Monday, December 27, 2010

16 and Loved: Supporting Women Who've Had Abortions

Posted by: Steph Herold
Attention pro-choice feminists! Exhale, an after-abortion counseling hotline, is partnering with MTV to support the young women who courageously shared their abortion stories on MTV's 16 and Pregnant special airing tomorrow titled No Easy Decision.

From the campaign website:

16 & Loved is a campaign brought to you by Exhale to give our public support to the three young women who told their abortion story on the MTV special – “No Easy Decision” - created for the popular series “16 & Pregnant.” Markai and several other young women did their part to let others know: “you are not alone. I’ve been there too.” Now, it’s time to do our part. We need to make sure these brave young women feel our unconditional love and our support. 16 & Loved sends love and support to Markai and the others on the show, and, in the process, lets every young woman who has had an abortion know that she is not alone. She is loved.
There are a few things you can do to support the campaign:
You can also join the Women's Media Center Watch-In to send a message to MTV that we expect fair and balanced coverage of all pregnancy options and decisions on this show and all others.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Send a Message to President Obama: Women Need Social Security

Tell President Obama...
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After taking action, please support our work!

With the new Congress and a Republican-controlled House, there is a serious possibility that proposals to slash Social Security benefits may go forward. We need President Obama and the Democratic leadership to draw the line against any legislation that would increase the retirement age or alter the benefit formula – either of which would significantly reduce Social Security retirement income. Send this message to the President; ask him to speak out against cuts to Social Security in his State of the Union message in late January and to work with Congress to prevent any undermining of this vital program.

Take Action NOW!


Bad Deal in Store? - We are hearing rumors that a very bad deal may be struck early next year where Republicans would agree to vote for raising the debt ceiling in exchange for, among other things, severe reductions in Social Security retirement benefits. Shockingly, a number of Democratic leaders have been hinting that they might support such a move. This would, indeed, be a deal with the devil, as far as NOW is concerned.

Social Security Keeps Many Women in the Middle Class - A substantial number of women depend upon Social Security benefits, both for retirement and disability income. Fifty-seven percent of all Social Security beneficiaries aged 62 and older are women; 69 percent of beneficiaries 85 years and older are women. Even though retirement benefits are modest -- an average for women of just under $12,000 annually -- monthly Social Security checks account for half the total income for widows and unmarried women over age 65. In fact, for 46 percent of unmarried women who receive benefits, Social Security accounts for 90 percent or more of their income! A lifetime of sex-based wage discrimination, years out of the paid workforce caring for family members and lack of access to pensions means that many older women face an uncertain retirement future -- made much worse if benefits are reduced.

Women of Color Especially Harmed by Benefit Cuts - Recent studies have shown that African American and Latina women are especially at risk when they retire. Nearly half of all single Black and Hispanic women have zero or negative wealth and many approach retirement years nearly exclusively dependent upon Social Security.

Social Security Cuts on Top of Retirement Crisis - The country is facing a devastating retirement crisis with the disappearance of pensions, the loss of value in savings and 401(k) plans,, the decline in home values and massive foreclosures combined with serious shortfalls in state and local government pensions. Slashing Social Security benefits in what may be the only retirement income available to millions is just plain cruel – and a shocking departure from the values of fairness and compassion claimed by the president and other Democratic leaders.

President Obama Needs to Hear from the Women's Community - We believe that many advisors in the White House just don't get it when it comes to Social Security and the retirement crisis. From what we can tell, they especially don't understand the critical importance of Social Security retirement and disability benefits to women. We are counting on our activists to send a message to the President to do the right thing -- preserve Social Security benefits from bad deals in Congress.

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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Our Very Own Alison Turkos interviewed on Feminists For Choice

One of our newer members, Alison Turkos, was interviewed on Feminists For Choice.  Here is the complete article.  (Emphasis - ours)

Hell Yeah, I'm a Feminist!

Monday, 20 December 2010, 9:55 | Category : Feminist Conversations

By Serena

Feminist Conversations is a weekly series at Feminists For Choice.  We spotlight activists from across the interwebs to find out what feminism means to them.  Alison Turkos is a recent college graduate majoring in English writing and minoring in Women's Studies. She is a Development & Events intern with NARAL Pro Choice NY, she volunteers as a clinic escort, and she is currently attempting to enjoy all the feminist fun that New York City has to offer.  We met up last month at the Feminists for Choice Tweetup.  Here's what she had to say about feminism and choice.

1.  How did you get involved with NOW?
I became involved with NOW completely by chance. While attending the "Women and Power" conference at the OMEGA Institute I met a few young women who were/are involved with the NOW-New York State-Young Feminist Task force. After sharing stories, goals, and ideas they invited me to attend a gathering back in the city that the task force was holding after the conference. It was completely unplanned and all due to fabulous networking.

2.  NOW has sometimes gotten a reputation for being irrelevant to younger women, but what has your experience been like?
I have been involved with the organization for a VERY short amount of time, but so far, my experience has been amazing. The Task Force is a fantastic group of diverse individuals who all lead amazingly interesting lives, and come together for one common purpose: FEMINISM!

