Spain, women, and reproductive rights: a battleground, again

alberto-ruiz-gallardonIf we needed proof of how fragile and reversible our rights, women’s rights, are today, even in the West, we had it last Friday, when Spanish Justice Minister Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón put forth a draft law to set back abortion legislation by 25 years. You can read the details here, but if the law passes, you will only be able to get an abortion in Spain if you have been raped, or if your physical or mental health is at risk.

I am angry to see women’s rights as a political battleground, again; angry that governments seek consensus by legislating women’s bodies; angry that politicians think it is their God-given right to mandate that any woman should be forced to live through the confusion, pain and anger of an unwanted pregnancy, and not be able to choose the lesser pain, if not illegally.

Legislatures where women’s choices are so harshly limited should start introducing some restrictions on what men can do with their bodies, too. See the initiative by Ohio State Senator Nina Turner, who introduced a bill to require men who seek erectile dysfunction drug prescriptions to see a sex therapist, undergo cardiological tests, and receive counseling on the viability of celibacy as a lifestyle option (read more here and here). Says Sen. Turner:

The men in our lives, including members of the General Assembly, generously devote time to fundamental female reproductive issues—the least we can do is return the favor. It is crucial that we take the appropriate steps to shelter vulnerable men from the potential side effects of these drugs. When a man makes a crucial decision about his health and his body, he should be fully aware of the alternative options and the lifetime repercussions of that decision.

This is not irony, this is not tongue-in cheek: this is anger, fighting back through all available means. So let’s remember that we can take to the streets in protest, but we can also use Parliaments and bills and all the legislative apparatus to get lawmakers to understand why we’re so angry.

Freedom badgeAs Jane Smiley wrote after reading a hundred novels, “I saw that the world I thought was established and secure, at least in the West, is more fragile than I thought, because it is newer than I realized.”

We are not established and secure. Keep your guard up. Fight back.

FT Innovative Lawyers 2013: Claudia Parzani

Claudia ParzaniOne of the ten winners in this year’s FT Innovative Lawyers survey, among over 600 participants, is Claudia Parzani of Linklaters, chair of corporate association Valore D and co-creator of In the Boardroom, an initiative she developed with GE Capital and Egon Zehnder to provide training and skills to prepare women for boardroom positions. Claudia also created the Breakfast@Linklaters network, featured in this year’s Client Service category.

Kudos to Claudia! I am proud to be participating in her boardroom program and honored to be in her circle.

Update & Correction (Oct. 17, 2013): post corrected to clarify that In The Boardroom was developed through collaboration among Linklaters, GE Capital and Egon Zehnder. The supporting member companies of Valore D can be found on this page.

Amendments to Terms and Conditions

Among the revised Terms and Conditions I just received from a retail bank I do business with:

On the basis of special market conditions, the Bank may be compelled to introduce negative interest rates. A new provision has been added to reflect this option.

Any interest shall be credited to or debited from the account on an annual basis.

Obamacare and the Supreme Court

That the health insurance mandate – something that works from Switzerland to Massachusetts – should rely on Constiturional provisions about interstate commerce seems to me as contorted as the fact that abortion – something that happens whether you allow it or not – hinges on a woman’s right to privacy.

Yet, stranger things have happened under the U.S. Constitution. I do hope the health care law is upheld.

Google Video’s Italian judge speaks out

Dear international readers, you’ve probably heard that Google has been found guilty of violating privacy laws in Italy. The full text of the ruling was published a few days ago. Want to get to know judge Oscar Magi a little bit better? Here is an interview he gave to reporter Daniele Lepido – who contacted him through Facebook. Enjoy!

Italian law turns increasingly illiberal. For bloggers too

The Italian Senate has passed a law-and-order bill that, pandering to fears about immigration-related crime, would severely restrict human and civil rights for immigrants, for the homeless, and possibly for Internet users. (The bill, sponsored by the Northern League,  now goes to the House).

If the bill becomes law in its current form:

  • Doctors will be allowed to breach professional secrecy and may report to the authorities any foreigners who seek treatment and do not appear to be legally in the country. Both doctor’s groups and the Catholic church have spoken out against the measure.
  • Vigilante groups will be allowed to start street patrols to monitor and report “events that can cause harm to public security, or situations of environmental distress”.
  • Foreigners who marry an Italian citizen will have to wait two years before obtaining Italian citizenship.
  • Homeless people will have to be registered as such in a database to be maintained by the Interior Ministry.

Finally, in a move that caused much outcry in the Internet community, the Christian Democrats’ UDC centrist party introduced an amendment that shows how little our politicians understand the Internet – not merely how online social dynamics work, but even what is technically feasible and what isn’t. If the bill becomes law, any time someone is suspected of instigating criminal behavior via the Internet, the Interior Ministry may request ISPs to put in place “filtering tools” so that the offending content is blocked from public view; ISPs who do not comply within 24 hours would be fined by €50-250,000. The amendment has apparently been introduced in response to the senseless noise created by some Facebook groups celebrating rapists and the Mafia. Yet, internet experts point out that there is no way to block a single offending piece of content: Italy’s government would then require ISPs to block entire domains. Star blogger Beppe Grillo has called for civil disobedience.