By Matthews and Soguel
Saturday, January 19, 2008
A shaming campaign against MSNBC talk show host Chris Matthews resulted in a quick apology for his sexist coverage of Hillary Clinton's presidential bid on Jan. 17.
Matthews' remarks against Clinton and other women were mapped out in a Dec. 18 report from watchdog group Media Matters. The next day, Matthews attributed Clinton's political success to sympathy for her as the wife of an adulterer: "Let's not forget, and I'll be brutal, the reason she's a U.S. senator, the reason she's a candidate for president, the reason she may be a front-runner, is that her husband messed around."
That was the final straw for some women's rights groups--including the National Women's Political Caucus, the National Organization for Women and the Feminist Majority Foundation--who protested outside NBC's Washington, D.C., bureau and sent open letters to Steve Capus, president of NBC News.
"Saying Senator Clinton got where she's got simply because her husband did what he did to her is just as callous, and I can see now, came across just as nasty--worse yet, just as dismissive," a contrite Matthews said after 10 days of public pressure, adding that he would be more respectful toward women in the future.
NARAL Pro-Choice America:
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The United States received an overall grade of D-Minus in a NARAL Pro-Choice America report card that graded the 50 states on access to reproductive information and services, abortion laws, state legislatures and political representatives' stances on reproductive rights.
Nearly 500 anti-choice measures were considered by states in 2007, including proposals to limit women's access to information about their options, prohibiting insurance coverage for abortion services or allowing health care providers to refuse to provide treatments they oppose.
Overall, 15 states received A grades. California and Washington were the only states to receive an A-Plus; in both, the legislatures are considered pro-choice.
Nineteen states received F grades, including Ohio, South Dakota, Texas and Louisiana, which ranked last.
Currently, 28 states require parental involvement if a minor seeks an abortion and 23 states require doctors to tell women about alternatives, according to Stateline.org. Other restrictions take the form of abortion bans on specific procedures; stricter zoning or clinic regulations; or requirements to provide ultrasounds to pregnant women or inform them of abortion's link to mental health risks or cancer that have been disproved by researchers.
The U.S. abortion rate has decreased by as much as 25 percent since its peak in 1990, according to a Jan. 18 study from the New York-based Guttmacher Institute. There were 1.2 million abortions performed during 2005, down from 1.6 million in 1990, reaching the lowest point since 1974, the year after abortion was legalized.
The report did not pinpoint a specific cause for the decline; advocates on both sides of the issue also partly attribute declines to increasing restrictions imposed by states.
One in 5 U.S. pregnancies is terminated compared to 1 in 3 during the 1980s. Medical abortions have increased to 13 percent of the total since the RU-486 drug to induce them was approved in 2000.
The number of clinics that offer abortion services declined 15 percent since 2000, and the number of counties--87 percent--that have no clinic remained constant.
Shanelle Matthews is a Women's eNews intern and a recent graduate of the Manship School of Mass Communication at Louisiana State University. Dominique Soguel is Women's eNews Arabic editor.
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