Saturday, December 31, 2011

Down to the Wire: Women's Reproductive Health at Stake

We're so close! If we can raise $5,000 in the next few hours, NOW Foundation will meet our year-end campaign goal. Can you give $100, $50, even $25 to help?

We can do it!

Let's not sugarcoat this: The upcoming year will be a difficult one for women's rights, and we need your help!

As you have seen, the struggle for reproductive justice is now so brutal as to include attacks on contraception. Our opponents will stop at nothing in their crusade against women's fundamental right to self-determination.

We're planning an all-out effort to mobilize women in 2012, and we are counting on you to help make it a resounding success! From educating voters about the women's rights records of candidates in key races, to comprehensive voter mobilization trainings, to partnering with allied organizations to register more women to vote and ensure they go to the polls on Election Day, every dollar counts.

Please give as generously as you can; your donations to NOW Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization, are tax-deductible.

Time is running short. I know you share my concerns about the persistence of brazen attacks on women's health in the coming year. The clock is ticking! Give today.

Thanks for all you do for women and girls,
Terry O'Neill, President
NOW Foundation

P.S. Without control of our bodies, women will never have full equality. Please give today.

© 2011 National Organization for Women

Friday, December 30, 2011

Jan 6 - Jan 8: Ninth Annual Battered Mothers Custody Conference

The Ninth Annual Battered Mothers Custody Conference (BMCC IX):  Is What We're Doing Working?
Friday, Jan. 6th 2012 starting at 6 p.m until 9 p.m.
Saturday, Jan. 7th starting at 8:30 a.m. until 9:15 p.m.
Sunday, Jan. 8th starting at 9:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.
Holiday Inn Turf
205 Wolf Road, Albany, NY
1-800-HOLIDAY ~ 518-458-7250
Ask for Battered Mothers Custody Conference block - special rate of $99/night 
Reserve as early as possible!
Come see the special BMCC Premier of Professor Garland Waller's New Documentary
No Way Out But One, featuring Holly, Jennifer, and Zachary Collins  

Come hear plenary presentations and workshops by
the best-of-the-best attorneys, authors, advocates and activists working on behalf
of protective mothers and their children:

  • Dr. Phyllis Chesler, Author of the newly released edition of Mothers on Trial
  • Lundy Bancroft, Author of The Batterer as Parent, Why Does He Do That?, and other books
  • Barry Goldstein, Author and Co-Editor of Domestic Violence, Child Custody, and Abuse
  • Angela Shelton, Actress, Author, and Producer of Looking for Angela Shelton
  • Wendy Murphy, J.D.,  Victims' Advocate, Author of And Justice for Some
  • Karen Huffer, Author, Legal Abuse Syndrome 
  • Rita Smith, Executive Director, National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
Learn from the most experienced women's custody attorneys in the country, including
  • Toby Kleinman, J.D.
  • Joan Zorza, J.D.
  • Nancy Erickson, J.D.
Attend workshops given by
Advocates for protective mothers from across the country

  Please register NOW for the Ninth Battered Mothers Custody Conference!  Online registration and hotel information are available at

Saturday and Sunday lunch are included in the registration fee.
Low-cost registration available to battered mothers and unpaid/low-paid advocates. 
No-cost child care will be available by arrangement throughout the weekend! 
Contact Dr. Mo Hannah at
For additional information, go to

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Egyptian court rules against the use of "virginity tests" on female detainees

