Monday, January 31, 2011

HOLD THE DATE - Tue, April 5: Our very own Layla Love will be awarded

Our very own Layla Love of the National Organization for Women (NOW) NY State Young Feminist Task Force will be awarded the Andrea Young Women Leadership Award from Bella Abzug Leadership Institute on Tuesday, April 5, 2011, from 6:30-9pm at the Scholastic Books Corporate Headquarters located in Downtown Manhattan at 557 Broadway.  

Other honorees will be Hunter College President Jennifer Raab (Bella Award), and Bella Abzug Leadership Institute esteemed Board members Harold Holzer (Bella Fella Award), and Eija Ayravaien (Wise Woman Award).  They are planning to have some special surprise,"celeb" guests.

Many of the taskforce members volunteered at last year's award ceremony, and we had a lovely time with Congresswoman Maloney and other feminists.  Hope you can join us.

Watch Nancy on CBS Evening News with Katie Couric

NARAL Pro-Choice America Last night, more than six million people found out that the new Congress has made attacking a woman’s right to choose a top priority.

Watch our video of Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, on the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric. The segment featured Nancy and used our research to show where anti-choice attacks are most likely to happen.

Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, was on CBS Evening News with Katie Couric last night. Getting an interview like this is a huge opportunity, so I hope you watch.

NARAL Pro-Choice America has been working overtime to make sure people know that a woman’s right to choose is under attack. We’ve talked to reporters at The New York Times, Politico, and NPR. Nancy has been on Fox New, and her op-ed just ran in The Hill, a paper that’s read by Washington insiders.

Last night’s interview is part of our campaign to stop anti-choice attacks, including the “Stupak on Steroids” bill, and call out our opponents for their hypocrisy. We are making fantastic progress, and have been overwhelmed by your response. In just the last few weeks, you’ve helped us send more than 45,000 messages to Congress.

We need you to help maximize this coverage. Not everyone has seen these reports. Send this interview to 10 friends and help us make sure that Americans know the truth about what the new leadership in the House of Representatives is up to.

Thanks for your support!

Ted Miller
Communications and Online Advocacy Strategies Director

P.S. If you haven't already, there’s still time to urge your member of Congress to oppose “Stupak on Steroids.” Please send an email right now.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Fri, Feb 25: 2-3:30pm: The Media’s Sexual Objectification of Women: A Human Rights Violation

WHAT:   An NGO Panel of the UN Commission on the Status of Women
WHEN:    Friday, February 25, 2011, 2:00 – 3:30 p.m.
WHERE:  Salvation Army Social Justice Commission, 221 E. 52nd St.
                       (between 2nd & 3rd Aves.), New York City
SPONSORS:  National Organization for Women (NOW), Women’s UN
                       Report Network (WUNRN), World YWCA, Worldwide
                       Organization for Women (WOW)
FEATURING:  Jean Kilbourne, Ed.D., Expert on media images of women

Women & girls are constantly sexualized and commodified by the
media, leading to violence and sexual assault, discrimination, mental
& physical health problems.  Come and learn what you can do about it.

For more info, contact,


Sign Petition to Save Academic Freedom at Brooklyn College and CUNY!

Please sign the petition from The Advocate in support of Professor Kristofer Petersen-Overton at Brooklyn College:

Here is The NY Times article about it.

Petition to Defend Academic Freedom at Brooklyn College

by Advocate Staff

We, the under­signed, are writ­ing to express our deep con­cern for the pre­car­i­ous state of aca­d­e­mic free­dom at Brook­lyn Col­lege, CUNY and the City Uni­ver­sity of New York sys­tem more broadly.

Just a week before the start of spring semes­ter classes, Kristofer Petersen-Overton was fired from his posi­tion as an adjunct lec­turer of polit­i­cal sci­ence at Brook­lyn Col­lege. The move came fol­low­ing a com­plaint from a prospec­tive stu­dent in Peterson-Overton's sched­uled Mid­dle East Pol­i­tics course that the instructor's "pro-Palestinian" bias would pre­clude him from objec­tively teach­ing the sub­ject. After com­plain­ing to the school admin­is­tra­tion the stu­dent then con­tacted New York State Assem­bly­man Dov Hikind, who in turn wrote to the pres­i­dent of Brook­lyn Col­lege express­ing his con­cerns about the course read­ing list. In that let­ter, Hikind labeled Peterson-Overton as "pro-suicide bomber." Hours later, the provost of Brook­lyn Col­lege dis­missed Petersen-Overton on grounds that, as a doc­toral stu­dent, he was insuf­fi­ciently qual­i­fied to teach grad­u­ate courses at the col­lege. This move came despite the fact that many grad­u­ate stu­dents in sev­eral depart­ments cur­rently teach and have taught master's level courses at Brook­lyn Col­lege over the years. Given these cir­cum­stances, it is clear that Peterson-Overton's dis­missal had noth­ing to do with his qual­i­fi­ca­tions, but was the prod­uct of polit­i­cal pres­sure from forces out­side the university.

The college's actions are a clear vio­la­tion of aca­d­e­mic free­dom, includ­ing the university's own offi­cial pol­icy, which states that the "office of a chan­cel­lor, pres­i­dent, or other admin­is­tra­tor can­not be used to com­pro­mise the aca­d­e­mic free­dom of other mem­bers of the uni­ver­sity com­mu­nity." There­fore, we demand that Peterson-Overton be fully re-instated in his posi­tion, and that his course on Mid­dle East Pol­i­tics be allowed to pro­ceed as orig­i­nally designed. More­over, we insist that Peterson-Overton not face any future sanc­tions, and that he be judged hence­forth solely on the basis of his teach­ing abil­i­ties and the qual­ity of his aca­d­e­mic work.

