me."

Little Geniuses: What kind of praise do kids need to hear?
Emily Bazelon, Slate, 11.may.07
"With the specter dangling before us of offices in which employees need constant head-patting, who can really argue with better acquainting kids with the value of hard work rather than gushing over their supposed genius?"

Where did all the baby sitters go?
Marilyn Gardner, Christian Science Monitor, 17.may.07
"What could be called the great baby-sitter shortage is leading some parents to consider creative new ways to search for reliable help. The standard low-tech and personal connection – typically a telephone call to a neighborhood teenager -- is gradually going high-tech. Using everything from Craigslist to baby-sitting websites, e-mail, and even MySpace pages, parents are going online and clicking their way to a sitter for Saturday night."

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Notable news and commentary on women's issues and feminism

Feminism in the Era of 'Girls Gone Wild'
Amanda Marcotte, AlterNet, 5.may.07
Everyone these days wants to hear how young women have lost their way, especially if the author can blame feminism for it. But in reality, feminism has been anything but a tragedy for women.

Is Stripping a Feminist Act?
Sarah Katherine Lewis, AlterNet, 4.may.07
If a woman chooses to objectify herself -- shedding her clothes to obtain power through money -- is she helping to eliminate gender inequality or simply degrading herself? A former adult entertainer shares her story.

Publisher Imprints Women's Voices on Book World
Jeanine Plant, Women's eNews, 7.may.07
A commercial publisher is trying to break the business mold for marketing books to women by printing titles that are serious and appealing. Their new imprint, Voice, debuted last month with Leslie Bennetts' controversial "The Feminine Mistake."

The Hidden Costs of America's Hypermasculine Culture
Mark Dery, AlterNet, 9.may.07
How America's fear of femininity is driving some of our worst foreign policy mistakes.

Women Raise Heat on Immigration Debate
Cynthia L. Cooper, Women's eNews, 18.may.07
Female immigrants are drawing increased attention as Congress heads into debate next week on immigration reform. Female domestic workers and abused women who fear deportation are two groups of women high on advocates' radar.

Sexy with a Disability
Alessandra Djurklou, AlterNet, 14.may.07
The media rarely portray the disabled as sexy. Brave, yes. Melancholy, sure. Angry about their lot, check. One woman shares her story of dating while disabled.

Sick Joke or Sick Reality?
Kim Gandy, NOW, 17.may.07
"Would you trust a guy who wrote that rape victims 'gain pleasure from being beaten, bound, and otherwise made to suffer' as 'the price they are willing to pay for gaining the gratification of receiving the sperm?' A guy who published his belief that 'the child who has suffered bona fide abuse may very well have enjoyed the experience...'? A guy who claimed that incest is not harmful, (citing Shakespeare) only 'thinking makes it so'? And I know I don't even have to ask this -- but would you trust this guy with your kids? ...I thought not. Which leads me to ponder how on earth the 'theory' this guy thought up has found its way into court rooms across the country, and is currently influencing child custody decisions, especially those involving child abuse."

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social issues:

U.S. health care system costly, low quality

Despite having the most expensive health care system in the world, a new report from the Commonwealth Fund finds that the United States consistently underperforms on key measures of health care delivery and outcomes. Compared with five other nations -- Australia, Canada, Germany, New Zealand, and the UK -- the U.S. health care system ranks last or next-to-last on five dimensions of a high performance health system: quality, access, efficiency, equity, and healthy lives, according to the report. The single area where the U.S. performed better than comparison countries was preventive care. Canada also received relatively poor rankings on most measures, but had better overall health outcomes; Canadian health expenditures per capita are roughly half of those in the U.S.

"Health care leaders in the United States often say that the American health care system is the best in the world, despite the absence of consistent scientific evidence on performance," the report notes. "Like the queen in the 'Snow White' fairy tale, Americans often look only at their own reflection in the mirror -- failing to include international experience in assessments of the health care system."

