Obama and the ‘Conscience’ Rule

One of the last things the Bush administration did back in December was bring in legislation which cuts funding to healthcare providers who refuse to accommodate their employees’ religious objections to providing certain kinds of care. Typically – although perhaps not exclusively – this revolved around denying access to contraception, emergency contraception, and abortion to women. The Obama administration is now looking to rescind the legislation, thus preventing heathcare providers from refusing to provide certain kinds of care. Unsurprisingly, the proposals are kicking up a storm. I understand there is a thirty-day period when the public can comment on the proposals, which may then be modified. Read more here.

Policing and Crime Bill – Prostitution

I’m a bit late with this, but better late than never… Back in November, we reported on the Policing and Crime Bill, which has clauses that provide for someone to be prosecuted for rape if he (or she?) has sex with a sex worker who is ‘controlled for gain’ – such as a trafficked person. The Bill has since been making its way through the various stages of the legislative process. I think the most recent hearing was on January 19th 2009. Trafficking people is an evil that needs to be eradicated. But it’s not really clear that this Bill will help. The English Collective of Prostitutes is not in favour and says that the Bill will make sex work even more hazardous and drive prostitution further underground. They have produced a Briefing, which details the problems they have identified with the Bill, which are many and various. The Briefing also includes statements from some sex workers, whose voices don’t tend to get heard much in discussions concerning their trade. The English Collective of Prostitutes also emphasises the need for feminists (amongst others) to pay attention to what sex workers have to say about the issues that concern them, and to theorise with that in mind.

US Online Porn Consumption

New Scientist reports on a survey carried out on internet pornography consumption. The survey was based on data collected from anonymised credit card records kept by a large online ‘adult entertainment’ provider, plus an earlier study on religious attitudes. It turns out that there is little variation between online porn consumption across the states. However, the most online porn was consumed by the more conservative and more religious states. The survey also revealed that church-goers buy less online porn on a sunday, and states where a majority of residents agreed with the statement “I have old-fashioned values about family and marriage” bought 3.6 more subscriptions per 1000 people than states where a majority disagreed. A similar difference also showed up for states where a majority of residents agreed with the statement, “AIDS might be God’s punishment for immoral sexual behaviour”. Quite what this shows is up for debate. But it seems interesting.