Minnesota Feminists Speak Out!

The unofficial blog of Minnesota NOW


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Schedule for Minnesota’s STOP STUPAK Rally Day!

The rally starts at NOON, TODAY, WEDNESDAY DECEMBER 2, in the toasty warm rotunda of the State Capitol in St. Paul.  Look for your MN NOW friends with our round blue signs!

Welcome (5 min)
Linnea House, Executive Director, NARAL Pro-Choice Minnesota Foundation

Minnesota Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (5 min)
Rev. T. Michael Scott

Pro-Choice Resources (5 min)
Karen Law/Melissa Winship

Minnesota NOW (5 min)
Shannon Drury/Barb Peterson

Betty Folliard of Rep. Keith Ellison’s office (5 min)

Wrap Up (2 min)


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Stupak won’t hurt women? DON’T BELIEVE IT.

The Big Lie — Abortion Rights Opponents Mislead on Stupak-Pitts

We know our opponents lie and mislead the public. They are doing a lot of that right now in trying to counter factual information coming from NOW and our allies about abortion restrictions in House health care reform legislation (H.R. 3692). Their tactic is to assure the public that the Stupak-Pitts Amendment will not have much of an effect on anyone’s insurance coverage for abortion care. This, of course, is far from the truth and activists need to make sure that women know that Stupak-Pitts is a serious threat to abortion access.

A form letter sent by MINNESOTA’S VERY OWN Rep. James Oberstar (D-Minn.) to a constituent implies that the Stupak-Pitts Amendment will not affect coverage that women pay for with private funds. The letter reads: “The Stupak-Pitts Amendment states that individuals buying insurance on the exchange may still purchase coverage that includes abortions as long as no federal money is used. It also says that insurers may still offer abortion coverage as long as such coverage, and the administrative structure behind it, is not supported by federal money….”

In fact, any and all health insurance plans offered through the newly created regional health exchanges will not be permitted to offer abortion coverage if there are any individuals in those plans who receive government “affordability credits.”

Some 36 million low- and moderate-income persons who currently are uninsured or underinsured will be seeking insurance through these exchanges — with many relying on government subsidies to help pay the premiums. Their huge presence will likely mean that nearly all insurance plans will serve people who receive government subsidies, meaning that they cannot offer abortion care coverage to any policyholders, even those who pay 100 percent of the premium with their own money.

Stupak-Pitts’ apologists say that each exchange will have at least one plan offering coverage. But the goal and the effect of this dangerous amendment is to dramatically restrict women’s access to abortion care. Abortion is one of the most common medical procedures and will be sought by a substantial number of women of child-bearing age. The Oberstar letter claims that those women who can’t obtain insurance coverage for abortion can buy a separate abortion rider. Please. How likely is that to happen? An independent check on the current availability of abortion riders in insurance found none.

The most likely scenario, should Stupak-Pitts become law, is that insurance companies would avoid the hassle of having audits of their plans and meeting other restrictive criteria by simply not offering coverage for abortion services altogether. A recently released study by the School of Public Health and Health Services at George Washington University concludes that insurance companies would have to re-design offerings in order to avoid violating abortion restrictions, and that would ultimately have a broad chilling effect, even for private, employer-based insurance.

Help spread the truth about the Stupak-Pitts Amendment, and call your senators right away to ensure that similar restrictions are not included in the Senate version of the health care reform bill. Senate contact information can be found online.

More information:

GW University Report (PDF)

The Real Victims of Stupak-Pitts


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Senators Franken & Klobuchar need to hear from you, NOW

Sen. Amy Klobuchar

Washington, DC Office: 1-888-224-9043

Minneapolis Office: 612-727-5220

Sen. Al Franken

Washington, DC Office: (202) 224-5641

St. Paul Office: (651) 221-1016

 

Here’s what you can say:

I’m a member of the Minnesota chapter of the National Organization for Women, and I’m calling on behalf of millions of women to let you know just how disgusted we by the health reform bill that passed the House.

The Stupak-Pitts Amendment was brought to the floor after a late-night, backroom deal with religious zealots, and as a result, women could be facing the most serious challenge ever to our constitutionally protected reproductive rights.

The Stupak-Pitts Amendment was unnecessary: The Hyde Amendment already ensures that no federal funds will be used to pay for abortion –regardless of whatever health care bill becomes law.

The Stupak-Pitts Amendment would, for the first time, make it difficult or impossible for women spending even 100% of their own money to cover abortion through private insurance plans … if they happen to have purchased insurance through a health insurance exchange.

This is unconscionable and I urge the Senator to take a strong stand against any similar measures. NOW will not support health reform that harms women. I will be watching your actions closely in the coming weeks.

