Minnesota Feminists Speak Out!

The unofficial blog of Minnesota NOW

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Join Us at Pro-Choice Lobby Day 2013!


The 2012 election brought some positive shifts to the Capitol, moving us from a solidly anti-choice House and Senate to a slim pro-choice majority in the Senate–though the House retained its anti-choice majority. With these changes we can look forward to advancing women’s reproductive healthcare while, at the same time, defending our reproductive rights from the repeated anti-choice attacks on the horizon.

PRO-CHOICE LOBBY DAY is an incredible opportunity to talk with your legislators about the plans for the new Healthcare Exchange which will bring essential coverage to thousands of Minnesotans.  The Healthcare Exchange will also provide the opportunity to increase reproductive healthcare options and access to Minnesotans!

Family planning, birth control, abortion procedures, wellness visits and many other services must be included in this debate, and we need you to help make this happen!

Please join us on February 20th and share your thoughts on reproductive healthcare with your Legislators as we stand together to move Minnesota’s women forward!

RSVP for this FREE event here: http://www.prochoicelobbyday.org/



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OUTRAGEOUS! The Minnesota Legislature Attempts to Restrict Women’s Fundamental Rights

by Gordy Gustafson, Minnesota NOW Political Action Committee Chair


Minnesota NOW is outraged that in the 2011 session the Minnesota legislature, with bipartisan support, passed bills restricting women’s fundamental rights.

The two bills dealing with women’s access to abortion services are un-Minnesotan.  The first bill, which effectively bans abortion after the 20th week from fertilization, would have stopped abortions before viability in direct violation of women’s rights under Roe v Wade.  Additionally, this bill would have made it a felony for doctors to perform abortions after the 20th week, forcing some women to have dangerous illegal abortions.  Minnesota cannot return to the days of back-alley butchers!

The second abortion bill, which limits state funding for abortion services for women with limited economic means with only rare exceptions, sets up an un-Minnesotan class system that says wealthy women have the right to healthcare and the right to control their bodies, but poor women do not.  In Minnesota, we support – not punish – the economically disadvantaged!

The amendment to the Minnesota State Constitution that would limit marriage to one man and one woman is out of line with Minnesota’s priorities. Far from being pro-family, this amendment will harm LGBT families and their children who are denied the legal protections of civil marriage.  In these days of heightened awareness of the consequences of bullying, we must be aware of the message this sends to Minnesota’s LGBT youth.  Discrimination should never be part of the Minnesota Constitution!

The bill that would have required Minnesotans to obtain a government issued photo ID before voting would have suppressed the vote in Minnesota – specifically for the elderly, the economically disadvantaged, the student population, and those who are highly mobile.  Just like property requirements, poll taxes, literacy tests, grandfather clauses, and other barriers to voting were eliminated long ago, this type of legislation should be relegated to the ash heap of history.  In Minnesota, we have a proud tradition of protecting the right to vote and high voter participation.  Minnesota NOW opposes any law that puts the right to vote in jeopardy.

Minnesota NOW thanks our state legislators who stood up for women’s right to have access to safe, legal abortions; the right to civil marriage; and the right to vote —and vows to fight the re-election of every legislator who voted against the human rights of Minnesotans.

With profound gratitude, Minnesota NOW thanks Governor Mark Dayton for doing all that he can to protect women’s fundamental rights.  Thank you, Governor Dayton, for vetoing the bills restricting women’s right to obtain safe, legal abortions; for symbolically vetoing the proposed Minnesota Constitutional amendment banning marriage for same-sex couples; and for vetoing the bill that would have suppressed voter participation in the State of Minnesota.


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Our friends need to hear from us, too!

If you’re like us, you’re subscribed to 7823863 different action alerts, all of which fill up your inbox with outraged calls to DEMAND one vote or another from legislators who need to be HELD ACCOUNTABLE for all kinds of HORRIBLE THINGS…..and you call and you e-mail and you vent accordingly.  But  in all our righteous fury, we tend to forget that our allies sometimes like to hear from us, too.  In fact, now is a critical time to give our support, encouragement, and to the Minnesota legislators who are speaking up so eloquently for equality.  They need to hear that Minnesota NOW members are watching, listening, and fighting right beside them in spirit.