Fur­ther­more, we demand a for­mal, pub­lic apol­ogy from the Brook­lyn Col­lege admin­is­tra­tion, includ­ing Pres­i­dent Karen Lee Gould and Provost William A. Tra­mon­tano for their ille­git­i­mate actions and bor­der­line incom­pe­tence in deal­ing with this matter.

We also call for a for­mal pledge from the uni­ver­sity to pro­tect the aca­d­e­mic free­dom of all of its employ­ees irre­spec­tive of sta­tus, stature, and rank, espe­cially con­tin­gent fac­ulty like Petersen-Overton, who receive none of the pro­tec­tions of tenure despite the fact that they teach the major­ity of courses at the City Uni­ver­sity of New York.

We ask that all these demands be met imme­di­ately and with­out compromise.

James Hoff, EIC The GC Advocate
Michael Busch, Man­ag­ing Edi­tor The GC Advocate

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Islamophobia at CUNY: Provost Cancels Appointment of Brooklyn College Adjunct

CUNY Provost Intervenes To Cancel Appointment of Controversial Brooklyn College Professor: Grave Implications For Academic Freedom

Kristofer Petersen-Overton, a political science doctoral student at the CUNY Graduate Center, has been fired from his position as an adjunct professor at Brooklyn College one week before his course on Middle East politics was slated to begin.

The case was taken up by the Brooklyn College administration after a student enrolled in his course raised concerns that Mr. Petersen-Overton's alleged pro-Palestinian bias would prevent him from conducting a balanced seminar. The student expressed these concerns with the political science department but agreed not to pursue further action until after the course actually began. However, this student contacted state Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who then characterized Mr. Petersen-Overton as "pro-suicide bomber" in a letter to the college President.

In a response sent to Hamodia newspaper on Wednesday, Mr. Petersen-Overton expressed concerns "that a state official would denounce my work so strongly without, apparently, having offered it more than a cursory reading. [Hikind's] press release … is slander pure and simple." Mr. Petersen-Overton emphasized that his work has little to do with suicide bombers and that Mr. Hikind deliberately twisted his conclusions to make it appear otherwise.

"I was not contacted by Brooklyn College administration at any time during their decision-making process. This politically motivated action undermines CUNY's longstanding legacy as a stalwart defender of academic freedom," Mr. Petersen-Overton said.

The allegations against Mr. Petersen-Overton center on time he spent in the Gaza Strip working for the Palestinian Center for Human Rights and on an unpublished scholarly paper that analyzes the symbolic place of martyrdom in Palestinian nationalism. Petersen-Overton's detractors also took issue with the fact that, according to his personal website, he still maintains "close contact" with the Palestinian activist community.
Mr. Petersen-Overton's academic work deals broadly with issues of identity formation in Israel and Palestine.

# # #

kristofer j. petersen-overton
adjunct professor of political science \\ brooklyn college \\
doctoral student \\ political science \\ cuny graduate center \\
online info \\ \\ homepage \\
call me \\ +1 347 837 7635 \\

Action Alert:
Professor Kristopher Petersen-Overton has asked the CUNY community and others to write letters to the Brooklyn College Provost directly to express their concern.

The official reason BC’s administration has provided is that the Professor does not yet have a PhD and was teaching in an MA program. As conversation on the GC’s Political Science list demonstrated this morning, more than half those teaching in Brooklyn’s MA program do not have doctorates and it’s unclear how the program could be staffed without the labor of ABD contingents.

Time is of the essence to save Professor Kristopher's job. Please write to:

Office of the Provost (William A. Tramontano)
Brooklyn College
2900 Bedford Avenue
Brooklyn, New York 11210

NOW Looks Forward to 'Sputnik Moment' for Women

NOW Press Release
For Immediate Release
Contact: Mai Shiozaki, 202-628-8669, ext. 116
NOW Looks Forward to 'Sputnik Moment' for Women
Statement of NOW President Terry O'Neill
January 26, 2011
In last night's State of the Union address, President Barack Obama proclaimed this point in time to be "our generation's Sputnik moment." As the president reaches for the stars, the National Organization for Women will be working to ensure that the women of this nation are lifted up as well.
President Obama spoke about creating jobs through building our country's physical infrastructure, investing in research and development, and reinventing our energy industry. Worthy objectives -- but currently these fields are dominated by men. Much work remains to be done to bring women into parity in these vocations, known as STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). For example, when we talk about "green jobs," Wider Opportunities for Women found that two-thirds of all women are clustered in only 21 of the 500 green job categories. If these jobs our are future, women must be included.
Next month, I will take part in the 55th session of the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women, which will focus on the access and participation of women and girls in STEM. However, until we make significant progress in this area, if we want to talk about creating jobs for women, we have to talk about rebuilding our human infrastructure -- including teaching, nursing and social work. These positions not only employ women but they serve some of the most vulnerable people in our country, those the president promised to safeguard.
Most people may not even be aware that women are actually losing ground in the current economic recovery. From July 2009 to December 2010, according to the National Women's Law Center, women lost jobs while men gained, with women losing 99.6 percent of the 257,000 jobs cut from the public sector. And long-term unemployment is worsening for women.
For these reasons, we are heartened that President Obama announced he would work to strengthen Social Security without risking current retirees or slashing benefits for future generations. Women, particularly women of color, depend greatly on Social Security. Often it is their only income in retirement. NOW has been vigorously campaigning to protect and reinforce Social Security, and we are pleased to see that the steady stream of messages from women's rights supporters has made an impact. However, the forces behind dismantling Social Security are powerful, determined and crafty. The president must remain firm as he stands up to the foes of government programs that help people instead of big business.
The president said: "We do big things." I can't think of anything bigger than guaranteeing jobs, opportunity, security and equality to the women of the United States and around the world.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Compare the rhetoric

After reading this Slate article:

Smart Republicans, Stupid Democrats If Democrats are the big spenders, why do Republican states get the money?
Article URL:

Please read this Yahoo news article:

In bipartisan tones, Obama challenges GOP - Yahoo! News

And tell me if you are not laughing at the irony.

