Illegal Abortions Now Illegal

Posted in Uncategorized on February 23rd, 2010 by bl1y

The Utah state House and Senate have passed a law that would criminalize the procurement of an illegal abortion.  (The law does not penalize abortions obtained through regular legal avenues.)   Basically, the law makes it illegal to ask your boyfriend to hit you in the stomach to terminate your pregnancy.

Seems pretty reasonable, but plenty of raging panties are already bundled up about it.  Feministe.com is running an article with the headline “Utah bill would criminalize miscarriage.“  Here’s the complaint from NYU Law grad Jill:

The Utah miscarriage law is understandable because it targets women who intended to have miscarriages.

I understand that. We do hold people more culpable for things that they do on purpose; we also hold people accountable for a lot of things that they do negligently. My question, though, isn’t with the punishment aspect, but with the activism aspect. Let’s say that we take anti-choicers on their word that they really, truly believe that a fertilized egg is a unique, individual human being, and that the death of that egg is like the death of a person. If that’s the truth, then why no activism around trying to find a cure for the close to 50 percent of fertilized eggs that naturally don’t implant, and are flushed out of the woman’s body? Sure, it’s not intentional, but if there were some disease that killed 50 percent of all five-year-olds, I’m pretty sure we’d be doing something about it, no?

I realize this is all pretty far afield from the actual Utah legislation, but it’s illustrative, I think, insofar as it demonstrates that the concern here isn’t really about fetuses or life or any of that. It’s about punishing women.

This isn’t at all about “punishing women.”  It’s already a crime for a third party to end the life of your fetus (outside of consensual abortion, of course).  All this does it make the law more fair by punishing women who obtain illegal abortions.

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Breaking: Women Have, Raise Babies

Posted in Uncategorized on February 16th, 2010 by bl1y

Look out!  A partner at Eversheds had the audacity to recognize that women are generally called or volunteer to act as the primary care taker for their young children!

In an e-mail, the partner asked if there were guidelines available on how to “ask questions properly designed to identify her commitment, hours she is prepared to do, how she will balance work and a child.“  Anyone who is even aware that employment law is a practice area knows that this is a discrimination suit waiting to happen.

The question is why.  Of course we shouldn’t discriminate against someone for being a woman.  But, having a family is (generally) a matter of choice.  Shouldn’t employers be allowed to take someone’s choices into consideration?  The response is that firms will think women, who are generally primary care takers, will not put forth the same level of commitment as a male employee, and so family status will result in discrimination against women.

If it actually is true for a woman that her commitment to her family will result in less commitment to work, then this is something the firm should be allowed to take into consideration.  Any employer ought to be allowed to inquire into other commitments an employee has that will conflict with their work.  It could be a time consuming hobby, a small business they run on the side, anything.  It doesn’t matter that it’s a child, all the company really cares about is whether you’re going to be able to bill 70 hour weeks.  It’s irrational for someone to think that a primary care giver should be allowed to work fewer hours that her coworkers and not be treated differently.

But let’s also consider if it wasn’t true she would work less.  Maybe the father is the primary care taker, a full time house keeper has been hired, or they plan to cut the child’s Achilles’ tendons and leave it in Central Park, Greek pro-choice style.  Shouldn’t we want the firm to be able to ask about this?  The stereotype is that having children means women have less time to devote to their careers.  If you don’t fit the stereotype, wouldn’t you want the opportunity to inform the firm about that, instead of making them silently pass judgment?

The solution to the work/life balancing act of career women is not to pretend that women don’t have children and that they don’t devote time to raising them.  This benefits neither the employer who wants the employees that fit best, nor the mother who needs an employer with realistic expectations.  The only way to really deal with the issue is to allow open communication about it between employers and their employees.

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Reason Not to Go to Law School #31

Posted in Reasons Not to Go to Law School on February 6th, 2010 by bl1y

Make believe is treated as fact.