Here’s a sampling of what’s being said at the Capitol, courtesy of The Uptake:

Sen. Ron Latz, speaking out against cutting Medicaid funding for women seeking abortions:

Sen. Barb Goodwin, wondering why the state is sticking its nose into other people’s private lives:

Sen. Linda Berglin, who points out that the poorest Minnesotans can’t afford the deductibles & copays proposed in new health care bills:

And the gone-viral superstar,  Sen. Steve Simon, who asked “how many gays does God have to make before we accept that he wants them around?”

It’s time to send words of gratitude to these four and the many, many others at the capitol who are fighting for justice for ALL Minnesotans at the capitol, bot just a lucky few.  You can search for these folks’ contact information via this link, where you can search by legislators’ names or by their districts: http://www.leg.state.mn.us/leg/geninfo.aspx.

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Women’s rights are not a partisan issue–MN NOW speaks out after HR 3 vote


May 5, 2010


Yesterday’s passage of H. R. 3 in the House of Representatives is an outrageous attack on women’s civil rights, says Minnesota NOW State President Shannon Drury.  “Minnesotans should be appalled that Representatives Michele Bachmann, Chip Cravaack, John Kline, and Collin Peterson co-sponsored this legislation, and that Rep. Eric Paulsen joined them to vote for a bill that neither creates jobs nor helps a single Minnesota family during the worst recession in modern times.”

The so-called No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act goes much further than its deceptive title suggests. It would codify and dramatically expand a collection of federal abortion funding restrictions referred to as the Hyde Amendment. As acknowledged by the late Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.), the goal of instituting and broadening these restrictions has always been to effectively overturn Roe v. Wade; targeting low-income women was Hyde’s opportunistic start. Now conservative lawmakers’ goal is to deny women at all income levels access to insurance coverage for abortion care.

Drury warns against making this issue a partisan one.  “I have already seen a fundraising message from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee that attacks Republicans for this vote,” she says, “but sixteen Democrats voted for the bill’s passage.  Here at home, the Minnesota DFL Party Platform supports women’s reproductive rights, yet DFLer Peterson was a co-sponsor of and a yes vote for this bill.  Women’s rights, it seems, are seen as an easy political target for both parties.”

Since its founding in 1971, Minnesota NOW has opposed any legislation that interferes with a woman’s right to reproductive health care, which includes abortion.  Minnesota NOW also opposes the economic injustice inherent in H.R. 3, which will have the effect of barring poor women from accessing legal medical care available to women of means.

For further information:




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How to talk to your Rep about HR 3!

TODAY IS THE DAY to remind your representatives in the U.S. House about your opposition to HR 3, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act.  If you’re intimidated by the idea, please read the following  how-to by @ClinicEscort.  She ‘s given permission for all activists to borrow her words when making this important call!

Just because I’ve got the Capitol Switchboard on speed dial doesn’t mean I don’t feel awkward actually calling it. I always try to take a minute to make a note of exactly what I plan to say when I’m calling my senators or my Congressional rep, so that I don’t trip over my words, or forget to include an important point, or just generally sound unfocused or unhinged. Because today’s vote on H.R. 3, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, is so important, I thought I’d share what I wrote down and then said to my Rep’s office when I called today. Feel free to use it as-is if you’re the kind of person apt to say things like “far-right culture-wars nonsense” with a straight face, or tweak it to better fit your own voice–but the exact manner in which you say NO ON H.R. 3 matters far less than that you do say it.

Call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121. They’ll pick up with something like “Capitol Operator.” Ask to be connected to your Representative. You can ask for her/him by name, but if you don’t know it, you can ask the operator to look it up by your zip code; that’s not a problem. They’ll connect you, and then a staffer at your Rep’s office will pick up. Here’s what I said today:

“Hi, I’m a voter from [my town], and I’d like to leave my thoughts on a pending bill.”

The staffer said “sure, go ahead,” and I continued:

“I just wanted to tell Representative [name] that s/he needs to say enough is enough on this far-right culture-wars nonsense of HR3. There is ALREADY no federal funding for abortion, with rape and incest exceptions so limited that not even 200 procedures were funded that way in 2006. All HR3 will do is insert government right in the middle of families’ private decision-making processes. That is NOT small government and it is NOT what people of conscience would support in this country. May I leave you my name and contact information?”

The staffer said sure, I left my info, we told each other to have a great day, and that was the end of it. It took under two minutes. Now your turn! You’ve got this–go go go!

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Katie Stack, 2011 State Conference Speaker

Minnesota NOW is thrilled to welcome Katie Stack to our 40th anniversary conference.