Posted by:
Micah Bochart

      Yesterday, an Egyptian court issued a ban on the military's performance of so-called "virginity tests" on female detainees, a stirring articulation not only of civil society's resistance to martial oppression, but also of the refusal of Egypt's women to be silenced by assault and intimidation.
     The ruling comes in the case of 25-year-old Samira Ibrahim, a marketing manager, who took Egypt's military junta to court in August with the allegation that she'd been subjected to "tests" of this nature during a violent crackdown on protests on March 9th.
     Rights groups contend that the military has implemented such practices to shield themselves against accusations of rape. Leaving aside the profound fallacy of using sexual assault to guard against sexual assault charges, the practice is perhaps most nauseating when one considers the junta's unshakeable confidence that the survivors of such atrocities would remain silent.
      Ibrahim refused to allow them that privilege, and the courts have reinforced her stance. The three-judge panel attested that the virginity tests were "a violation of women's rights and an aggression against their dignity." Confirming aforementioned suspicions, the ruling also claimed that a member of the junta had admitted to Amnesty International in June that the practice was indeed indented to safeguard against rape charges, and indicated that it was in fact an administrative order and not an individual decision.
     This ruling offers an encouraging companion narrative to a December 20 issue brief from the Center for American Progress, which looked at rape as a weapon of oppression in the context of the Arab Spring.   Amidst a roster of injuries already grimly familiar to anyone who has worked in the field of women's rights - the devastating impact that sexual assault exacts in conservative religious communities, wherein assaulted women are seen to have lost their honor and are ostracized on that basis, or the inability of forcibly impregnated women to obtain abortions - the issue brief also comments on the degree to which women in much of the Arab world, Egypt included, are systematically denied access to the legal sphere. "Rape," it argues, "is not a matter of public justice . . . Public places where rape victims look for legal remedy, such as courts and police stations, are 'no place for respectable women.'"  
     Amidst a regime that makes a hobby out of squashing most forms of democratic expression, it remains to be seen how much yesterday's ruling will do to reverse that trend. But in lending solidarity to Ibrahim's statement  - "I will not give up my rights as a woman and as a human being -" the courts have at least given the green light to women across the country who might otherwise have despaired of their grievances ever being heard.

Cross-posted on Companions of the Garden:

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

TODAY: 2pm-7pm: Join the demonstration against the beating, sexual assault and torture of peaceful Egyptian protesters

      Protest against SCAF in NYC
      Time: 2:00pm until 7:00pm
      Where: Egyptian consulate, 1110 2nd Ave # 201 New York, NY 10022-2093
      As we have seen in the last few days the SCAF has committed disgusting crimes against the peaceful protesters in Cairo. Those crimes are not just an insult Egyptians but against humanity. Whoever stay silent and not standing for Justice and humanity is not any better than those who commit the crimes.
      It doesnot matter what your political views or beliefs are political. Whether you are an Islamist a liberal, whether you belong to 6 April movement or Elbaradei Supporters or even if you are not Egyptian its a shame not to do something and say NO to tyranny and dictatorship.
      Join us in protests in front of the Egyptian consulates in USA to show solidarity with the Egyptian activists in Tahrir square.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

News: Birth Control, VAWA, Occupy Flash Mob

NOW News and Action Summary

National Organization for Women:
News & Action Summary

DECEMBER 19, 2011


Tell President Obama: Free The Pill From the Bishops!

Take Action NOW!

President Obama is on the brink of a decision that could deny access to basic birth control. Under intense lobbying from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the president is poised to potentially expand an already sweeping refusal clause that allows employers to deny birth control coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Take Action NOW!

NOW to Obama: Women Who Elected You Need You To Support Birth Control

NOW calls on President Obama and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to retract the department's decision to overrule the FDA's recommendation on Plan B One-Step, and to keep all religious exemption clauses out of the Affordable Care Act regulations on insurance coverage of birth control. Read more.

Tell President Obama, Secretary Sebelius "Reverse Plan B Decision"

Take Action NOW!

Take action NOW to reverse this outrageous and purely political decision to overrule the FDA's determination that a form of emergency contraception is safe, effective and should be available over the counter with NO age restriction. Take Action »

Letter Urges Congress to Reauthorize VAWA (PDF)

The National Task Force Against Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women (of which NOW is a member organization) sent a letter to Congress asking for support in reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act. VAWA's programs support state, tribal and local efforts to address domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking. Read more.

Emergency Contraception Betrayal: Does President Obama Really Oppose Family Planning?

In a stunning betrayal of women, the Obama administration has sided with radical right politics in rejecting the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) decision to remove an age restriction on emergency contraception. Read more.

NOW Foundation Asks Supreme Court to Protect Stalking Victims Against Employment Discrimination

NOW Foundation recently filed a friend of the court brief supporting civil rights attorney and former law professor Dawn V. Martin, who is calling on the Supreme Court to hold that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act protects a woman from being stalked in her workplace and from being terminated for reporting it. This case is particularly timely in light of recent attention to sexual attacks on college campuses. Read more.

