Tag Archives: women’s rights

Many motivations driving women to DC for inauguration protest

Call them rebels with a cause. Women from around the nation will converge on Washington for a march on the day after Donald Trump’s inauguration. They will arrive driven by a multitude of motivations.

Gay rights, gun control, immigrant rights, equal pay, reproductive freedom, racial justice, worker rights, climate change, support for vaccinations: They all make the list of progressive causes that are attracting people to the Women’s March on Washington and its sister marches across the country and the world this coming Saturday.

“We are not going to give the next president that much focus,” says Linda Sarsour, a national march organizer and executive director of the Arab American Association of New York. “What we want from him is to see us in focus.”

But while Trump’s name may not literally appear in the march’s “mission and vision” statement, the common denominator uniting the marchers appears to be a loathing for the president-elect and dismay that so much of the country voted for him.

“This march feels like a chance to be part of something that isn’t pity, isn’t powerlessness,” says Leslie Rutkowski, an American living in Norway who plans to fly back for the march. “I hope it is unifying. I hope it flies in the face of Trump’s platform of hate and divisiveness.”

Adds Kelsey Wadman, a new mom in California who’s helping to organize a parallel march in San Diego: “It’s not just about Donald Trump the person. It’s about what he evoked out of the country.”

The march in Washington is set to start with a program near the Capitol and then move toward the White House. It probably will be the largest of a number of inauguration-related protests.

Christopher Geldart, the District of Columbia’s homeland security director, said he expected the march to draw more than the 200,000 people organizers are planning for, based on bus registrations and train bookings.

The focus of the march has been a work in progress since the idea of a Washington mobilization first bubbled up from a number of women’s social media posts in the hours after Trump’s election.

The group’s November application for a march permit summed up its purpose as to “come together in solidarity to express to the new administration & Congress that women’s rights are human rights and our power cannot be ignored.”

That phrasing rankled some who thought it was tied too closely to Hillary Clinton, the defeated Democratic nominee, whose famous Beijing speech as first lady declared that “women’s rights are human rights.” The fact that the initial march organizers were mostly white women also generated grumbling, this time from minorities. Gradually, the march’s leadership and its mission statements have become more all-inclusive.

Recent releases from march organizers state the event “intends to send a bold message to the incoming presidential administration on their first day in office, to leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate, and to the world, that we stand together in solidarity and expect elected leaders to act to protect the rights of women, their families and their communities.”

America Ferrera, leading the celebrity contingent for the march, rolled out a long list of concerns in a statement announcing her role.

“Immigrant rights, worker rights, reproductive rights, LGBTQIA rights, racial justice and environmental rights are not special interests, they affect us all and should be every American’s concerns,” she wrote.

Other prominent names involved with the march have put a spotlight on one concern — or another.

Actress Scarlett Johansson, who plans to participate, put her focus on the incoming administration’s intentions of “reducing the availability of women’s health care and attacking her reproductive rights.'”

Actress Debra Messing, listed as a supporter of the march, wrote of the need to protect Planned Parenthood.

Expect thousands of the marchers to turn up wearing hand-knitted pink “pussyhats” — sending a message of female empowerment and pushing back against Trump’s demeaning comments about women.

Scan #WhyIMarch posts on social media, and you’ll find a wide-ranging list of reasons. A sampling: equal pay for women veterans, fighting chauvinism, empowering daughters, renouncing racism, higher pay for women who are college presidents.

Wadman, the California mom, tweeted a (hash)WhyIMarch photo with her 4-month-old son and this note: “Because when my son asks me about this era of American history I don’t want to tell him that I did nothing.”

Rutkowski, the American living in Norway, emailed that she’s “not completely satisfied” with the mixed messages attached to the march.

“I also don’t like — from what I’ve seen in the news and on Facebook _ the proclivity for infighting,” she wrote. “But I believe that a quarter of a million female bodies — hopefully more, hopefully men, as well — will make the incoming administration and new Congress aware that we are watching, we are listening and we will resist.”

Carmen Perez, one of the march’s national organizers, sees beauty in the many messages attached to the march: “Women don’t live single-issue lives and we are thrilled to be joined by women who understand and reflect the intersecting issues for which we stand.”

Associated Press reporters Krysta Fauria and Ben Nuckols contributed to this report.

Women’s rights supporters to march on Washington after Donald Trump’s inauguration

Continue reading Women’s rights supporters to march on Washington after Donald Trump’s inauguration

Permitting conflict for Women’s March on Washington

Activists planning a Women’s March on Washington want to send a message to the new administration on the day after the inauguration, but officials say they aren’t the only group seeking a National Mall gathering that day.

