Saturday, May 1, 2004
Kudos to pro-choice Republican Arlen Specter this week, who defeated the neo-con darling Patrick Toomey in a heated Pennsylvania primary. Jeers go to the Bush administration for removing crucial information from its Women's Bureau Web site.
After a tight race, Arlen Specter, 74, the Senate's eighth most senior Republican narrowly defeated conservative Rep. Pat Toomey in the Pennsylvania senate primary race.
The contest was widely publicized because of Toomey's aggressive campaign, which was helped by the $1 million funneled into it from the Club for Growth, a group that consistently supports anti-choice and anti-tax candidates. Toomey frequently accused Specter, the incumbent, of being a liberal and too soft on these issues.
Specter is a renowned centrist who frequently bucks his party's predetermined ideology on social and fiscal issues. Specter says he is pro-choice, although he voted for the ban on so-called partial-birth abortion that has no health exception. He was the subject of other anti-choice activist ire last year when Andrew Jaspers, head of anti-choice group Saint Gerard Productions, registered the ArlenSpecter2004.com domain name and built a Web site publicly berating Specter, calling him "Senate's doctor of death."
Specter's view on abortion is: "I am personally opposed to abortion, but I am a supporter of a woman's right to choose. I believe that it is not the role of the federal government to interfere in this issue best handled by women and families in consultation with their minister, priest or rabbi."
National Council for Research on Women--
This week Salon.com reported the quiet removal of "more than 25 fact sheets and statistical reports" from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Women's Bureau Web site "on topics ranging from 'Earning Differences Between Men and Women' to 'Facts About Asian American and Pacific Islander Women' to 'Women's Earnings as Percent of Men's 1979-1997.'"
A report cited by Salon from the National Council for Research on Women (an alliance of 100 women's policy, research and education centers, including the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and the Girl Scouts) itemizes the mass disappearances. Entitled "Missing: Information About Women's Lives," the report numbers dozens of relatively small measures the Bush administration has taken to whittle away the amount of public information on women provided by the government.
"When these instances are taken individually, perhaps we don't see the cumulative pattern of what's happening," Linda Basch, president of the 23-year-old council, told Salon. "But when we gather the information together and see the distorted or disappearing information about the economic opportunities, the situation of violence against women, health and particularly reproductive health, it is a very distressing pattern."
One of the more notable shifts the report includes is a shift in mission statements on the Women's Bureau's Web site. In 1999, the responsibilities the site listed were "to advocate and inform women directly, and the public as well, of women's rights and employment issues" and "to ensure that the voices of working women are heard and their priorities represented in the public policy arena."
In February 2002, the Bureau's mission statement looked very different: "To promote profitable employment opportunities for women, to empower them by enhancing their skills and improving their working conditions and to provide employers with more alternatives to meet their labor needs." The 2002 "Vision Statement" reads: "We will empower women to enhance their potential for securing more satisfying employment as they seek to balance their work-life needs."
Salon.com characterized the change thus: "In other words: less information about helpful policy and legislation, more potential-enhancing tips on balancing 'work' and 'life.'"