Grassroot Spotlight

California NOW: One People Flash Mob — Occupy

On Nov. 19, California NOW, along with CodePink and OccupyTogether, converged at Occupy SF & Oakland to dance the world awake. Watch the video on YouTube »

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Monday, December 19, 2011

Tell President Obama, Secretary Sebelius "Reverse Plan B Decision"

NOW Action Alert

Tell President Obama, Secretary Sebelius "Reverse Plan B Decision"

December 16, 2011

Take Action: Tell President Obama and Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Kathleen Sebelius to reverse their outrageous and purely political decision to overrule the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA's) determination that a form of emergency contraception is safe, effective and should be available over the counter with NO age restriction. Please take action right away.

Background: As most everyone has heard by now, HHS Secretary Sebelius overruled FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg's decision to make Plan B One-Step, a form of emergency contraception, available without a prescription and with no age restriction. The FDA's decision came after a federal court ordered the agency to reconsider an age restriction imposed during the Bush administration. The court characterized the age restriction as purely political and not grounded in science or evidence.

In fact, independent medical experts on an FDA advisory committee reviewing Plan B emergency contraception (levonorgestrelan) unanimously concluded in 2003 that Plan B is safe for non-prescription use and the same panel voted 23 to 4 to make it available without prescription, with no age restriction. The drug was found by the FDA as early as 1997 to be safe and effective; its approval has been repeatedly delayed at the behest of right-wing politicians and contraception opponents such as the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops - the same folks who are lobbying hard to reduce contraceptive access under the new health care law.

When President Obama took office he vowed to support only evidence-based science in decision-making in contrast to his predecessor, George W. Bush, and conservative politicians who often ignored or distorted scientific fact. Plan B is one of the most well-studied contraceptives in U.S. history; it has been used for years in dozens of other countries.

Distressingly, the Obama administration is now repeating the Bush administration's politicization of girls' and women's access to a safe and effective form of emergency contraception. This must not stand. The U.S. has the highest rate of teen pregnancy in the developed world and young women need to have quick access to emergency contraception to prevent unwanted pregnancy.

Adding insult to injury, Secretary Sebelius and President Obama justified countermanding the FDA's decision by questioning the intellectual capacity of younger teenage girls. Said Sibelius: "It is common knowledge that there are significant cognitive and behavioral differences between older adolescent girls and the youngest girls of reproductive age." President Obama made it worse by agreeing and suggesting that "most parents would agree."

To the contrary, we suggest that most parents want lawmakers to protect their daughters' health, not play politics with it. And we have to wonder, where is the concern about the capacity of younger teenage boys to understand the instructions and warnings on a condom package?

The reaction in the women's reproductive rights community and by some of our allies in Congress has been strong. Fourteen U.S. senators, led by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) are callling on Secretary Sebelius to provide the scientific basis behind her decision. A number of House members, led by Reps. Rush Holt (D-N.J.) and Gwen Moore (D-Wis.), also wrote the secretary expressing their disappointment at her decision. The Center for Reproductive Rights, which previously sued the Bush-era FDA for dragging its feet in approving Plan B, now plans to add Secretary Sebelius to its lawsuit.

In the face of this outcry, Sebelius publicly stated she wanted more research done -- which is just another example of stalling in the face of extremist political pressure. The government -- under two different administrations -- appears unwilling to listen to medical experts.

The real commonsense position, NOW believes, is to immediately approve Plan B One-Step for over the counter sale, without prescription and no age restriction. Millions of women need access to this safe and effective product and the U.S. must take "commonsense" action to reduce unwanted pregnancy, particularly among adolescents. Fifteen years of delay, obfuscation, heavy-handed politics and paternalistic preaching is enough!!

Take Action:

Call the White House at 202-465-1414 and ask him to direct Secretary Sebelius to reverse her ill-considered decision on Plan B One-Step and make this safe and effective drug available to all women -- regardless of age -- over the counter now. Then call HHS Secretary Sebelius' office at 877-696-6775 and tell her that women need unrestricted access to Plan B One-Step now and that no further studies are needed.

