Category Archives: News and Politics

Celebrating Women

Welcome to March: Women’s History Month.  I was trying to find some profound youtube video about the impact women have made in history, but youtube left me wanting.  So I started looking around for videos that inspired me as a woman.  And because of the political climate’s hostility toward women, I wanted something to bridge the gap.

What I found was a wonderful interview with former Secretary of State Madeline Albright.  She’s witty and brilliant (and sassy, which immediately charmed me to her).  She has an amazing outlook on being a woman in the United States.  Take a look at what she has to say about her experience as Secretary of State as well as her outlook on the importance of women globally.

We often think of women’s history in the past-tense (as history is often found in the past…), but I challenge you to find a woman this week who is making history today.  Maybe you’ll find her in the mirror.  ~Liz (

If you haven’t visited, you are missing out.  TED, as their website states:

a small nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design.

They videotape their conference presenters and share it in videos on their site.  The idea of sharing knowledge in this way is powerful, and I highly recommend spending some time getting to know their website.


Humor Perpetuates Patriarchy

I try to find the time each day in my position as the Director of the Margaret Sloss Women’s Center to read (or at least scan) the Iowa State Daily, an independent student newspaper. Some days are easier than other to accomplish this goal. The expansion of the paper to the Internet has made reading the paper much easier for me and I appreciate the addition of videos, blogs, and photos included online. One recent read of the paper caused a bit of frustration and disappointment for me and I would like to share my thoughts for your consideration.

The front cover the January 18, 2011 edition of the Iowa State Daily included a brief report of a female who reported a general assault in Welch Crown Center apartments. A second story corrected a misprint from the January 12 edition of the paper. A sidebar was incorrectly titled “Who Can Give Consent” rather than, “Who Cannot Give Consent.” The article connected to this sidebar was great – the additional press the misprint has given to the Iowa State Daily and our campus is perhaps less than desirable. The third article on the front page of the January 18th edition I would like to mention is title “Center raises stalking awareness” by Carmen Leng. The coverage on the front page of this edition on issues impacting women’s lives was phenomenal. The opinion page included a great article titled “Men and women stand to gain from feminism.”  The rest of the edition included articles on different athletic teams, research findings on the global carbon budget, advertisements, classifieds, horoscopes and Jokes for the Day. This is where humor and patriarchy come together and where I want to stop reading the ISU Daily.

The two submissions in Jokes for the Day on January 18 both take negative stereotypes of women AND men and uses these in the storyline to tell a “joke.” I can’t really use the word “joke” as a label, to me they both perpetuate patriarchy, dehumanize women (and men), and contribute to the rape culture that we live in. Now I know what you’re thinking, “Wow, feminists just can’t take a joke” or “You really need to lighten up.” To this I say, I can’t lighten up and I can’t laugh at words that continue to create an environment where we need to publish articles that were on the front page of the same issue of the ISU Daily. I see no humor in assault, stalking, and failure to gain consent when initiating sex. I see no humor in perpetuating the myth that women talk nonsense and can’t drive. And how said that a thing labeled a “joke” highlights the discount between a husband and wife – drinking is the way he can be at home with her? This is funny?

This is a campus-based newspaper where students are learning and preparing themselves for their future lives, careers, and ways to contribute to society. In the space of 3 1/4 X 4 inches the ISU Daily reversed the contributions made on the front page. My questions for the staff at the ISU Daily:

  • Where are you getting your material to fill the spaces on the Games page?
  • As journalists in training, what newspapers do you hope to work for where this type of humor is valued?
  • As sisters, brothers, daughters, sons, girlfriends, boyfriends and perhaps future partners and parents of daughters and sons – how do these “jokes” make you feel about your sex or members of the opposite sex? How would you feel if your daughters and sons attended a university where this type of information was thought to have printable value?
  • Can you tell a joke without offending a specific group of people? This takes a bit of thought and intelligence to accomplish.

Humor used to perpetuate stereotypes hurts. Humor used to hurt has no place in the ISU Daily. I challenge the staff at the Daily to stretch their thinking and develop skills that will serve them in their future as journalists. Find ways to support a campus climate where all feel safe, supported, and welcome.

Written by Penny J. Rice, Ph.D., Director of the Margeret Sloss Women’s Center.

