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Why thousands protested sexist violence, a landmark ruling on female genital mutilation in the United States, and the new movie spoofing Disney princesses.
In 2015, the most recent year for which data is available, the number of abortions in the United States hit its lowest point since abortion was legalized in 1973, according to a government report released Wednesday. In the years immediately following Roe v. Wade, abortions increased dramatically; then they began decreasing slowly. After a slight increase around 2006 to 2008, an even greater decrease occurred.
The report, released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, did not cite reasons for the declines, but analysts have said that improved contraceptive access as well as state laws regarding parental consent, which can make it more difficult for women to get abortions, probably contributed.
The report also shows that abortion rates vary widely depending on demographics — women in their 20s accounted for nearly 60 percent of all abortions in 2015. It found that white women had the lowest abortion rate on average at 6.8 abortions per 1,000 women, while black women had the highest at 25.1 per 1,000.
Separately, in Mississippi, a ban on abortions after 15 weeks — one of the most restrictive laws in the country — was struck down Tuesday. A federal judge said the ban “unequivocally” infringes on the due-process rights of women.
Sunday was the United Nations’ International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, which aims to bring attention to the fact that 1 in 3 women worldwide is a victim of violence. This year’s campaign was dubbed #HearMeToo — a platform to elevate the voices of women and girls outside the media spotlight who are taking action against violence. In honor of the campaign, hundreds of thousands of people around the world took to the streets to protest over the weekend, including in Spain, Ecuador and Greece. More than 50,000 protested in France on Saturday.
Last year, two Michigan doctors and six others — including two people accused of assisting the surgeries and four mothers accused of bringing their daughters to the clinic for the procedure — were charged for arranging to perform female genital mutilation on nine girls. In a landmark ruling Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman dismissed the charges against the doctors and ruled that Congress “overstepped its bounds” by passing a law that banned the procedure, saying that female genital mutilation is a “local criminal activity” to be regulated by states, not Congress.
Female genital mutilation, also known as FGM, is the removal of all or part of a woman’s genitals for nonmedical reasons; it is condemned by the United Nations. The World Health Organization estimates that more than 200 million women and girls, living in 30 countries, have experienced FGM.
Sandra Parks, 13, died last week after a bullet fired from outside her home flew through her wall and hit her in the chest. Just two years earlier, Parks penned an essay, called “Our Truth,” about the gun violence she experienced in her Milwaukee neighborhood. “We are in a state of chaos,” she wrote. “In a city in which I live, I hear and see examples of chaos almost everyday. Little children are victims of senseless gun violence.”
Police have arrested Isaac Barnes, 26, and Untrell Oden, 27, in relation to the shooting. Bernice Parks, Sandra’s mother, told police she was awakened by gunshots shortly before 8 p.m. “She was my angel from the time she was in my womb to the time she came out. She’s still going to be my angel,” Parks said.
Writing in the Guardian, Rebecca Solnit argues that we should start acknowledging a form of voter intimidation rarely discussed: Husbands who bully or control their wives when it comes to voting. According to interviews she conducted with dozens of door-to-door canvassers after the midterm elections, Solnit writes that they witnessed husbands who “answered the door and refused to let the wife speak to canvassers, or talked or shouted over her, or insisted that she was going to vote Republican even though she was a registered Democrat.”
Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), who faces former congressman Mike Espy in a runoff election Tuesday, has faced criticism after a video of comments she made to a supporter, in which she said, “If he invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row,” went viral. Hyde-Smith apologized to “anyone that was offended by comments” in a debate last week, but said they were “twisted” and used as a “political weapon” by her opponent, who is vying to become the state’s first black U.S. senator since right after the Civil War.
News outlets have reported on several past instances in which Hyde-Smith embraced a pride in the Confederacy, including introducing a bill as a state senator to rename a highway after Confederate President Jefferson Davis. On Sunday, Major League Baseball asked Hyde-Smith to return a $5,000 donation it made to her campaign. The same day, President Trump tweeted his support of Hyde-Smith, on whose behalf he’ll rally in Mississippi on Monday.
Last week, a gunman identified by police as 32-year-old Juan Lopez showed up at Mercy Hospital in Chicago, where his ex-fiancee worked as an emergency room physician. Tamara O’Neal, 38, was killed in the parking lot after a domestic argument with Lopez broke out. Lopez then entered the hospital, where he allegedly killed two others, a police officer and a bystander.
The Chicago Tribune reported that O’Neal had broken off their engagement, and Lopez had gone to the hospital to demand his ring back. Lopez had previously been fired from the Chicago Fire Academy after he was accused of “aggressive and improper conduct toward females at the academy.”
The tragedy was yet another example of how domestic violence often fuels mass shooters: Research has found that 54 percent of mass shootingsbetween 2009 and 2016 were related to domestic or family violence.
When Olivia Hooker was just 6 years old, she and her family lived through one of America’s most brutal acts of racial violence: the Tulsa Race Massacre. On May 31, 1921, a white mob descended on a Tulsa community, dubbed “the Negro Wall Street” by Booker T. Washington, in an attack that lasted two days and claimed the lives of at least 300 black people.
As one of the last known survivors of the massacre, Hooker shared details of her experience in speaking engagements and interviews, including how members of the mob set fire to her doll’s clothes as her mother hid her and her siblings under a big oak dining-room table in their home.
Hooker went on to become one of the first black women to serve in the Coast Guard when she enlisted in 1945. In 2015, President Barack Obama described her as a “tireless voice for justice and equality” during a Coast Guard ceremony. According to her goddaughter, Hooker died at her home in White Plains, N.Y., on Nov. 21 at 103.
—Macy Freeman, Washington Post multiplatform editor
Based in New York, artist Mickalene Thomas creates everything from paintings to collages to photography to video, drawing on art history and popular culture to explore identity and gender. She aims to capture “female sexuality, beauty and power” in her work, and was recently honored at the International Center of Photography. She currently has shows up at Dayton Art Institute, the Wexner Center and Art Gallery of Ontario. This week, we asked Thomas to fill in the blank.
Disney’s “Ralph Breaks the Internet,” which opened Wednesday, is the sequel to director Rich Moore’s Oscar-nominated “Wreck-It Ralph,” released in 2012. Pamela Ribon, a writer on the film, was nervous for the release, she told The Washington Post: It was her idea to surround one of the film’s protagonists, video-game racer Vanellope Von Schweetz (voiced by Sarah Silverman), with Disney princesses. The scene would be a sorority reunion of sorts, she envisioned, with the voice actors spoofing those princesses’ tropes.
The producers secured several past princess vocal actors, including Irene Bedard (“Pocahontas”), Jodi Benson (“Little Mermaid”), Auli’i Cravalho (“Moana”) and others, for the scene. The actresses, Ribon said, clearly enjoyed lampooning their characters with affectionate respect. “I’m glad people have really liked it,” she told The Post, “but I don’t think I’ve truly exhaled yet.”
If you know me, you know that I have been smothering my lips in Smith’s Rosebud salve since high school. This stuff is the real deal: It smells amazing, makes your lips soft as butter and lasts forever. A few years ago, a friend bought me the three-pack, which includes the classic rose scent, minted rose and strawberry. It’s hard to pick a favorite — strawberry is the best at moisturizing, I find, but the minted rose has a nice red tint.
—Lena Felton, Lily multiplatform editor
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