Bi-Weekly Sexual Freedom Newsletter
Wednesday, February 1, 2023
Top Stories This Week
1. What’s happening at Woodhull;
2. Censorship in Florida public colleges;
3. Passing universal pregnancy coverage;
4. Private equity investments in the abortion pill;
5. Jailing librarians;
6. Criminalization of people living with HIV; and
7. Tess’ take on sex work decriminalization in South Africa.
On Monday, January 30th, we hosted the first program in our series of programs on Censorship.
Ricci Levy, Woodhull President & CEO, was joined by a brilliant panel of free speech and anti-censorship advocates, including Larry Walters of Walters Law Group, Ronnie London of FIRE, Anna Bonesteel of Fight for the Future and Tracie Hall of The American Library Association. The panelists not only illustrated potential threats to censorship, but also gave us tools we can use to fight censorship in our own communities. If you missed the live conversation do not fret! The recording is available on our our YouTube page.
Announcing Our Next Human Rights Commission: The Entrapment & Harassment of LGBTQ People
Our next Human Rights Commission will be held at the Creating Change conference on February 18, 2023, in San Francisco, CA. Entrapment and harassment of gay and bi men, trans people, and sex workers by law enforcement continue to be a widespread threat in all parts of the country. These civil and human rights violations rarely receive public attention due to media and community bias, stigma, and victim blaming. Through this Commission, we will illustrate the devastating impact on individuals and their families - including stigmatizing criminal records, family separation, and loss of employment.
Register for Creating Change to attend the Commission.
Legislative Support Request
Looking for support on upcoming legislation or campaign? Fill out our Legislative Support Request. We love to support projects that align with our mission of affirming sexual freedom as a human right!
Florida public colleges say DeSantis is censoring their curriculums (Prism)
Alexandra Martinez writes about increasing censorship in Florida public colleges: “A preliminary injunction by a federal judge in November blocked portions of Florida’s Individual Freedom Act—also known as the ‘Stop WOKE Act’—from being enforced in higher education. However, in December, DeSantis’ office released a memo requesting data from public colleges and universities on courses and programs related to diversity, equity, and inclusion and ‘critical race theory.’ According to ABC News, the Dec. 28 memo further required public colleges and universities to describe which programs and campus-related activities were connected to diversity, equity, inclusion, and critical race theory by Jan. 13.” Read more.
Passing Universal Pregnancy Coverage Is a No-Brainer (Jacobin)
Matt Bruenig urges the U.S. to pass universal pregnancy coverage: “In our current health care system, pregnancy and delivery come with quite high out-of-pocket expenses. The average privately insured person pays $2,854 to give birth. One in six new parents pays over $5,000. Creating a system that takes this amount of money from people right as they embark upon the already expensive task of caring for an infant is a mind-boggling decision unless your goal is to disincentivize having children.” Read more.
The Abortion Pill’s Secret Money Men (Mother Jones)
Hannah Levintova dives into the private equity funding behind Mifeprex, an abortion pill: “Typically, drugs in the United States are not funded by private individuals. Instead, the federal government finances initial research, while later stages of development are paid for by pharmaceutical companies. Venture capitalists and private equity investors usually only get involved in drugs developed to treat rare diseases—those that affect fewer than 200,000 people per year—because pharma companies are unlikely to invest in these typically less-profitable treatments. But mifepristone was far from a ‘rare disease’ drug—in the 1990s, about 1.5 million American women were having abortions annually.” Read more.
North Dakota Could Jail Librarians Who Don’t Comply with Anti-LGBTQ+ Book Bans (them.)
James Factora writes about censorship in North Dakota: “North Dakota lawmakers have introduced legislation to ban books that contain ‘sexually explicit’ content from public libraries, including a provision that could jail librarians if they don’t comply. While Republican legislators around the country have introduced similar bills over the past year, most apply only to school libraries. House Bill 1205, however, would ban all public libraries from stocking ‘sexually explicit’ materials in the name of protecting children, meaning that readers of all ages would be banned from accessing LGBTQ+-inclusive texts, which are largely what these bans restrict.” Read more.
People With HIV Are Still Being Criminalized in 25 States (Truthout)
Victoria Law draws our attention to the criminalization of people living with HIV: “HIV treatment has come a long way since Louisiana passed its criminalization law in 1987. HIV is no longer considered a death threat. With medical treatment, a person’s viral load can become undetectable, meaning that they would not transmit HIV to a sexual partner. Still, states continue to prosecute people living with HIV for actions that would not be criminal if they were HIV-negative. In 2013, Michael Johnson, a 23-year-old Black gay college student and athlete in Missouri, was arrested on charges of ‘recklessly exposing’ his sexual partners to HIV. At trial two years later, Johnson testified that he had disclosed his status to each of his sexual partners. The prosecution offered no genetic evidence that the viral strains of Johnson and another sexual partner matched.” Read more.
Tess’ Take: Sex Work Decriminalization in South Africa (Woodhull’s Sex & Politics Blog)
Tess Joseph shares her take on sex work decriminalization in South Africa: “Last month, South Africa announced that it intended to decriminalize sex work through publishing a draft bill, which is currently open for public comment. As a draft bill, decriminalization is not yet the law, but this marks an exciting step forward for an estimated 150,000 South Africa-based sex workers and their allies. We must celebrate and acknowledge those who worked tirelessly, over many decades, to bring this victory to fruition.”
Woodhull Freedom Foundation is the only national human rights organization working full time to protect the fundamental human right to sexual freedom. Our work includes fighting censorship, eliminating discrimination based on gender or sexual identity, or family form, and protecting the right to engage in consensual sexual activity and expression. We do this through advocacy, education, and coalition building.
The Woodhull Freedom Foundation is a non-profit organization recognized under Section 501(c)(3) of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code. Your contribution is tax-deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law.
Our federal identification number is 11-3681116.
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