HF 45 Deappropriation Bill

Status of Bill: House Floor
Committee: Appropriations
Lead Democrat: Reps. Tyler Olson
Floor Manager: Rep. Nick Wagner
Research Analyst: Joe Romano 515-281-6971
HF 45 is a deappropriation and supplemental appropriation bill for FY 2011 and repeals a number of standing ap-propriations for FY 2012 and FY 2013. In total, the bill reduces state funding, from all sources, by $504 million. The bill is projected to reduce the FY 2011 general fund budget by $6.5 million and reduce funding from other funds by $43.4 million. The FY 2012 reduction is $171.7 million to the general fund and $57 million to other funds. The FY 2013 reduction is $175.9 million to the general fund and $50.4 million to other funds.
Some of the major programs being repealed are the voluntary preschool program, the grow Iowa values fund, smoking cessation programs, passenger rail, sustainable communities (which is the IJOBS disaster prevention grants), and the save our small business fund. The bill also imposes a $50 monthly fee on state employee health insurance premiums.
The bill makes a number of changes to Iowa’s budgeting laws. It creates a new Tax Relief Fund to receive one-time excess funds from the state reserve funds once they are full. The fiscal year 2012 estimate is $327.4 million. These funds are then to be used to provide tax relief as determined by the General Assembly. The bill also has the Revenue Estimating Conference establish a revenue estimate for FY 2013 at its February or March 2011 meeting.
The House will hold a public hearing on Tuesday, January 18 at 6:30pm in the House Chamber. The public can also submit their comments online at

