It's been a rough few weeks for reproductive freedom.
These incidents are all from just the past 14 days.
The Ohio House of Representatives passed an abortion ban that could outlaw abortion
as early as six weeks - before many women even know they're pregnant! One amazing pro-choice lawmaker stood up against the ban; telling her story of surviving a sexual assault and, after becoming pregnant from the attack, choosing to have an abortion; only to be laughed at
by another member of the legislature.
In Michigan, state senators approved a bill
to increase state support for crisis pregnancy centers - fake clinics run by groups whose primary goal
is to dissuade, misinform, and harass women from considering abortion. They use false advertising to lure in women seeking medical advice and then CPCs lie to and manipulate them.
In North Carolina, 3 state Senators introduced a bill designed to shut down
In Montana, their state house passed a bill making it even
harder for women in rural areas to access abortion care.
Kansas politicians passed a radical, first-of-its kind ban
on an abortion procedure. This is one first we could have lived without.
And last but certainly not least, Arizona passed and signed a law
that makes the insurance-coverage ban on abortion services in the state's health-insurance exchange even worse and forces doctors to tell women that medication abortion is reversible.
In honor of Black History Month, we've put together a list
of just a few of the countless African-American women who have led the struggle
for civil rights and gender equality. There are so many more people not on this
list who fight and who have fought for equality, and today and every day we are
thankful for their work, for their passion, and for their leadership.
Angela Davis started her political activism in Birmingham,
Alabama. She learned about racial prejudice at a young age - as a teenager, she organized interracial study groups which were broken up by police. She's
widely known as a passionate activist for gender equality, civil rights, and
prisoners' rights - she is a powerful critic of racism in the criminal justice
system. She is the author of Women, Race
and Class and Are Prisons Obsolete? and
is currently a professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
Florynce Kennedy is a civil rights attorney, political
activist, and pioneer in second-wave feminism. She helped found the Women's
Political Caucus and the National Black Feminist Organization, and was an
orginial member of the National Organization for Women (NOW). Kennedy also
founded the Feminist Party, which nominated Shirley Chisolm (also on this
list!) for President.
In 1969, Florynce Kennedy organized feminist lawyers to
challenge the constitutionality of New York state's laws outlawing abortion,
and the laws were overturned in 1970.
That's right - she was part of the amazing team that made sure women
have final say over their own bodies. She was adamant about not wasting her
life and challenging the status quo. She once said "Sweetie, if you're not
living on the edge, then you're taking up space."
Monica Simpson is the Executive Director of SisterSong,
and works every day to amplify and strengthen the voices of indigenous women
and women of color to ensure reproductive justice through securing human
rights. Talk about inspiring.
She was the first person of color to be hired at the Lesbian
Gay & Community Center in Charlotte, NC, trained young African-Americans in
philanthropy, fundraising and activism as a coordinator for Grassroots
Leadership. She also founded Charlotte's Black Gay Pride Celebration and
Charlotte's African American Giving Circle.
Kimberlé Williams Chrenshaw
We have Kimberlé to thank for coining the term
"intersectionality", which led to much of her work on race, gender, and how
these things overlap in the feminist movement. Her writings on civil rights,
black feminist legal theory, race, racism, and the law have been published
extensively. She wrote a background paper for the United Nations World Conference on Racism on race
and gender discrimination, which helped facilitate the inclusion of gender in
the WCAR Conference Declaration. And that's not all - Kimberle is also the
Director of the Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies and Founder of
the African-American Policy Forum.
In addition to winning the Pulitzer Prize for writing the
iconic novel The Color Purple, which
focused on liberation from enforced male dominant religion and thought and
poses questions about society not otherwise asked before, Walker has written extensively on the relationship between black women and society. She's
published In Love & Trouble: Stories
of Black Women, which details the stories of poor and marginalized women of
color making choices reflecting their status in life. Her novel Possessing the Secret of Joy led to the
1993 book/documentary Warrior Marks:
Female Genital Mutilation and the Sexual Binding of Women.
Shirley Chisolm made history when she became the first black woman to be elected to the House of
Representatives. She didn't stop there - she ran for the 1972 Democratic
presidential nomination, and the Democratic Convention that year was the first
major convention in which an African-American woman was considered for a
presidential nomination. She co-founded the National Political Caucus of Black
Women, and has been quoted as saying "When I die, I want to be remembered as a
woman who lived in the 20th century and who dared to be a catalyst
Rep. Alma Adams
When Rep. Alma Adams was elected in November 2014, she
helped us reach a record breaking 100 women serving in Congress this term. She
is a fierce defender of reproductive freedom, and fought hard against anti-choice restrictions tacked on to a motorcycle safety bill in her
home state of North Carolina.