3.  When did you first decide to call yourself a feminist?  And what contributed to that decision?
I grew up in a very Feminist household, but my parents never used the term "Feminist." Gender roles have never existed in my house. I have two working parents, a mom who mowed the lawn, and a dad who is a master in the kitchen. My parents' marriage is an entirely equal partnership, so I grew up surrounded by Feminism and Feminist values, but there was never the "Feminist" label attached.

Like many other Feminists, I experienced my "click" moment when I was in college. I took a classes titled "Women in Contemporary American Culture," and on the first day of class the professor asked "who here is a Feminist?" I didn't raise my hand because I hadn't had much exposure to the word and it's meaning, but after she explained what she believed Feminism to be, I raised and my hand and declared to the entire class "hell yeah, I'm a Feminist," and ever since that day I've identified as a Feminist.

4.  What does feminism mean to you?

I'm a firm believer in the idea that everyone's Feminism is different. My feminism is about small things like letting people know that Feminism does still exist, and we still have a lot to fight for. But it's also about bigger things, like a woman's right to choose, and her access to all things regarding her own reproductive health. In my everyday life I attempt to work towards the main goals of Feminism. Whether it's as an intern with NARAL Pro-Choice NY, a clinic escort, through my recent involvement with NOW, or as the director of the "Vagina Monologues" in college.

5.  What is your favorite thing about living in New York City?
I moved to New York City for 2 reasons. The first being to join the feminist/women's community here, and the second being to jump start my career in development and fundraising in a women's organization.

I had such an amazing experience with the Women's Studies students and professors in college that I wanted to continue the adventure. So I would have to say my favorite thing about living in New York City is the opportunities it provides for me on a daily basis. I have the ability to attend a Feminists for Choice cocktail party, or a feminist film screening, or an event on a very regular basis, and for that reason I LOVE NY!

Monday, December 20, 2010

NOW Celebrates Repeal Of Don't Ask, Don't Tell

NOW Press Release

For Immediate Release
Contact: Mai Shiozaki, 202-628-8669, ext. 116

NOW Celebrates Repeal Of Don't Ask, Don't Tell

December 18, 2010

The Senate's vote today to repeal the military's unjust Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy is a landmark victory that ends the 17-year policy of discrimination against lesbians and gay men in the military and moves our nation one step closer to realizing the promise of equality.

NOW thanks all of the senators who voted to recognize the right of lesbians and gay men to serve openly in the military, especially those who for years have taken a lead role in the struggle. We also recognize the courage of the Republican senators who broke ranks to end the filibuster and move to a vote on this historic legislation.

NOW has long been concerned about the disproportionate impact of Don't Ask Don't Tell on women. According to the Service Women's Action Network, sexual harassment of military women frequently takes the form of "lesbian baiting." An indication of the lopsided impact of the policy is that, in 2008, 34 percent of service members discharged were women even though women constitute only 15 percent of military personnel.

Military leaders have endorsed repeal and are confident that the troops and their families are ready, and that repeal will not negatively affect military readiness, unit cohesion, unit effectiveness, or retention. The public is also ready. Numerous polls show a majority of Republicans, Independents, Democrats, conservatives, moderates, liberals and frequent church goers support ending Don't Ask Don't Tell.

The president is expected to sign the bill as soon as it reaches his desk. NOW urges military leaders to move forward rapidly to certify and implement its provisions as soon as the bill becomes law. Lesbian and gay service members should not have to wait a single unnecessary day to have the same right as heterosexuals to serve openly in the military.

### | Press Room | Support NOW's Work

Friday, December 17, 2010

Is Your School Accountable to Keeping Students Safe from Sexual Violence?

Daniel Wald, member of the NOW – NYS Young Feminist Task Force, is also a board member of SAFER.


Erin Burrows,
Campus Accountability Project Coordinator,
(347) 465-7233,

Susan Celia Swan
Managing Director, Communications,
(917) 865-6603,




New York, NY, December 15, 2010—College students are taking action to hold their schools accountable for making their campus communities safer. Students Active for Ending Rape (SAFER) and V-Day are proud to announce the success of the first year of student submissions to our online database of sexual assault policies from schools across the country. In an effort to publish 400 policies by May 2011, SAFER and V-Day are launching the Winter Break Challenge to further build the Campus Accountability Project (CAP) Policies Database as a tool for student-led movements to reform sexual assault policies. Currently, the CAP database houses 130 policies in an online, public and searchable database which details what colleges and universities are doing to prevent, reduce and respond to sexual violence on campus. 

CAP publicly recognizes the successes of some schools' sexual assault while also identifying gaps in others. Preliminary results show that an overwhelming majority (75%) of schools in the database provide 24-hour crisis services to survivors as well as security measures like campus blue lights and escort services. Policies are also largely inclusive of a diverse community—92% use gender neutral language and ensure access to resources for all students, regardless of sexual orientation, race or ethnicity. However, while 72% of the schools offer primary prevention programs to address the root causes of sexual violence, only 9% mandate student participation in such programs. Also, a mere 7% of schools in the database include a drug and alcohol amnesty clause for survivors of sexual assault and only 62% allow for anonymous reporting. Because fears of retaliation and feelings of shame and guilt are often barriers to reporting an assault, it is crucial that more schools adopt amnesty clauses and provide confidential and anonymous reporting options for survivors.

