Wednesday, June 30, 2010

FDA 'Ella' Approval Faces Anti-Choice Pressure


Womens eNews
Covering Women's Issues -
Changing Women's Lives

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

FDA 'Ella' Approval Faces Anti-Choice Pressure

By Molly M. Ginty
WeNews correspondent
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
A new form of emergency contraception, effective for five days after unprotected intercourse instead of three, recently pulled through initial FDA hearings. Supporters are worried, however, about continued protest and problems.
ellaOne (ulipristal acetate)(WOMENSENEWS)--U.S. pro-choice advocates are still worried about the drug "ella," which prevents pregnancy from occurring for five days after unprotected intercourse, rather than three, as the current available pills do.
The drug, which has been available as "ellaOne" in 22 European countries since October 2009, won unanimous backing from a U.S. Food and Drug Administration, FDA, advisory panel on June 17.
This brings it a step closer to U.S. availability, which could come as soon as the fall or winter of 2010.
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In studies involving more than 4,500 women, ella prevented pregnancy up to 120 hours after unprotected intercourse. Research published in peer-reviewed journals, including The Lancet and Obstetrics and Gynecology, confirm that it is safe, with mild side effects--headaches, dizziness and nausea--experienced by only 5 to 10 percent of users.
Ella (also called ulipristal acetate), however, is sparking controversy because it is a close chemical relative of mifepristone, the medical abortion pill, known as RU-486, which has been available in the United States since 2000.
RU-486 works for up to nine weeks to prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the womb or to dislodge a growing embryo.
Ella works by preventing ovulation. It's not an abortafacient--a substance that induces abortion--because it does not affect a fertilized egg or embryo. As a result, it doesn't terminate pregnancy as pregnancy is defined by the Washington-based American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the Chicago-based American Medical Association and other health organizations.
Before the June 17 FDA ruling, 20 pro-choice groups--including Catholics for Choice, NARAL Pro-Choice America and the National Women's Law Center, all based in Washington--wrote a letter to the FDA in support of ella.

A Second Letter

Now, these organizations are preparing a second letter to the FDA that will once again stress women's need for a safe, long-lasting emergency contraceptive that prevents unwanted pregnancy.
"We need to get the word out and let people know what ella is, and what it isn't," said Kirsten Moore, president of Washington's Reproductive Health Technologies Project. Moore testified in support of ella at the June hearing.
On any given day, a million American women who do not want to become pregnant have unprotected sex and more than 25,000 women become pregnant every year after being sexually assaulted, report researchers from Princeton University in Princeton, N.J. As a result, notes the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than half of the pregnancies that occur in the United States every year are unintended.
Since 1999, women in the United States have had access to another form of emergency contraception: Plan B. Also called the "morning-after pill," the drug is made by the Israel-based Teva Pharmaceutical Industries.
While Plan B works for three days after unprotected intercourse, ella is effective for five. Those additional two days are significant because sperm can live in the female reproductive tract for up to five days, which means ella can prevent fertilization during the entire time that sperm are viable. The extra days are also significant because women who live in rural areas or who have other barriers to contraceptive access may not be able to obtain Plan B within its three-day window.
If approved, ella will be sold in the United States by Watson Pharmaceuticals, based in Corona, Calif.
While Plan B is available in the United States to women over age 17 without a prescription, ella would require a prescription for all women who take it. Though Plan B runs around $50, ella will likely cost $100 to $150.
"Plan B has a generic alternative, but ella does not," said Alina Salganicoff, vice president and director of women's health policy for the Menlo Park, Calif.-based Kaiser Family Foundation. "If you have prescription drug coverage, your policy will likely absorb the cost, but if you don't, you'll have to pay out of pocket."

Anti-Choice Advocates Speak Up

At the FDA hearing on ella, two of the 13 people who spoke to the committee were anti-choice advocates.
One of them was Wendy Wright, president of the Washington-based conservative group Concerned Women for America. She told the committee that ella "interferes with the lining of the uterus" and that the FDA should not "unleash" it on "unsuspecting women."
Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, chair of the U.S. Catholic bishops' Washington-based Committee on Pro-Life Activities, wrote the FDA and charged that ella could be slipped to women "by unscrupulous men with the intent of causing an early abortion without a woman's knowledge or consent."
Similar objections are echoed on the Web sites of anti-choice groups including the Washington-based LifeNews.com, Students for Life of America of Arlington, Va., and the Chicago-based Pro-Life Action League.
Ella's next step is for the same FDA administrators who oversaw the June 17 hearing to review the drug's application and respond to its maker's request for approval. Pro-choice advocates worry that the political opposition could lead to delays in this process, which typically takes at least several months.