Katie Stack, center, with Minnesota NOW members and friends in the State Capitol Rotunda at 2011 Pro-Choice Lobby Day.

Katie Stack is a graduate student in Gender & Women’s Studies who is a vocal supporter of reproductive freedom.  In December 2010, she appeared on the MTV documentary “No Easy Decision” and spoke with Dr. Drew Pinsky about choosing abortion when confronted with an unintended pregnancy.  The special was created in part to respond to MTV’s hit programs “16 & Pregnant” and “Teen Mom.”  As Pinsky says in his introduction to his interview, “having an abortion is not uncommon–but talking about it publicly really is.”

Since appearing on the program, Stack has remained a public voice for abortion rights.  Her blog, http://katiestack.com/, is popular with both pro-choice activists and anti-abortion folks, the latter arriving in droves with the intention of shaming Stack for being truthful about her experiences–but Stack’s ready for them, with wisdom that belies her young age.  As she wrote:

“…..abortion is deeply personal, but not necessarily because of the act of abortion itself. For me, the fear and confusion that I felt about the procedure, and the silence that followed, had nothing to do with the act of abortion. It had everything to do with the stigma associated with women who chose to abort. I was well aware that by making this decision I would come to embody a very violent political and social debate. Who wouldn’t be apprehensive about that?”

On March 28, 2011, Stack was awarded the Jan Yanehiro Speak Out for Choice Award from NARAL Pro-Choice America.  Her remarks from the awards ceremony can be viewed below.

Minnesota NOW members and friends are excited to hear from Katie Stack about how we call can Move Equality Forward!

REGISTER TODAY! http://www.mnnow.org/events/2011_conference.htm

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The good, the bad, and the ugly: A small taste of 2011 Minnesota House Legislation

We know very well that the dire budget situation, lack of stable well-paying employment, access to affordable education, transportation, food security, personal and community safety, and so much more are critical to our State’s future, our families’ futures, and women.  Are they “women’s issues”?  YES.  EVERYTHING IS.

Today, though, let’s look at a “good”, and – based on how you choose to view it – a “bad” and/or “ugly” piece of legislation moving through the Minnesota House…and of significant note is that only the “good” DOES NOT have a Senate companion (huh?).  We’re working on that with our Senators…call your Senator, too.


House File 556 (H.F. 556)

  • Summary: Juvenile prostitutes in need of protection or services provisions amended, sexually exploited youth defined, prostitution crime penalty assessments increased, and distribution of the assessment amended; prostitution laws provisions clarified and recodified, and definitions modified; money appropriated to the commissioner of public safety to develop a statewide victim services model.  Basically, juveniles who are trafficked and prostituted are VICTIMS, not criminals, and this bill will ensure they are treated as such and are protected.  There is there is far more child and teen prostitution and trafficking in MN than people realize.
  • Passed out of a previous committee, and today was heard in the Judiciary Policy and Finance Committee [click here for links to watch the testimony/hearing and testimony on related bills - worth your time; Heather Boyum is amazingly brave] and PASSED.
  • Bill sponsored by Steve Smith (R-Mound) with 19 bi-partisan co-sponsors.
  • Again, there is NO SENATE COMPANION (several NOW members have approached their Senators to introduce).
  • Good non-House discussion on the bill: MPR’s Midmorning with guest host Cathy Wurzer aired “Sex trafficking on the rise in Minnesota” at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, March 8 with guests Suzanne Koepplinger, executive director of the Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center and Jeff Bauer, Director of public policy for the Family Partnership.  Find it online and listen in. It is valuable for Minnesota.


Abortion bills

  • H.F. 201 and H.F. 391 [sponsored by Peggy Scott, R-Andover]: – Summary: State-sponsored health program abortion funding limited. [essentially will overturn Doe v. Gomez, which is the law in Minnesota]. 
    • H.F. 0201 has a total of 28 sponsors (including Rep. Scott).
    • H.F. 0391 has a total of 35 sponsors (including Rep. Scott).
    • Surprise!  Late this afternoon, the House decided to add H.F. 201 to their list of bills to receive a hearing, leaving little or no time for action by those who may want to testify or protest this action.  Click here for the schedule of today’s bill hearings in the Minnesota House Health and Human Services Reform Committee.
    • DFLers co-sponsoring (one on 201; three on 391):
      • Gene Pelowski Jr. (31A, Winona) [H.F. 0201]
      • Larry Hosch (14B, St. Joseph) [H.F. 0391]
      • Lyle Koenen (20B, Clara City) [H.F. 0391]
      • Mary Murphy (6B, Hermantown) [H.F. 0391]
  • H.F. 936 and H.F. 1042 [sponsored by Mary Liz Holberg, R-Lakeville]: Summary: Abortions at or after 20 weeks gestational age prohibited unless exceptions apply, and civil and criminal penalties provided.
    • Hearing: The bill will be heard on Wednesday, March 16 in the Health and Human Services Reform Committee at 2:30 p.m., Room 200.  Can you be there?  Will you call your Representative?
    • DFLer co-sponsoring: John Ward (12A, Brainerd)
    • We must fight this “fetal pain” (personhood) bill!