Smart Republicans, Stupid Democrats If Democrats are the big spenders, why do Republican states get the money?

By Shankar Vedantam
Posted Thursday, Dec. 2, 2010, at 12:32 PM ET

One of the co-chairmen of President Obama's bipartisan debt reduction council recently got in trouble for telling a women's advocacy group that Social Security had "reached a point now where it's like a milk cow with 310 million tits!"

If you guessed it was the Republican co-chairman and not the Democrat who said it, you would be right—it was former Wyoming Sen. Alan Simpson—but therein hangs a tale.

Republicans have a near monopoly on complaints about government spending. Dozens of new Tea Party candidates were elected to Congress on a promise to clean house. But data going back two decades—to stick to Simpson's crude metaphor—show the milk is mostly coming from Democratic states, and the sucking is being done by Republican states.

The "red" states up in arms about government spending receive the largest share of it. This is not a new finding, but research by economist Gary Richardson at the University of California-Irvine backs it up. Richardson provides insight into how the paradox came about and what it means for the future.

It isn't surprising that the more Republican a state leans, the more likely it is to be furious about government spending. But what is surprising is that states with the highest anti-spending sentiment appear to be the largest beneficiaries of government spending. Not only do red states swallow the lion's share of government spending, but Richardson found a linear relationship between the extent of GOP support in a state—and, by implication, the fervor of its anti-government sentiment—and the amount of federal largesse the state receives.

Alaska, home to Sarah Palin, and where two fiscally conservative Republican candidates for Senate recently mopped up 75 percent of the vote between them, received $1.64 in federal benefits for every $1 the state contributed to the national kitty. Massachusetts, Richardson found last year, received 82 cents for every dollar it paid into the national pool. No doubt as compensation, liberals in Massachusetts and other "blue" states also received lots of vitriol for being such out-of-control spenders.

The 28 states where George W. Bush won more than 50 percent of the vote in 2004 received an average of $1.32 for every dollar contributed. The 19 states where Bush received less than 50 percent of the vote collected 93 cents on the dollar.

"Voting Republican paid large dividends," Richardson wrote in a piece published in the Economist's Voice. "For each 1 percent of the population voting in favor of the Republican presidential candidate, the state received an additional 1.7 cents in benefits for each dollar in taxes."

No sane person would argue that every state should get precisely as much as it puts in. Different states will need larger or smaller benefits at different points of time. But Richardson's data don't just show that the redistribution of resources correlates with a state's political orientation. They show that the amount of money being collected from Democratic states and redirected to Republican states has systematically grown over time.

During the 1970s and 1980s—throughout the Carter, Reagan, and George H.W. Bush administrations—there was no correlation between anti-spending sentiment and getting lots of federal money. The net return to states that voted for Republicans was relatively flat, meaning that "red" states didn't get most of the pie.

But that changed around 1994—after the last Republican takeover of Congress. Then, as now, Republicans rode to power on charges of government profligacy and promises to clean house. Then, as now, Republicans promised to lower taxes and to reduce government expenditure. Then, as now, Republicans warned the Democrat in the White House to come to his senses and move his administration to the right.

Buried in the fine print of Newt Gingrich's "Contract With America," Richardson found an income redistribution scheme. The proportion of government spending on groups that traditionally supported Democrats fell. The proportion of government income from groups that traditionally supported Democrats rose.

"Tax rates declined more for groups that tended to vote Republican. These groups include people with incomes in the upper tail of the distribution, such as small business owners, property owners, and investors accruing capital gains. … At the same time, expenditures fell more for programs directed toward people that tended to vote Democratic. These groups included welfare recipients, inner-city residents, and individuals in the lower tail of the income distribution."

Just as they did in the 1990s, Democrats and Republicans today are arguing not about whether to cut government expenditure, but where and how much to cut it. They are arguing not about whether to extend tax breaks to rich families, but just how rich you have to be to qualify for tax breaks. Smart observers think the Democrats in 2010 will repeat what they did in the 1990s—reduce expenditures on people who tend to vote Democratic and decrease taxes paid by people who tend to vote Republican.

There is certainly room for debate about Richardson's conclusions. Seth Giertz at the University of Nebraska argues, for example, that the correlation merely reflects the fact that we have a progressive tax system—blue states pay more into the kitty because blue states are richer than red states. We also don't know who in the red or blue states is paying or receiving the money. Is it possible that Republicans in blue states are paying most of the money, while Democrats in red states are receiving most of it?

In an e-mail, Richardson argued—and I agree with him—that the progressive-tax-code explanation is inadequate because the blue-state-red-state trend has unfolded even as the tax code has become less progressive. The tax code today barely distinguishes between the merely wealthy and the insanely rich—your local doctor faces the same taxation level as LeBron James. And the linear relationship between the degree of conservatism in a state and the amount of federal spending it receives contradicts the notion that conservatives in blue states might be footing the bill for liberals in red states. The more conservatives a state has, the less it pays. The more liberals a state has, the less it receives.

