Sen. Tammy Duckworth will be the first sitting senator to give birth


Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) is pregnant, and she’ll be the first sitting senator to give birth, the Chicago Sun-Times reported Tuesday.

Duckworth, 49, is expecting to give birth to her second child—a girl—in late April. Only 10 members of Congress have given birth while in office, and all of them were serving in the House at the time. Duckworth will be the first senator to have a baby while serving in the chamber.

“You’ve got to keep working,” she told the Chicago Tribune. “But I’m healthy. I’m well-monitored, and the doctors say I’m doing just fine.”

Duckworth, a retired lieutenant colonel who served 23 years in the Illinois Army National Guard, lost both her legs when her Black Hawk helicopter was shot down in Iraq in 2004. She served two terms in the House for Illinois’ 8th Congressional District and became the second female U.S. senator elected in the state in 2016. 

Duckworth had her first daughter, 3-year-old Abigail, while she was serving in the House.

Drawing from her experiences with Abigail, Duckworth has advocated for airports to provide places for breastfeeding mothers to pump milk; for the military to give personnel bonding time with their babies; and for students to have access to on-campus child care.

She is a sponsor or co-sponsor of multiple bills concerning infant and parent health, including affordable child care and paid parental leave, the Sun-Times reported. It is unclear how much time Duckworth will take for her own maternity leave after the birth of her second child.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who identifies as a feminist, made waves last week when she announced she’ll be taking six weeks of maternity leave when she has a baby in June.

Duckworth told the Tribune “it’s about damn time” a woman will give birth while serving in the Senate.

“I can’t believe it took until 2018,” she said. “It says something about the inequality of representation that exists in our country.”

H/T Chicago Sun-Times

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California, Illinois laws require free tampons in public schools


Good news for cis girls (and trans boys) in Illinois and California: New laws now ban public schools in both states from charging for tampons and other menstrual care items.

In California’s case, Assembly Bill No. 10 requires schools with “any combination of classes from grade 6 to grade 12” that has a “40 percent pupil poverty threshold” to include feminine hygiene products, like tampons and pads, in 50 percent of all school restrooms. In exchange, the state government will reimburse associated costs. Meanwhile, Illinois’ Public Act 100-0163 calls feminine hygiene products “a health care necessity,” stating that tampons and menstrual pads must be included in public schools bathrooms servicing grades 6 through 12.

“Feminine hygiene products are a health care necessity and not an item that can be foregone or substituted easily,” Illinois’ act explains. “When students do not have access to affordable feminine hygiene products, they may miss multiple days of school every month.”

While charging for period products remains widely common in U.S. schools and public restrooms, Illinois and California aren’t alone in providing menstrual products. New York City mandates free tampons and pads in schools, particularly focusing on low-income students. Meanwhile, Brown University students have pushed for tampons and pads in the men’s room, stressing that trans men can experience periods, too. Slowly (very slowly), the U.S. is finally fighting the taboo on menstruation, one bathroom at a time.

H/T the Lily

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Trump praises non-existent African country in speech to African leaders


Speaking before a group of African leaders at the United Nations on Wednesday, President Donald Trump cited the progress of Nambia’s health system. The problem is, Nambia does not exist.

“In Guinea and Nigeria, you fought a horrifying Ebola outbreak, Trump said. “Nambia’s health system is increasingly self-sufficient.”

Trump likely meant Namibia, which does exist. The president delivered his remarks during a lunch attended by leaders from Ghana, South Africa, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Guinea, Senegal, Namibia, and Uganda.

Unlike several other countries in West Africa last year, Namibia was spared the deadly Ebola outbreak in 2016 that caused widespread panic, including in the United States. Given Ebola outbreaks in other African countries, Namibia boosted its health system to prepare for possible infections in the southwestern African nation.

Trump began his speech before the African leaders by touting the economic potential in African nations, saying that “so many” of his friends are “going to your countries trying to get rich.”

“Africa has tremendous business potential,” Trump said. “I have so many friends going to your countries trying to get rich, I congratulate you. They are spending a lot of money. But it does, it has tremendous business potential.”

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