Pay Equity bills

  • H.F. 519 and H.F. 698 [sponsored by Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa]: Summary:  Local government comparable worth requirements repealed.
    • This will undo the public employee pay equity standards that have been in place (and WORKING!) since 1984.  Minnesota’s pay equity laws ensure jobs performed by women are not consistently paid less than jobs performed by men of comparable work value.
    • Pay Equity Coalition of Minnesota (PECOM) and the Minnesota Women’s Consortium are very much against these bills and the Senate companions introduced by Michael Jungbauer (R-East Bethel).   MN NOW is signed on with PECOM as a supporter of pay equity, and a group that opposes repealing pay equity laws.
    • So far, there are no co-sponsors to the House or Senate Bills.
    • Senator Ray Vandeveer (R-Forest Lake) will hold an informational hearing on the comparable worth bills on Wednesday, March 23 at 1 p.m. in Room 112.

Now…make those calls!  Schedule those visits!  Write those letters!  And if your Representative or Senator did something you like, don’t forget to personally thank her or him and explain what precisely it is that pleased you and why (encouragement is powerful).

For equality and with gratitude for all you do,

Jessica K. Trites Rolle, MN NOW Legislative Coordinator

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We need your VOICE for CHOICE!

This announcement will also appear in our upcoming issue of the Minnesota NOW Times, which should be arriving in the mailboxes of all MN NOW members soon!

MN NOW is once again partnering with MN NARAL for Pro-Choice Lobby Day!
by Barbra Peterson, Vice President

When: March 4th,   (which is very apropos for us to March Forth for Choice)
Time : 8:45 am until 2:30 pm
Where: The People’s House, aka the State Capitol
Register, and check the schedule of events,  online at www.prochoicelobbyday.org
On Facebook? Check out the Pro-Choice Lobby Day event page.

This year we’ll be lobbying, and rallying, for passage of the Comprehensive Sex Education bill. Thanks to the abstinence-only crowd, and the folks at MCCL (Morons Challenging our Civil Liberties), MN has seen an alarming upswing of teen pregnancies, 1 in 4 teens contracting an STD, and a 13% rise in HIV cases, all because we’re not teaching our students what they need to learn to keep them safe and healthy. Our students deserve better, and it’s up to all of us to make sure they have access to age appropriate, comprehensive sex education.

I’ve been attending Pro-Choice Lobby Day since the late 70’s, first in Illinois, and now in my new home state of Minnesota, and I can tell you it’s one of the best experiences of the year for me. To be surrounded by so many great Feminist activists, and to be able to advocate for reproductive justice with my Legislators, face to face, is very empowering.
The speeches at the noon rally are great–especially this year when one of our own, new MN NOW Board member Kriss Hakala, speaks about her fight with the Forest Lake school board to make sure her sons get the best education. Who better than a Mother of teens, and a NOW activist, to speak on this subject? I’m in awe of her tenacity and passion, and you will be, too.

This will be my 2nd year presenting the Break Out Session on “Multi-Generational Voices For Choice,” a topic near and dear to me. For my first few Lobby Days in MN, I was surprised to see that I was one of the very few gray-haired activists in attendance. Where was the Pre-Roe generation of mine? The ones who stood on the front lines for the battle for reproductive rights in the 60’s and 70’s?  Our presence, and our Voices for Choice, are needed NOW more than ever.

We remember what life was like before Roe.  We’ve lost Mothers, Daughters, Sisters and Aunts, due to back alleys, coat hangers, knitting needles, do-it-yourself illegal, unsafe abortions. We have to realize that those rights that were so hard fought, and won by us, are being eroded,step by step, state by state. NOW is the time for us to get back on those front lines.