At a minimum, conservatives must agree there is a contradiction between being against government spending and dominating the politics of states that get the lion's share of federal spending. The beauty of the trick, from a psychological point of view, is not that Republicans serve their constituents. It is that Republicans have succeeded in making Democrats feel lousy for being out-of-touch elitists who can't be trusted to keep spending under control.

Crucial to their victory in the policy arena, Richardson argued, was the Republican victory in the national conversation. Conservatives pushed through their plan to redistribute income because they dominated the conversation about fiscal prudence, regularly admonishing even their own side for overspending. In the public mind, Republicans became the party of fiscal rectitude, and Democrats became the group that raised taxes on hard-working Americans.

"The second way in which Republicans became beneficiaries of federal spending was by dominating the debate about federal fiscal policies," Richardson wrote. "Republicans emphasized the virtues of the market, the inefficiency of government, and the effectiveness of the private sector. Now Democrats, too, have adopted this economic way of thinking—paying homage, now, to the goal of economic efficiency. This new focus on the Democrats' part has led to improvements in the cost and quality of government services, but it has also enabled the Republicans to advance their own constituents' distributional interests at the same time."

I blame it all on the hidden brain. What, other than unconscious bias, can explain why so many voters pay so much attention to what politicians say, and so little attention to what they do?

Like Slate on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.

Shankar Vedantam is the author of The Hidden Brain: How Our Unconscious Minds Elect Presidents, Control Markets, Wage Wars, and Save Our Lives. Learn more at and

Who Cares if Abortion Is Legal?

Who Cares if Abortion Is Legal?

NOW-NYC Founding Chapter Logo

Will it matter if abortion is legal in name, if women are unable to access it in reality? Republican leaders in Congress are hoping it won't. Their strategy is clear: gut funding for family planning and health insurance coverage for abortions, even in private plans. House Speaker John Boehner is calling these efforts "top legislative priorities." There is no question that passing this agenda will put the lives of women and girls on the line.

Anti-Choice Priority #1: Eliminating Insurance Coverage for Abortion

The bill: No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion (H.R. 3), Introduced by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ)

What the bill will do:

Establish a federal ban of abortion insurance coverage on the new health exchanges.

Eliminate tax subsidies under the new health care law for individuals OR employers that purchase health insurance plans that cover abortion.

Permanently restrict abortion access for women in the military, federal prisons, and at the Indian Health Service by
codifying a full ban on abortion in all health facilities operated by the federal government.

Further restrict the Hyde amendment by limiting exceptions to if a woman is "in danger of death," the victim of a forcible rape (not statutory rape) and incest of a minor (not 18 or over). There are no exceptions for a woman's health - no matter how severe.

Reality Check: Federal funding for abortion has been banned since the 1976 passage of the Hyde amendment. Obama also signed an executive order last year clarifying that the health care reform law will not allow federal funding for abortion.

This bill is not a reiteration of bans already in place but an extreme and wholesale attempt to dramatically reduce abortion access.

Learn More

Stop the Ban

1. Contact your Representative today. Tell them WHY you care about protecting women's abortion access, which is LEGAL under U.S. law. Ask them to reject H.R. 3.

2. Flood Speaker Boehner and Representative Smith's offices with comments.

3. Forward this message to your friends.

What you can say:

Please reject the NO Taxpayer Funding for Abortion bill (H.R. 3). Our laws already prevent any federal dollars from funding abortion. This bill goes too far and will enforce extreme restrictions on a LEGAL medical procedure that is critical for women, by unfairly taxing insurance plans, eliminating abortion insurance coverage under the new health care reform law, and codifying blanket restrictions that go beyond Roe. Passing this bill will put the lives of countless women and girls at risk. Please show that you care about life, by protecting choice and protecting the lives of women and girls.

Send the link: Here's one example of what really happens when abortion is restricted.

Anti-Choice Priority #2: Bring the Global Gag Rule Home & De-fund Family Planning

The bill: Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act (H.R. 217),
Introduced by Rep. Mike Pence R-IN

What the bill will do:
This bill will ban Title X dollars from any health clinic or entity that performs abortions, even though this funding is already banned from going toward abortions.

Reality Check: This bill brings the global gag rule home to the U.S., and it will threaten access to health care and prevention services for low-income women. It will decimate major funding for thousands of health clinics across the country - including Planned Parenthood - that provide critical reproductive health services such as access to contraception, treatment of STI's, and cancer screening. For many women, these types of clinics provide their only health care.

Save Family Planning

1. Contact your Representative today. Tell them to reject H.R. 217 and make the point that preventive services such as contraception and family planning REDUCE the number of unintended pregnancies.

2. Flood Speaker Boehner and Representative Pence's offices with comments.

3. Forward this message to your friends.

Future of Reproductive Rights Is At Stake: TAKE ACTION TODAY!

We are facing the most anti-choice Congress in years.
Anti-choice lawmakers are a majority in the House, and only 40 Senators are 100% pro-choice. Get the numbers.

Furthermore, the state houses have been packed with anti-choice leaders, filling the pipeline for a more conservative future. The leader of Ohio Right to Life said recently, "This is the best climate for passing pro-life laws in years." Get the article

What you can do:
Get involved with NOW-NYC, write to your reps today, and support our work to continue the fight! Forward to your friends, here in NYC and across the country. Help us mobilize!

Vice President Biden is fielding public questions tomorrow, as is HHS Sebelius

Let's ask them a few:

Good afternoon,

Did you catch President Obama's State of the Union Address last night? If you missed it, it's worth a watch:

As the President said last night, the most important contest we face as a nation is not between our political parties – it's a contest among our competitors across the globe for the jobs and industries of the future. It’s about winning the future.