Division I – Tax Relief Fund
This division creates a new Tax Relief Fund to receive one-time excess funds from the Economic Emergency Fund, once the state reserve funds are full. The LSA estimate for FY 2012 is $327.4 million that would flow into this fund. The fund is separate from the general fund and the balance of the fund is not considered part of the bal-ance of the general fund of the state. The fund is not subject to reversions and the funds are not to be transferred, used, obligated, appropriated, or otherwise encumbered except as provided. These funds are to be used to reduce taxes as determined by the General Assembly. The moneys in this fund may be used for cash flow purposes dur-ing a fiscal year, provided the moneys are returned to the fund by the end of the fiscal year. The fund is consid-ered a special account for determining the cash position of the state general fund for payment of state obligations. The interest earned by moneys in the fund remains in the fund. The fund is not to be included in the application of any formula, index, or other statutory triggering mechanism that would affect appropriations, payments, or tax-ation rates. The fund also cannot be considered by an arbitrator or in negotiations under Chapter 20.
HF 45
FY 2011 Budget
January 13, 2011
The bill establishes legislative intent for the General Assembly to enact appropriations from the tax relief fund as proposed by the Standing Committees on Ways and Means of the Senate and House of Representatives.
This division of the bill is effective upon enactment. The transfers from the Economic Emergency Fund to the Tax Relief Fund after the effective date are to adjust the state general expenditure limitation for FY 2012 is required to be adjusted accordingly.
Division II – Uniform Provisions
Group Health Insurance Premium Costs for State Employees – Requires the Executive and Judicial branches responsible for negotiating collective bargaining agreements to renegotiate provisions of the contract involving health insurance coverage to establish an employee premium for health insurance coverage at a minimum of $100 per month. If the contracts are renegotiated, the $100 minimum for health insurance premiums would also apply to all state employees not covered by a collective bargaining agreement. State Legislators and employees of the Legislative branch would also pay a minimum of $100 per month as determined by the Legislative Council be-ginning on the effective date, or March 1, 2011, whichever is earlier.
The bill also codifies language to mandate future collective bargaining agreements to require state employees to pay a minimum of $100 per month for group health insurance premiums. This provision includes noncontract employees as well. This provision is effective for collective bargaining agreements entered into on or after the effective date (which is upon enactment). This provision is estimated to save a maximum $124,800 from the gen-eral fund in FY 2011; $28.8 million in the general fund and $46.8 million in other funds in FY 2012; and $28.8 million in the general fund and $46.8 in other funds in FY 2013.
Office Supplies/Out of State Travel – Reduces expenditures for office supplies, outside services, equipment pur-chases, information technology, printing and binding, and marketing by 50% of the unencumbered appropriation. This provision does not apply to information technology expenditures previously approved for Iowa Public Tele-vision. The bill also prohibits out of state travel by department employees funded by the general fund, unless a waiver is approved by the Executive Council. The Appropriation Committees of the House and Senate are re-quired to recommend legislation directing the establishment of a statewide master marketing contract. This is es-timated to save $20.8 million in FY 2011 and $9.6 million in other funds through the 50% reduction specified.
The bill continues the exemption on out-of-state travel for the State Universities, but the limitation applies to the Board of Regents Office. The bill also requires the Department of Management to attribute the expenditure re-ductions proposed by this provision within 30 days of its enactment date and submit a report to the General As-sembly and the Legislative Services Agency itemizing the expenditure and appropriation reductions applied.
State Records Storage – State agencies that have state records stored in locations within flood plains are required to find storage space for the records that is not located in a flood plain, within six months of the effective date of this act.
Revenue Estimating Conference – Requires the REC to establish a revenue estimate for FY 2013 at its meeting in February or March of 2011. (This is intended to aid in the approval of a two-year budget, but the requisite budget law changes for a two-year budget process are not included.)
Unauthorized Aliens – Denies any state benefits to illegal aliens unless already covered by federal law.
Government Lobbyist – Amends the laws pertaining to lobbying activities by state agencies to include a prohibi-tion on the employment of a person through the use of public funds for lobbyist activities.
All of the provisions in Division II are effective upon enactment.
Division III – Administration and Regulation
Administration and Regulation Budget Subcommittee Directive – Directs the Administration and Regulation budget subcommittee to submit recommendations to the General Assembly’s committees on Appropriations on or
before April 4, 2011, proposed legislation concerning the elimination and selling of the pool of state-owned passenger vehicles located in Polk County and to outsource state vehicle leasing through a private entity. The bill also prohibits the purchase of new general use vehicles through the end of FY 2011.
Office Space – Requires the Department of Administrative Services (DAS) to locate state employees in the most cost efficient way possible but not pay penalties for early termination of leases.
Sale or Lease of the Iowa Communications Network – Requires the Iowa Telecommunications and Technology Commission to develop a Request for Proposal to sell or lease, or to lease capacity on the Iowa Communications Network to commence with the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2011. The bill prohibits public funds from being used to secure the purchase of the network. The Commission must provide the General Assembly periodic status reports every three months beginning on October 1, 2011, regarding progress made toward selling or leasing the ICN. The bill also authorizes the lease of network capacity to users that otherwise are not authorized to use the network.
Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board – Reduces funding to the Ethics and Campaign Finance Disclo-sure board due to unfilled positions by $61,648 and one FTE. The bill also stops the $150,000 transfer that the Department of Management approved for the board in FY 2011 from the Cash Reserve Fund.
Information Technology – Reduces funding for DAS information technology purchases by 50% and requires the Executive Branch to combine information technology systems.
All of the provisions in Division III are effective upon enactment.
Division IV – Agriculture and Natural Resources
Land Purchase – Prohibits the Department of Natural Resources from purchasing more land. This does not in-clude donated property. The bill reduces the appropriation for the Iowa Resources Enhancement and Protection Fund (REAP) by $3.06 million for FY 2011. This provision is effective upon enactment.
Division V – Economic Development
Repeal – Eliminates the Generation Iowa Commission.
Repeal – Eliminates the Save our Small Business Program and reverts any unobligated and unencumbered mon-eys to the School Infrastructure Fund. Loans awarded from the Save our Small Business Fund prior to this bill will continue as to the terms of the loan agreements and be administered by the Department of Economic Devel-opment.
Corridor Coalition Membership – Prohibits the Department of Economic Development from renewing Iowa’s membership in the North America’s Super Corridor Coalition.
Great Places – Freezes spending on Iowa’s Great Places Program through the end of FY 2011.
All of the provisions of Division V are effective upon enactment.
Division VI – Education
DE Administration – Reduces funding for Department of Education general administration line-item by $59,000 due to the director position being unfilled.
Core Curriculum – Eliminates $1.8 million in funding for core curriculum leaving $75,556 and directs the House and Senate Education Committees to develop new standards for K-12 students.
State University Funding -Reduces the FY 2011 appropriations to the State universities a total of $10 million: University of Iowa $4.7 million, Iowa State University $3.7 million, and the University of Northern Iowa $1.7 million. These reductions would increase to $15 million in FY 2012 and FY 2013.
Regents and Community College Administrative Functions – Directs the Education Appropriations subcom-mittee to implement provisions to consolidate administrative functions of the State board of regents and its institu-tions and the community colleges for FY 2012.
State Library Acquisitions – Reduces acquisitions for the state library by 50% from the effective date of this act (which is upon enactment) through the end of the fiscal year.
Sabbaticals at State Universities – Freezes all Regents’ sabbaticals through the end of FY 2012.
Statewide Voluntary Preschool – Establishes intent language of the General Assembly to fill the needs ad-dressed by the statewide preschool program for four-year-old children that is repealed in this bill by expanding the preschool tuition assistance through the Early Childhood Iowa initiative.
Voluntary Preschool Repeal – Eliminates the policy and funding for the current preschool funding system. These provisions are effective July 1, 2011, and apply to budget years beginning on or after July 1, 2011. LSA estimat-ed a $69.9 million savings in FY 2012 and $75.1 million in FY 2013.
AEA Funding – Reduces funding to Area Education Agencies by $10 million in FY 2011.
All the provisions in Division VI are effective upon enactment, except those relating to the Statewide Voluntary Preschool program and funding repeal (which is effective July 1, 2011, and applies to budget years on or after July 1, 2011).
Division VII – Health and Human Services
Residency Restrictions – Requires the Department of Human Services to enforce residency restrictions for any public benefits.
Area Aging Agencies – Requires the Department on Aging to develop a plan to reduce the number of Area Agen-cies on Aging.
Juvenile Shelter Care – Directs the Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee to develop a new system for reimbursement of juvenile shelter care providers and ending the funding of unused beds.
Health Care Coverage Commission – Reduces funding for the legislative health care coverage commission by $167,000.
Smoking Prevention – Reduces funding for tobacco use prevention by $2.4 million. The bill directs the Depart-ment of Public Health to cancel smoking cessation and prevention efforts including for the youth smoking preven-tion program (JEL) and the Quitline Iowa Initiative. The Health and Human Service budget subcommittee, in consultation with House and Senate Human Resources Committees, are to recommend legislation to revise youth programs. The bill directs the Department of Human Services to revise Medicaid eligibility provisions for smok-ing cessation medications with a requirement for a physician prescription, to replace the referral requirements from the Quitline Iowa Initiative.
Local Health Care Delivery – Reduction in funding of $105,000 to the health care delivery system at the local level.
Direct Care Worker Task Force – Reduction in funding of $60,000 to the direct care worker task force.
Healthy Aging – Reduction in funding of $300,000 for elderly wellness, allocating $82,380 of the reduction for public health nursing services and $217,620 for home care aid services.
Public Protection – Reduces funding for the Public Protection Program by $50,000, which eliminates the funding for the education, testing, and training for the certification of emergency medical providers.
Family Planning Waiver –Reduces eligibility for the state family planning waiver from 300% of the federal poverty level to 133%. The bill also excludes women who have health insurance, but do have coverage for bene-fits under the family planning network, and who are older than 45 years of age. Coverage of pregnancy protection services for men.
Juvenile Shelter Care Beds – Reduces funding for juvenile shelter care beds by $466,000.
All of the provisions in Division VII are effective upon enactment.
Division VIII – Infrastructure and Transportation
Living Roadways – Freezes spending from the Living Roadway Trust Fund from the effective date of this Act (which is upon enactment) through the end of the fiscal year.
Sustainable Communities (IJOBS Disaster Prevention Grants) – Eliminates the funding and repeals the policy for what the House Republicans are calling sustainable communities, which they say include heated sidewalks, although there was no funding for heated sidewalks in IJOBS. This is actually the $30 million from the IJOBS program created in 2010 as grants to cities and counties for disaster prevention infrastructure who use smart plan-ning principals. The IJOBS Board awarded these grants on September 15, 2010. All contracts will have been signed by January 7, 2011. The intent is to deappropriate this money because nothing has been drawn down yet, even though contracts have been signed (the grant agreements being signed have some contingency language re-garding funding and any change in funding (e.g. from deappropriation) in Articles 5 and 11). The cities and coun-ties with signed contracts include:
 AFTON – City of Afton Sewer Relining, Union County, $54,000
 CEDAR RAPIDS – Amphitheater Phase I Levee, Linn County, $1,075,000
 CEDAR RAPIDS – Cedar Rapids Fire Department Central Fire Station and West Side Fire Station, Linn County, $6,600,000
 CORALVILLE – Flood Mitigation on Biscuit Creek and Clear Creek in Coralville, Johnson County, $3,657,090
 DES MOINES – Central Place Levee Repair, Polk County, $2,100,000
 DUBUQUE – Lower Bee Branch Creek Restoration Project, Dubuque County, $3,965,500
 EDGEWOOD – Emergency Building/Storm Shelter Project, Delaware County, $300,000
 ELDORA – Hardin County Emergency Operations Center, Hardin County, $270,000
 FAIRFIELD – Water Works Pond Dam # 2, Jefferson County, $480,000
 FORT MADISON – Water Main and Booster Station Project, Lee County, $2,485,500
 HUDSON – Cedar Street, Black Hawk County, $288,000
 HUMBOLDT – City of Humboldt Fire and Rescue Station, Humboldt County, $453,441
 LE MARS – Plymouth County Tornado Safe Room, Plymouth County, $85,000
 LEWIS – Lewis Fire Station, Cass County, $280,950
 MUSCATINE – Relocation and construction of new fire station # 2, Muscatine County, $850,250
 OTTUMWA – Ottumwa Sewer Separation/Flood Mitigation Project Phase III, Wapello County, $800,000
 ROCKWELL CITY – Calhoun County Emergency Services Building, Calhoun County, $339,364
 SABULA – Sabula Levee Certification Project, Jackson Count y, $296,240
 SERGEANT BLUFF – Sergeant Bluff Stormwater Protection, Woodbury County, $1,076,500
 SIOUX CITY – Joint Field Services Facility, Woodbury County, $3,800,000
 STANTON – Viking Center Storm Shelter, Montgomery County, $625,100
 VOLGA – Volga River Dike, Clayton County, $16,065
 WOODBINE – Woodbine Fire Station, Harrison County, $102,000
The bill directs the joint appropriations subcommittee on transportation, infrastructure and capitals to develop on or before April 4, 2011, recommendations for implementation reduction to all identifiable appropriations enacted in the 2010 legislative session for sustainable community projects.
Des Moines Chamber Shuttle – Reduces funding for the shuttle service from downtown Des Moines to the Capi-tol by $75,000.