Pro-Choice Activists' Concerns

When Plan B was under fire from anti-choice activists during the Bush administration, the FDA took more than three years to approve the drug.
"Under President Obama, the agency has taken steps to bring its handling of emergency contraception in line with the science," said Amy Allina, program director of the Washington-based National Women's Health Network. "But there is still an age restriction on over-the-counter distribution of Plan B despite medical community consensus that this is inappropriate and serves only to block timely access for young women. With that mixed record, we think it's an open question whether the agency will bring similar political concerns to its decision on this new emergency contraceptive."
Activists also worry about access to ella. Before Plan B finally became available as an over-the-counter drug in 1999, several anti-choice doctors and pharmacists refused to write or fill prescriptions for the drug when women asked them for it.
During the June 17 hearing, the FDA committee upset some pro-choice activists by asking whether there should be any restrictions placed on ella's sale--such as a recommendation that women take pregnancy tests before using the new drug.
"This requirement isn't made of other emergency contraceptives and we think it's unnecessary and potentially confusing," said Allina. "Pro-choice advocates breathed a sigh of relief during the hearing when the committee moved past that concern."
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Molly M. Ginty (http://mollymaureenginty.wordpress.com) is a freelance writer based in New York City.

For more information:

Background on Ulipristal Acetate, Planned Parenthood:
http://www.plannedparenthood.org/files/PPFA/fact-ella-EC.pdf
"A New Option for Emergency Contraception: the Facts on Ulipristal Acetate," Reproductive Health Technologies Project:
http://www.rhtp.org/documents/EllaECFactSheet-UPDATEDRAFT6.7.10.pdf

Tell your representatives you strongly support Wall Street reform

Congress is expected to cast its final votes on historic Wall Street reform as soon as today.

So much has happened in the past year that it's easy to forget how much OFA supporters have done to get to this point.

In key districts around the country, we organized to win a 223-202 vote in the House last December. OFA supporters poured in nearly tens of thousands of calls to Capitol Hill offices the day before last month's vote to get it through the Senate.

This is your bill -- the strongest and boldest overhaul of the financial system since the aftermath of the Great Depression. It's the change we fought the big banks to make -- and we've almost won.

What happens before these final votes will determine if this once-in-a-generation legislation makes it to the President's desk. That's up to us. We need to make sure the champions in Congress who've worked with the President to pass this bill know we're supporting them -- and that those in opposition hear our call for reform.

Tell your representatives you strongly support Wall Street reform -- and that they'll have your thanks if they do the same.

Reform will increase security for all Americans by forcing credit card, mortgage companies, and predatory lenders to play by the rules instead of exploiting consumers with hidden fees and pages of fine print.

It establishes a new, independent agency -- the Consumer Financial Protection Agency -- whose sole job is to protect consumers. And it ensures American taxpayers will never again be asked to bail out the big banks that are "too big to fail."

But these changes will only happen if the President can sign it into law. We all need to get the bill to him.

Write a letter to your members of Congress now:

http://my.barackobama.com/WSRFinalPush

Thanks,

Yohannes

Yohannes Abraham
Political Director
Organizing for America

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

24 hours to add your name to ask SuperPages.com and YellowPages.com, to take down all misleading CPC ads





June 2010  
    ACT NOW



An Ad No Woman Should See
Anti-choice "crisis pregnancy centers" (CPCs) do whatever it takes to block women from choosing abortion.

Many even stoop to advertising under "abortion services" and "abortion clinics" in popular online search directories. Let's be clear: CPCs do not provide abortion care.

We're calling on two of the biggest search directories, SuperPages.com and YellowPages.com, to take down all misleading CPC ads. Add your name to our letter by June 30 so you can be part of our delivery!

Take Action






    HALL OF FAME AND HALL OF SHAME



FAME: Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.)
Emergency contraception (EC) is getting even more attention, thanks to these pro-choice heroes in Congress. Sen. Murray and Rep. Slaughter introduced the EC Education Act this month to make sure people know all about EC and how it prevents pregnancy. Thanks, Sen. Murray and Rep. Slaughter, for your leadership!