Rep. Gwen Moore
Rep. Gwen Moore is known as a pro-choice champion, and for good reason. She is the past Democratic
chair of the Congressional Caucus for Women's Issues, and led the charge to
reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act. She's a leader on women's health,
women's economic and retirement security, and domestic violence and sexual
Charlene A. Carruthers
Charlene Carruthers has over 10 years of experience in the racial justice, feminist, and youth
leadership movements, which is what lead her to her current position as
National Director of the Black Youth Project 100. She has lead grassroots
digital campaign strategies for organizations like the Center for Community
Change, the Women's Media Center, National People's Action, and
ColorOfChange.org and has developed trainings for the NAACP, NOI, the Center for
Progressive Leadership, and MoveOn.org.
Jessica Byrd is the Manager of State Strategies at EMILY's
List; where she engages community leaders and activists to identify first-time candidates, particularly women of color.
She is a vocal advocate for low-income people and their communities, and is one of TIME Magazine's "12
New Faces of Black Leadership."
You might know Janet Mock from her MSNBC Shift show, "So
POPular!", and if you don't; you should start watching it! She is a prominent
advocate for trans women's rights and launched #GirlsLikeUs in 2012 - a social
movement that empowers trans women and celebrates the diversity of womenhood.
She is also one of TIME Magazine's "12 New Faces of Black Leadership."
Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi
Alicia, Patrisse, and Opal are the creators of #BlackLivesMatter, the movement which created a space for the celebration
and humanization of black lives after the incidents in Ferguson and Staten
Island in 2014. The movement affirms black contributions to society, humanity,
and the resilience the black community has shown in the face of oppression.
Renee Bracey Sherman
Renee Bracey Sherman is a strong advocate of abortion
rights, and uses the story of her own abortion to encourage others to speak out
and end the stigma around the topic. Renee is active on Twitter,
and has had her story featured in outlets from Fusion to the BBC.
Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman
Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman is a huge advocate for women in Congress, and is the first African-American congresswoman from
New Jersey. She believes in equal pay and that a woman's right to choose is
between a woman and her doctor. She's committed to protecting women's access to
comprehensive health care, and is dedicated to making sure that reproductive
rights remain a reality for women.
Justin Cohen is a staff member of the Digital department at NARAL Pro-Choice America
Did your representative support women's reproductive freedom on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade?
Here we are, 42 years after the landmark Roe v. Wade
decision. But sadly, even though the Supreme Court ruled that abortion is a constitutionally protected freedom, Republican leaders are still obsessed with making abortion impossible for women to access.
And it's not just a handful of out-of-touch politicians. Yesterday, we saw 242 members of the U.S. House of Representatives pass the harmful anti-choice bill, H.R.7.
Why is this bill so bad? For starters, it would take away insurance coverage for abortion for millions of women. On top of that, it would tax small businesses that include abortion coverage in their health plan. The Good
Lucky for us, there are heroes in the House fighting against this dangerous bill. They understand Americans don't want Congress wasting its time attacking abortion and instead want legislators to focus on jobs and the economy. These lawmakers stood with the 7 in 10 pro-choice Americans
and voted against H.R. 7. As Rep. Alma Adams so passionately declared, "a woman cannot call herself free who does not own control over her own body." Who's protecting this fundamental freedom in the House?The Bad
These anti-choice politicians made attacking abortion access their top priority. Congress has only been in session a few weeks - this is what they're focusing on?!The Ugly
What's worse than voting for H.R.7? These politicians not only voted to ban abortion coverage and raise taxes on small business, they thought the bill was so very important that they cosponsored it. Yep, they wanted the glory of having their names on a bill that is about as far from the priorities of the American people as they come.
The GOP can't run from their anti-woman, anti-choice agenda. But they'll definitely try and hide: it's the second year in a row they've chosen a woman to deliver their party's response to the State of the Union. And (of course) they've chosen one of the most extreme, anti-choice senators in their party: Joni Ernst.
The thing about #PhonyJoni is that she keeps downplaying her anti-woman record to voters. If Ernst's remarks are anything like her campaign, she's definitely NOT going to tell you about that time she:
Of course, we'll be filling in the facts that Joni leaves out of her response tonight using #PhonyJoni on Twitter. We hope you follow along.
