Let’s Keep the Momentum Up! — Legislation Update

It’s exciting to report some momentum in our women’s agenda. Women’s voices – and women’s votes – may be getting through to more elected officials. Please continue to contact them – there’s more to do (read on).  

Yesterday was a good day for Virginia women. A bill to restrict access to guns for those convicted of domestic violence (Senate Bill 943, patroned by Senator Barbara Favola) and another bill to expand the anti-stalking statute (Senate Bill 1297, patroned by Senator Don McEachin) passed a Senate committee.  

But, as I said, there’s more to do. A companion gun bill (introduced by Delegate Kathleen Murphy, whom NOW members worked to elect) will be heard tomorrow (Friday) in House Militia, Police, and Public Safety Subcommittee #1. It needs immediate calls. The bill (House Bill 2085) would restrict possession of guns by those convicted of domestic abuse, stalking, sexual battery, and other violent misdemeanors.

Please call and email these delegates and ask them to vote YES on HB2085 to keep guns away from domestic abusers: 

Delegate Thomas Wright  (804) 698-1061       DelTWright@house.virginia.gov

Delegate Todd Gilbert       (804) 698-1015      DelTGilbert@house.virginia.gov

Delegate Michael Webert (804) 698-1018       DelMWebert@house.virginia.gov

Delegate Matthew Fariss  (804) 698-1059      DelMFariss@house.virginia.gov 

Delegate Rosalyn Tyler     (804) 698-1075      DelRTyler@house.virginia.gov

There’s also a good anti-stalking bill in the House of Delegates, patroned by Jackson Miller (HB1453). We’ve contacted Delegate Miller about our support for the bill; it should be heard tomorrow.

More great news: The ERA resolution passed the Senate Privileges and Elections Committee and will go to the Senate floor. NOW and our allies in the Women’s Equality Coalition continue to work hard to pass the ERA. Watch Virginia ERA Network for updates.

Bad news: An abortion ban bill has been introduced by Delegate Dave LaRock. The bill, HB2321, would unconstitutionally ban all abortions after 20 weeks. Elections matter! We worked hard to defeat Tea Partier LaRock. All 100 delegate seats and all 40 senate seats are up this November. Our Virginia NOW Political Action Committee (PAC) will again be working hard for candidates who support women and equality.  Stay tuned – we need your support!  

Also

Contact Board of Health
We have until February 11 to submit comments supporting the amended
TRAP regulations for women’s health centers.
Submit your comment today.
Thank you for all you do every day for women and girls.

Marj Signer, Virginia NOW Legislative Vice-President 

Reproductive Justice is Social Justice

Congressional GOP to bring a vote on a 20-Week Abortion Ban,
this Thursday (Jan 22), the anniversary of Roe v. Wade.
Please read, and contact your representative.

We know Senator Hyde of the Hyde Amendment was just comfortable the knowledge that his restriction on federal funding for abortion in Medicaid would mostly affect poor women and poor women of color. He knew darn well he couldn’t stop rich women from exerting control over their own bodies, their reproductive, creative, and working lives.

And since then, we have seen reduction after cut in services, programs, and education that would support women who are raising children. On top of this, an average pay gap (77/100) that results in millions of missing dollars in women’s incomes over their lifetimes (affecting not only base income, but 410(k) contributions, and Social Security benefits as well), decades of flat salaries and income for all American workers, and an increasing slide of available jobs into the never-enough of minimum wage work.

Now, our fresh new conservative Congress wants to use the
anniversary of Roe v. Wade to introduce a 20-week abortion ban.

As readers of this blog likely know, such a prohibition would make a timely abortion nearly impossible for huge numbers of women — for reasons too many to rehearse her but which include the often delayed manner in which women discover they’re pregnant, the many difficulties in accessing care in many states (TRAP regulations, lack of facilities, ….) — the whole point of this legislation is to make the deadline so short and the path to exercising one’s own conscience so difficult that women who don’t want a (another) child will wind up having one anyway. Many of us have seen the statistical maps. Women of all kinds who live in GOP controlled states and counties have less access to health care, and specifically to reproductive health care — resulting, more direly, in increased mortality rates for women and mothers. This disadvantage increases as those counties get either poorer or more ethnically mixed, thanks to the confluence of forces I describe above.

So, this 20-week ban effectively doubles-down
on the Hyde Amendment’s nefarious effects.

Of course, these anti-choice citizens and politicians are not pro-child. They are not organizing en masse to adopt or otherwise care for these children. The child is not the point. Controlling/punishing the woman is. Katha Pollitt’s Pro does a marvelous job elaborating the evidence of this ultimate goal. (Please buy it through one of these fine independent or feminist bookstores.)

So, we have a political and economic climate that is hostile to women’s freedom and pursuit of happiness on a number of levels. It’s even a climate that makes raising healthy, educated, productive citizens really damn hard. Expand the concept of reproductive justice to include creating conditions that support women who want to be mothers — no matter their race or class — and we find ourselves at an intersection vital to social justice generally.

Women of color have understood and organized their reproductive justice activism around this intersection for a long time now. They gone in this direction partly because their relationship to a white-dominated state complicates the history of reproduction for women of color in some horrifying ways all of which result (still) in denying women control over their own fates and the well-being of their children. (The link I offer here is a gentle version of this history.) We’re still sterilizing women against their will in prisons in the US, we’re still taking Native American children from their families for the flimsiest of reasons.