Honey Creek Asset Manager – Reduces funding for the Honey Creek resort manager by $73,800 (this provision does have a $100,000 signed contract with DNR – they did and RFP and signed a contract; the person is currently on contract and working).
Passenger Rail – Reduces funding going into the passenger rail service revolving fund by $2.7 million in FY 11 and eliminates funding for the passenger rail project in the out years and the intent for $20 million to match feder-al funds over the next four years.
All the provisions in Division VIII are effective upon enactment.
Division IX -Justice System
Court Appointed Attorney Fees (Indigent Cases) – Requires attorney fees in excess of those set by the state public defender’s office limits, for cases not considered unusually complicated, to be paid for by the Judicial Branch budget whether the excess amount was approved by the public defender or the court. Payment of these fees would essentially be a transfer of funds from the Judicial Branch budget to the Indigent Defense Fund and would result in no cost savings for the state.
Indigent Defense – Provides a supplemental appropriation of $16 million for indigent defense for FY 2011.
All of the provisions in Division IX take effect upon enactment.
Division X – Power Fund – Office of Energy Independence
Repeal – Repeals Chapter 469 that establishes the Power Fund, the Office of Energy Independence, and the com-munity grant program.
Transition – Directs the Department of Economic Development to assume the duties of the Office of Energy In-dependence, until otherwise determine by the General Assembly. Any moneys remaining in any account or fund under the control of the Office of Energy Independence and federal funds are to be transferred to a comparable fund or account under the control of the Department of Economic Development.
The Economic Development Appropriations Subcommittee is directed to include provisions relating to the repeal and transfer the authority of the Office of Energy Independence to another state entity.
All of the provisions in Division X are effective upon enactment.
Division XI – Rebuild Iowa Office
Rebuild Iowa Office – Eliminates the Rebuild Iowa Office and shifts disaster-related responsibilities back to the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. Reduces funding to the Rebuild Iowa Office $116,000 and transfers $50,000 of the remaining $531,014 to the Homeland Security and Emergency Manage-ment Division. The bill directs the Justice System Appropriations Subcommittee to identify the appropriate agen-cy to assume the duties of the Rebuild Iowa Office.
All of the provisions in Division XI are effective upon enactment.
Division XII – Values Fund

