Women In and Beyond the Global will be back, January 10

WIBG takes a break

Starting today, December 10, Women In and Beyond the Global will take a one-month break, returning January 10. To all our readers, writers, collaborators and detractors, have a great and festive holiday season.

For Women In and Beyond the Global, it’s been a signature year. We began in January with pieces on indigenous women in Canada; women activists in Zimbabwe; reflections on the assault on Charlie Hebdo in, and beyond, Paris; reflections on police accountability and #BlackLivesMatter; and something on #BringBackOurGirls and the implications of our responses to the abduction and violence against women and girls in Chibok, Nigeria … and that was just the first week.

We end the year with a piece on transgender women prisoners in the United Kingdom and Canada; a reflection on women, climate change and women’s power in the Netherlands and across Europe; a reflection on Afghanistan’s response to Europe’s response to Afghan refugees; a critique of Switzerland’s banning the burqa … and Muslim women more generally; and a piece on Greek women rejecting and resisting austerity regimes.

Thanks to our writers and readers for your contributions, engagements, and insights with Women In and Beyond the Global this calendar year. Thirty-one people wrote over 200 pieces this year, which for us is quite an accomplishment. Thanks to your great work and labor, our readership grows, and, more importantly perhaps, the conversations grow and connect. We’ve also branched into Radio WIBG, an occasional series of audio files, and next year are looking forward to a video series as well. Finally, we’ve begun new partnerships, in particular with 50/50 magazine, in France, and deepened others, especially with Rape Crisis Cape Town Trust Fund, in South Africa. We look forward to more exciting collaborations next year.

Let’s do more than hope the end of this year and the entirety of next brings peace with justice and love. Let’s do more; let’s make it happen, step by step, prison by prison, household by household, and beyond.

Reproductive Choice and Prison as Punishment: A Tale of Two States

Out West in California, incarcerated women are sterilized without their consent. Over in the Northeast in Pennsylvania, a mother was incarcerated for helping her daughter end an unwanted pregnancy. While these two stories may seem unrelated, at their intersection are important issues of freedom, choice, and women’s bodies.

As described in Women In and Beyond the Global last week, many women prisoners in California have been stripped of their reproductive freedom. The Center for Investigative Reporting revealed that California prisons had been illegally sterilizing female inmates either through coercion or without informed consent, using procedures such as tubal ligations. While it is encouraging that in light of this horrific finding the governor signed a bill prohibiting forced sterilization, the fact remains that these women will never again be able to choose to become pregnant. That choice was already made for them by prison authorities.

Across the country, authorities sent a woman to prison for supporting her daughter’s reproductive choice. Jennifer Ann Whalen’s 16-year-old daughter was pregnant, but she didn’t want to be. When they looked up their options, the mother and daughter found that they didn’t have many. From where they lived in rural Pennsylvania, the closest abortion clinic was 75 miles away. According to state law, Whalen’s daughter was required to receive counseling at the clinic and then wait 24 hours before returning for an abortion. Furthermore, without health insurance, the procedure would cost more than $300. They were unable to make the trip because they couldn’t afford the cost, the fact that their only car was shared with Whalen’s husband who was unaware of the pregnancy, and because Whalen couldn’t miss multiple days of work. Without any other options, they decided to induce a miscarriage themselves. So Whalen ordered abortion pills online and her daughter took them. She had no serious complications or side effects, but they worried when she experienced stomach pains and bleeding. They went to the hospital, where Whalen was arrested, and ultimately charged with a felony for performing an abortion without a medical license. Whalen will serve 12-18 months in prison. If her daughter had access to a safe, legal, and affordable abortion, Whalen would not be behind bars today.

Some women are punished by prison and consequently denied reproductive choices; others are denied reproductive choices and consequently punished by prison. Both of these scenarios illuminate the various ways that women in America are denied the freedom to control their own bodies and, ultimately, their own lives.


(Photo Credit: Care2.com)