Stock Up: Ridding Preposterous Images of Women from Stock Photography

Amanda Shapiro, Resident Blogger (’15, Brooklyn Law School)

It was a pleasant surprise to wake up the other morning and see a positive move towards gender parity. announced that it would be partnering with Getty Images to improve the representation of women in stock photography. That’s right, heels will soon be back in style for walking instead of stepping on men, or hanging off of disembodied legs. I’m not too crazy about Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In thesis: that women must learn to adopt characteristics like “assertiveness”  to succeed in this maniverse, rather than dismantling it. But Sandberg aptly described the need for this project as, “you can’t be what you can’t see.”

And what we’re seeing these days is pretty abismal. Advertising is gravitating towards more objectification of female bodies than ever before. It’s not difficult to imagine the toll this imagery takes on young women and girls: depression, eating disorders, and lower self-esteem, to name a few ramifications. But we hear less about the implications these images have for young men. One peer-reviewed study found that men were more tolerant of rape myths and sexual harassment after they viewed images of sexually objectified women. The effects became more pronounced as the exposure to objectifying imagery increased. And if the stock images out there aren’t offensive, they’re just downright ridiculous. This project won’t rid the world of women posing as beer bottles, but it will more accurately depict the “working woman;” she’s leaving those man-stomping heels at home this time.

Lady Parts

Mangala Kanayson, Resident Blogger (’15, Emory University School of Law)

Dear LSRJ Blog Reader,

Lady Parts (LP) is a student-run production that highlights the issues surrounding gender, sexuality, and identity, as pertaining to women. Through a series of monologues, LP aims to educate, enlighten, and empower both women and the surrounding community in order to accept, advocate, and celebrate.

In 2013,  Emory Law Students for Reproductive Justice, in partnership with the corresponding student organizations at the Public Health and Medical Schools, brought Eve Ensler’s play “The Vagina Monologues” to the Emory Graduate community for the first time. This year the show has progressed toward new goals. In the interest of creating a more diverse and inclusive show this year’s production will be featuring monologues written by Emory students about the modern day triumphs and hardships of being a woman. We are particularly interested in exploring the intersectionality of other aspects of identity (age, race, orientation, class) with womanhood and how our experiences are both shared and different.

If you’re in the Atlanta area and interested in acting or would like to learn more about the production, please click here and get involved. The show is on March 20, 2014 at 7pm in Tull Auditorium. We look forward to seeing you in March! If you’d like to support us but are unable to do so in person, please consider donating to our beneficiary SPARK on behalf of LadyParts here.


Threats to Youth Healthcare Privacy, the ACA, and SB 138

Kaitlin Morrison, LSRJ Summer Intern (’15, Columbia Law School)

The expansion of healthcare brought by the ACA is much-needed and certainly a net positive. Dependents may now remain on insurance until the age of 26. With this expansion however, the pre-existing gaps in privacy protections have been exacerbated. Consider the case of a young adult who goes to the doctor for a routine STD screening (the responsible thing, right?), only to have this private information relayed to the primary policy holder – usually the parents! The right to healthcare should not be conditional upon a relinquishment of doctor-patient confidentiality.

The basic conflict is between two important policies: maintaining appropriate communications between insurer and policy holder to ensure billing and payment transparency versus protecting patient confidentiality for insured dependents accessing “sensitive services:” sexual and reproductive health care, mental health services and drug and alcohol abuse treatment.

Many negative consequences are likely to result from this administrative quagmire. Minors and adults on another’s insurance may simply choose not to seek medical care for STD testing and treatment, contraception, and drug and mental health services, for fear of this information being shared. Alternately, dependents on private insurance may seek public clinics for STD testing and similar services to avoid the possibility of parental notification, shifting the cost to the state. Victims of domestic violence will face a difficult decision: seek treatment and risk the possibility of their location being known by their abuser (if they share a policy), or not seek medical care.

The patchwork of laws and regulations protecting privacy are incoherent in a model in which young adults remain on their parents’ insurance. By law, adult patients in California have a right to keep all health information confidential and decide whether and when to share that information with their partners and parents, regardless of whose insurance plan they are covered under. Adolescent patients in California have a right to keep certain health information confidential and decide whether and when to share that information with parents, including information about “sensitive services.” However, the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) made an exception to the general confidentiality rules above, allowing providers and insurers to use and disclose information for payment and health care operations purposes. “Reasonable efforts” are required to limit disclosure to the “minimum necessary” to accomplish the intended purpose of the disclosure. This unclear standard is insufficient to protect privacy.

A solution to this problem has arisen in the form of SB 138, authored by state Senator Ed Hernandez, which aims to bring clarity to the myriad state and federal statutes and regulations related to the sharing of patient information in order to protect patient confidentiality for insured dependents. At the heart of the bill are two provisions: If the patient is a dependent on another’s policy, and is less than 26 years old, all such communications would be barred unless the patient authorizes them. If the patient is not a dependent and under 26, there is no automatic barring of sensitive communications, but if that patient submits a nondisclosure request, the insurer will have to honor it.