Clinic escorts are amazing volunteers who help women wade through hostile anti-choice protesters outside reproductive health clinics. When the Supreme Court struck down the buffer zone law in Massachusetts this past June, their job became even more important. Today, on the one-year anniversary of oral arguments in the McCullen v. Coakley case, we've compiled a list of a few remarkable pro-choice advocates who use Twitter to document the harassment and intimidation that happens outside of these clinics.
Adjoa is an amazing advocate for sexual and reproductive health. She's definitely worth a follow for updates on not only her work as a clinic escort, but on a variety of reproductive health, rights, and justice issues.
Autumn Reinhardt is an "opinionated clinic defense organizer" and "bossy feminist." What's not to love?
She also runs this account for Richmond Clinic Defense (@RVAClinicEscort
) to call out protesters for their constant harassment of women.
Carrie lives in the heart of Virginia, a state that experienced an onslaught of legislative attacks on clinics under the leadership of former governor (and now convicted felon) Bob McDonnell. In a part of the country where access to abortion can be hard to find, Carrie is shining a light on the challenges women face and helping them get the care they need.
Michelle is a clinic escort and part of the NARAL family as a board member with NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia. She's an outspoken pro-choice and feminist advocate, and was brave enough to tell to a group
of "March for Life" anti-choice protesters that her abortion "wasn't a tragedy." She also compiles tweets from clinic escorts on @ProtectTheZone
, and has documented
her encounters with anti-choice protesters to help send a message that threats, harassment, and intimidation is #NotCounseling."
One of the things clinic escorts use to help women find them in a sea of hating anti-choice protesters are bright vests. But the vests can be expensive, and health clinics don't necessarily have the budget to pay for them and neither do volunteers. That's the problem The Clinic Vest Project was founded to solve. It raises funds to provide vests for clinic escorts at no cost and trains volunteers. The amazing Benita Ulisano (@benitaulisano
) founded this group, and also leads our Illinois Choice Action Team
A self-described "pro-choice rabble-rouser," Emily has amazing tweets on being a clinic escort and the challenges women across the world face accessing safe abortion care.
Niki does an awesome job chronicling her experiences as a clinic escort. Check out her amazing Storify
about a day in the life of a clinic escort here!
Katie is a pro-choice advocate for gender equality, as well as a clinic escort. She does amazing grassroots activist organizing, writes for news outlets like Buzzfeed, Salon, Truthout, and Huffington Post, and is on the board of the Clinic Vest Project. We love how she describes her mission: "This is what I do now; I'm an activist full-time. I'm completely committed to changing the face of clinic access in this country."
Los Angeles Clinic Escorts do awesome work to #ProtectTheZone in Los Angeles, and we're huge fans of their love of emojis. Their escorts tweet out some astonishing stories of harassment women encounter just going to the doctor.
Louisville Clinic Escorts volunteer in the Louisville, Kentucky area. We get chills when we read the tweets about the exchanges they have with anti-choice protesters.
Renee Bracey Sherman is also part of the NARAL family - she's one of our rockstar board members! Renee is dedicated so much of her time to breaking down stigma around abortion - in part by sharing her own abortion story - and she's fearless.(Check out her Twitter page and you'll see her at the mic on the steps of the Supreme Court). You'll see Renee talking about other issues she cares about deeply, including #BlackLivesMatter.
Robin Marty is a prominent feminist and freelance pro-choice journalist, and she's brought an incredible amount of awareness in particular to what women really face outside abortion clinics. You'll find Robin in Politico, Rolling Stone, and Cosmopolitan but she's also crowdfunded
to do her own research to expose
the harassment that's occurred outside abortion clinics for decades.
Triangle for Choice is a volunteer group of clinic escorts who
"oppose anti-choice bullying and harassment outside of abortion care facilities." And they're calling out some hideous anti-choice harassment they hear on a regular basis.
You might wonder why there'd be a need for Washington Area Clinic Defense Task Force
in a liberal enclave, but that doesn't mean that there isn't still a threat of anti-choice harassment and intimidation.
Mike frequently tweets about the harassment many patients have to go through, and his photos and Vines make you feel like you're there.