Learn more >>


SHAME: Operation Rescue's Expansion Plan
Operation Rescue has made our Hall of Shame before. This time, the notorious anti-choice group gets the nod for targeting Albuquerque. As if women in New Mexico didn't face enough barriers – 88 percent of counties do not have an abortion provider. Now women also must face threats of violence from Operation Rescue.

Learn more >>


    CHOICE IN THE NEWS



NARAL Pro-Choice America creates Spanish-language pages on its website

Women may soon have a new EC birth-control option with ella®

We're closer to ending an abortion ban for women serving in the military

Florida governor's veto marks pro-choice victory

President Obama increases funds for sex education that works


Every day, untold numbers of women facing an unintended pregnancy turn to "crisis pregnancy centers" (CPCs).

The trouble is that many CPCs pose as legitimate health clinics but push an anti-choice agenda to block women from choosing abortion.

I got to see firsthand what goes on inside a CPC in the new documentary, "12th and Delaware." The lies, the guilt trips, the manipulation. It is unspeakable.

Hear what some of our supporters said about the film.

CPCs outnumber legitimate health centers by a 5-1 margin. Chances are one of these anti-choice fake clinics will deceive a woman you care about.

But there is something you can do. Be sure to take action this month on our campaign and see "12th and Delaware" when it airs on HBO on August 2.

My best,
Nancy Keenan
President, NARAL Pro-Choice America

CONNECT WITH US

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OUR NUMBERS
33,041: The number of people who signed onto our letter to SuperPages.com and YellowPages.com. Thank you!
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© 2010 NARAL Pro-Choice America | 1156 15th Street, NW | Washington, D.C. 20005.
NARAL Pro-Choice America is a non-profit organization.

Guns, Gays and God: 5 Things the Right Will Say About Elena Kagan


NATIONAL

Guns, Gays and God: 5 Things the Right Will Say About Elena KaganThe disinformation about Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan began immediately after her nomination, particularly over her record on Second Amendment Issues and abortion and her role in Harvard's ...Read More


ARTS

Third Time Still Not the Charm for Toy Story's Female CharactersToy Story 3 opens on a woman-empowerment high, with Mrs. Potato-Head displaying mad train-robbing skills and cowgirl Jessie skillfully steering her faithful horse Bullseye in the ensuing chase. And ...Read More


GLOBAL

Are Honor Killings in Canada a "Muslim" Issue? The killers of 16-year-old Aqsa Pervez were convicted last week.  Mohammad Pervez and Waqas Ahmed, Aqsa's father and brother, were sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole for 18 ...Read More


HEALTH

Where'd the Diaphragm Disappear To? Did you know that last year's combined sales of Yaz and Yasmin, the most popular oral contraceptives in the U.S., totaled $1.64 billion?  Did you know the drugs are also the target of 1,100 ...Read More


LIFE

How to Lose Your Virginity: An Interview with Therese Shechter If you haven't been following the work of documentary filmmaker Therese Shechter (left), you might mistake her newest project, How to Lose Your Virginity, for a bluntly titled self-help manual ...Read More


MEDIA

Betty White in Cleveland: Still Funny, Still Underused Hot in Cleveland's premiere began with three fabulous 40-something best friends on an airplane from Los Angeles to Paris and ended with three fabulous 40-something best friends and one white-haired, ...Read More



MS.CELLANY

Newsflash: Australia Elects Its First Woman Prime Minister Australia just beat America (and Hillary Clinton) to the punch: yesterday, Julia Gillard was sworn in as its first woman prime minister after a surprising Labor Party leadership vote. Gillard defeated ...Read More

Wal-Mart Plaintiffs Face Historic Class Challenge


Womens eNews
Covering Women's Issues -
Changing Women's Lives

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Wal-Mart Plaintiffs Face Historic Class Challenge