Grow Iowa Values Fund – Repeals the Grow Iowa Values Fund, transferring the funds remaining in the fund on the effective date of the bill (which is upon enactment) to the general fund and directs any loan repayments to the general fund. The bill makes a number of conforming changes with the repeal of the Grow Iowa Values Fund. It also establishes a number of new definitions for the High Quality Jobs program within the Department of Eco-nomic Development.

Repeals – The bill repeals the Economic Enterprise Areas, Renewable Fuel Assistance, and a provision relating to the Department of Natural Resources providing infrastructure assistance on environmentally contaminated sites in collaboration with the Department of Economic Development.
All provisions in this division amending 2010 Iowa Acts, Chapter 1184, are effective upon enactment.
Division XIII – County Mental Health and Disability Services
Supplemental for County Mental Health – Provides a one-time appropriation of $25 million from the general fund to the Department of Human Services for the County Mental Health Risk Pool. These funds are intended to eliminate the mental health waiting lists.
Adult Mental Health and Disability Service System Reform -Sunsets the current mental health services deliv-ery system on July 1, 2012. The bill directs the Human Resources, Appropriation, and Ways and Means Commit-tees to propose legislation to phase in the state take-over of the nonfederal share of the costs for Medicaid pro-gram services now borne by counties. The committees are also to provide property tax relief and equity by hav-ing the state assume a greater role in funding the adult mental health and disability services systems. Also, shift the balance of responsibilities for the services between the state and counties so that the state ensures greater uni-formity and there is sufficient size to develop effective services while maintaining the county role of bringing lo-cal resources together in unique ways that best meet the needs of clients, by implementing a new services system structure by July 1, 2012, when the repeals contained in this division take effect.
All of the provisions in Division XIII are effective upon enactment.
Division – Corrective Provisions
These changes are truly corrective provisions to legislation approved in 2010 where corrections or missed conforming changes are needed to the Code. The corrections are nonsubstantive Code Editor changes recommended by the Legislative Services Agency. The following changes are made:
 Clarifies that references to community empowerment areas are deemed to refer to early childhood Iowa areas.
 Unemployment Compensation date correction.
 Terrace Hill maintenance date correction.
 These provisions are effective upon enactment and apply retroactively to April 29, 2010.
Joseph Romano|G:\Caucus Staff\jromano\BUDGET\Approp 2011\HF 45_FY2011_Deappropriation Bill_OUT OF COMMITTEE.docx|January 13, 2011|1:49 PM