The authors of Mirror, Mirror: An International Update on the Comparative Performance of American Health Care observe that the most obvious way the U.S. differs from other countries "is the absence of universal health insurance coverage. Other nations ensure the accessibility of care through universal health insurance systems and through better ties between patients and the physician practices that serve as their long-term 'medical home'." Compared to other countries included in the study, the U.S. has a particularly large gap in access and use of needed health care services between low-income and above-average income adults. According to the report, "Americans with below-average incomes were much more likely than their counterparts in other countries to report not visiting a physician when sick and not getting a recommended test, treatment, or follow-up care, not filling a prescription, or not seeing a dentist when needed because of costs. On each of these indicators, more than two-fifths of lower-income adults in the U.S. said they went without needed care because of costs in the past year."

The Commonwealth Fund is a private foundation that "aims to promote a high performing health care system that achieves better access, improved quality, and greater efficiency, particularly for society's most vulnerable, including low-income people, the uninsured, minority Americans, young children, and elderly adults."

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall:
An International Update on the Comparative Performance of American Health Care

Karen Davis, Ph.D., Cathy Schoen, M.S., et al, The Commonwealth Fund, 15.may.07

Related articles:

An F In Health Care
Alec Dubro, TomPaine.com, 16.may.07
"What everyone who cares to look knows is that there are two health care systems in America -- one for those with money and for those without."

Give Mom Affordable Health Care
Anna Burger, TomPaine.com, 11.may.07
"Dads and children everywhere are looking for that perfect gift to thank Mom for all her hard work and sacrifice. So, what do we buy for Mom? Imagine, for a moment, if we could give our mothers a higher wage, affordable child care, or even a more flexible work schedule this Sunday? Or what if we could honor Mom with the gift of affordable health insurance?"

Health Care Crisis Squeezes Working Families
Lisa Baertlein, Reuters/Common Dreams, 23.May.07
"While many industrialized countries provide care for all, the United States covers only the elderly and the poor. Some 45 million, or 15 percent, of people in the world’s richest nation lacked health insurance in 2005, up 3 percent on the previous year."

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Progressive proposal would cut U.S. poverty in half

37 million Americans live in poverty, and the US has one of the highest poverty rates -- and the highest rate of child poverty -- among economically advanced nations. An ambitious proposal by the Center for American Progress Task Force on Poverty outlines a policy agenda to reduce U.S. poverty by 50 percent in the next decade. While the proposal does not specifically call for better support for maternal employment -- which is essential to increasing the employment security and earnings of working poor families -- the report does recommend indexing the minimum wage to half the average hourly wage, increasing the Child Tax Credit, assuring child care assistance for low-income workers, greater public investment in early childhood education, improving access to affordable housing, and strengthening laws giving low-income workers the right to organize. "High rates of poverty in the U.S. do not occur because the poor are less likely to be working here," the Task Force explains. "Rather, government does less here to reduce poverty."

Of special interest is a proposal to update, expand and improve the delivery of means-tested social safety net programs, including TANF and disability benefits, and assuring that families receiving public assistance benefit directly from child support payments rather than the current practice of assigning child support payments to the state system. The proposal also recommends eliminating federal limits on education, training, and individualized services for TANF recipients, and removing federal regulations that prevent states from setting humane and realistic performance goals for welfare programs.

Center for American Progress

From Poverty to Prosperity: A National Strategy to Cut Poverty in Half
The Center for American Progress Task Force on Poverty, 25.apr.07

Executive Summary, 8 pages in .pdf
Full report, 40 pages in .pdf

Related articles:

The High Cost of Ignoring Poverty
E.J. Dionne, Truth Dig, 4.may.07
"Republicans once preached compassion, but then went off to war. Democrats waged a war on poverty, but then lost some elections. They decided the middle class is where it’s at. But the poor are still with us and their ranks are growing."

Food Stamps: The $21 Question
Isaiah J. Poole, TomPaine.com, 18.may.07
"Government officials argue that the food stamp benefit, which can go as high as $38.75 a person per week, depending on the circumstances, is sufficient for three healthy meals a day. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which administers the Food Stamp program, even offers recipes on a website that a recipient could use to help make affordable meals. The reality, though, is much tougher."

Conservative Assault On America's Families
Beth Shulman, TomPaine.com, 8.may.07
"The 'you are on your own' notion of government and freedom has meant that American families must live with stagnant wages at a time of high profits and productivity without a way to get ahead no matter how hard they try."