More Actions

© 2011 National Organization for Women | visit | Donate to NOW | Join NOW

Monday, December 12, 2011

Obama Abandons Young Women's Reproductive Health Care: Women Take Another Hit

News from NOW-NYS
For more information contact: Marcia Pappas, 518-452-3944
Obama Abandons Young Women's Reproductive Health Care
Women Take Another Hit
ALBANY, NY (12/08/2011)(readMedia)-- Women have just experienced the ultimate betrayal. President Obama has inserted himself into and reversed a wonderful, educated decision made by the Food and Drug Administration. He has allowed the Health and Human Services Secretary to overrule the FDA's recommendation to make the "morning after pill" (Plan B One-Step) available over the counter to women of all ages. Plan B taken within seventy-two hours of intercourse can cut the chances of unwanted pregnancy by eighty-nine percent, and works best if taken within twenty-four hours.
NOW-NYS President Marcia Pappas commented: "Seldom in many years has the FDA done the right thing by women's reproductive rights. They finally did something responsible and Obama has negated it."
Pappas explained that FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg made clear Obama's decision was "highly unusual." Hamburg said her agency's drug-safety experts had carefully considered the question of young girls and agreed that Plan B's age limit should be lifted.
Pappas said that Obama's decision greatly pleased conservative critics. She added "Furthermore, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Medical Association have long pushed for over-the-counter Plan B access as an excellent way to reduce unwanted pregnancies and are shocked at Obama's interference with the FDA's decision."
Obama's brief remarks on the subject were that he thinks "most parents would agree with his decision." Pappas said "Obama is obviously unaware of the many teenagers like Becky Bell of Indiana who are dying of back street abortions because they are unable to obtain birth control, morning-after or otherwise."
Former NOW-NYS President Marilyn Fitterman remarked: "These past three years, women and young college students who elected Obama have tried to stand by him. Many have hushed the fact that his promised support was sorely lacking. And now, with this greatest betrayal, we've been repaid for our loyalty by his abandoning us on this very important issue."
Pappas concluded: "If Obama thinks this will win over the vote of the progressives in this country, he is sadly mistaken." Pappas said she is being asked if she were surprised that Obama has betrayed women. She said women should not be surprised because as a state senator in Illinois, he had voted "present" seven times when he could and should have taken a stand in favor of women's reproductive health. I am just happy I never voted for him. Unless he reverses this position, NOW-NYS will urge women and men not to go to the polls on election day."

Friday, December 9, 2011

Emergency Contraception: What Happened?

Give to NOW's Year-End Campaign to Save Reproductive Freedom!

"A stunning blow." "Outrageous." "Leaves me speechless."

These are just some of the ways women's rights supporters are describing the unprecedented action of Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, in overruling the FDA's determination that a form of emergency contraception is safe and effective, and should be available on store shelves to all women without age restrictions.

NOW is fighting back. We are determined to get President Obama to overrule Secretary Sebelius's purely political move, and you can help us win.

But there's more. Even as we are fighting for over-the-counter emergency contraception, another huge threat to women's access to contraception is looming: The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is trying to force President Obama to allow religiously affiliated employers -- not just churches, but universities, hospitals and nonprofits as well -- to withhold birth control coverage in their health plans. This loophole would clearly undermine the Affordable Care Act's mandate of contraceptive coverage without co-pays.

That's right -- the radical right is coming after birth control. And the president is actually considering waving the white flag. But as NOW has been warning for years, every inch the president gives up only emboldens them to reach further.

With your help, we will remind the president exactly who voted him into office (hint: women!). We will also remind him that the people of this country want birth control to be more broadly available, not less. NOW activists across the country are phoning, emailing, tweeting and blogging, and we won't stop until the president stands up to the bishops by standing up for women and girls.

I ask you to stand with us, make noise with us, and support us in this crucial fight. We don't have a moment to lose.

For equality and justice,
Terry O'Neill, President
National Organization for Women

P.S. With all of us working together, we will win this fight. Please give as generously as you can.

© 2011 National Organization for Women