National Park Service spokesman Mike Litterst says seven applications were submitted before organizers applied on Nov. 16 for a permit for the march, which aims to send the message “that women’s rights are human rights.”

Applications are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis and Litterst says organizers likely won’t get approval to march as many as 200,000 people from the Lincoln Memorial to the White House as they requested.

Litterst says another option is to hold the march at a different time and location.

Wisconsin’s Gwen Moore addresses Democratic National Convention

U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore of Wisconsin addressed the Democratic National Convention on July 28. Moore spoke about Donald Trump’s hateful sexist statements about women and Hillary Clinton’s vision of an America that is “stronger together.”

The following are Moore’s remarks:

“Fat pigs.” “Dogs.” “Disgusting.” That’s what Donald Trump has called women. Is that what he sees in the daughters, mothers, and grandmothers of this country? Is that how he sees our place in America?

I am here from the great state of Wisconsin – the Badger State. I am here to tell you that I see things very differently!

I am here to tell you that Hillary Clinton sees it differently too. She has a very different vision of America, a vision of an America that is Stronger Together.

Pigs? Dogs? Disgusting? Too many women know where this toxic language leads. Too many women have experienced sexual violence and abuse. And I’m one of them. But we are not victims. We are survivors.

We have been bullied, beaten, and berated. Told to sit down and to shut up. Well, my voice matters, and I won’t shut up.

Our voices matter, and we won’t shut up. Women make our communities better – stronger each and every day. That’s why Hillary Clinton has spent her life fighting for us.

She has fought to get equal pay for equal work. She has defended our right to make our own health care decisions. She has the battle scars from advocating for paid family leave and for affordable health care. Hillary Clinton has stood up to be counted when it counted for women. I trust Hillary, because at every turn and at every opportunity, Hillary has been the voice for the underrepresented and overlooked. And as President, she’ll keep fighting for all of us!

Like Hillary, I am a grandmother. And I raised my granddaughters to stand proud and to stand strong. Now they give me strength. They are my joy, my inspiration, and my strength. I know the vision that I have for their future. I know the vision Hillary Clinton has for their America.

Donald Trump is telling us to sit down, to be quiet. Hillary is asking us to stand up. She is asking us to be heard.

My fellow Democrats, stand with Hillary because she stands with us. And, yes, because we are Stronger Together.

Thank you.

God bless our nominee, and God bless America.

I love you.

Shooting suspect asked for directions to Planned Parenthood clinic

The man accused of killing three people at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado asked at least one person in a nearby shopping center for directions to the facility before opening fire, a law enforcement official said, offering the clearest suggestion yet that he was targeting the reproductive health organization.

The official was not authorized to publicly discuss the investigation and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

Prosecutors are charging Robert Lewis Dear, 57, with murder and other crimes in the Nov. 27 attack that also left nine other people wounded. Colorado Springs police have refused to discuss a motive for the fusillade, but there’s mounting evidence to suggest Dear was deeply concerned about abortion, having rambled to authorities about “no more baby parts” after his arrest.

Dear asked at least one person in the nearby shopping center where the Planned Parenthood was earlier that morning, the official said.

A second law enforcement official said Dear assembled propane tanks around a vehicle and brought at least 10 guns, including rifles and handguns, to the clinic, where he swapped gunfire with officers during an hours-long standoff. It was unclear whether Dear purchased all of them, but despite brushes with the law, he had no felony convictions that would have prevented him from buying a firearm.

Planned Parenthood cited witnesses as saying the gunman was motivated by his opposition to abortion.

A Colorado Springs police spokeswoman this week referred questions about the investigation to El Paso County Sheriff’s spokeswoman Teri Frank, who said she could not comment on the ongoing investigation. 

Dear had been living in remote locations without electricity or water and was known to hold survivalist ideas. One of his three ex-wives, Barbara Mescher Micheau of Moncks Corner, South Carolina, said he had vandalized a South Carolina abortion clinic at least 20 years earlier, announcing to her that he had put glue in the locks of its doors, a common protest technique among activists trying to shut down abortion clinics.

Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers would not discuss Dear’s motive or details of the investigation, but he praised responding officers, who he said rescued 24 people from inside the clinic building and helped remove 300 people from the surrounding businesses where they had been hiding while the shooting unfolded.