V-Day and SAFER are encouraging you to participate in the Campus Accountability Project during your winter break. The Winter Break Challenge asks students to register at and submit their school using CAP's easy, step-by-step policy review form. We're also asking you to encourage their friends and fellow activists at other schools to submit to CAP. The database is utilized by student activists looking to make positive change on their campus, and also provides us with a wealth of information on the best and worst practices in sexual assault prevention and response at schools across the country. Only students can submit to CAP, if you are not a current student, please forward this to someone who is. Anyone can access the database by registering for free at

We have already heard from 30 new schools since the initial launch of the Winter Break Challenge on December 1, 2010 and we want to hear from you! You can help kick-start real change on your campus and at schools nationwide by forwarding this information to students you know, and posting the Facebook event on your wall and blog today! 

SAFER is a volunteer-run organization that has been training and supporting student activists for a decade. We offer comprehensive programming to support student-led movements for campus sexual assault policy reform. In addition to the CAP policies database, our website houses the Activist Resource Center, an online library of tools for organizers. We also run a national, in-person trainings program to help students kick-start policy reform campaigns and offer ongoing mentoring via the Activist Mentoring Program, (AMP!). 

About V-Day

V-Day is a global activist movement to end violence against women and girls that raises funds and awareness through benefit productions of Playwright/Founder Eve Ensler's award winning play The Vagina Monologues and other artistic works.In 2010, over 5400 V-Day benefit events took place produced by volunteer activists in the U.S. and around the world, educating millions of people about the reality of violence against women and girls. To date, the V-Day movement has raised over $75 million and educated over 300 million people about the issue of violence against women and the efforts to end it, crafted international educational, media and PSA campaigns, reopened shelters, and funded over 12,000 community-based anti-violence programs and safe houses in Democratic Republic Of Congo, Haiti, Kenya, South Dakota, Egypt and Iraq. In 2001, V-Day was named one of Worth Magazine's "100 Best Charities" and in 2006 one of Marie Claire Magazine's Top Ten Charities.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

John Boehner and Randall Terry: One Dangerous Anti-Choice Duo

Recently, notorious anti-abortion rights thug Randall Terry was treated to a face-to-face meeting with Rep. John Boehner's chief of staff. It's no exaggeration to say that when terrorists team up with the leadership of the newly elected Congress, we are facing dire threats to women's access to abortion care.

That's why your generous support of the NOW Foundation is more important than ever. NOW Foundation has a proud history of standing up to anti-abortion rights bullies like Randall Terry who use violence, threats of violence and intimidation to shut down abortion clinics. Will you make a year-end, tax-deductible contribution to the NOW Foundation today?

An urgent reminder of what's at stake is taking place just a few miles from my home, where Dr. LeRoy Carhart is being met with the same threats of violence and intimidation that led to Dr. George Tiller's brutal murder. And similar scenes are taking place all across the country.

When we honored Dr. Carhart at our annual conference last summer in Boston, we were inspired by his dedication to helping women who need abortions when pregnancies go horribly wrong. NOW Foundation stands by Dr. Carhart and other abortion providers across the country. We won't let the haters win -- no matter who their "friends in high places" may be. Please contribute today.

For equality and justice,

Terry O'Neill
President, NOW Foundation

P.S. Your tax-deductible donation will play an essential role in strengthening our ability to defend abortion clinics and health care providers and in advancing our mission of winning reproductive rights for all women. Please contribute today.

NOW Foundation Home

Women's Rights Are Human Rights. NOW-NYS Foundation Needs You!

Dear Women's Rights Supporter,
What do you think happens when two thugs meet to discuss the future of women's rights? If you guessed that women lose out, you are correct. Just today, NOW-New York State learned that anti-choice zealot Randall Terry was treated to a face-to-face meeting with the future House Speaker Republican John Boehner's chief of staff. This can mean only one thing. They are plotting to take away women's right to choose safe and legal abortions.
Over the years, you supporters have given generously to NOW-New York State. Today I am asking you to continue this crucial assistance. The likes of Randall Terry and his Operation Rescue bullies are not going disappear. Indeed, they will continue to use violence, threats of violence, and intimidation to close abortion clinics. And as you probably already know, eighty-seven percent (87%) of US counties are already completely devoid of abortion services. 
We also need to remember that just a few short years ago, abortion provider Dr. George Tiller was murdered by such terrorists as are inspired by Randall Terry and company. And at last summer's National NOW conference in Boston, our brave Dr. LeRoy Carhart, the physician who assumed Tiller's practice, spoke of the terrorism still visited on his clinic and on other abortion providers across the country. We cannot let these criminals win, no matter who their friends in high places may be.
When Hillary Clinton spoke at the 1995 Beijing-based Fourth World Conference on Women, her words rang very true: "Women's rights are human rights." And we all know that in order to determine their own futures and to make decisions about our medical care, abortion needs to remain a legal medical procedure. We won this right many years ago, but with these anti-choice thugs working hard, we could lose this right in a heartbeat. 
So please take the time to donate to NOW-NYS Foundation. Your donation is tax deductible, but you must act before the end of the year. Let's start the New Year with a strong presence, including the passage Of the New York State Governor's Reproductive Health Act. You can help by giving generously, so we can continue to educate and lobby for reproductive rights. I promise that your donation will be put to good use on behalf of women and girls.  
Happy Holidays to everyone from NOW-NYS
In Sisterhood,
Marcia Pappas
President, NOW NYS