Anti-choice politicians have so many ways to restrict abortion, it can be hard to keep track. Don't worry: we've done it for you, right here. We broke down each of the 10 kinds of laws in layman's terms, and pulled information from our new Who Decides? Report
to show that these laws aren't archaic relics from the past - they're happening right now
1. Targeted Regulations of Abortion Providers (TRAP)
is all about drowning abortion providers in unnecessary and politically motivated red tape and forcing them to eventually shut their doors.
Some states regulate everything from the number of parking spaces a clinic must have to whether they have grass outside - and the restrictions just ramp up from there. The problem is, for some clinics to meet these rules that are unrelated to health and safety; they'd have to spend millions of dollars on renovations. When they can't afford those costs, many close their doors.
And here's a fun Catch-22: in some states, the abortion provider has to have admitting privileges at a hospital within a certain number of miles - even if the hospital refuses to grant such privileges either because of religious affiliation or out of fear of political interference. Hospitals are also allowed to refuse transfer agreements with abortion providers or any medical provider, even though hospitals are legally required to accept all emergency patients.
Anti-choice politicians say these laws are about safety, but this is just a ruse to hide their real strategy to make it impossible for women to get abortion care. Legal abortion is extremely safe, and all types of medical care - abortion included - are already subject to extensive health and safety laws.
While some of these laws have been found legally unenforceable
, many have gone into effect and caused clinic closures across the country.
2. Insurance Coverage Bans on Abortion
Anti-choice politicians pass these laws
to put abortion financially out of reach for many women. Just think about it - what if you had to pay for a medical procedure entirely out of pocket because the government says your insurance isn't allowed to cover it? It would be a huge burden. Here's a "fun" workaround they suggest: some laws allow abortion to be covered only if a woman buys a special plan and pay an extra premium. The problem? These "special" plans don't even exist
. And even if they did, nobody plans for an unplanned pregnancy
. Abortion is safe, common, and important medical care, and when the government bans coverage, it puts a lot of low-income women into desperate situations
3. Abortion Bans
Think deciding when and with whom women have a family is a guaranteed right? Wrong.
Anti-choice politicians at both the state and federal levels have banned
abortion or a specific abortion procedure at different stages of pregnancy, with some states banning it as early as 12 weeks. In many states, abortion is banned even for women who face a major medical complication or whose ability to have children in the future could be at stake unless she has an abortion.
4. Biased Counseling and Mandatory Delays
are ridiculous and based on the idea that women are too stupid
to make decisions. Biased counseling forces doctors to provide women with political propaganda and medically inaccurate information. In some states, a doctor has to read a script written by a politician - even if it's wrong. Forcing women to sit through a state-mandated lecture isn't about safety - it's about shaming women for choosing abortion.
Mandatory delays are equally insulting to women and just as dangerous. After a woman comes in for her first visit to be told lies by her doctor, she often needs to schedule a second appointment at least another 24 hours later to receive abortion care. Since many states only have one or two providers, many women are paying for hotel rooms, taking even more time off work, paying for extra child care, and driving hundreds of miles for back to back appointments. Abortion providers have spoken out
about how this process forces women to wait longer for care and forces them into a difficult position financially.
Regardless of the medical procedure, people deserve to get complete and unbiased information from the doctor about their medical risks and options. Abortion providers already provide this information. These laws are insulting and imply women are unable to make decisions for themselves.
5. Supporting Crisis Pregnancy Centers
At first glance, crisis pregnancy centers
(CPCs) sound innocuous - which is exactly what they want you to think. These are anti-choice organizations that impersonate reproductive-health centers, but their sole purpose is to block women from choosing to have an abortion. They use misleading ads, promise free services, and use neutral-sounding names to lure women in. But once a woman goes inside, she's lied to, manipulated, and misled.
As if that's not bad enough, CPCs don't operate alone - they're allied with powerful anti-choice organizations and politicians; and 11 states fund them directly. Many other states refer women to CPCs or even require that women visit one before they can get abortion care. Some anti-choice state legislatures funnel money to CPCs through anti-choice license-plate sales.
6. Restricting Low-Income Women's Access to Abortion
Are you sensing a recurring theme here? If the woman seeking an abortion has enough money in the bank, she can drive to another state, take time off work, or even pay out of pocket to get the care she needs. But what if she doesn't have that kind of money
? She's stuck in an extremely desperate situation.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of states bahttp://www.prochoiceamerica.org/what-is-choice/abortion/abortion-refusal-clauses.html
n their state-funded health programs from covering abortion services. For those who rely on a government program for their health care, this is a huge problem - these laws are flat-out discriminatory. They create a two-tiered system of reproductive freedom: one for the wealthy and one for those with lesser means.