The most recently amended form of the bill will go to the appropriations committee after recess. Consider contacting your state Senator to show your support.

Sharing Experiences with Abortion: Helpful, Harmful, or Neither?

Kaitlin Morrison, LSRJ Summer Intern (’15, Columbia Law School)

It has been a big week for reproductive rights in Texas, and across the country.

Perhaps spurred by these events, the New York Times is aflutter with related topics, such as the exorbitant cost of pregnancy and birth in the United States, and a debate on the effects of story-telling, or coming out on abortion: the topic of today’s post.

The discussion reminded me of what allies from Access Women’s Health Justice shared with me a few weeks ago: sharing stories is what changes people’s mind about abortion. And yet, shortly after hearing this I heard something quite the opposite from an attorney at the ACLU reproductive freedom project at the LSRJ Reproductive Rights, Law and Justice training. She said that empirically, abortion stories don’t tend to sway public opinion in the same way that stories about gay marriage have been so successful. So what gives?

There are several perspectives on the effect of story-telling from the Times today. Some say that women should share their abortion stories to reassure others and dispel the shame and stigma surround the procedure. Others claim that sharing stories will breed contempt for abortions, or would discourage women from having one themselves. Still others think that sharing stories will have no real effect on public opinion.

My views align most closely to those expressed by Aspen Baker from Exhale (a pro-voice organization), in her piece: Openness shouldn’t create partisan debate. Abortion stories are as unique as the men and women to whom they belong. Blogs detail various abortion stories: I’m Not Sorry and 1 in 3 collect the stories of those who, for myriad reasons, feel they made the right choice, while other sites are dedicated to collecting stories of those who regret their abortions. Still others focus on men’s experiences with abortion. These stories can be spun by either side to support or denigrate the decision, to our collective detriment.

I believe in the cathartic power of sharing one’s stories. One way to abolish shame is to abolish secrecy. However, it is equally laudable to view the decision as a private one. Not everyone need share the medical procedures they have had in the name of principle. Pro-voice is the perfect term to express the need for a humanizing, and individual approach towards experiences with abortion.


Millennials see the big picture on abortion

by Sabrina Andrus, LSRJ Executive Director and Mariko Miki, LSRJ Director of Academic & Professional Programs

Here we go again. In a recent interview with Salon, out-going NARAL President Nancy Keenan discusses her concern for the future of abortion rights, calling out the Millennial generation’s seeming inability to “connect the personal to the political” on the issue. These critiques pop up again and again:  we all remember the Newsweek piece from 2010 that pitted Boomers against Millennials. While recognizing that many Millennials have made advocating for reproductive rights and justice their career, much hand-wringing ensues over the remainder of the generation. Of the 76 million people born post-1980, we’re told, “They are pro-choice, but they don’t put the issue of protecting this decision at the top of their list.” But does refusing to put abortion rights at the top of some mythical list truly mean that abortion rights aren’t important (or even paramount) to a generation? To state as much fails to account for the complexity that confronts young people coming of age in a time of social media saturation and diminishing rewards for higher education.  Moreover, it is shortsighted and dangerous; such rhetoric shackles an entire generation to a way of thinking that may not even be accurate.

At Law Students for Reproductive Justice (LSRJ), we work with Millennials everyday – they are our law student members and recently graduated alumni across the country making their way as legal advocates. What we see is that the Millennial generation experiences, engages with, and views reproductive health, rights, and justice issues in a completely different way than previous generations: abortion rights and the lack of access to said rights are but one piece in a much larger puzzle that Millennials are grappling with on a daily basis. Some may argue that when you can’t pay back your student loans, afford health insurance, get to your second job on a public transportation system that doesn’t service your geographic area, cobble together adequate childcare, and on and on, deciding to place abortion rights at THE TOP of your priority list is an unrealistic luxury.  In fact, it could be said that Millennials are more aware of and attuned to the plethora of social ills that need to be addressed, from environmental concerns to economic oppression to racism, than the generations before them. These are good traits, to be celebrated. Rather than lambasting them, it’s time to move forward, as our colleagues at Advocates for Youth say.

The biggest gripe with the Milliennial generation is that they “don’t vote pro-choice.” But to frame the issue that way is a mistake. In our experience, the Millennial generation (of which nearly all members of LSRJ are a part of) has a much broader and more nuanced view of the issues. To them, it doesn’t make sense to vote on reproductive rights without considering the economy, healthcare, immigration, LGBTQ issues, the environment, violence, the prison system, and a host of other equally critical social justice issues. We work every day with future attorneys, judges, and policymakers who understand that abortion rights cannot be divorced from the fight for greater social equality.

With all this talk about what Millennials feel and how they vote, we encourage you to see what they’re actually saying for themselves. Check back here in the coming weeks to hear from our members, and bookmark the insightful musings of allied organizations who work with the Millennial generation.