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

NOW Urges Democratic Leadership to Name Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney Ranking Member of Oversight Committee

For Immediate Release
Contact: Mai Shiozaki, 202-628-8669, ext. 116

NOW Urges Democratic Leadership to Name Congresswoman
Carolyn Maloney Ranking Member of Oversight Committee

December 15, 2010

The battle to lead the Oversight Committee has begun, and the National Organization for Women and other leading women's groups are supporting Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) to be the next Ranking Member of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee (OGR). She is the second-ranking Democrat on the committee after Committee Chairman Rep. Ed Towns (D-N.Y.), who is giving up his post, and he has given his support to Maloney.

Rep. Maloney has an extraordinary record of legislative accomplishments and effective oversight, and when appointed, Maloney would be the second Democratic woman ever to serve as ranking member of the Oversight committee. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) has announced that he will be running against Maloney.

"With all due respect to Rep. Cummings, Congresswoman Maloney is next in seniority, a champion of women's rights, and has a strong track record of accomplishments," said NOW President Terry O'Neill. "We believe Rep. Maloney will be a strong and effective leader of this important committee."

Rep. Maloney has proven to be a prolific and effective legislator in a wide range of areas, often taking on powerful interests such as Big Oil and Wall Street. She authored and passed more than 50 bills, including landmark legislation such as HR 627, the Credit CARD Act. Her bill prevents credit card companies from using many of the most egregious tricks and traps that entangled consumers in an unending cycle of debt.

Congresswoman Maloney has been one of the strongest and most effective advocates for women's rights in Congress, with a significant record of passing measures that make a difference in women's lives. These include her Breast Cancer Early Detection Act of 1997, which provides annual mammograms for women on Medicare; and the Debbie Smith Act, which provides funding to increase the number of rape kits processed so prosecutors have access to DNA evidence – the best evidence to convict or acquit a rapist; and the Hate Crime Statistics Improvement Act, which added gender-based hate crimes to the list of hate crimes that the FBI is required to track; and the End Demand for Sex Trafficking Act.

NOW and a coalition of women's groups including Feminist Majority, National Council of Women's Organizations, Women's Campaign Fund and National Women's Political Caucus, has signed on to a letter of support for Congresswoman Maloney, strongly urging the Democratic leadership to honor seniority and appoint Maloney as the next Ranking Member of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

### | Press Room | Support NOW's Work

National Organization for Women News and Action Summary: Obama's Tax Plan, Wal-Mart, DADT

NOW News and Action Summary

National Organization for Women:
News & Action Summary

December 14, 2010


Wal-Mart: Too Big to Sue?

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear retail giant Wal-Mart's challenge to a class-action lawsuit against the company involving more than 1.5 million women. The court will not review the actual charges that Wal-Mart routinely discriminated against its women employees. Instead, the challenge seeks to deny these women their day in court. Read more.

NOW Urges Senate to Reject Obama Tax Plan: Economy Can Be Stimulated Without Undermining Social Security

The agreement reached by President Obama with Republican leadership is the wrong way to stimulate our economy. With cuts to Social Security's dedicated funding stream, it is particularly troubling for women, who rely more on Social Security than men do. Read more.

Support Repeal of Military Women's Abortion Ban and DADT

Urge your senators to vote for the DOD Authorization Bill, which contains a repeal of the ban on abortion services at military hospitals overseas, in addition to abolishing the discriminatory Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy. Take action!

Good News and Bad News for Women in Deficit Commission Vote

NOW President Terry O'Neill comments on the fiscal commission vote, including the good news (the recommendations won't go to Congress for a vote) and the bad news (too many commissioners were willing to cut Social Security). Read more.

Urge Republicans to Stop Blocking Vote on DADT

Please contact both your Senators, and urge them to repeal the military's unjust Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy prohibiting lesbians and gay men from serving openly. Take action!

16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence: Congress Should Adopt IVAWA

Contact your Senate and House members to urge them to pass the International Violence Against Women Act. This legislation will greatly enhance U.S. prevention of and response to gender-based violence in the international community. Take action!

Pentagon Report Supports the End of Don't Ask, Don't Tell

"The Pentagon survey makes it clear that lesbians and gay men serving openly in the military are not the problem," said NOW President Terry O'Neill. "The problem is Don't Ask, Don't Tell, which should have been repealed long ago." Read more.

NOW Conference 2011 *SAVE THE DATE*

The 2011 National NOW Conference will be held June 24-26, in Tampa, Fla. Bookmark this page and sign up for updates.

Action Spotlight

Urge Congress to Amend Lopsided Tax Package and Protect Social Security

Please urge Congress to reject President Obama's tax package, and instead adopt a stimulus package targeting relief where it's needed most, will do the most good, and won't cut Social Security's dedicated funding stream. Take Action NOW!

Join or Give

We have so much work to do! NOW is dedicated to taking action to eliminate sexism and end all oppression. Your support is absolutely vital to our ability to take on the right wing and push ahead on all of our important issues.