“They went in at their own peril, but that contributed to basically 24 people getting out of that building safely,” Suthers said of the officers. Six officers were shot in the rampage, one of them fatally. The other victims were accompanying separate friends to the clinic when they were killed.

Supreme Court lineup fit for an election year

The Supreme Court’s lineup of new cases is fit for an election year.

Affirmative action, abortion and another look at the Obama health care law all are before the court, and they could well be joined by immigration, giving the justices a run of cases that reads like a campaign platform.

Also coming; disputes involving public-sector labor unions, the death penalty and the way electoral districts are drawn.

Decisions in these high-profile cases almost certainly will split the court along ideological lines, mirroring the country’s stark partisan split. What’s more, the most contentious issues won’t be resolved until late June, barely four months before the 2016 presidential election.

What started as a somewhat sleepy term – especially following major decisions last June on health care and same-sex marriage – has become much more interesting, says University of Pennsylvania law dean Theodore Ruger.

“This is a court that remains very assertive in its role in declaring what the law is,” Ruger said.

The accumulation of wrenching social issues and pointed policy disputes at the Supreme Court at this moment is mostly a matter of chance. A legal fight over the regulation of abortion clinics in Texas has been underway for two and a half years. President Barack Obama’s plan to shield from deportation millions of immigrants who are living in the country illegally was rolled out a year ago and almost immediately challenged in court. Faith-based groups that say they are forced to be complicit in providing objectionable birth control to women covered under their health plans have been challenging the Obama administration for more than three years.

It is still is possible the immigration dispute will not be heard until next fall, if at all.

Now that the cases are at the marble courthouse atop Capitol Hill, the justices’ decisions could feed campaign rhetoric that already has been heated on abortion and immigration, to name just two issues.

In June 2012, Chief Justice John Roberts provided the decisive vote that saved Obama’s health care overhaul in the midst of the president’s campaign for re-election.

A short time later, Republican candidate Mitt Romney proclaimed that as president he would do what the high court failed to do that June – get rid of the health care law. Obama won re-election, and the law survived.

Ruger said the chief justice wrote a nuanced opinion that appeared to show some sensitivity to the looming election.

“I think Roberts recognized this was going to be an issue in front of the voters,” Ruger said. The electorate ultimately would decide the health care law’s fate, he said.

Court decisions close to an election, especially when they produce big changes in the law, also can increase attention paid to those issues.

This is part of what Texas A&M University political scientist Joseph Ura called the court’s agenda-setting effect. Ura pointed to Brown v. Board of Education’s outlawing of racial segregation in public schools and Lawrence v. Texas’ ban on state anti-sodomy laws as examples of past decisions that altered “the existing arrangement of material or symbolic benefits in our political system.” Researchers found that those decisions “led to a large, sustained increase in the media’s attention” to those issues, Ura said.

Last term’s big rulings on health care and same-sex marriage already have prompted criticism of the court, and of Roberts and Justice Anthony Kennedy in particular, from several Republican presidential candidates. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, for example, has said that putting Roberts on the court was a mistake, even though Cruz endorsed his nomination in 2005.

The court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United that led to a flood of what critics call “dark money” in political campaigns remains controversial, and Democratic candidates have pledged to try to undo it.

The Roe v. Wade decision in 1973 that established a woman’s right to an abortion produced a backlash that eventually showed up in election returns, said Sara Benesh, a political scientist at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. “A lot of scholars say (President Ronald) Reagan got elected because of Roe v. Wade. Pro-life forces really got him moving in his campaign,” Benesh said.

But there is little evidence that the court itself will become an issue in the campaign, except perhaps on the margins, she said.

The court and the justices are little known to the public. “It seems to me a long, drawn-out relationship between any decision the court might make and any decision an individual might make in the voting booth,” Benesh said.

Every four years, interest groups across the political spectrum try to make that connection for voters. Elections matter, they say, because the winner may get to choose justices who will serve for the next quarter century or longer.

Indeed, with four justices in their late 70s or early 80s, and the court so closely and fiercely divided, any appointment could dramatically change the court’s direction.

Supreme Court will hear first abortion case since 2007

The Supreme Court is giving an election-year hearing to a dispute over state regulation of abortion clinics in the court’s first abortion case in eight years.

The justices will hear arguments, probably in March, over a Texas law that would leave only about 10 abortion clinics open across the state. A decision should come by late June, four months before the presidential election.

The issue split the court 5-4 the last time the justices decided an abortion case in 2007, and Justice Anthony Kennedy is expected to hold the controlling vote on a divided court.