We of the Pre-Roe, Menopausal Militia generation need to stand with our younger sisters and brothers, to let them know that we’re right there at their side. We need to be there to remind our Legislators what it was like Pre-Roe, and to say HELL NO, we won’t go back to that. We need to show the state that all of us, Feminists of all generations, stand together in this, what seems to be, a never-ending battle for Reproductive Justice. We will NOT back down, We will NOT go backwards, but we will March Forth, together.  I hope to see you all there, look for me.  Hopefully, I’ll be one of the many gray-haired activists in attendance.

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The Hersey Abortion Assistance Fund and how you can help

In 1970, U.S. Representative (D-NY) and NOW member Shirley Chisholm wrote:

Women are dying every day, did you know that? They’re being butchered and maimed. No matter what men think, abortion is a fact of life. Women will have them; they always have and always will. Are they going to have good ones or bad ones? Will the good ones be reserved for the rich while poor women have to go to quacks? Why don’t we talk about real problems instead of phony ones?

This quote is from her first book Unbought and Unbossed, now available in a 40th anniversary edition.  Unfortunately, the battle for reproductive justice is far from over.  As it was true in1970, abortions are easily obtained by the rich, while the poor are left to fend for themselves–Roe v. Wade legalized the procedure in 1973, but the 1977 Hyde Amendment barred Medicaid funds from paying for it.

Minnesota’s own Pro-Choice Resources created the Hersey Abortion Assistance Fund to, in their words, “dismantle the economic restrictions and barriers to information that make vital reproductive health care inaccessible for too many women, especially young women, women of color, and poor women.”

Earlier today, pro-life blogger Jill Stanek announced gleefully that the Hersey Fund was out of money.  A cursory glance at the rantings on Jill’s page should be enough to drive you to Pro-Choice Resources’ web page to make your safe, secure donation to the HAAF.   The words of one recipient:

I had nowhere to go, no money and no one to talk to. I called the Hersey Abortion Assistance Fund number and for the first time in 2 months I felt I could breathe again, the lady that I talked to seemed so caring and understanding. They don’t just give you money they help you emotionally and when you go through something like that it means more than all the money in the world. I could never thank them enough.

If you can spare even a small donation for the HAAF, please do so today. 


Powerful words from MN NOW’s Vice President

By popular demand, we’re reprinting the remarks made by Minnesota NOW’s Vice President at the Rally Stop the Abortion Ban at the Minnesota State Capitol on December 2, 2009.  That’s Barbra in the back row, holding the “OMG DEMS WTF?” sign!
My name is Barbra Peterson, Vice-President of MN NOW, a Mother, Aunt, GrandMother, proud Clinic Escort, and a Pro-Choice activist for 33 years. This button I wear today, “NO WOMB FOR COMPROMISE”, is from 1979, my 1st lobbying visit to DC as a NOW member. So I guess that makes me what’s called “The Menopausal Militia”!

I stand with you all today, to protest the Stupak is the Pitts Amendment, an act that will send thousands of Women back–back to wire hangers and knitting needles, back to back-alley abortions. Yes my friends, we’re moving backwards, and we’re here to say NO MORE!

They’re calling this a Health Care Reform Bill, but the very fact that it excludes Women’s reproductive health, that it discriminates against 52% of the population, well, I call it Health Care Deform, and we’re here to say  NO!

We’re being fed the main talking points, that in opposing the Stupak is the Pitts amendment, that it can’t be a line in the sand, and guess what? I agree. Taking a stand for Women’s lives should never be a line in the sand, it should be a line in CONCRETE, unmoving, unwavering, unequivocally, a NO WOMB FOR COMPROMISE line in concrete.

To those elected officials who give us this “line in the sand” jargon, I ask you these 3 questions:

Are you implying that Women’s health isn’t a good enough reason to take a strong stand?

Are you suggesting that Women’s rights aren’t important enough to take a strong stand?

Then am I to assume, by your unwillingness to draw that line, that Women’s lives aren’t important enough to take that strong stand?

Make no mistake, Stupak and his anti-Choice cohorts know that for now, they can’t make abortion illegal, so they’ve set their sights on making it inaccessible with their draconian, insulting restrictions. And now with this amendment, they’ll be making it unaffordable as well. We’re here to say NO!

So, I ask all of you here today, Raise your Voice for Choice, say NO to the Stupak is the Pitts amendment, say NO to any language in the bill that would discriminate against Women, say NO more wire hangers. Then, and only then, will we say yes to the Health Care Bill.

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