News of Note

Check out this insightful article found in the Iowa State Daily newspaper on Friday, January 7th.

Did you miss the special MTV did on teen abortions called “No Easy Decision” during winter break? You probably did, considering MTV did not promote the special that aired after the “16 and Pregnant” reunion special in any way whatsoever. They even put the special in the after hours graveyard spot of 11:30 p.m. eastern time.

So what’s the big deal? Well, the fact that it wasn’t promoted or advertised gives in to the popular idea that having an abortion is something not to be talked about and something to be ashamed of. If their own network is afraid to tackle promoting this difficult subject, how are women who had abortion supposed to feel?

// //

The stand alone special featured three teens — including Markai, who gave birth to another child on the show “16 and Pregnant” — and their decision to terminate their pregnancies and the emotional aftermath. While the special did a good job showing abortion in a fair light, the lack of promotion hurt its chance to be helpful to teens struggling with abortion decisions.

Nearly one-third of all teen pregnancies end in abortion, according to the Guttmacher Institute, yet “16 and Pregnant” does not feature any teens who chose this option. Then again, this is the same show where very few mothers have chosen to give up their child for adoption. What does it say when a “reality” TV show refuses to show all of the options, mainly abortion?

On the “16 and Pregnant” reunion special that was aired before “No Easy Decision,” Markai talked with Dr. Drew about life after her baby was born. Not once was her abortion discussed at all, but was the main story on the special. Even when discussing birth control and plans for having another child, her abortion was ignored.

Of course the reunion was highly publicized on MTV and was expected to have a high viewership, unlike “No Easy Decision” which you watched only if you stayed long enough after the reunion to care.

MTV isn’t the only one to shy away from the abortions. Movies such as Juno, “Knocked Up” and “Waitress” all feature unplanned pregnancies but talk little about abortion or use the word. In “Knocked Up” it is called “taking care of it” or a “Rhymes with Susmortion.” In “Waitress” it was simply “the other thing” In “Juno,” Juno goes to the clinic for one, only to be change her mind when learning the baby has fingernails.

Even in the ever cheesy Canadian Show “Degrassi” when they did an abortion two-part episode, the American channel The N, refused to show it due to it controversial content. This same network had no problem showing teen pregnancy, drinking, STDs, school shootings, but abortion is controversial. Especially since the show has many plots dealing with sexuality that puts characters with an unplanned pregnancy.

Why is it that while Roe v. Wade case decision turns 38 this month, that abortion is still looked down upon, or not talked about at all in television?

Why is the media so scared to show abortion as a reasonable choice for women? Sure it is controversial, and not a simple choice to make, but it is happening. By not publicizing it doesn’t mean abortion will magically go away.

TV seems to feature abortion plots more than movies, but never in an even slightly positive light. If a character does have an abortion or is thinking about on in a movie or television show, there are several options for her:

1. She magically miscarries before she has an abortion such as on “Dawson’s Creek” and “Beverly Hill’s 90210.”

Because while miscarriage does happen, there is a slim chance that by wishing you don’t want the baby it will magically happen.

2. She is very much distressed with and turns to alcohol drugs or other bad behavior, or she dreams about dead babies, like in “Six Feet Under.”

While I think it is safe to say that abortion can cause emotional stress, it does not mean that all women react the same way. So why does our media show only the worst possible scenario?

3. You die. This occurs after the abortion, when after backlash from people who find the plot controversial and boycott your show and then screen writers decide to kill off the character to appease them. This happened in the short lived “Jack and Bobby” series.

Because higher forces will punish you by death for having an abortion regardless if you believe in them. I’m sure Planned Parenthood says otherwise.

4. At the last possible minute she will change her mind and keep the baby. Naturally everything is turns out okay, such as in a plot in “Sex and the City” and more recently “Private Practice” and the god awful “Secret Life of the American Teenager.”

While abortion is not the right choice for everyone, these shows send the message that it’s not the right choice for anyone.