To win that contest, we must out-innovate, out-educate and out-build the rest of the world. We must take responsibility for our deficit and reform the way government works, so that it’s leaner, smarter and better equipped to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

But last night's speech was just the start of this conversation.

We want to hear directly from you, and President Obama himself will be answering some of your questions in a live interview tomorrow at 2:30 p.m. EST. And throughout the day tomorrow, policy experts from the White House and around the Administration will be available for in-depth discussions on some of the critical issues that affect you.

Learn more about these events and find out how you can submit your questions:

Here's the lineup for tomorrow on

  • 11:30 a.m. EST: Economy Roundtable with Austan Goolsbee, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers
  • 1:00 p.m. EST: Foreign Policy Roundtable with Denis McDonough, Deputy National Security Advisor
  • 2:30 p.m. EST: Live YouTube interview with President Barack Obama
  • 3:15 p.m. EST: Education Roundtable with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan
  • 4:30 p.m. EST: Health Care Roundtable with Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius

We're looking forward to answering your questions tomorrow.


David Plouffe
Senior Advisor to the President

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Meet & Greet with Carol Moseley Braun Wed. Jan. 26 at 11:00 a.m.

It is the pleasure of NOW Equality PAC to invite you to a Meet and Greet with Carol Moseley Braun, candidate in the 2011 race for Chicago mayor.

When: Wednesday, Jan. 26, 11:00 a.m.
National Organization for Women
1100 H Street, NW, Suite 300
Washington, DC 20005
*Note: The building entrance is on 11th Street

Carol Moseley Braun has an impressive 25 years of public service fighting for the rights of women at all levels: local, state, national and international. A longtime ally of NOW, she has been endorsed by both the NOW Equality PAC and the Chicago NOW PAC.

Moseley Braun broke down barriers when she became the first African-American woman to serve as assistant majority leader in the Illinois House, the first woman and African-American to hold executive office in Cook County Government, and in 1992 when she was the first African-American woman elected to the U.S. Senate.

Come join us Wednesday, Jan. 26 at 11:00 a.m. when you can meet Carol Moseley Braun, ask questions, and learn more about the campaign!

For more information contact Bonnie Grabenhofer, or call 202-628-8669 ext. 110.

Introduced Federal and State Legislative Proposals Affect Reproductive Health

Many bills have been introduced at the federal and state level that negatively impact reproductive health.  The bills at the federal level limit access to reproductive health services, including family planning and abortion services, which will disproportionately affect women of limited income.  At the state level, many lawmakers across the country are introducing legislation to ban abortion coverage in state exchanges.  Five states have already banned coverage for abortion in their health exchange plan (Arizona, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee), with Louisiana and Tennessee failing to create any exceptions such as when the woman is a victim of rape or incest or when continuing her pregnancy would be life-endangering. 

Below is a synopsis of the two pieces of federal legislation.   A New York Times article explains the proposed legislation at the state level. The two federal bills are also attached. 

Rep. Smith (R-NJ) has introduced H.R. 3, the No Taxpayer Funds for Abortion Act, which would not only essentially eliminate abortion coverage in health reform, but would also severely limit access to abortion for women on Medicaid. Under current federal law, Medicaid enrollees are already restricted in their access to abortion services, as only those who are victims of rape or incest or where continuing their pregnancy would be life-endangering are entitled to abortion services.  (However, Medicaid enrollees who qualify for abortion services oftentimes do not receive services -- in the next coming months, NHeLP will be producing material around this issue of illegal denials of abortion services).  This limited access proves problematic for many women and families who cannot afford an abortion and do not qualify under the exceptions, and there are documented stories of women going to great lengths (sometimes even dangerous or unsafe) to terminate their pregnancies.  Limiting access does not reduce the need for abortion -- it only makes it more burdensome for women, primarily low-income women, to obtain abortion services.

Rep. Pence (R-IN) introduced a bill entitled  the Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act, which would bar any organization who performs abortion services, except in the cases of rape, incest or life-endangerment, in conjunction with family planning services from receiving Title X funding.  Currently under federal law, no Title X funds may be used for abortion services.  This bill is simply an unnecessary restraint on family planning providers, such as Planned Parenthood, who carefully separate their funding streams and provide some individuals with abortion referrals and services with non-Title X funding.

Thu, Feb 10, 9am - 11am: Special HHS briefing on Affordable Care Act in NYC

On behalf of Health Care for All New York , attached is an invitation to an important event for advocates that HHS is hosting in NYC on the Affordable Care Act.  It will take place from 9:00-11:00 on February 10, 2011 in at EmblemHealth's lower Manhattan offices.

Karen Pollitz, a high-up official in HHS/OCIIO and one of the nation's top experts on health insurance from a consumer perspective, will be coming up from DC to brief key partners on the Affordable Care Act, with special emphasis on the state's new pre-existing condition plan ("New York Bridge") and on the state's new consumer assistance program ("Community Health Advocates").

We invite you all to attend, and please publicize this event to your lists…  it should be a great morning.

Mark Hannay

Metro New York Health Care for All Campaign
40 Worth Street, Suite 802
New York, NY  10013

In Front of 2 Abortion Clinics, Making Choice Real

From Debra Sweet of World Can't Wait:
We'll never go back
San Francisco

For a year, I attended a Protestant university where the "girls" dorm had a midnight curfew; the men, 2:00 am.  Condoms were stored behind the counter at the town drugstore, so you had to ask the creepy pharmacist to allow you to buy them.  I doubt anyone had ever dared ask the college health service to prescribe the Pill, but the answer would have been "no."   It was 100 times easier to buy any illegal drug on that conservative campus than to buy something to protect your fragile young life.  We were really stuck in the Dark Ages, though it was 1969.