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Action Alert: NYPD Fakes Statistics, Downgrades Rape Charges

From's Women's Rights Blog 2:41 pm / 13 December 2010
by Amie Newman
In February, journalist Debbie Nathan was sexually assaulted in a New York City park. She immediately reported the incident to the police, who took the report, but purposefully and wrongly classified the assault as a misdemeanor. It was only after Nathan protested to the Manhattan District Attorney, who did his own investigation, that the incident was reclassified as a felony. According to the Huffington Post, "the six officers who responded to Nathan's attack admitted leaving key portions of her story out of the report."
Why would they leave out key portions of her story?

An investigative report by the Village Voice uncovered nothing short of a scandal. A series of articles exposed the New York Police Department's practice of consistently "undercharging" crimes in an effort to meet "performance measurements" (quotas are illegal) and make crime statistics appear more palatable. The manipulation of statistics was caught on tapes in which NYPD higher-ups can be heard telling street cops to downgrade crimes or simply not to report particular crimes at all.

Numerous courageous police officers have come forward to tell their tales of questionable police policies, such as retired detective Harry Hernandez, who details a harrowing account of police misconduct related to serial rapist Daryl Thomas. While NYC sexual assault prevention groups say that the issue of under-reporting and undercharging of crimes has been a "growing problem" over the last two years, these "shady police policies," writes Alex DiBranco on the Women's Rights blog, had particularly devastating consequences when Thomas was able to sexually assault six different women in a single neighborhood over a period of two months. He was on his way to a seventh when a "lucky break" fueled his capture by police. The brutal spree should have triggered alarm bells, but went unnoticed for so long because the NYPD kept downgrading the assaults to "criminal trespassing."

In other words, until exposed through a series of recordings as well as an FBI report, New York City police officers had been covering up sex crimes with the full knowledge and even the direction of their superiors. In fact, it seems likely it's still happening. member Jaclyn Munson isn't willing to sit by and wait for the NYPD to take action voluntarily -- or not. She's created a petition to collectively raise our voices and demand change in the way sex crime statistics are handled by the NYPD.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. campaigned on an unfulfilled "promise" to release accurate and detailed sex crime statistics. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has is directing NYPD Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly to investigate the corruption in his own department.

Do we take the Mayor, the Police Commissioner, and the DA at their words? Even while the cover-ups still seem to be occurring? It's clear that Bloomberg, Vance, and Kelly need strong encouragement to take immediate action to stop the downgrading and under-reporting of sex crimes in NYC. Honest reporting of crime statistics paints a realistic assessment of risk for women -- not false numbers and "juked stats." Join fellow member Jaclyn Munson and tell the NYPD that rape is a serious crime.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Urge Congress to Amend Lopsided Tax Package and Protect Social Security

NOW Action Alert

Urge Congress to Amend Lopsided
Tax Package and Protect Social Security

Tell your senators and representatives...
take action

After taking action, please support our work!

Please call and/or send an email to urge your member of Congress to reject President Obama's lopsided tax package, and instead adopt a stimulus package that targets relief to where it is needed most and will do the most good -- and will not choke off Social Security's dedicated funding stream.

The president's deeply flawed proposal is now before the Senate and is expected to go to the House in a matter of days. As soon as you can, please phone both of your senators and your representative -- that's the most effective way to communicate. You can call the toll-free legislative hotline at 1-800-998-0180. Or send an email ASAP, using our sample message.

Take Action NOW!

The agreement reached by President Obama with Republican leadership, including a two-year extension of tax cuts for the wealthiest in return for a one-year extension of modest tax credits and unemployment insurance for families decimated by joblessness, is the wrong way to stimulate our economy.

The payroll tax holiday is particularly troubling for women, who rely more on Social Security than men do. The "holiday" benefits higher income people more than those in the middle or bottom, excludes retirees -- including those forced into early retirement due to joblessness -- and excludes state and local government workers at a time when they are facing a pay freeze. Worst of all, it slashes Social Security's dedicated funding stream -- something Republican leaders and other anti-New Deal forces have wanted to do for decades.

Choking off Social Security's dedicated funding stream threatens its long-term integrity, and breaks faith with the workers who have paid into the system so that it would be there for them when they are no longer working. We must do everything we can to protect this critically-important and highly popular retirement and disability income insurance program that keeps millions of middle-class women out of poverty.

The White House insists the payroll tax holiday will last only one year, but that's doubtful. Unemployment insurance (UI) benefits have only been extended for a year; if unemployment is still near double digits at the end of 2011, conservatives hostile to Social Security are likely to hold UI benefits hostage for an extension of the payroll tax holiday. This scenario could be repeated for years if the economy continues on its slow-growth path -- and a continued choking off of Social Security's dedicated funding stream would seriously threaten its long-term viability.

The White House also claims it will replace Social Security's lost revenue, which is estimated to be $120 billion annually, out of the General Fund. But if General Fund money is available, then it should be used directly for a stimulus plan that would put cash in the hands of those most likely to spend it quickly. There simply is no reason to raid Social Security in the name of economic stimulus.