Friday Night Lights” is the only show I can think of that recently did a good job with this topic, with Becky clearly stating why she wanted it. She was in the 10th grade with no money and knew she couldn’t raise a child. After having the abortion she thought she made the right choice. We shall see if screenwriters and advertisers allow her to keep this decision.

In the 1970s, there was one show that portrayed abortion in a fair light, “Maude.” While Maude was upset about it, she didn’t die, change her mind, or turn to drugs. In the end she was okay with her decision and moved on. That was 30 years ago, and we have made little progress since then.

There might be more abortion friendly plots I am missing considering I don’t spend all day watching TV, but the fact is they are few in number, and if they are there they are narrow in their views.

What do I want to see in 2011? An abortion storyline on television portrayed in a fair light, where while the decision was difficult they feel like they made the right choice. Oh and for it to be shown at a decent hour.

What happened to the days where TV was more progressive than the movies? Where they pushed the envelope on what you can see on TV and were advocates for social change? It seems now days they are too worried about backlash and loss of advertisements dollars to do anything outside the box.

Come on CNN…

I was perusing to find a topic to get fired up about – CNN usually provides me with many opportunities to get fired up and today was no exception.  On the left-hand column of their website, an Opinion article was listed: “Women need to man up”.  Well of course I had to click on it furiously and see how CNN was proposing we women do this because, being America’s most trusted news source, I couldn’t wait to learn (please insert heavy sarcasm here).

What I found was not an article that made me rage and tremble like the title did.  What I found was wisdom: Nancy Pelosi shared at a TED conference for women, that “women need to be leaders in their own way, not necessarily following in men’s footsteps”.

I encourage you to read the article and formulate your own opinions on some of the materials covered (because I know I have formed mine!).  But overall, I am surprised to see that CNN needed to tease people with the title they chose…it isn’t the title of the opinion that the author himself gave it.  And it actually isn’t what the article was saying at all.

Women don’t need to “man up” (whatever the frank that means).  Women need to recognize their capabilities, their skills, their talents.  Women, like Pelosi said, need to find their own ways of doing things, their own ways to succeed.  Success is measured by checking accounts, houses, cars, material wealth… until we redefine success.

One other piece I found interesting and need to quote here fully is some thoughts from Hanna Rosin, author of the controversial (in my opinion) article in an issue of The Atlantic called “The End of Men”.  This is Richard Gallant’s take on Rosin’s thoughts:

Rather than the concept of a glass ceiling that women could shatter on the way to advancement, she preferred the image of a high bridge, a place where women could show their confidence and courage — but also move forward with their male and female friends, families and co-workers.

I would like to challenge women, including Rosin, to expand this idea of a bridge.  Instead of bringing friends, family, and colleagues to the top with you, consider widening the bridge for people you don’t know.  Advancement should not be selfish: only a way to gain more, and expand a resume.  If we do not see those around us as important enough to bring along on the bridge, we are not working for advancement – we are working for ourselves.

Woman up.  🙂

Liz Steinborn

1972: The Musical

“1972: The Musical”

30th Anniversary benefit for the Margaret Sloss Women’s Center

Join the Margaret Sloss Women’s Center for a musical romp back in time to 1972.  America was immersed in the jungles of Vietnam as second-wave feminists fought their own battles at home.

Cast of 1972: Clayton Johnson, Lindsay Allen, David Michael, Jo Self, & Alysa Mozak

“1972”, written and directed by Clark Ford, is a three-act musical about a family facing change.  The father, played by David Michael, is a humorous conservative with a penchant for Archie Bunker.  The mother, played by Jo Self, holds the family together but yearns to go back to school and then gets a job outside of the family.  Bob, the college-aged son, played by Clayton Johnson, is in a fraternity and is pursuing the American Dream.  Lindsey Allen plays the college-aged daughter studying feminism.  She really begins to question the religion and patriarchy in which she was raised.  Alysa Mozak plays the part of Janice, a free-loving hippie who is going back to school, and it turns out both Bob and Marnie are attracted to her…

Show times and Dates:

  • Thursday, December 9th, 7:30pm
  • Friday, December 10th, 7:30pm
  • Saturday, December 11th, 2:00pm
  • Saturday, December 11th, 7:30pm

Tickets on Sale at the Maintenance Shop
$8 for students
$12 for public

For more information, contact the Margaret Sloss Women’s Center (  We can’t wait to see you at the show!

The First Lady of Thanksgiving

Ever wonder why Thanksgiving falls on the last Thursday of November?  I don’t think the Native Americans and pilgrims checked their calendars and decided Thursday would be the best day for turkey, corn, parades, and dog shows.