The case tests whether tough new standards for clinics and the doctors who work in them are reasonable measures intended to protect women’s health or a pretext designed to make abortions hard, if not impossible, to obtain.

Texas clinics challenged the 2013 law as a violation of a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion.

The high court previously blocked parts of the Texas law. The court took no action on a separate appeal from Mississippi, where a state law would close the only abortion clinic, in Jackson.

States have enacted a wave of measures in recent years that have placed restrictions on when in a pregnancy abortions may be performed, imposed limits on abortions using drugs instead of surgery and raised standards for clinics and the doctors who work in them.

The new case concerns the last category. In Texas, the fight is over two provisions of the law that then-Gov. Rick Perry signed in 2013. One requires abortion facilities to be constructed like surgical centers. The other allows doctors to perform abortions at clinics only if they have admitting privileges at a local hospital.

Twenty-two states have surgical center requirements for abortion clinics, according to the Guttmacher Institute, which supports legal access to abortion. Eleven states impose admitting privileges requirements on doctors who perform abortions in clinics, the institute said.

The measures go beyond what is necessary to ensure patients’ safety because the risks from abortions in the first trimester of pregnancy, when the overwhelming majority of abortions are performed, are minimal, the institute said.

Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said Texas is one of several states that have enacted “sham laws” to restrict access to abortion.” This law does not advance women’s health and in fact undermines it,” Northup said.

There is no dispute that the law has had a significant impact on Texas clinics. The state had 41 abortion clinics before the clinic law. More than half of those closed when the admitting privileges requirement was allowed to take effect. Nineteen clinics remain.

Northup said the effect of the law has been to increase wait times for women in the Dallas area from an average of five days to 20 days.

The focus of the dispute at the Supreme Court is whether the law imposes what the court has called an undue burden on a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion. If allowed to take full effect, the law would leave no abortion clinics west of San Antonio and only one operating on a limited basis in the Rio Grande Valley.

The state has argued that women in west Texas already cross into New Mexico to obtain abortions at a clinic in suburban El Paso.

In its decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, in 1992, the court ruled that states generally can regulate abortion unless doing so places an undue burden on women. Casey was a huge victory for abortion-rights advocates because it ended up reaffirming the constitutional right to an abortion that the court established in Roe v. Wade in 1973.

In 2007, a divided court upheld a federal law that bans an abortion procedure that opponents call partial-birth abortion and opened the door to new limits on abortion.

Kennedy was one of three authors of the Casey opinion and he wrote the majority opinion in 2007.

Public opinion polls have consistently shown an edge for abortion rights. Fifty-one percent of Americans think abortion should be legal in most or all cases and 45 percent think it should be illegal in most or all cases, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll in January and February.

The case is Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole, 15-274.

House to hold Planned Parenthood hearing Sept. 9

The House Judiciary Committee has scheduled Congress’ first hearing on the Planned Parenthood videos for next week. And the title they’re using leaves little doubt about where Republicans who run Congress stand.

The committee says the Sept. 9 session will be the first of several hearings called “Planned Parenthood Exposed: Examining the Horrific Abortion Practices at the Nation’s Largest Abortion Provider.”

Abortion foes have released nine furtively recorded videos showing Planned Parenthood officials and others describing how they furnish aborted fetus tissue to researchers. 

The committee says it is investigating whether Planned Parenthood has violated a federal prohibition against a procedure abortion foes call partial-birth abortion. 

Planned Parenthood officials say they’ve done nothing illegal. An organization official, Dawn Laguens, says they know little about the hearing “beyond its provocative title.”

Standing in solidarity with Planned Parenthood

Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin recently selected the Wisconsin Gazette as recipient of the group’s Voices award. No honor we’ve received makes us prouder than this one, particularly now.

Despite the unrelenting campaigns of propaganda, PPWI’s 22 clinics provide quality, affordable reproductive health care, including honest sex education, birth control, adoption referrals, breast and cervical cancer screenings, and STD testing and treatment to 60,000 women and men. That’s even after being forced to shutter five clinics because Gov. Scott Walker cut off state funding for the organization.

But anti-choice activists have demonized Planned Parenthood in recent years, whipping up the level of hysteria that accompanied Joe McCarthy’s red scare of the 1950s. And conservative politicians are capitalizing on it, just as they did on McCarthyism. 

Although abortion represents only about 3 percent of PP’s services, that’s enough for anti-choice fanatics to put a bullseye on its doors.