Better proposals exist for stimulating the economy without slashing Social Security's dedicated funding stream. For example, the president's successful Making Work Pay program could be doubled, giving everyone who earns at least $5,000 per year a benefit of $800. In addition, Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) has proposed sending workers a one-time payment, out of the General Fund, in an amount equal to what they would receive through a payroll tax holiday. Both of these proposals are at least as stimulative as the payroll tax holiday, without slashing Social Security's dedicated funding stream.

The President's tax package also allows income inequality to continue growing. This will result in more pressure to cut programs that employ and serve women disproportionately, including education, health care, child care, domestic violence prevention and other social programs. We urge you to send a message to your congressional delegation to protect Social Security and provide for another method to put money directly in the hands of middle- and lower-income families.

take action and then donate

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Tue, 12/21, 6:30-9pm: Monthly Divorce/Child Custody Forum in Nassau County, Long Island

Divorce Forum Meeting
Sponsored by the National Organization for Women-NYS
  The next divorce/custody/support forum meeting will be held on
Tuesday, December 21, from 6:30-9:00
As always there is an experienced matrimonial attorney attending to answer your questions.  Hope to see you there.  Call Tracy for location.
Please RSVP Tracy at  (516) 233-9343 or email at
What the Forum is NOT: free legal representation.

What the Forum IS:  It is an opportunity to learn how to help yourself navigate the murky waters of the court systems procedures and rules, to learn what options may be available to you, and to get answers to legal questions from an experienced matrimonial attorney free of charge.

It is also an opportunity to occasionally be involved in actions like supporting legislation so desperately needed to bring women a level playing field in courts.

It is an opportunity to network with women who are facing the same challenges that you are, and other women who often have the same judge, attorney, forensic and/or law guardian as you do.

Want to be involved in an important survey that addresses this issue?
Go to our  home page and download the survey, fill it out and send it to us asap.

Friday, December 10, 2010

NOW Urges Senate to Reject Obama Tax Plan

For Immediate Release
Contact: Mai Shiozaki, 202-628-8669, ext. 116

NOW Urges Senate to Reject Obama Tax Plan
Economy Can Be Stimulated Without Undermining Social Security
Statement of NOW President Terry O'Neill

December 10, 2010

The agreement reached by President Obama with Republican leadership, including a two-year extension of tax cuts for the wealthiest in return for a one-year extension of unemployment insurance for families decimated by joblessness, is the wrong way to stimulate our economy.

The payroll tax holiday is particularly troubling for women, who rely more on Social Security than men do. The "holiday" benefits higher income people more than those in the middle or bottom, excludes retirees -- including those forced into early retirement due to joblessness -- and excludes state and local government workers at a time when they are facing a pay freeze. Worst of all, it slashes Social Security's dedicated funding stream -- something Republican leaders and other anti-New Deal forces have wanted to do for decades.

Cutting Social Security's dedicated funding stream threatens its long-term integrity, and breaks faith with the workers who have paid into the system so that it would be there for them when they are no longer working.

The White House says the tax holiday will stimulate the economy, and Social Security will get its lost revenue back from the federal budget. We say: then why not use the federal budget to stimulate the economy in the first place? Proposals exist that would do just that. For example, it would be simple to double the Making Work Pay program. Giving everyone who earns at least $5,000 per year a benefit of $800 would be much more progressive than the payroll tax holiday and would directly stimulate the economy.

There is no need to strike at the heart of Social Security's integrity in the name of stimulus.

The president's package also allows income inequality to continue growing, and will result in more pressure to cut programs that employ and serve women disproportionately, including education, health care, child care, domestic violence prevention and other social programs.

NOW urges the Senate, which is expected to vote on the president's proposal on Saturday, to reject it. Instead, senators should pass a stimulus package that targets relief to where it is needed most -- middle and low-income families, not those earning $1 million, $2 million, or $5 million per year and more.


Health Reform Town Hall Summary

On Thursday, Dec 2, National Organization for Women NY State co-sponsored "Health Reform: The Battles Ahead in Albany and Washington."  I was thrilled to see head of National Physicians Alliance NYC Chapter (NPA_NYC), Pro-Choice Dr. Sharon Phillips in the audience.  She wrote the following thoughtful piece about the event, cross-posted from the NPA_NYC blog.
In Solidarity,
N. Jerin Arifa

National NOW Board of Directors
National NOW Political Action Committee
National NOW Young Feminist Task Force, Chair
NOW – NYS Young Feminist Task Force, Chair
National Organization for Women (NOW)
Town Hall in Brooklyn December 2nd, 2010

NPA New York Local Action Network cosponsored an event on December 2nd with multiple organizations** entitled “Health Reform: The Battles Ahead in Albany and Washington.” Those who attended were fortunate to hear from New York experts Dr. John McDonough (Distinguished Fellow in Public Health at Hunter College); Mark Hannay (Director of Metro New York Health Care for All); Kinda Serafi (Senior Health Policy Associate at the Children’s Defense Fund); NPA’s Dr. Bill Jordan (NPA board member and co-chair of health policy for the Public Health Association of New York), Jenny Rejeske (Director of Health Advocacy for the New York Immigration Coalition), and Lois Uttley (Director of the Mergerwatch Project, co-founder of Raising Women’s Voices for the Health Care We Need, and Board Member of PHANYC).

