It’s the first Friday of a new year – which means the first blog roundup of 2012 is here! There’s some good news and bad news to start the year off– but isn’t that how it always seems to be – including stories on the FBI’s definition of rape, advances for nursing mothers, the attack on a clinic in Florida, a fresh new model gracing the pages of Target and Nordstrom ads, and more on the recent Plan B decision.

Hot on the tail of a report showing that the number of American women who’ve been raped is higher than the number of adult smokers in the U.S. comes the news that the FBI has changed its definition of rape for the first time ever. Until now, the FBI has defined rape as “carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will,” which leaves a staggering gap – those who do not identify as female are completely left out.

The change in definition of “rape” will now be all-inclusive. According to USA Today, “[t]he new provision will define rape as any kind of penetration of another person, regardless of gender, without the victim’s consent.”

Activists, including Carol Tracy of the Women’s Law Project and Vice President Joe Biden, are heralding this change as a huge success. According to FBI Director Robert Mueller, the change will be phased into the FBI’s data-collection process over the next two to three years.

“Nurse-Ins” – a type of peaceful protest organized to show support for breast feeding in public – hit the news over the holiday season thanks to a national nurse-in day at Target stores. The nurse-in was largely seen as a success, and now, here’s some more good news related to breast feeding: thanks to the ACA, breast feeding at work is no protected by law. The ACA requires employers to “to provide women with breaks and a place to breastfeed” besides a bathroom for women to breast feed or pump.

This provision is going to be enforced by the Department of Labor, which says that the final rules for this measure haven’t yet been set.  The agency does, however, have some existing requirements regarding breast feeding in place, which you can read here. This sounds like it’s going to be great progress for working mothers nationwide.

On the other side of the reproductive rights front comes news yesterday that an arrest has been made in the New Year’s Day burning of a Pensacola, FL abortion clinic. Bobby Joe Rogers of Tuscaloosa, Alabama was arrested following a joint investigation by the Division of State Fire Marshal’s Bureau of Fire and Arson Investigations and members of the Joint Terrorism Task Force.

Like many other abortion clinics, this clinic is no stranger so attacks: in 1984, two men placed a bomb under the clinic, and it was the site of two murders of abortion providers in 1993 and 1994. Fortunately no one was hurt in the recent fire, but the blaze caused approximately $300,000 in damage and the clinic has been closed since Sunday – removing a resource for women in this community.

Ryan, a young model who appeared in ads for Target and Nordstrom, also has Down syndrome.Okay, here’s something to cheer you up after that last bit: both Target and Nordstrom have run ads in the past year featuring a young model named Ryan who has Down syndrome. Ryan’s parents have expressed their pleasure and excitement that both stores featured their son in their ads, with his mother even saying that “[t]he whole process of modeling is an extreme confidence booster for him. He received so much warmth and caring from the Nordstrom crew that he thought they were there just for him! We are honored that Ryan is making the Down syndrome community proud.” Check out both ads in the image to the right – the new Target ad is on the left, and last year’s Nordstrom ad is on the right. Thanks to Jezebel for tipping us off about this one!

Lastly, we just heard that 14 Senators have sent HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius a letter asking for an explanation on her decision regarding Plan B One-Step and expressing their disappointment in the decision that was made.


Alright, everyone: first blog roundup of the year is officially done. Read anything interesting you’d like to share? Leave a link in the comments!