Monday, February 28, 2011

Walk for Choice and Rally for Women's Health

On Saturday February 26th feminists walked for choice in over 55 cities worldwide. National campus organizers including Jacqueline Sun, Myra Duran, Megan Shalvoy, Sarah Shanks, Laura Kacere, Francesca Witcher, and campus leaders from across the country joined efforts with thousands of women to march, circulate petitions, and inform others about the current threats to women's reproductive health care. Below is an an article courtesy of Ms. Magazine's Laura Gottediener highlighting the event.

Thousands in New York Rally Against War on Women

February 28, 2011 by Laura Gottesdiener · Leave a Comment

Feminists gathered in 55 cities worldwide on Saturday in a “Walk for Choice,” spurred by a recent wave of anti-abortion legislation in the U.S. Congress that detractors have dubbed “the War on Women.”

In New York City, thousands convened in front of the U.S. courthouse. Pro-choice senators, congresswomen, doctors and activists spoke out against the House’s passage of a budget bill that could eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood and other women’s health care providers.

“To Congress, I say, ‘Go back to Indiana with your values and keep them there!’” declared public advocate Bill de Blasio, referencing U.S. Rep. Mike Pence, (R-Ind.) a long-time anti-abortion advocate and the primary supporter of the current legislation to defund Planned Parenthood.

The proposal now headed to the Senate would bar all federal funding for Planned Parenthood Federation of America, one of the largest women’s health care providers in the U.S., serving 1.85 million low-income women each year. Currently, federal funding for PPFA does not go to abortions, but can be used to provide other forms of health care, including birth control, pap smears, STI testing and cervical cancer screening. The bill would also eliminate funding for Title X programs, which provide birth control and family planning support to millions of low-income women across the country.

Elected officials and pro-choice advocates on Saturday deplored the legislation and the Republican assault on reproductive rights.

“There’s no question the new Republican leadership has just shown they have no concern for women’s health care,” said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation.

“Republicans care about fetuses, until they become women,” said Dr. Sarah Miller, a women’s health practitioner in the city.

Lynn Paltrow, founder of National Advocates for Pregnant Women, agreed.

“You can’t have a culture of life if you don’t value the women that give that life,” she said, “but what Congress doesn’t understand is that pregnant women invented political defiance.”

That spirit was certainly on show on Saturday, with the thousands of Planned Parenthood supporters carrying signs reading, “Stop the War on Women,” “Keep Boehner away from my uterus,” “I was a choice,” “Funding abortions is fiscally responsible” and “Real men support women’s health.” (See more here.)

One sign read, “The most dangerous place for an African American is in AmeriKKKa,” referencing the controversial anti-abortion billboard recently removed from SoHo that drew on race-based conspiracy theories of abortion as a tool of genocide. The original billboard read: “The most dangerous place for an African American is in the womb.”

Other liberal causes piggybacked on the pro-choice agenda: Advocates for unions, gay marriage and environmentalism waved signs as well, welcomed under the big tent of feminism. As one protester said, “The uterus is an expandable organ–inside it fits the entire U.S.”

If you missed the rally, you can still be involved by signing this open letter to Congress.

Photos courtesy of the author.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Walk For Choice This Saturday!

In case you haven't heard, women's access to medical care, family planning, and abortions are under attack. The recent happenings in Congress (HR 358, HR 3, and the cuts to Title X) are putting women's lives on the line and women's bodies under scrutiny. In light of the recent bills that were introduced to the House, activists in Chicago organized an event that sparked Walks For Choice around the world. If you are just as outraged as I am, walk in solidarity with me and thousands of other people this Saturday, February 26th, 2011 in a Walk For Choice!

The walks are taking place in cities across five countries, so gather your friends and put on some ORANGE in support of women's rights to choose! Some locations for Saturday's walk have not been released yet so be sure to check tweets with hashtags #walk4choice by noon tomorrow!

Get creative with your signs and come up with some cool chants like the folks at Bitch Magazine:
  • "If you can't trust me with a choice, how can you trust me with a child?"
  • "Keep your rosaries off my ovaries!"
  • "If you like safe sex, save Title X!"
For more info, check out their Facebook to find a walk in a city near you! And to show solidarity with reproductive health and rights every day, join the Trust Women Silver Ribbon Campaign.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Another Funding Cut for Woman's Health Care?

We need you to take action NOW -- TODAY.

We hope, by now, that you've heard about the two horrible bills introduced in the House that restrict abortion access and funding. The "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act" (HR3) would penalize companies--in the form of tax credits--that offer health plans that cover abortion and would deny federal subsidies to people who have abortion-covered healthcare. And the "Protect Life Act" (HR358) would "prohibit federal funds from being used to cover any part of the costs of a health plan that includes coverage of abortion services."

On top of this, the Republican led House is trying to completely eliminate the Title X Family Planning Program in the FY2011 federal budget (continuing resolution HR1).

Yes, FAMILY PLANNING in the United States is on the chop-block.

Title X is the ONLY federal funding dedicated to providing individuals with comprehensive family planning and critical related preventive health services. Title X is "designed to provide access to contraceptive services, supplies and information to all who want and need them. By law priority is give to person from low-income families." For many women across the country, this crucial family planning care is the only medical they receive each year.

According to Cecile Richards of Planned Parenthood "The real impact of eliminating the Title X program is that millions of women across the country will lose access to basic primary and preventive health care, such as lifesaving cancer screenings, contraception, STI testing and treatment, and annual exams...For every public dollar invested in family planning, taxpayers save nearly $4." Title X saves taxpayers money, and more importantly it saves women's lives.

Along with cutting $318 billion for Title X family planning, check out just a few of the other programs the continuing resolution will cut (compared to FY 2010 levels):
  • $110 million from the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative (eliminating all funding)
  • $1.4 billion for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  • $747 million for the Women, Infants, and Children program (WIC)
  • $50 million for Maternal and Child Health Block Grants
  • $1.6 billion for the National Institutes of Health (NIH)
    Thanks to SIECUS for this budget analysis:


So what can we do to have our voices heard?

We ask you to join in solidarity with Choice USA as part of a National Youth Call-In. Please call your Representatives TODAY and let them know you support reproductive justice.

Call 800-600-5774 and ask for your Representative. (Don't know who your rep is? Go here and type in your zip code to find out.)

Here's a sample script to guide your call:

As a young person/student living in _________ (city/state/district), I am calling Representative ___________ to urge him/her to vote ‘no’ on HR 3 , the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act and HR 358, the Protect Life Act.

In addition, I strongly urge __________ to not vote to cut funding for Title X Family Planning, the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative, and other programs for women and children. Abortion access, preventative services, and health and wellness programs are vitally important to young people's lives.

As a young person that votes in this district, I believe that taking away insurance coverage for abortion and family planning services disproportionately hurts young people, who are more likely to live in poverty and at a higher risk for unintended pregnancy. We should be protecting the health and decision-making power of young people, not stripping it away. In short, these restrictions hurt everyone.

Young people voted in record numbers in the past two elections for more jobs. We want and need jobs, not restricted reproductive healthcare. If you support us now by voting down HR 3 and HR 358, we will support you by giving you our votes in 2012. Please vote with young people, not against us.

Do you know if Representative ___________ is planning to oppose these bills?

Call your reps, and make the youth voice heard!! Tell all your friends about these draconian bills and encourage them to call in, too!

P.S. Don't forget to wear a silver ribbon to show solidarity for reproductive rights.