Foes have whittled away at women’s reproductive freedom for decades, but abortion is still legal and its legality is supported by a majority of U.S. citizens. It’s also a deeply personal choice that can only be made by a woman whose body and future are involved. Women are not human incubators.

We fully respect the countless women who choose to carry a pregnancy to term under adverse circumstances, including conception through rape or incest. But it’s their right to make that choice, not the right of a bureaucrat. Individual liberty and the pursuit of happiness cannot exist if strangers can force a woman to bear a child against her will.

The current frenzy against abortion is the result of years of brilliant propaganda by anti-choice leaders. Their heart-tugging campaigns of deception featuring fully formed thimble-sized fetuses and bloody, disembodied parts of infants are complete fabrications. Recently it was revealed that activists were using the picture of a stillborn baby in their propaganda and claiming it was an aborted fetus.

A recent “sting” operation added fuel to PP’s critics. Selectively edited tapes that were secretly recorded by activists made it appear as if PP was doing a booming business in selling fetal tissue to medical researchers. But investigations launched by conservatives in several states have yielded no evidence of wrongdoing.

Fetal tissue, which can be donated by women to science just as people can donate their organs, has yielded medical advances that have saved lives — including those, undoubtedly, of anti-choice activists. The Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., under Walker’s direction, made a $750,000 loan and gave $2 million in tax credits to Flu-Gen, a Madison biotech firm that’s using kidney cells derived from fetal tissue to create a more effective flu vaccine. Biotech companies like Flu-Gen not only save lives, but also contribute significantly to the state’s economy. 

But now, capitalizing on the fury over PP, state Republican leaders want to criminalize the sale of fetal tissue.

Activists have turned the debate about abortion from a women’s issue into one over the “personhood” of fertilized eggs and fetuses. That’s not a scientific view, but rather a religious belief that has no place in the secular world. 

When a 10-year-old girl in Paraguay got pregnant after being raped by her stepfather, the government there ruled for the rights of her fetus over hers, forcing her to carry the baby to term at great risk to her health. The baby was delivered through C-section, because a natural delivery would have killed her. Mike Huckabee praised the decision. He and most of the other Republican candidates, including Walker, want to criminalize abortions under any circumstances, including those in which the mother’s life is in danger. Bizarrely, Walker denies that such situations exist.

More than ever, we need organizations that cherish women’s lives over embryonic cells. PP is at the forefront of such organizations. Its doctors and staffers work under constant harassment, including death threats that have led to at least nine murders in recent years. They refuse to yield to fanatics who believe that women’s bodies are public property. 

We are proud to stand with them and the essential health services they provide. Unlike Walker, they are truly unintimidated.

Federal bill would guarantee access to affordable over-the-counter birth control

The federal Affordability Is Access Act introduced in the House this week would build on the contraception coverage guarantee in the Affordable Care Act by ensuring that health plans cover the sale of all over-the-counter birth-control pills that are FDA approved.

U.S. Reps. Tammy Duckworth, Patrick Murphy and Joe Crowly introduced the House measure, a companion bill to the Senate legislation introduced by U.S. Sen. Patty Murray in June.

Sasha Bruce, senior vice president of campaigns and strategy for NARAL Pro-Choice America, said, “Women literally can’t afford politicians who claim to support access to affordable birth-control but do nothing to back it up. That’s why we are proud to support the Affordability Is Access Act. Unlike the typical attempts to ban birth-control and abortion under the guise of protecting women’s health, this bill is a real step forward in guaranteeing women access to basic reproductive-health care.”

She continued, “Access to affordable birth control is a significant way to reduce the need for abortion services, which should be a shared goal on both sides of the aisle. The Affordability is Access Act is a chance for Speaker Boehner and other anti-choice members to stand on common ground with us and give women the family-planning tools they need.

The Affordability Is Access bill would:

· Guarantee that any daily birth-control pill approved by the FDA for sale without a prescription will be covered by health insurance.

· Build on the ACA’s no-cost contraceptive-coverage benefit – so women are guaranteed no-cost birth control at least two ways.

· Guarantee that a store clerk cannot refuse to let you purchase the pill, when it is approved for sale without a prescription. (Note: the bill does not require every store to stock the pill – but those that do cannot then refuse to sell it.)

· Reinforce the essential principle that health experts at the FDA – not politicians – are the ones that decide which medications are safe and effective for over-the-counter sale.

The ACA birth-control benefit protects access to birth control without a copay for more than 55 million women. In the first year it was available, American women and families saved $483 million on their birth control pill prescriptions alone thanks to this benefit.