7. Counseling Bans and Gag Rules
To recap: politicians force doctors to tell women lies about abortion. But they have another strategy to forbid women from getting facts about abortion. Counseling bans and gag rules
ban organizations that receive public funding from counseling or even referring women for abortion services. Think about it: how can you make an informed choice when the state bans people from telling you all your options?
8. Refusal to Provide Medical Services
Yep, you read that right - in nearly every single state
, health-care providers can refuse
to provide women specific reproductive-health services, information, or referrals. Anti-choice lawmakers have no interest in figuring out a way to make sure that women can get the health care they need- instead they're always looking to make it easy for people to deny http://www.prochoiceamerica.org/what-is-choice/abortion/abortion-young-womens-access.html
women health care information and services involving abortion and even birth control.
9. Restricting Young Women's Access to Abortion
Almost all states force
a young woman by law to involve a parent, or both parents, in getting an abortion, and won't let a doctor provide care without some kind of permission. On its face that sounds reasonable, because most young women facing an unintended pregnancy talk with at least one parent about their situation. But some feel that they can't. Maybe it's because they are abused at home or they have reason to believe they'll be kicked out of the house, or they are a victim of incest.
Laws that force young women to include a parent no matter the circumstance are dangerous. Of course every parent hopes their daughter will seek out their advice and support if they needed help. But they also want, above all, for their daughters to be safe. These laws jeopardize young women's access to earlier, safer care and puts their health at risk.
10. Near-Total Abortion Bans
Last but not least: anti-choice politicians have a strategy
to ban abortion should the Supreme Court strike down Roe v. Wade
, the decision that made abortion legal in 1973. Seriously, these politicians went to the trouble to pass abortion bans that will take effect without the moment Roe
is overturned. Talk about obsessed.
Here's the bottom line: Abortion is medical care like any other that's accessed by one in three women. Regardless of gender, income, or race, women deserve access to the medical care they need, and they deserve the comprehensive, medically accurate information about the options they are weighing. No one seeking medical care or counseling should be manipulated, harassed, lied to, or have dozens of obstacles placed in their path to receive the care they need.
2014 was pretty remarkable in a lot of ways -- we saw pro-choice comedy Obvious Child on the big screen, joined Ruth Bader Ginsburg's dissent against the Hobby Lobby decision, and tweeted with hashtags like #YesAllWomen that galvanized women's voices like never before. What can we expect for 2015? Unfortunately, anti-choice politicians hid their true position on reproductive freedom and dominated this election cycle, which means we'll probably see more attacks, not fewer. However, we've shown that we're ready to speak up, rally, tweet -- whatever it takes to fight back to protect a woman's right to choose what is best for her own body, life, and future.
Here's what to keep an eye on in 2015:
Nationwide 20-week abortion ban
Unfortunately, Sen. Mitch McConnell already threatened to use his influence
as Senate majority leader to move a 20-week abortion ban to the top of the agenda. We've seen 20-week bans at work in 13 states, and they've proven to be incredibly dangerous:
- These bans are blatantly unconstitutional.
- Many lack necessary exceptions in the case of rape, incest, or fetal anomalies.
- Some women need later abortion care for their own safety. This ban could physically endanger the lives of pregnant women.
Politicians shouldn't make these decisions for any woman in any circumstance. Government should stay out of our bedrooms and doctor's offices. And voters agree! When put on the ballot, voters in Albuquerque overwhelmingly defeated
a 20-week abortion ban.
Anti-choice laws designed to shut down clinics in states across the country
Many state legislatures continue to be controlled by anti-choice politicians who feel empowered to pass laws to make it impossible for women to get abortion care. Politicians in states like Tennessee have already declared their intent to move bills
that place unfair restrictions on abortion providers, potentially like the ones in Texas that have resulted in scores of clinics shutting their doors.
Testing newly elected officials on their moderate posturing
In order for his narrow-minded agenda to pass, Mitch McConnell is going to need the support of several new senators -- namely Joni Ernst, Thom Tillis, and Cory Gardner -- who won by claiming to be moderate on issues like birth control and abortion. Will these incoming senators prioritize an anti-choice agenda over staying true to voters? Time will tell.