I was 18, a few months into college.  My friend's roommate's girlfriend went home at Thanksgiving to see the family doctor, and found out she was 6 weeks pregnant.  She was  a senior, planning law school, much more sophisticated than I, and still, in a complete panic.   Though I was still too scared to have sex — precisely because I wanted to avoid just such a pregnancy — I was the designated brave one delegated to find her an abortion.  I knew people in Chicago in the anti-war movement who put me in touch with JANE abortion service.  I remember it as a huge relief.  She avoided the back-alley experience, and we learned that there was this amazing network of women who took care of other women with unplanned pregnancies, selflessly and safely.Speaking Out

Only 4 months later, women could get to New York City, camp out overnight in front of newly opened clinics — as they did in happy bunches — and get a safe, legal abortion because New York state had broken the ban.  With the Roe v. Wade decision in three years later, we thought the years of agonizing deaths from septic abortions were over; we thought women, at least in the U.S., would not be forced to bear children against their will anymore.

The women who died from unsafe abortions are hardly remembered now, certainly not by what Dr. LeRoy Carhart calls the "Right to Lie" movement against abortion.  Their story goes that if women were not forced to have abortions by the "abortion industry," they, the good Christians, could intervene and convince every pregnant woman that God planned this pregnancy for her, and she ought to go along with His plan for her life and, no matter how hard it is, accept this blessing [overheard verbatim this weekend outside Dr. Carhart's clinic in Maryland].

But Dr. Carhart, who trained at Hahneman Hospital in Philadelphia, said the women he treated with septic abortion injuries made such a lasting impression in his surgical training, that he set out to make sure women would have the best care possible after 1973.  In spite of the intense anti-abortion harassment — including a Nebraska state law passed in 2010 to stop his provision of abortion past 20 weeks — he's expanding services at his Bellevue, Nebraska clinic.  And he's now doing advanced gestation abortions for maternal and fetal indications at his clinic in Germantown, Maryland.

Germantown, Maryland – January 23

Dr. Carhart is a Hero
Dr. Carhart is a Hero
About 150 anti-abortion protesters (link provided for reference, not endorsement) were outside that clinic Sunday, though it's not open on weekends. On short notice, 45 pro-choice activists came, from 6 states, to celebrate abortion rights and defend Dr. Carhart and courageous abortion providers who make choice possible.  We were filmed and interviewed by most local news, and some national outlets.

Those of us defending the clinic were on site two hours before the anti's but of course the police told us we had to move.  The sergeant said,"it will be fine.  Separate, but equal!" (well, he didn't actually say that).

Local NBC coverage (video)

Germantown Patch (article)

South Bronx, NYC – January 22

Saturday, on the anniversary of Roe, the staff of Dr. Emily's Women's Health in the South Bronx, with the New York Coalition for Abortion Clinic Defense, welcomed 70 supporters for a street rally in front of the clinic.  The monks who usually prey on women there were fairly quiet, but we weren't.   It was moving to hear from a first-year law student (especially given the experience above) whom I'd met earlier this fall working on prosecution of Bush era war crimes. Chloe described the decision to terminate a pregnancy just as she started school as uncomplicated, since she had access to good care.  But, even if abortion was illegal, she said,

"I would have walked to the ends of the earth to terminate that pregnancy.  Because my life already means something!  I am not just a vessel waiting to be filled!"

NY1 (video)

WBAI Radio: a Celebration of Roe v. Wade – January 22

1 in 3 Women
Supporting Dr. Carhart in Germantown, MD
For an hour Saturday, I was on the radio show Equal Time for Free Thought.  Sunsara Taylor hosted The Morality of Abortion and the Immorality of Those Who Would Force Women to Bear Children Against Their Will (audio).

Guests were Dr. Leroy Carhart; Merle Hoffman, Founder of Choices Womens' Medical Center in Queens NY (going strong since 1971); Carol Joffe, author of Dispatches From the Abortion Wars: The Cost of Fanaticism to Doctors, Patients, and the Rest of Us, as well as, Doctors of Conscience: The Struggle to Provide Abortion Before and After Roe V. Wade and myself.

We jumped into the discussion of the morality of abortion, four of us with several decades of history doing so, from two sides. Depriving women of control over our bodies — even birth control access is being limited by state laws now — is profoundly diminishing to women, and immoral.  When backed up by theocratic ideas like the Biblical submission of women to men, and violence to abortion providers, it's intolerable to a people who care about the humanity of women.

Arguing for the morality of abortion, I can't say it better than this:

The morality that should be supported and fought for is one that values the rights of women to lead full social lives. It supports social and intimate relations where people respect each other's humanity and flourish together—and not where women are supposedly commanded by "God" to "submit themselves" to men. This morality sees children as a joy to society, and as ultimately the responsibility of all society, while not compelling anyone in any way to have children against their will. It does NOT, as these theocrats do, sanctimoniously shout hosannas to a clump of cells that might someday become a child—while feverishly upholding the murder of real live children in the war being waged by the U.S. in Afghanistan, and self-righteously dooming literally millions of other real live children, right in the U.S., to lives of deprivation and punishment—in the name of those same traditional values.
from The Morality of the Right to Abortion… And the Immorality of Those Who Oppose It

San Francisco, CA – January 22

Abortion on Demand and Without Apology
San Francisco
There was a very large statewide anti-abortion protest in San Francisco, with many more children and teenagers than in past years.  The pro-choice presence was smaller than previous years, though some young ones got a banner stretched across the anti-abortion group, before being pushed off.