South leads in early childhood education
Jenny Jarvie, LA Times, 11.may.07
"The Southern Education Foundation, a charity based in Atlanta, said the Southeast provided public prekindergarten to the largest percentage of 3- and 4-year-olds in the country: 19%, compared with 12% in the Northeast, 9% in the Midwest and 5.6% in the West. … The report said independent studies showed that children who enrolled in quality prekindergarten programs were more likely than their counterparts to get higher grades, graduate from high school and earn more money as adults."

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Reproductive Health & Rights:

Backline offers toll free talk line

Backline, a Portland, Oregon-based support center, offers toll free talk line for women considering reproductive health options. The talk line is available seven days a week, and supports women and their loved ones who are in the process of making decisions, or have already made decisions, about pregnancy, parenting, adoption and abortion.

Backline receives calls from women all over the country, of all ages, races, backgrounds, religious faiths and political parties. The center takes calls from men who have questions or want someone to talk to, as well as calls from parents wanting to know how to support their daughters in making a pregnancy decision. Backline staff know that "everyone needs a safe place to talk, and our Advocates are committed to listening, answering your questions, sharing decision-making tools, and helping you identify and build your support network."

From the Backline web site:

In a world where media, politics, religion, and culture have a heavy impact on individual beliefs about pregnancy, adoption, abortion and parenting, Backline was created as a safe space to explore all emotions and questions surrounding each pregnancy decision. Our Advocates believe that pregnancy often shines a "bright light" on the lives of women and their loved ones, and can illuminate issues surrounding family, relationships, hopes and dreams, and all of the other factors that are involved in deciding whether to parent, have an abortion, or place for adoption. Our Advocates are committed to supporting callers in the issues that they most need to talk about, and to creating a space for callers to articulate their emotions, process their experiences, ask questions, or just have a supportive ear.

Our Talk Line offers a safe and confidential space for women and their loved ones to talk openly about pregnancy, abortion, adoption and parenting. Call toll free from anywhere in the U.S.: 1.888.493.0092

Talk Line Hours:
Monday - Thursday
5:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m., Pacific Standard Time
8:00 p.m. - 1:00 a.m., Eastern Standard Time
Friday - Sunday
10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m., Pacific Standard Time
1:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m., Eastern Standard Time


Related articles:

An Appreciative Approach to the Abortion Debate
Andrea Lynch, RH Reality Check, 16.may.07
"Backline is driven by no moral or political objective beyond a non-negotiable commitment to supporting each individual woman's pregnancy decision. In other words, as far as Backline is concerned, there's no "right" answer to being pregnant

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More reproductive health & rights news:

Stillborn laws entangled in abortion debate
Christine Vestal, Stateline.org, 17.may.07
Largely through the efforts of a grassroots organization -- the MISS Foundation -- 20 states now offer parents of stillborn babies the option of an official birth certificate -- 19 by law and one, Georgia, by administrative policy. This year, seven more states -- Alaska, California, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island -- are considering similar measures. But the movement has hit a political snag in some states, where abortion-rights activists have taken an interest in the issue because they say the laws could be hijacked by anti-abortion forces to establish so-called fetal personhood and erode a woman’s right to abortion. Doctors and public health officials also have expressed concern that the official documents could complicate states' collection of vital statistics on births and fetal and infant deaths.

I Love Roe
Frances Kissling, RH Reality Check, 7.may.07
"Roe was a socially transformative decision made in a country that was not yet socially transformed. It was a visionary decision and we were not ready for it. And so it has failed."

The Loneliness and Shame of the Abortion Patient
Carole Joffe and Kate Cosby, AlterNet, 26.may.07
Rather than expressing solidarity with others experiencing unwanted pregnancies, many abortion patients take pains to distinguish themselves as different from other women getting abortions.

Women Encouraged to Ask Doctors About Episiotomy
Andrea L. Hall, Women's eNews, 14.may.07
Two years after a landmark study called for an end to routine episiotomies, the procedure is still performed in about one-quarter of vaginal births. Health providers say women themselves can help change the trend."

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May 2007

previously in mmo noteworthy ...

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