Barack Obama Endorsed by Planned Parenthood Action Fund

The Planned Parenthood Action Fund announced its endorsement of Senator Barack Obama for president of the United States. The Action Fund is the political arm of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. This is only the second time the Action Fund has endorsed a presidential candidate.

This endorsement comes at the heels of Obama’s widely reported appearance of narrowing of abortion rights in the 3rd trimester of pregnancy. Obama has attempted to correct this impression but some women’s rights advocates are still expressing concern .

Senator Obama responded to the endorsement in a conference call with Planned Parenthood Action Fund members. He said that “as president I’ll make sure women have access to affordable health care, including affordable reproductive services. I thank you for your endorsement and your leadership.”

Women Graduates Expect Lower Earnings than Men

A recent study shows that women who graduate from college expect that they will be paid less than their male counterparts. The survey, the first Collegiate Seniors’ Economic Expectation Research (SEER) Survey & Index, is compiled by Professor Charles Wilf of Duquesne University. It is intended to be administered annually to a national sample and seeks to track trends in career expectations, among other factors.

The Duquesne survey indicates that 51 percent of women and only 35 percent of men polled expect to earn under $30,000 in their first year after college. 12 percent of women and 24 percent of men expect to earn more than $50,000. The gender gap among business students is not as wide, with 56 percent of women and 67 percent of men majoring in business expecting to earn more than $50,000 in three years. These findings support data from Behind the Pay Gap, a report released last year by the American Association of University Women that found women earn 80 percent of what men make just one year after college – a gap that widens to 69 percent after ten years.

According SEER’s authors, this gender gap in expected earnings partly results from students’ choice of academic major. Women who participated in the survey tended to major in the social sciences while the men tended to major in fields like computer science and engineering. Wilf claims the gender gap as not really being a question of a glass ceiling, but that “the research shows that females simply tend to choose majors that [lead to careers] that pay less.”

Bush Withholds Funding from UN Population Fund

President Bush announced Thursday that he would withhold funding from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) for the seventh year in a row. According to OneWorld UK, President Bush withheld $39.7 million authorized by Congress for the UNFPA. This brings the total amount withheld over the past seven years to $235 million.

UNFPA supports voluntary family planning and reproductive health programs in 154 countries. Its program is supported by voluntary donations from member countries. According to PlanetWire the United States is the only country to withhold UNFPA funding for political reasons.

PlanetWire reports that John Negroponte, Deputy Secretary of State, justified President Bush’s decision by claiming that the UNFPA supports “coercive abortions and sterilization.” Ms. magazine reports that this false allegation originated in a 2001 statement from a privately funded US anti-choice group. This claim has been conclusively disproved by several state department investigations, blue-ribbon commission investigations, and three international monitoring teams according to OneWorld UK and Ms. magazine.

Vermont Governor Signs Mammogram Bill

Vermont Governor Jim Douglas (R) signed a bill this week requiring insurance companies to help cover the cost mammograms. Under the new law, companies will be able to charge a maximum $25 co-payment, according to the Daily Women’s Health Policy Report.

“Studies suggest cost is a factor in whether women seek and receive mammography services,” Gov. Douglas told the Times-Argus. “This law is to encourage every woman to get regular mammogram.”

Mammograms are one of the most reliable tools for detecting breast cancer, the second leading cause of cancer deaths for Vermont women, reports WCAX News. Women over the age of 40 are urged to receive mammograms annually.