I’m not referring to “counterfactuals,” hypothetical situations with premises known to be false.  I’m talking about the phenomenon in law school where anyone can say just about anything and it will be presumed true.  You’d think an environment like a law school would produce impeccable research, but more often than not, it’s just slop someone threw together at the last minute, knowing that everyone else would be as lazy, so there’s pretty much no risk of anyone calling you out on your bullshit.  It’s easier to just move on that to check sources.

To illustrate the point, I’ve decided to look at comments from the Spring 2007 Harvard Journal of Law and Gender Conference: Changing Social Norms? Title IX and Legal Activism. It’s not an entirely random selection; I wanted to pick something I’d find interesting, and I’m interesting in both sports and gender studies.  And, I’ve spent enough time around feminist academics to know that their writing is a treasure trove of bullshit, so I wouldn’t need to look far to make my case.

Though the comments are a rough transcript of what was spoken at the conference, they have been edited by the Harvard journal and had citations added to back up the claims.  Well…kinda.  Sorta…  Not really.  Citations were added, but they hardly back up what the speakers said at the conference.  You’d think the bright minds at Harvard Law School would have noticed this sort of thing.

Let’s start with the comments from Professor Deborah Brake (U. Pittsburg Law):

“recent reports have revealed widespread practices by universities requiring female athletes to give up their athletic scholarships if they become pregnant.” (p. 13)  The citation provided points to an article published on ESPN.com.

The article states “Most colleges have no formal rules, leaving athletic departments or even coaches to come up with a policy.  …Only 26 of the more than 270 Division I schools in the NCAA have written policies on pregnant athletes and just a handful include scholarship protections.”

So how does Professor Brake know the practice of requiring female athletes to give up their scholarships is widespread?  Either she has some other source which she just didn’t provide to the Harvard editors when they went asking for footnotes, or she just decided to engage in a little bullshit.  Probably the latter.

Next, let’s look at the remarks of Professor Ellen Staurowsky (Ithaca College or Sports Management and Media)

“First, while Mr. Pettine had stated that there was no way James Madison could “afford” to add more women’s programs, they were able to undertake the building of the $10 million Plecker Athletic Center during the timeframe in which program cuts were being considered. Even though the project drew significant donations, they fell nearly $3 million short of their goal, and therefore had to dip into institutional reserves (i.e. tuition money paid by women and men) and other non-tax sources to support building a facility that was primarily meant to support the football team.”

Two citations are provided; the first is information for fund raising, and the second is a press release about the Plecker Center.  The press release does show that the Plecker Center was short on funding.  James Madison says it had raised “more than 7 million” and that the facility would cost $9.8 million.  We can’t be sure the shortfall was nearly $3 million, but we’ll let Professor Staurowsky slide on that, she has bigger problems with her comments.

The information provided to potential donors describes the facility as including “an academic center, strength and conditioning facilities, a sports medicine complex, team meeting rooms, a new football locker room, an Athletic Hall of Fame, hospitality areas and coaches’ offices.” The press release gives a similar description, “The 48,000-square-foot center will provide an academic support area for student-athletes in each of JMU’s 28 intercollegiate sports, a sports-medicine complex, a strength-training area, a new football locker room, meeting rooms and coaches’ offices.”

So, where did Staurowsky get the idea the center would primarily support the football team?  Maybe the sports-medicine complex, strength training area and coaches’ offices would primarily be used by the football team, but without a source backing up her claim, we have to take it as pure speculation.  If anything, the information Staurowsky points us to suggests that while the football team does get a lot out of the new facility, it serves the school’s athletic program generally.

I could go on, but I think I’ve made my point.  You might think I’m just cherry picking facts and finding a few flaws in a very long (56 page) publication, but you can read it for yourself.  It’s full of faulty logic, plainly false or unverifiable facts, and even an ESPN sports commentator who can’t tell the difference between Division I-A and Division I-AA football.

And it’s not just this one article, or this one journal.  Professors coast through legal academia knowing that no one really cares, there’s no peer review, and no consequences for making shit up.  And then they teach it to your classmates, and they believe it and the world gets a little dumber.

The next time you read an article published by a professor, check the citations.  Just scan for where they cite websites, since those are easier to check, and see if their source even speaks on the issue it supposedly supports.  You’ll be surprised how often it does not.

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