Dr McDonough began the talk with an overview of the provision of the Health Reform Act, also known as the PPACA. The goal of the act is to improve access to health care through nine different measures:

1) Affordable and available coverage through creation of an insurance exchange and subsidies

2) Reforms of Medicaid and CHIP (Child Health Insurance Program) to increase the number of people eligible by changing income requirements and covering single adults

3) Delivery system reforms to lower the rate of spending increase throughout the system

4) Prevention and wellness initiatives to improve access to preventive care by eliminating cost-sharing for most preventive services and creating a national program to promote wellness & prevention

5) Workforce initiatives to improve access to primary care

6) Eliminating fraud and abuse

7) Improving access to generic versions of certain expensive medicines

8) New affordable private voluntary disability insurance

9) Attain revenues by increasing taxes on the most wealthy (with an income over $200,000 for individuals, $250,000 for families) and on unearned income, as well as taxes on indoor tanning salons

He also explained how the reforms enacted would not only pay for themselves, but would end up saving billions of dollars by decreasing costs of health delivery, decreasing costs of taking care of the uninsured nationwide, and reforming the way Medicare and Medicaid work to make them more efficient.

Following Dr McDonough, Mark Hannay explained where we are in New York with this law, and where we have to go to truly make sure all New Yorkers have affordable access to health care. Because most of the implementation of this law falls to the states, we have a tremendous opportunity to turn New York’s program into a model for other states. New York has about 2.7 million uninsured right now, of whom about 2 million will be insured once the law takes effect.

Kinda Serafi discussed the advantages of this law for many people who currently are uninsured. One of the challenges will be to make application for these programs accessible for all. Currently, Medicaid applications can be so long and daunting, or stigmatizing, that many New Yorkers who qualify do not apply. On implementation, the best case scenario would be to create a system accessible to everyone, by phone, mail, internet, or in person, that could help individuals and families determine what plans they’re eligible for, how much they will cost, and other details. Although this would require an extensive overhaul of the Medicaid eligibility system, which is currently quite antiquated, but would be well worth the investment.

Dr. Bill Jordan spoke about the challenges posed to the health care workforce by this law. As it is, there aren’t enough primary care doctors to meet demand. When millions more people flow into the system with their new health coverage, we need to make sure there are enough doctors to care for them. To help with this, the PPACA increases loan repayment for primary care providers, redistributes residency training slots to favor primary care sites and rural, underserved areas, and also redirects training funds to increase the supply of general surgeons.

Jenny Rejeske discussed the impact of the law on immigrants. As a group, many immigrants have much to gain from this law. Some immigrants, those who are undocumented, are left behind. The majority of immigrants will benefit as the most are here with legal status, either as residents or as naturalized citizens. The key will be to ensure that those eligible for Medicaid and other subsidies are aware that these programs are available to them. In addition, we need to ensure that undocumented immigrants are connected to the health care services available to them, including patient financial assistance at all hospitals that accept federal funds, as well as community health centers and HHC clinics and hospitals for those living in New York City.

Lois Uttley finished up by talking about women’s health. In terms of women’s health, there are great gains for most women, in that maternity care will be a mandated service starting in 2014, and preventive services must be provided without a deductible for new insurance plans starting this year (meaning mammograms, pap smears, and STI testing are now free to all women regardless of which insurance plan they use). The negative for women will be the restrictions on abortion coverage for all new insurances bought through the exchange, as well as a likely similar effect even on those who have insurance now. The law states that each state has the right to limit, prohibit, or restrict coverage abortion in all insurances sold on the exchange (14 states have already taken advantage of this). Even where abortion coverage is allowed, participants in those plans have to write 2 separate checks to the company, one to cover abortion and one for everything else.

Attendance at the event was impressive at 115. Audience members asked important questions to clarify the impact of the law on immigrants and children, as well as the future structure of the health care system.

Thanks to all the co-sponsors, panel members, and attendees!

**Co-sponsors of this event were: Long Island University School of Health Professions, AARP-NY, PHANYC, Children's Defense Fund-NY, Community Service Society, Committee for Interns and Residents - SEIU, Health Care for All New York, Health Care Leaders of New York, New York Immigration Coalition, National Organization for Women - New York State,
 and Raising Women's Voices for the Health Care We Need

Thursday, December 9, 2010

From Raising Women's Voices: The Latest Health Reform News You Can Use!

End separate and unequal abortion access!
A report, published this week by the Center for American Progress, describes the disproportionate impact that abortion funding restrictions have on poor women and women of color, making a strong case for opposing these restrictions on racial and economic justice grounds.  Separate and Unequal, written by Jessica Arons and Madina AgĂ©nor, lays out the history and impact of abortion funding restrictions – from the Hyde amendment, first imposed on the Medicaid program in 1976, to other government-run or -managed health programs, including Medicare, the military's TRICARE program, the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, federal prisons, Indian Health Service, the Peace Corps, the Children's Health Insurance Program, and most recently the Affordable Care Act.
As Toni Bond Leonard, president of Black Women for Reproductive Justice and an RWV regional coordinator in Illinois, explains in her preface to the report, the political context for these policies is much broader than the narrow confines of the abortion debate.  She notes that it encompasses welfare and criminal justice reforms, the war on drugs, and even reaches back in U.S. history to slave owners' possession and control of black women and their children.  Bond writes that viewing the cumulative impact of these policies through a reproductive justice frame reveals "an agenda that is still very much intent upon controlling the childbearing of black women and other women of color."
Separate and Unequal offers arguments against abortion funding restrictions that might be persuasive to people and organizations that don't have a clear and strong prochoice stance but that share a commitment to achieving health equity for poor women and women of color.  It acknowledges that appealing abortion funding restrictions by itself won't result in full equity, but it demonstrates why repeal is a necessary part of that struggle.