By Susan V. Stromberg
WeNews correspondent
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Over a million current and former Wal-Mart female employees allege gender discrimination in a single lawsuit. In this news analysis, Susan Stromberg explains what it will take for them to hang together before the courts this summer.
Wal Mart(WOMENSENEWS)--More than one million current and former Wal-Mart female employees alleging gender discrimination stand to be certified this summer as the largest civil rights class action in history.
Their fate lies with the U.S. Supreme Court, which will be asked to decide whether a small group of employees' claims of sex discrimination are indicative of a company-wide policy or just isolated incidents. If the High Court does not hear the case, a lower court's ruling will stand and the trial against Wal-Mart will proceed on behalf of the million-plus plaintiffs.
It's a case of enormous importance for women in the paid work force across the country, says Fatima Goss Graves, vice president for education and employment at the Washington-based National Women's Law Center, one of the many organizations to file briefs in support of the class-action certification.
"The conduct alleged in the Wal-Mart litigation highlights that current law fails to provide adequate deterrence and sufficient tools to address widespread pay discrimination in the workplace," said Graves.
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In a case nearly a decade old, six female Wal-Mart employees sought certification to represent more than one million female employees in a lawsuit alleging gender discrimination in violation of federal law.
The claim of these six women is supported by 120 documented incidents from other female employees. In their suit, the six assert that they were paid less than men in comparable positions, despite higher performance ratings and greater seniority, and that they received fewer--and waited longer for--promotions than men.

Ninth Circuit Decision

Following an April decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the class will encompass all women employed by Wal-Mart at any time since June 8, 2001, when the lawsuit was first filed, and may possibly date back to December 26, 1998, pending clarification by the lower court.
The Ninth Circuit ruling certifying the class focused on whether the accusations made by these six women would be common to all female Wal-Mart employees, as is necessary for class certification.
Wal-Mart, headquartered in Bentonville, Ark., denies any systematic discrimination and argues that any claims should be tried individually and not as a class action. Among its arguments, Wal-Mart contends that the range of employees within the class is too diverse. It says that six women who have worked in 10 of the retailer's 3,400 stores nationwide cannot represent every female employee from every store--from part-time entry level hourly workers to salaried managers--over the course of a decade.
Before those allegations can be considered on the merits fully, the courts must first decide whether the million women represented by the six plaintiffs can hang together now that Wal-Mart plans to petition the Supreme Court for review.
The issue of class certification is governed by detailed and complicated procedural rules that will determine whether the million stay as part of the Wal-Mart case.
If the Supreme Court either decides not to hear the case or hears the case and agrees with the class certification, the lawsuit will go back to the lower court for a trial to determine if Wal-Mart discriminated against its female employees.
However, if the Supreme Court accepts review and overturns the class certification, each of the million possible plaintiffs would need to file individual lawsuits to raise any claims of discrimination.

Wal-Mart Attorney Hopeful

Wal-Mart attorney Theodore J. Boutrous, Jr., of the New York-based law firm Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher, is hoping the High Court will take the case and undo the class certification.
Boutrous believes the ruling certifying the class contradicts numerous decisions of other federal appellate courts and the Supreme Court itself, making it appropriate for review.
"This conflict and confusion in class action law is bad for everyone--employers, employees, businesses of all types and sizes and the civil justice system," Boutrous told Women's eNews.
If certified, the class members will be allowed to seek back pay and injunctive relief, which would require Wal-Mart to end any discriminatory practices. The issue of whether the plaintiffs may seek punitive damages also requires clarification by the lower court.
For now, lead plaintiff Betty Dukes, a Wal-Mart greeter in Pittsburg, Calif., is pleased with the Ninth Circuit's ruling allowing her case to go forward as a class action.
"It has taken a very long time and a tremendous amount of work, but it looks like we're finally going to get our day in court," said Dukes in a press statement. "That's all we've ever asked for."
Her attorney Brad Seligman of The Impact Fund, based in Berkeley, Calif., is optimistic about that day in court.
"We are very confident that at the end of the day, we will prevail. The evidence is that strong and the wrongdoing is that clear," he said.
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Susan V. Stromberg is an attorney and freelance writer.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Boston Hosts 2010 National NOW Conference, July 2-4

