Sunday, March 9, 2014
Friday, March 7, 2014
Published on Huffington Post:
Silence equals death.
California AIDS activists taught the world the power of plain and direct talk about gender bias and sexuality to save lives.
The ability to control whether and when to have a child is key to the physical, social and economic health of women and families, and access to legal, safe and affordable birth control and abortion are essential to guarantee that ability.
Currently, a barrage of extreme and punitive laws restricting these rights are streaming out of state legislatures and the House of Representatives. These shockingly offensive departures from American mainstream values demand bolder leadership by our elected officials. Concerted organizing by pro-rights advocates is needed to engage and mobilize the majority of the American public appalled by these assaults but stunned into silence. Politics as usual and polling are not turning the tide.
Draconian restrictions on facilities that provide abortions in Texas have reduced their number from 44 in 2011 to 24 today. The number is expected to drop to 6 by September. Reports are already surfacing from Texas of women returning to desperate - and deadly - measures of self-abortions, like coat hangers and bleach.
Part of the problem is that the health consequences of the attacks are graphically real but have been surgically isolated to the most vulnerable in our society, by income, race and education. Unintended pregnancies and unplanned births are 5 to 6 times higher among women with incomes under 200% of the federal poverty level, and also higher for women of color and those without a high school degree. The odious Hyde Amendment, a Congressional measure, prohibits federal funding for abortions. 35 states choose not to supplement Medicaid with state funds for abortions.
These insidious effects extend to California. Although we use public funds to pay for abortions, and a range of family planning services, California’s rate of unintended pregnancy is among the highest in the nation, on a par with Mississippi and New York.
We must fund abortions. But we can’t t just slip the money under the table. We need to inform and empower women and men to claim our rights to determine our futures. That includes understanding both our biology and the language we need to stick up for ourselves. The reality is that gender bias has repercussions for all of us, and that procreation involves both sexes.
In case we needed further motivation, opponents are now using the club of funding sources to threaten coverage for everyone. This year the House passed HR 7, that would prohibit private health insurance plans that get a drop of federal funds from covering abortions; this includes virtually all employers who get a tax break if they contribute to the cost of employees’ health insurance.
In California two Jesuit universities unilaterally cancelled coverage for abortions in 2013 for their faculty and staff.
The Supreme Court will hear cases on March 25 that could authorize your boss to cease covering your birth control.
Some are genuflecting to the strategic wisdom of keeping a low public profile on the subject. They claim they can’t campaign on abortion and birth control in 2014 because it’s an election year. But 2015 will be the run-up to the Presidential election. And then 2016 – well, you know.
In other words: Chances are 100% that if political leaders refrain from taking action on this issue in 2014, we are doomed to live in the present for the foreseeable future.
The fact is, voters have demonstrated solid support at the state and local levels for access to legal, affordable reproductive health care services:
· Florida voters defeated a state ballot initiative to prohibit public funding for abortions.
· Mississippi voters defeated a statewide initiative to declare a fertilized egg a person, with 80% of black male voters leading the opposition vote.
· Voters in Albuquerque defeated a proposal to outlaw most late-term abortions.
· Otherwise vulnerable Democrats won in 2012 against challengers who revealed their Mad Hatter theories about rape and incest.
· Virginia voters chose a machine Democrat as governor, defeating state attorney general Ken Cuccinelli, an originator of rules forcing women to get – and pay for – invasive ultrasounds before proceeding with an abortion they’ve already decided to have.
We have the chance to do a solid: unite all of us to defend both the funding for reproductive health care, and the rights of all of us to enjoy it if we choose. We can also prevent poor women from being forced by politicians who hate them to bear children they decide they don’t want and can’t afford, and then be subjected to the further indignity of suffering cuts in their food stamps. Or worse, to die from self-induced abortions.
Leaders--muster up your moxie and campaign for women’s rights and human rights. Opposing the Hyde Amendment would be a good start. We’ll support you and we’ll all win.
Trust Women - Silver Ribbon Campaign
7 things you can do on International Women's Day
Tomorrow, March 8, is International Women's Day (#IWD), first celebrated in 1909. In recent years, the annual event has gained recognition, giving a chance to celebrate achievements in the women's movement and to inspire further progress through both local and international action.
While too many women all over the word still suffer from violence and rights abuses, it is important to recognize the amazing work Indigenous women are doing in making change happen in all realms of life and in claiming their rights and transforming violence into power and action.
On International Women's Day stand in solidarity with women. By acting now, we will have even more to celebrate on March 8, 2015.
1. Read our issue of the Cultural Survival Quarterly devoted to Indigenous women.
2. Celebrate some of the amazing Indigenous women working to make change happen around the world.
Share their inspiring stories #IWD2014.
3. Learn about Indigenous Women's Rights.
Watch and share this video by Asia Indigenous Peoples' Pact.
4. Watch Young Lakota, a film about women's reproductive rights.
4. Learn about the epidemic of murdered and missing Indigenous women.
Over 800 Aboriginal women have gone missing or been murdered in Canada in the past 20 years, and their cases are rarely investigated by police. Read Amnesty International's report Stolen Sisters, a report on violence against Indigenous women in Canada.
Watch Survival, Strength, and Sisterhood: Power of Women in the Downtown Eastside, a documentary on the 20 year history of the annual memorial march for missing and murdered Indigenous women in Vancouver.
Learn about the Walking With Our Sisters exhibition, which honors the lives of these women through a display of hand-made moccasins, each representing a missing woman.
Support the Missing Sisters mapping project by learning about open cases in your area and adding any information you are aware of regarding missing Indigenous women.
5. Take Action. Make your voice heard.
Demand an official inquiry into Canada's missing and murdered Indigenous women. Sign an online petition here, contact your local representatives to voice your concerns, and join the online conversation using the hashtags #MMIW and #VAW
6. Visit the UN Women's Day website. Find out how to get into the conversation via Twitter and other forms of social media. #IWD #IWD2014 #WomensDay #internationalwomen'sday
7. Spread the word.
Tell your friends about IWD by sharing the One Woman Song, a collaborative global effort that serves as a statement on International Women's Day of working together to promote gender equality.
As always, we welcome your comments. Please send your feedback and suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cultural Survival is a global leader in the fight to protect Indigenous lands, languages, and cultures around the world. In partnership with Indigenous Peoples, we advocate for Indigenous communities whose rights, cultures, and dignity are under threat. For more information go to www.cs.org