Expanding equity goals in health reform
One of the important goals of health reform is to promote health equity. The most common focus of this work has been to reduce health disparities based on race and ethnicity, and as we just mentioned, that work is crucial to help the health reform law fulfill its promise to the most vulnerable among us. It is important that we include all those vulnerable populations in our work to achieve equity. Two state health reform coalitions have recently added gender, disabilities, sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of disparities they hope to address through health reform. They further specified that access to reproductive health services must be ensured to promote health equity.
Health Care for All New York (HCFANY) included the expanded health equity goal within its new standards for how New York's insurance exchange should be constructed and operated. The HCFANY health equity language calls for access to abortion coverage. Health Care for All of New Mexico incorporates similar language in the principles it adopted for health reform implementation work in New Mexico.  You can find both of these coalition statements on the RWV website.
Interested in trying this approach within your state health reform coalition, as it prepares to work on state implementation? Contact for help.

Pennsylvania women plan strategy
Dismayed by election results that will give their state an anti-choice governor and markedly increased anti-choice strength in the state legislature, Pennsylvania women's health advocates came together this week to discuss how to avoid an abortion coverage ban in their state's insurance exchange.
Raising Women's Voices of Southeastern PA and the Pennsylvania Coalition for Choice held a joint meeting in Philadelphia. RWV co-founder Lois Uttley, Jordan Goldberg of the Center for Reproductive Rights and Talcott Camp of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project joined them to discuss the state's new political climate and how to respond to expected efforts to ban or restrict abortion coverage in the private insurance plans that would be sold in Pennsylvania's state insurance exchange. This kind of coordinated planning is essential for women's health advocates as states begin implementing health reform in January. Want help planning a strategy session in your state? Contact

Proof positive: Health reform is a women's issue
We certainly know it from our own experience, but a new study demonstrates the reason statistically!
Women's spending on health is 32 percent higher per capita than men's, according to new analysis by researchers from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid services (CMS). The gender differences were especially striking among Americans of childbearing age and among the elderly, due to women's longer life expectancy. Women spent approximately $1,448 more per person than men ($5,989 versus $4,541) during the latest year (2004) for which the data was available. The study, "Pronounced Gender Differences in Personal Health Care Spending," is available here.
Why is this important to the work of Raising Women's Voices and our allies? We need to use it to demonstrate to broad-based health reform coalitions and health funders that, in fact, a "gendered" view of health reform is both valid and critical to the success of this important national undertaking. Moreover, when we establish goals for achieving health equity in health reform, we must include gender as one of the factors that is causing health disparities.

Medicare doc "pay fix" passes Congress
Older women worrying about losing their physicians because of a pending 25 percent cut to Medicare payments can breathe a little easier. The Congress, pushed by the White House, approved a one-year "doc-fix" late Wednesday in the Senate and Thursday afternoon in the House. The bill now heads to the desk of President Obama, who is expected to sign it. Without this action, Medicare payments would have been slashed on Jan. 1. The bad news? The pay restoration is being paid for with some of the funds that had been set to provide subsidies to people buying insurance in state-run insurance exchanges. Read more here.

Action Alert: Did You Support President Bush's Tax Cuts?

From Greater NYC for Change

This week, President Obama announced his deal with Republicans. There is some good policy in the deal such as a 13 month extension of unemployment benefits and a continuation of middle class tax cuts.

But the price the Republicans have demanded for this good policy is unnecessary and unjust. This policy takes money away from stimulating the economy and puts it into the hands of the wealthy. Even billionaires. It does so at the expense of the other 98% of the country and future generations.

They call them Bush Tax Cuts for a reason. It's how we know they were wrong for America.

A growing number of Democratic Members of Congress are saying that extended unemployment insurance should not be held hostage to tax cuts for the rich. They are telling their leaders and the President to stand up and fight for a better deal. Their position reflects all of the polls, which show 70% of the public opposing a continuation of the Bush tax cuts.


212-486-4430 (Senator Charles Schumer's office)

212-688-6262 (Senator Kristin Gillibrand's Office)

Both of New York's Senators have been making the case all year long that we cannot afford to extend this cut for the nation's wealthiest individuals. Senator Schumer pointed out that to vote for these tax cuts would be to side with "millionaires and billionaires" over the middle class.

They were right then. They are right now. And they should vote that way.


202-456-1111 (The White House Comment's Line)

Although he has said that he will not reconsider on this issue, he needs to hear from those who supported him through thick and thin. Let him know that you strongly disagree with him that this compromise is the best we could do.

We know we've been asking you to call Congress a lot recently, but your calls work -- and this is a moment when many Representatives are deciding what to do. President Obama and Congress are counting on us to hold them accountable.

Thank you for standing up for the change we need.