Reproductive freedom and the courts
2015 will be full of big court decisions that directly affect our rights to decide when, how, and with whom we start our families. Here is just a sampling:
- Young v. UPS -- Peggy Young has taken her case of pregnancy discrimination all the way to the Supreme Court. We hope the Supreme Court agrees that women should never have to choose between their job and their pregnancy.
- Contraception coverage -- Even after the Supreme Court's devastating Hobby Lobby decision allowed companies and bosses to deny their employees birth-control coverage, litigants continue to challenge the health-reform law's contraceptive-coverage policy in the federal courts, threatening to roll back a woman's ability to get affordable birth control.
- License plates -- Anti-choice state legislators should not be able to squash free speech supporting a woman's constitutional right to choose; nevertheless, North Carolina passed a law establishing a "Choose Life" license-plate program with no pro-choice alternative. Both a lower court and the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals already ruled that this is a violation of the First Amendment -- and if the Supreme Court takes up this case, it should agree.
Courts have been striking down anti-choice laws in various states throughout 2014, with a recent ruling in Indiana blocking an anti-choice clinic closure law
. We hope this trend continues throughout 2015 -- the court system is vital in protecting our reproductive freedom.
Vocal support for gender equality in Hollywood
We've seen more and more celebrities get vocal about their support for feminism.
When celebrities take a stand for feminism, it influences more people to think differently about what this issue means for their lives. We hope to see this trend pick up even more steam in the year ahead.
States where we could see pro-choice legislation advance
Yesterday was the last day of the 113th Congress, and we'll admit, it's bittersweet. When the new Senate is sworn in next year, we'll have lost our pro-choice firewall and anti-choice extremist Mitch McConnell will be leading the charge. That's the really bad news. But there's a silver lining to the Senate adjourning: the Senate didn't take action on the nomination of anti-choice Michael Boggs which means that finally, officially, we stopped him!
You may recall, earlier this year, President Obama nominated anti-choice judge Michael Boggs to become a federal judge in Georgia. Boggs' record as a state lawmaker was troubling:
- voted to publish online the names of abortion providers at time when clinic violence was at its peak;
- voted to keep the confederate flag - a powerful symbol of oppression - on Georgia's state flag; and
- voted to amend the state constitution to exclude same-sex couples from marriage.
Stopping Boggs' nomination was going to be an uphill battle, but we couldn't sit by the sidelines.
We came out strong, launching a campaign to activate our supporters to contact the Senate.
And we organized 27 groups committed to protecting reproductive and civil rights, racial justice, and LGBT equality to send a letter to members of the Senate Judiciary Committee urging them to oppose Boggs' nomination.
The number of voices joining #StopBoggs grew, calling attention to his horrendous record on our basic rights. We mobilized more than 40 progressive organizations to oppose Boggs' nomination.
The Senate Judiciary Committee questioned Boggs during his hearing and tried to get to the bottom of his troubling actions.
The momentum continued to build when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced he couldn't support Boggs' nomination.
With many pro-choice senators on record opposing Boggs, Sen. Leahy announced that Boggs did not have the support of the Judiciary Committee:
And Boggs was urged to withdraw his name.
The great news: our voices were heard! Altogether, more than 40,000 NARAL members and countless progressive activists joined together to protect our courts and stop Boggs from getting a lifetime position. We couldn't have won without so many people standing up for what's right. Thank you!
There are so many things I love about Thanksgiving - cuddling with my dog, watching the parade on television, eating a LOT of food, and seeing my baby cousin Izco. There is, however, one thing I don't love about Thanksgiving: when my conservative relatives start grilling me about politics. And after this year's election results, it'll only get worse.
I'm sure this isn't just happening at my dining room table. When your favorite Uncle Sal starts pretending he's an expert in reproductive-health care and rattling off right-wing talking points, here are a few things you can say.
Uncle Sal: "We should repeal the Affordable Care Act."
Yup, we've heard this a few times. And it probably won't be the last.
The Affordable Care Act has expanded health care access for millions of people. People can now get basic preventive care
, like annual well woman visits, vaccines, blood pressure and diabetes screenings, mammograms, colonoscopies, and STI and HIV testing, with no co-pays or out-of-pocket expenses.
But the Affordable Care Act didn't stop there - it also made it easier for people to get health insurance. Millions of people can no longer be denied coverage because of "pre-existing" conditions, like being pregnant or a victim of domestic violence. That means so many more can see a health care provider when they need to instead of waiting until things get so bad they're headed to the emergency room. And it means being a woman is no longer a pre-existing condition. Awesome!