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NOW Press Release
For Immediate Release
Contact: Lisa Bennett, c. 301-537-7429
Boston Hosts 2010 National NOW Conference, July 2-4
"Loving Our Bodies, Changing the World"
June 28, 2010
Boston will play host to this year's 2010 National Organization for Women Conference taking place July 2-4 at the historic Boston Park Plaza Hotel. NOW's theme this year, "Loving Our Bodies, Changing the World," is well-poised to address popular concerns with health and body image from a feminist, woman-empowering point of view. Widespread focus on health intensified after the passage of the health care reform overhaul in March, followed by First Lady Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" campaign aimed at prevention and wellness. NOW is a pioneer in the field of women's health and body image, and the NOW Foundation introduced its signature Love Your Body Day campaign more than a decade ago.
"This is the year for focusing on women's health," says NOW President Terry O'Neill. "As the Great Recession continues, women are justifiably concerned about having access to affordable, quality heath care, including the full range of reproductive health services like prenatal care, birth control and abortion care. And young women and girls want to be empowered through comprehensive health and sex education. When women are healthy, families are healthy, and whole communities thrive, and that's where positive change happens," said O'Neill.
The three day event will feature distinguished key note speakers such as Boston Mayor Tom Menino; Mass. Governor Deval Patrick; Amy Goodman, the talented host of Democracy Now!; Feminist author Susan Douglas; Dr. Paula A. Johnson, executive director of the Connors Center for Women's Health and Gender Biology at Brigham and Women's Hospital; and Sen. Sonia Chang-Díaz, the first Latina to serve as a Mass. state senator, just to name a few. And, we will honor the founders of the Boston Women's Health Book Collective, now known as Our Bodies Ourselves, with our first-ever Victoria J. Mastrobuono Women's Health Award.
We will also host a political roundtable discussing the mid-term elections, and how important it is to elect women who will champion women's rights. This Fourth of July weekend, we will make some fireworks ourselves as we celebrate the wedding of Shirley and Joan, longtime NOW members who are tying the knot in Massachusetts, one of the handful of states that recognize equal marriage rights for same-sex couples.
There will be discussions and workshops on hot topic issues such as: maternity care in the U.S.; the power of women telling their personal stories about abortion; cosmetics that can make you sick; healing from domestic violence; the Tea Party's use of racism and abortion as political tools; and much more.
What: 2010 National NOW Conference
When: Friday, July 2 through Sunday, July 4
Where: Boston Park Plaza Hotel & Towers
Who: Conference Speakers include:
Terry O'Neill, President of NOW
Boston Women's Health Book Collective / Our Bodies Ourselves, NOW's Mastrobuono Award Recipient
Kim Bottomly, President of Wellesley College
Carol Moseley Braun, Founder of Good Foods Organics, Inc., and former U.S. Ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa
Andrea J. Cabral, Suffolk County Sheriff and attorney; First Black American female sheriff in Massachusetts history
Sonia Chang-Díaz, First Latina to be elected to the Massachusetts State Senate
Susan Douglas, Acclaimed feminist author and University of Michigan Professor
Irasema Garza, President of Legal Momentum, the women's legal defense and education fund
Amy Goodman, Award-winning investigative journalist, host of Democracy Now! and syndicated columnist
Lois Herr, NOW/PAC endorsed candidate for Congress in Pennsylvania's 16th District
Silvia Henriquez, NOW's Woman of Action Honoree; Executive Director of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health
Kierra Johnson, Executive Director of Choice USA
Dr. Paula A. Johnson, Executive Director of the Connors Center for Women's Health and Gender Biology, chief of the Division of Women's Health at Brigham and Women's Hospital, and associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.
Kilolo Kijakazi, Program Officer in the Economic Opportunity and Assets Program at The Ford Foundation
Adrienne Kimmell, Political Director at the Barbara Lee Family Foundation
Hon. Tom Menino, Boston Mayor
Judy Neufeld, Executive Director of Emerge Massachusetts
Hon. Deval Patrick, Massachusetts Governor
Stephanie Poggi, Executive Director of the National Network of Abortion Funds
Priti Rao, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Women's Political Caucus
Loretta Ross, NOW's Woman of Vision Honoree; co-founder and the national coordinator of the SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Health Collective
Media Credentialing:
If you are a member of the media and would like to attend, and/or set up advance interviews, please use our website to register your press credentials.