I suggest we bring this fuller and
more nuanced understanding of choice and justice
to the women of the Congressional GOP and their colleagues.

Congresswoman Renee Elmers (R-NC), and a small cohort of GOP women, are rebelling against this ban on the grounds that it’s a bad PR move and will (further) alienate young women (all women) from the GOP.

I suggest that we both support Rep. Elmers, and educate her more broadly on the many dimensions of reproductive justice. These bans create only harm. They have no positive effect on the society, the economy, or the people directly affected by them. Even the “science” used to justify them is largely a sack of lies made out of false concern and overt racism and hatred of the disadvantaged.

To share this broader perspective with Rep. Elmers or your own representatives, please use this directory. It leads you to their websites, all their social media, their official emails — the whole kit and caboodle.

On this MLK Day, when we are remembering our lost warriors for social justice and still dreaming of the future in the beloved community, let’s make sure that women — all women — are free to help build that community, that polity, whether by being mothers, or by contributing their talents, energy, and intellect in a myriad of other — and vital — ways.

For women!
Dr. Simone Roberts
Web Editor / Historian / ERA Coordinator
Virginia NOW

:: Sources/Organizations in this Article ::

Amplify Your Voice
Black Women’s Health Initiative
Congressional Directory
Rep. Renee Elmers (R-NC)

Fund Abortion Now
MS. Magazine

RH Reality Check
Think Progress
Trust Black Women
The Washington Post

Your Story Can Keep VA’s Health Centers Open

BOARD OF HEALTH MEETS DECEMBER 5 FOR ANOTHER VOTE AFFECTING WOMEN’S HEALTH CENTERS! GET YOUR STORY IN AS SOON AS YOU CAN TO HELP IN THE TESTIMONIAL EFFORT TO PREVENT TRAP.

In an effort to highlight the potential impact of health center closures due to TRAP, we are actively recruiting patients and impacted women to share their stories with us. Thus far, we have collected stories around a first visit to get birth control, cancer screenings that led to early diagnosis, and choosing a women’s health provider because it was a trusted place to go.

Ultimately, we want to make sure our stories are representative of the women across the Commonwealth and that Planned Parenthood/Abortion Rights Coalition have enough stories to pull from for Board of Health meetings, reporters, and the General Assembly.

To do that, we ask you to contribute your story. Or, ask a friend to contribute hers. There are many reasons women and families access these health centers. The Board of Health, the media, and our representatives need to be made unable to deny the quality and trusted care that women in Virginia will be denied if the Targeted Restrictions on Abortion Providers are allowed to take their full effect.

At this link you may write your story, state your levels of comfort concerning privacy and publication, and/or share a video of you telling your story.

We encourage you to share this post/email with your friends and colleagues who support choice, responsible family planning, healthy families and children, and access to reasonably priced health care. The Coalition is particularly interested in stories about sexual and reproductive health care.

Please, contribute and share.

For women,
Simone Roberts, Historian / ERA Coordinator
Virginia NOW

Heads Up! The General Assembly Has Convened. Do You Know Who Your Legislators Are?

The 2011 session of the Virginia General Assembly started January 12th. It’s a 46-day session that will be dominated by the budget, transportation, and redistricting. As for NOW members’ priority issues, legislators can pass helpful and empowering legislation – or disastrous restrictions such as those aimed at further restricting reproductive health care.
Virginia NOW will be working hard with our allies to pass the good bills and defeat the bad ones. Please do your part! 

  • Know the names and contact info for your delegate and your senator. Find them here.
  • Check our facebook page frequently for action alerts, sign up for our Twitter feed and watch for our emails. Click here for our  facebook page.
  • When we send out alerts, please contact your representatives.

We are proud that the NOW-sponsored Equal Rights Amendment will be introduced!

Along with the ERA, we will be advocating for:

  • women’s safety – improved protective orders so that we will be better able to prevent another brutal assault such as the one that resulted in the death of UVA athlete Yeardley Love;
  • women’s health – the defeat of the unnecessary TRAP (Targeted Regulations Against Abortion Providers) bill, which would result in the closing of many clinics;
  • women’s lives – stronger laws against human trafficking – more properly called sexual slavery – that victimizes innocent women, as well as men and children. 

NOW members and friends will join other activists for two important Lobby Days in Richmond:

January 27 – Pro-Choice Lobby Day, organized by the Pro-Choice Coalition. Time: 8:00 am – 2:00 pm. Place: General Assembly Building, 9th Street and Broad Street, Richmond. We’ll talk to legislators, have a rally, and attend committee hearings.  
Planned Parenthood has buses from various locations. Click here to check it out. 

February 2 – Women’s Lobby Day, organized by the League of Women Voters of Virginia with AAUW of Virginia. Time: 8:30 am. Place: General Assembly Building, Senate Room 3 West, Richmond

Important! You do not need to know how to lobby to be a part of these important action days. We’ll have fact sheets, talking points, and training. So please join us!!

For complete information, contact Marj Signer, VA NOW legislative v-p, at marj.signer@gmail.com.

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