Women have saved a whopping $483 MILLION
on birth control alone, which doctors agree is basic health care. When the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby this summer, they held that corporations can deny women coverage for basic health services. And Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
was right when she said in her dissent that this was a decision of "startling breadth" which would open the door to allowing extremists to opt out of almost any law they find incompatible with their religion.
Uncle Sal: "What are you so worried about? President Obama can still veto things, so just calm down."
Yes, Obama can veto bills, but that won't stop anti-choice politicians from taking away women's access to reproductive health care. For starters, anti-choice politicians control a majority of state legislatures and governor seats across the country, where they can enact extreme laws
that shut down clinics, force women to be subjected to waiting periods and invasive ultrasounds, and ban abortion before many women know they're pregnant. Recent polling shows that 7 in 10 Americans are pro-choice
. Passing anti-choice laws is a huge waste of time and taxpayer money!
Uncle Sal: "Nice try, but the voters have spoken: they aren't pro-choice."
The Republicans in Congress were not elected to enact an anti-choice agenda - they were elected to get things done, and we're going to hold them to that by watching their every move and making sure they keep the economy moving in the right direction.
Remember being a freshman? It was a time that you
desperately wanted advice on what you should do and how you should act. Well,
we have a few suggestions for these brand new members of Congress for how they
can live up to the promises they made on the campaign trail.
Cory Gardner (R - CO)
Cory Gardner has a dark past when it comes to women's reproductive health.
- As a member of the House, he cosponsored a federal "personhood" bill that would ban almost all abortion and many common forms of birth control.
- Gardner has voted against giving emergency contraception to rape survivors.
- And, of course, he wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act and thinks that the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby ruling was "the right decision."
Gardner's campaign promises
made it sound like he's turned over a new leaf on women's health. If that's truly the case, here are a few ideas for Cory to implement when he is sworn in as the next senator from Colorado in January 2015:
- Refuse to cosponsor federal "personhood" bills. You missed the deadline in October to take your name off the bill for this Congress, but we know, you were super busy running for office. This is your chance.
- Work with members of Congress to make affordable birth control a reality. This means NOT voting to defund family-planning programs, and working to guarantee insurance coverage of birth control--from the pill to IUDs--or everyone.
Thom Thillis (R - NC)
Thom Tillis, known in his home state of North Carolina as "Mr. Motorcycle Abortion Bill." Voted in favor of an anti-choice bill disguised as a motorcycle safety bill. (uh, NOT RELATED, Thom Tillis.)
Here are a few ideas to make sure you uphold your campaign promises, Thom:
- Work with members of Congress (Cory Gardner made the same promise you guys did--perhaps you two could work together!) to make easy-to-access, affordable birth control a reality.
- Prove that you trust women by cosponsoring the Women's Health Protection Act--it would make sure women can get access to abortion care regardless of their zip code.
Joni Ernst (R - IA)
- Joni Ernst has also supported a "personhood" resolution which could have paved the way for a ban on abortion in almost all circumstances.
- She was also endorsed by anti-choice extremists the Susan B. Anthony List, and has voted to defund Planned Parenthood.
On the campaign trail, however, Joni Ernst said that her support for "personhood" was just a "statement of life"
and wouldn't do any actual harm to women or families.
Well, Joni, if you really believe that, we have a few ideas for you:
Barbara Comstock (R - VA 10)
- Make a statement of supporting women. Show you support servicewomen by cosponsoring bipartisan legislation to improve their access to family-planning services.
- Don't vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act. It's already helped millions of women access the birth control they need.
- Barbara Comstock voted to force women seeking abortion to undergo forced ultrasounds and has voted for "personhood."
- She also thinks Roe v. Wade should be overturned, but that nobody should worry about that because it won't come into play in Congress. She said, "I'm not running for the Supreme Court," as though anti-choice members of Congress have never interfered with women's health care decisions.
Well, Barbara, if you really believe that your personal feelings on abortion and birth control shouldn't come into play in Congress, we have some ideas about how you can help make that a reality.
- When anti-choice members of the House reintroduce a bill to ban abortion after 20 weeks, vote against it. This is exactly the kind of interference in personal medical decisions you said wouldn't come up, so hold up on your end of the bargain and oppose it.
- Don't support anti-choice bill H.R. 7, which would effectively ban abortion coverage in the new health-care system and permanently codify existing abortion-coverage bans (on D.C. residents, women in the military, Medicaid, etc.).
| || |