NOW to Closely Monitor Kagan Hearings for Sexism

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NOW Press Release
For Immediate Release
Contact: Mai Shiozaki, 202-628-8669, ext. 116
NOW to Closely Monitor Kagan Hearings for Sexism
and Signs of Nominee's Commitment to Equality and Justice for All
Statement of NOW President Terry O'Neill
June 28, 2010
As the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on Supreme Court nominee Solicitor General Elena Kagan open today, the National Organization for Women promises to closely monitor the proceedings. Kagan's confirmation would make history, as she would be the third woman to currently serve on the court, increasing the composition of women justices to one-third -- more than have ever served at the same time.
NOW will observe the hearings and their coverage for any hint of sexism from the committee members or the media. Already, Kagan has been unfairly and unjustifiably attacked for her appearance, lack of a husband and children, and even for playing softball in college. As none of these factors have any relevance to her ability to serve on the Supreme Court, NOW hopes that the committee and the media will focus on Kagan's opinions concerning judicial philosophy instead of speculating about her personal life.
Kagan's background and record certainly suggest that she is qualified for the position as Supreme Court justice. She worked as a clerk for the late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. In the Clinton administration, she served as deputy assistant to the president for domestic policy and then rose to be deputy director of the Domestic Policy Council. She is a former dean of Harvard Law School. In the Obama administration, as Solicitor General, she has argued six cases before the current Supreme Court.
Retiring Justice John Paul Stevens was a tireless defender of women's rights and a champion of social justice. He consistently voted in favor of protecting women's reproductive rights, ending gender-based discrimination, promoting racial equality, and recognizing the right to privacy for all, including the LGBT community. He leaves behind a proud legacy we hope will be carried on.
NOW is eager to learn if Elena Kagan, too, will stand for equality and fairness across the board. We will listen carefully to her answers to determine if she will be a strong guardian of the rights of women, people of color, the poor and other oppressed groups.
NOW is encouraged to see that the Supreme Court bench may soon welcome the fourth woman in its 221-year history. We approach the confirmation hearings of Elena Kagan with a clear understanding of the stakes for all women and look forward to hearing her responses to the committee's questions.
###
Read NOW's memorandum to the Senate Judiciary Committee, delivered on June 22, recommending questions to ask Elena Kagan to ascertain her commitment to upholding and advancing women's fundamental human rights.

Sex Crime Expert Asks Gore's Accuser: Why Now?

Womens eNews
Covering Women's Issues -
Changing Women's Lives

Monday, June 28, 2010
Sex Crime Expert Asks Gore's Accuser: Why Now?
By Wendy Murphy
WeNews Commentator
Monday, June 28, 2010
A long-time advocate for crime victims is torn about Nobel Laureate Al Gore and the woman accusing him now of a sexual assault in 2006. She believes her yet asks: Why was she silent for so long and why did she go public now?
Wendy MurphyI'm as fierce an advocate as exists for crime victims, but I'm having a tough time figuring out how to feel about Al Gore being publicly accused now of committing a sexual assault in 2006.
It's not that he didn't seem the "type." After the Catholic priest scandal, I gave up thinking there was a man alive who wasn't capable, though if Jimmy Carter gets in the same trouble I will lose my lunch.
But the go-green halo around Gore's presence set him apart somehow. Not that being an environmentalist makes a guy a saint, but Gore seemed almost desperate to have us see him as more moral than the average Al.
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I asked a bunch of women in my community how they felt about the Al Gore news, and they said perplexing victim-blaming things such as "She was in her 50s. Doesn't he know menopausal women aren't horny?" And, "How did she not know that a request for a three-hour massage at 10:30 p.m. is code for 'the guy wants a hooker?" A couple of women cracked jokes: "After she rejected him, did he Tip-per?"
The greenest of the green people I talked to felt betrayed. Gore was their leader and the movement is now, um, stained. The woman even said, according to the transcript of her interview with Portland, Ore., police made public on the Internet, that her "Birkenstock Tribe" friends told her to "suck it up" and not tell anyone or the "world's going to be destroyed from global warming."
I imagine the Nobel Prize people are similarly distraught.