There really is a battle for the minds of the next generation on this.  Will their heads be filled with the lie that "abortion is murder?" World Can't Wait activists with a bullhorn directed questions to the children brought to the march, which apparently infuriated some of their parents.  "For all you who were afraid to tell your mom and dad you didn't want to come here today — for all you all who are afraid to tell your pastor you believe abortion should be legal — you're right!"

ABC Local (video)

IndyBay (photos)

More photos from all the above Roe celebrations on Facebook.

Sunday morning, the New York Times reported on an abortion provider who is bearing the brunt of society's under-appreciation for the caring service he provides:

"I'm just a punching bag," he added. "I don't do well with that. Sometimes they [patients] won't even look at me the day of the procedure; they won't speak to me. That I despise. I really hate that.

"They were referred to me because I do it safely and expeditiously," the doctor continued. "To be treated like garbage — and my staff — is really very upsetting."

Please, send Dr. Berg a thank-you card and let him know just how vitally important his work is to women's lives, and how much we appreciate him.

Robert E. Berg, MD
148 Madison Ave., Ste. 200
New York, NY 10016

Happy 38th Anniversary, Roe v. Wade!

Guest post by Rachelle J. Suissa, Vice-President of the Brooklyn-Queens Chapter of NOW
On Saturday January 22, women and men around the country gathered to celebrate the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision that gave a woman the right to choose in 1972 based on the trimester framework in conjunction with the doctor and the state.  I attended a Speakout at Emily’s Clinic in the South Bronx, and was joined by a number of other men and women who protested in support of Roe v. Wade and maintaining the decision for generations to come.  
(The author, Rachelle Suissa, in the middle)

Among the many groups present were the National Women’s Liberation Committee, the Brooklyn-Queens Chapter of the National Organization for Women, the Young Feminist Task Force of NOW New York State, Trabajadoras por la Paz de Nueva York, Socialist Core, and the World Can’t Wait.  A speaker from each group took the stage to discuss the importance of reproductive rights for women in the 21st century, and why it is so essential to keep these rights intact for future generations of women.  Each speaker mentioned important points, including the fact that we already have a well-known piece of legislation that prevents federal funding for abortions, and that is the Hyde Amendment, which has been intact and the law of the land for the past 30 years.  Why House Speaker John Boehner feels the need to press for another piece of legislation prohibiting funding for abortion is unclear—the law clearly states that no federal taxpayer dollars will be spent for this.  Boehner’s brazen attempts to punish low-income women further under the new health care law are unfair, inhumane and unnecessary, and a major part of the reason why now more than ever need to continue supporting reproductive rights for women.  

The battle over women’s health has raged for decades, since Roe was decided.  There has been enormous backlash in the years that followed, starting with the Hyde Amendment in 1978 and culminating in recent years with many states attempting to railroad through their state legislatures anti-choice legislation that would restrict women’s ability to obtain abortions with a number of restrictions, including mandatory waiting periods, the requirement to have an ultrasound before a decision is made on whether to have an abortion, judicial consent/bypass, parental consent/notification, and more recently, spousal consent and notification.  These restrictions not only make it harder for women to obtain abortions, but in many cases are violations of their right to privacy based on precedent cases that have already been decided in this area, namely Planned Parenthood v. Casey.  The constant challenges and threats to reproductive rights have escalated, with the clinic violence reaching its peak last year when Dr. Tiller was murdered at a Church in Nebraska.  Clinic violence has been an issue for years, and has progressively gotten worse.  There are few abortion providers left in the country, and fewer and fewer doctors being trained to perform abortions every year.  Over 85% of counties in the United States do not have clinics that perform abortions, which make travel and time a big issue for women who live in most regions of the country and decide to have an abortion.  If we as a society do not learn to respect women’s individual rights and enable them to make important decisions concerning their reproductive health and well-being, we will be putting their lives at major risk and will be continuing the practice of ridiculous double standards that will have a negative impact on everyone for generations to come. 
Women are already the majority of single parents, the majority of low-income workers and those who are unemployed, and the majority of people who suffer because of inadequate health coverage and an inability to pay when they become sick.  Punishing them further by restricting their access to abortion will not ameliorate living conditions, it will only make them harder, and should not be tolerated in this day in age.  We all have a right to our own religious views, whatever they may be.  We do not have a right to impose them on others by forcing women to make decisions that are detrimental to their lives and their futures.  We would never force a man to make a decision concerning his health because of religious views—why should we do that to women?  That is a violation of the 14th Amendment and of a person’s fundamental right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  We must first take care of the people who exist—and then worry about those to come.  Those people include women, and we have a lot to make up for when it comes to them.  Here is to the reaffirmation and continuation of Roe v. Wade for the next forty years, and the reinstatement of women’s rights domestically and around the world.  A big thank you to all the women who work on reproductive rights issues—your work is duly noted and appreciated in more ways than you can imagine.  
(The author, Rachelle Suissa, to the right)

NY1 shows us on TV during pro-choice rally

Please watch the following news coverage from New York 1 of our pro-choice speakout and clinic defense in NYC.  Thanks to NOW-NYC member Judy Stivelband for holding the NOW-reproductive-rights round high, which could be seen throughout the short clip.  From 00:11 to 00:16, you can see me and NOW-NYC deputy director Jean Bucaria proudly holding NOW signs.  Oh, how I love the iconic NOW rounds 

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)

Monday, January 24, 2011

Yes, Melinda, Abortion Rights DOES = Feminism

Last June I wrote a very wordy reprimand to journalist Melinda Henneberger with whose article I disagreed. I'm including a link to the article, as well as my email below.