Thanksgiving was haphazardly scheduled by individual states up until 1863.  Sarah Josepha Hale, the editor of the Ladies Magazine (which eventually became the Ladies Book), wrote a letter to President Lincoln imploring him to declare the last Thursday of November to be the nationally observed day for Thanksgiving.  Here is her letter (as found at

From Sarah J. Hale to Abraham Lincoln, September 28, 1863

Philadelphia, Sept. 28th 1863.


Permit me, as Editress of the “Lady’s Book”, to request a few minutes of your precious time, while laying before you a subject of deep interest to myself and — as I trust — even to the President of our Republic, of some importance. This subject is to have the day of our annual Thanksgiving made a National and fixed Union Festival.

You may have observed that, for some years past, there has been an increasing interest felt in our land to have the Thanksgiving held on the same day, in all the States; it now needs National recognition and authoritive fixation, only, to become permanently, an American custom and institution.

Enclosed are three papers (being printed these are easily read) which will make the idea and its progress clear and show also the popularity of the plan.

For the last fifteen years I have set forth this idea in the “Lady’s Book”, and placed the papers before the Governors of all the States and Territories — also I have sent these to our Ministers abroad, and our Missionaries to the heathen — and commanders in the Navy. From the recipients I have received, uniformly the most kind approval. Two of these letters, one from Governor (now General) Banks and one from Governor Morgan are enclosed; both gentlemen as you will see, have nobly aided to bring about the desired Thanksgiving Union.

But I find there are obstacles not possible to be overcome without legislative aid — that each State should, by statute, make it obligatory on the Governor to appoint the last Thursday of November, annually, as Thanksgiving Day; — or, as this way would require years to be realized, it has ocurred to me that a proclamation from the President of the United States would be the best, surest and most fitting method of National appointment.

I have written to my friend, Hon. Wm. H. Seward, and requested him to confer with President Lincoln on this subject As the President of the United States has the power of appointments for the District of Columbia and the Territories; also for the Army and Navy and all American citizens abroad who claim protection from the U. S. Flag — could he not, with right as well as duty, issue his proclamation for a Day of National Thanksgiving for all the above classes of persons? And would it not be fitting and patriotic for him to appeal to the Governors of all the States, inviting and commending these to unite in issuing proclamations for the last Thursday in November as the Day of Thanksgiving for the people of each State? Thus the great Union Festival of America would be established.

Now the purpose of this letter is to entreat President Lincoln to put forth his Proclamation, appointing the last Thursday in November (which falls this year on the 26th) as the National Thanksgiving for all those classes of people who are under the National Government particularly, and commending this Union Thanksgiving to each State Executive: thus, by the noble example and action of the President of the United States, the permanency and unity of our Great American Festival of Thanksgiving would be forever secured.

An immediate proclamation would be necessary, so as to reach all the States in season for State appointments, also to anticipate the early appointments by Governors.

Excuse the liberty I have taken

With profound respect

Yrs truly

Sarah Josepha Hale,

Editress of the “Ladys Book”

On October 3rd, 1863, President Lincoln announced that Thanksgiving should indeed fall on the last Thursday of November for everyone.  Sometimes you just have to write the President and tell them what’s up!

We can also be thankful that Thursday was the day because it allots (some of) us a lovely four-day weekend.

What are you thankful for this year?

30th Anniversary Logo

In January, 2011, the Margaret Sloss Women’s Center will be celebrating its 30th Anniversary at Iowa State University.  Here’s a bit of herstory for you:

The Sloss House is located on the Iowa State University campus. This stately little house is nestled among pine trees, with a spectacular view to the west of the University’s central campus. When Sloss House was built in 1883, it was both a significant and dominate building. The location of the college necessitated housing for part of the faculty, since Ames proper was an half-hour horse ride away. The structure marked the boundary of the faculty community from the rest of the college. At the time of its completion, it was one of the twelve buildings on the campus.

The Sloss House has become lost in the University’s growth over the last 100 years. However, it still retains most of its original character with the surrounding environment. Everything remains virtually unchanged, as if it has just been completed, except for the overgrowth of some of the vegetation and the fact that Curtiss Hall is to the North. A view from the house to the west, south and east can give you a historic feeling of what the campus may have actually looked like in its early years.” Today only three faculty home remain on campus. Construction of the new Gerdin Business College will begin during Fall 2001 just south of the Sloss House.

Yes women have the right to vote.  Yes more women are enrolling in higher education than ever before.  Yes women are starting to make their way in predominantly male fields.  But there is still a long way to go.  Women are still asked to choose between advancing their careers and having a family.  One in four college women is still sexually assaulted during their college career.  Women are still considered too emotional and too sensitive to work in certain fields.  And women are still being paid $0.73 for every dollar their male colleagues make.

We have a long way to go.  The Margaret Sloss Women’s Center is here to support you!

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