The Cry of Liar Has Not Rung Out

The most interesting issue for me, however, is the way nobody seems to be calling woman a liar. Women who report sex crimes being called liars is a national sport in this country--more so when the accused is someone of substance. But Gore isn't even denying the woman's claims, much less calling her a liar. This not only helps the woman's credibility, it makes me wonder why the case itself took the odd series of twists and turns on its way to this very delayed public exposure.
Significant delay in the reporting of sexual assault typically incites claims of "false accusation." (The typical case is not reported promptly, which should make delayed reports more credible. But I digress). Hell, merely being female usually serves the same purpose. And when the claim is made against a person of wealth or influence, the motive is assumed to be money. But few saying these things about Al Gore's accuser.
Maybe it's because the woman saved the pants she was wearing when she noticed a stain she believed might be Gore's DNA, suggesting a denial might make things worse, a la Bill Clinton's denial before he knew about The Blue Dress.
The accuser told cops in 2009 she saved evidence in A "bank vault." Does it make sense that the woman--who has had more than enough time to obtain DNA test results from a private lab--would mention saving stained pants if the stain produced nothing of forensic value?

Accuser's Attorney Told Police She Would Pursue Case in Civil Court

Al GoreBut here's what I'm stuck on.
The woman filed a report with the police in late 2006, a few weeks after the incident, but then refused to show up for two scheduled police interviews. Her attorney said she did not want the case to be prosecuted in criminal court and would resolve the matter in civil court, instead.
She stayed quiet for a couple of years, not saying anything more to law enforcement officials until January 2009, which makes me wonder why she was content with silence for a while and what changed. Did Gore promise something but never deliver? Did she start off principled; then become greedy?
Was someone blackmailing Gore until he refused to be at their mercy forever? Did Tipper jump the marital ship last month because she found evidence that Al wrote a big check he couldn't explain? Or because Al decided to stop paying his extortionist and had to tell the truth to his wife as a pre-emptive strike before the inevitable news scandal broke?
If the woman wanted money from Al Gore, should we care that she was victimized? Her lawyer said she was proceeding "civilly" when she refused to be interviewed by cops back in 2006, which indicates she was planning to ask Gore for money. What became of that civil case?
If law enforcement refused to press charges because they knew the woman was looking for money, shouldn't we be outraged? Isn't that the kind of corruption that generated huge public outcry when, in the early 1990s, Michael Jackson reportedly paid Jordy Chandler $20 million in exchange for Chandler refusing to cooperate with prosecutors investigating Jackson for child molestation.

Gore Stays Mum Too

It's not as though the cops think the woman is lying. How could they? The fact that Gore is saying nothing makes it especially difficult not to believe the woman's story. That the Enquirer wrote about it further suggests she's telling the truth, even in the face of reports that she asked the Enquirer for a million bucks to tell her story. Tabloids don't have the highest reporting standards, and paying sources undermines their integrity, but they can be sued for libel like any other publication.
Regardless, her story rings true. In more than 70 pages of a transcribed interview with police, her descriptions of the sexual assaults seem credible simply because of the restrained nature of what she accused him of doing. The woman describes Gore moving her hand down toward his penis during an abdominal massage and how he touched her breasts and buttocks, "painfully" squeezed her nipples, and "flipped" her onto the bed, pinning her down and lying on top of her. If she were lying, why not make it juicier?
She even included things about herself that could paint her in a bad light. She told the police that she sat on the bed next to him even after she feared being assaulted and that she didn't leave right away.
Back in 2006, the women told the police, according to the same transcript, that all she wanted was the return of her "pre-assault sense of peace and safety. . . and for this man to be stopped from what he has been doing."
I believe her account.
However, until someone reveals the whole truth about the civil case and whether money exchanged hands for the sale or the silence of this whole sordid story, I can't find a way to give much of a damn about either of them.
But let's give Tipper a standing ovation for jumping ship before she had to figure out whether to "stand by her man."
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Wendy Murphy is an attorney and adjunct professor at the New England School of Law in Boston, where she manages the Sexual Violence Legal News and Judicial Language projects. She is also the author of "And Justice for Some."

RAINNews: Christina Ricci is the Voice of Upgraded Hotline

June 2010
 RAINNews
Christina Ricci Lends Her Voice
to the National Sexual Assault Hotline