I am ashamed that you would even consider that it is okay for women to be "pro-life" and still call themselves a feminist. For one thing, pro-choice MEANS that you have a right to chose what you want to do with your body if you become pregnant, so anyone that feels abortion is not for them will not chose one. Likewise, being pro-choice respects that for some, abortion is something they would consider and thus should be a medically safe, and judicially sanctioned, process. The underlying current behind the tenets of the pro-life movement are flawed, because it removes a woman's right to make decisions for herself, her health, and the well-being of her family. It is at its core anti-feminist, because it blindly suggests that "pro-choice" means "pro-abortion", and many of its supporters spread lies and use fearmongering (like calling ob/gyns "abortionist" instead of "doctors", circulating pamphlets that claim abortions give you cancer, etc) which in essence work to make people act against their own best interests. In no way does being pro-choice deny anyone the right to keep their unborn child from an unwanted pregnancy. However, being pro-life seeks to eliminate the choice for women to control what happens to their own bodies. Most women that consider an abortion are not doing so frivolously, as if it were a means of birth control. This is a deeply personal and difficult decision for a woman, as is adoption, as it parenthood. There is NO best choice out of these three, regardless of what may be considered acceptable in today's society (since, luckily, the stigma surrounding single mothers is no longer an issue).

To be a political candidate, and be pro-life, suggests that you are willing to take means to convince your constituents to act against their own best interests in order to push your agenda. It suggests that we as the constituency should place our decision-making abilities about our bodies in a higher power that knows better than us, and just sit back and let life happen around us. That is not how politics works (in theory). The constituents have a say, whether they exercise it or not. Their voice is heard in letters and phone calls to their representatives, and on election nights. We have a choice. When we see something happening that we do not approve, we question its validity. At times, the constituents can be wrong, which is when our elected leaders need to lead us like a good parent would instruct a wayward child (i.e., serving eggs, toast, and fruit for breakfast instead of the child's suggestion of chocolate cake). But many other times, our elected leaders do not represent our best interests, and instead act as salesmen pandering to our base wants (i.e., serving chocolate cake for breakfast because the child will say "i hate you" otherwise). This only serves the purpose for the short term, but does not further our progress into the future and can instead lead to many more serious problems later on (i.e., weight gain, ADD, diabetes, etc.).

The faulty logic behind the pro-life movements is usually drowned out by individuals who shout too loudly about "killing your baby" and "it is against god". It creates an environment that fosters young, single mothers in need of government assistance. It restricts the earning power of anyone of these women (and their pursuit of an education that may increase their earning power), making it more difficult for them to provide for their new families. It refuses to see that PR campaigns encouraging men to be better fathers is NOT what will encourage a 15-year old boy to stay with his 15-year old girlfriend and play house. It touts abstinence and restricts sex educations and condom distribution in schools rather than providing real education and real protection. It allows for laws to be changed which prohibit insurance companies from offering medical services, allows pharmacy employees to refuse to fill prescriptions, and justifies huge price hikes for birth control for college students and underpriviledged women. Its proponents push for laws that would "encourage" young women to bring an unwanted pregnancy to term while in the same vein voting for laws that reduce public assistance in the forms of money, health care, job training, day care, and education for these women.

Anyone who defines themselves as pro-life is nothing more than blinded by their opinions, and is heartless to boot. Once upon a time the idea of "no litangare (do not touch)" was how the religious community, as well as the medical community, felt about open-heart surgery. Imagine where we would be if this idea was not challenged. So to all the pro-life feminists, either educate yourselves about feminism and change your views, or remove the "feminist" adjective from the description of yourself. Female you may be. A politician you may be. A feminist you are not.

Trojan Women Redux at the Looking Glass Theatre in New York City

Co-Op Theatre East is working with Nomi Network in the fight to end sex slavery and human trafficking. Founded in 2008, Co-Op Theatre East (COTE) creates theatre for social change. COTE provides an entertaining performance forum in which to ask evocative, challenging questions of artists and audiences on our way to creating collaborative answers.

In the modern port city of New York, ten immigrant women are held hostage against their will. A grandmother, once royalty, clings to hope as her remaining children are dragged away. In a radical interpretation of Euripides’ classic play, adapter/director Casey Cleverly modernizes the text to focus on the all-too-contemporary issue of human trafficking. Mixing live drama, news clips, projections, dance, and an original music score, Trojan Women Redux turns the ancient play into a modern day tragedy exploring the real stories of women across the globe.

Featuring: Anna Savant, Lillian Rodriguez, Hannah Rose Barfoot, Michael Rehse, Chris Ryan, Amy Chang, Alison Faye Shelley, Tiff Roma, Samantha Cole, Theresa Christine and Kerrie Bond]

Production Team
Adapter/Director: Casey Cleverly
Dramaturg: Ashley Marinaccio
Producer: Robert Gonyo
Sound: Kaze Patricio Chan
Media: Danny Abalos
Lighting: Nicholas Houfek
Choreography: Elizabeth Elkins

Looking Glass Theatre
422 W. 57th Street
New York, NY

Friday, January 28th at 8 PM **OPENING NIGHT**
Saturday, January 29th at 8 PM
Sunday, January 30th at 3 PM
Wednesday, February 2nd at 8 PM
Thursday, February 3rd at 8 PM
Friday, February 4th at 8 PM
Saturday, February 5th at 8 PM
Sunday, February 6th at 3 PM

Find out more about Co-Op Theatre East by visiting:

Learn more about the production:

Posted by: Ashley Marinaccio