Christina
Callers to the National Sexual Assault Hotline will now hear a familiar voice greeting them: actress Christina Ricci. Ricci, RAINN's national spokesperson, recorded the menu messages that guide callers to the free, confidential help that the hotline offers to victims of sexual violence.
Ricci's recordings are one of the most notable changes to the hotline (800.656.HOPE). Behind the scenes, RAINN, along with technology partner Verizon Business, has made major upgrades to ensure that all callers, including cell phone users, have quick access to help from a rape treatment center closest to where they're calling from. Nearly 1,100 rape treatment centers partner with RAINN to provide services to hotline callers.
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Local Centers TAP Tech Help
RAINN Program Provides Free Websites, Email and Tech Services to Local Rape Treatment Centers
computerRAINN's Technology Access Project (TAP), launched last year, provides free websites, technology help and web content to hundreds of local rape treatment centers.  More than 100 centers now rely on RAINN to provide website development, web hosting, email, e-newsletters and other tech services, along with live tech support.
TAP addresses a huge need identified by local service providers: the cost of developing and maintaining a website and other technology needs is unsustainable at a time when centers are simultaneously facing record demand for victim services and dealing with funding declines.  Most local centers are unable to afford dedicated technology staff or webmasters, so RAINN has stepped up to provide these services for them, saving each participating center thousands of dollars.
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 RAINN in the News
WSJThe Wall Street Journal recently reported that sexual assaults in New York City were up by 14% in the first five months of 2010. RAINN's president, Scott Berkowitz, noted that it is too soon to know whether this increase is a short-term statistical blip, an indication that a higher percentage of victims are reporting their attack, or a more worrisome trend.
GlamourJune's issue of Glamour magazine recommends A Beautiful World, a memoir by RAINN Speakers Bureau member Gregg Milligan. You may remember Milligan from his appearance on Oprah earlier this year. The Glamour article also highlights the importance of the resources available through the National Sexual Assault Hotline.


Lawmakers Making a Difference
Kerry"RAINN's compassion and advocacy on behalf of those who have suffered unthinkable crimes sets the bar high. As a former prosecutor who has fought in the Senate on behalf of sexual assault victims, I was proud to partner with RAINN to try and help secure federal funding for their National Sexual Assault Hotlines and nationwide rape education and outreach programs. These free, confidential services are vital in the fight against sexual assault."
~ Senator John Kerry (D-MA)


Kyl"As a longtime supporter of victims' rights, and the co-author of the Crime Victims' Rights Act of 2005, I appreciate RAINN's work for the victims of sexual violence. These heinous crimes must be combated with law enforcement support, resources for victims, and public education to stop the cycle of violence. RAINN has been at the forefront of this issue, not only as a leading advocate, but also a resource, for sexual assault victims."

~ Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ)


Speakers Bureau Spotlight: Julie Weil
Julie WeilThe Office of the Florida Attorney General recently presented RAINN Speakers Bureau member Julie Weil with the "Stamp of Courage" award for her work to inform law enforcement about the tremendous impact of their words and actions after a victim is sexually assaulted. Weil says that law enforcement's careful handling made an enormous difference in the aftermath of her rape.
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Attention Brides & Grooms
WeddingAre you tying the knot this year? Consider including RAINN in your gift registry.
In addition to registering for your favorite home goods, register your wedding with the I Do Foundation and allow your guests to make a donation to RAINN in your honor.
What better way to celebrate your love than by knowing you've helped to make a real difference in someone's life?
RAINN will send personalized thank you letters to those who make a gift in your honor, and will let you know who donated. After all donations from your wedding have been received, we'll even let you know how many people you've helped through the National Sexual Assault Hotline. For help setting up your wedding registry to support RAINN, contact Chelsea Bowers at 202.544.3561.


Volunteer Spotlight:
Julia Patt
Julia Patt"It was intimidating at first but I've learned that people mostly just want someone to listen to them and talk with them about what happened and what they can do next. My favorite sessions are the ones when the visitor comes to a revelation, however small, about what happened to them and how they can take the next step in the recovery process.  I help visitors through encouragement and offering the resources we have. It's amazing when that happens and I'm really glad I got the opportunity to join the Online Hotline.  I've found the entire experience really inspiring."
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Litte House... Big Confessions
ConfessionsActress Alison Arngrim, best known for playing the devious Nellie Oleson on Little House on the Prairie, details her experience overcoming sexual abuse in her new memoir Confessions of a Prairie Bitch. Arngrim refers readers to the National Sexual Assault Hotline, operated by RAINN.


Join RAINN on Twitter
TwitterWant to stay updated about RAINN news and events and fun ways to get involved? Start following RAINN on Twitter today. You can also spread the word by re-tweeting our posts and encouraging your friends to follow RAINN.



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