Ask when your Senators will be in town, and request meetings with each of them. If you are unable to meet in person with a Senator, ask to meet with a staff person dealing with health insurance reform. Bring several NOW members with you if you can.

We must hold our elected officials accountable.  TAKE ACTION NOW!


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Welcome to a new definition of Stupak….

…courtesy of Urban Dictionary.com:

A medical condition (subset of sepsis) resulting from unsafe -unnecessarily so – back alley abortions as a result of the “Stupak Amendment” to the 2009 Health Care Reform Bill.

Doctor: Unfortunately, while this would have been covered under private insurance carriers, public plans were barred from including women’s health measures. I’m sorry, you’ll have to see “Dr. Julio” in the alley behind 7-11.

(Three weeks later.)

Doctor: I believe you’ve developed Stupak, a form of sepsis, a severe illness in which the bloodstream is overwhelmed by bacteria.

Stay tuned for information about how YOU can take action to stop the Stupak-Pitts Amendment to the Health Care Reform Act.


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Minnesota NOW in Fargo? You betcha

I am proud to announce that our recently elected State Vice-President, Barbra Peterson, will represent Minnesota NOW at the Red River Clinic in Fargo, ND, to support the clinic staff and their patients who are being targeted for harassment in a nationally orchestrated campaign called “40 Days for Life.”  Barbra and four carloads of Minnesota allies will travel to Fargo this Wednesday, September 23rd, for the first day of this campaign.

Why does Minnesota NOW need to support Fargo?

Fargo’s Red River Women’s Clinic is the only facility in all of North Dakota that provides abortion care, and its location on the border of Minnesota makes it the closest clinic for women in western Minnesota, who would otherwise have to travel to the Twin Cities to obtain an abortion. In fact, 30% of all the procedures performed at the clinic are for residents of Minnesota.

Additionally, because there is not one physician in North Dakota who provides abortion care, the clinic’s doctors must travel from elsewhere, primarily from the Twin Cities, to see patients once a week. The first day of the anti-choice campaign is a clinic day, so volunteer escorts will be present to ensure patients’ emotional and physical safety as they access the clinic.

A Red River Clinic spokesperson told us that, in general, protests at the clinic have intensified since the murder of Dr. George Tiller, and that this is the third year that the national organization has mobilized in Fargo.

For more information on the “40 Days” campaign:

For more information on why reproductive freedom is essential for all women, no matter where they live:

http://www.now.org/issues/abortion/

Please consider a donation to Minnesota NOW to show your support for Barbra Peterson and the volunteers who are standing up for women’s civil rights.  Your support makes actions like this possible!


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Democrats For Life of America Boots Pro-Contraception Member

Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) was, as he put it, booted from the anti-choice Democratic organization Democrats for Life of America. Why? He thought the movement should include acceptance of contraception to prevent unwanted pregnancies, thus reducing demand for abortion. This seems like a pretty valid point to me, but apparently such a scandalous position gets you kicked out of this group which Rep. Ryan recently described as a fringe group.

Yeah, something about saying that the only way to reduce abortion is to only use sex as a method of conception does seem just the tiniest bit fringe…

Seriously, I just read something saying that over 90% of women will use contraception at some point in their lives. Yet here we have a group of Democrats, supposedly the more liberal of the two parties, claiming that it’s not okay.

Interstingly you can read here about how young people use contraception at a much lower and less effective rate then those over 20. Hmm, but surely that doesn’t encourage them to seek, *gasp* abortions?!?!

Now I’m not with Rep. Ryan on the anti-choice position, but at least he’s actually using some logic. The same cannot be said of the group from which he was recently booted.


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“Where are all those Democrats who claim to be supporters of abortion rights?”

In reading about the life of Wichita, Kan., physician George Tiller, who was killed in May by an antiabortion maniac, I was reminded again of an abiding truth: Doctors who perform abortions for desperate women are courageous, moral agents for good…
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The subject of this article doesn’t just apply to reproductive rights and women’s health.  Where are the brave, thoughtful, strong women and men we elected, who SHOULD be speaking up collectively, NOT holding their tongues, NOT worrying about the press and the polls?

I know elections are coming.  Yes, I completely agree there are times that people learn new information and reach a new conclusion.  But come on…that’s not the case with women’s health and reproductive rights.  We know what many of our officials think (and they’re with us); so why can’t they speak up…especially when we have a “friendly” environment in the Halls of Congress and in the White House?

Most often, people won’t stand up because it’s hard – I’m guilty of that, too, so I understand.  But I want to be able to count on my elected officials to stand up for ‘we the people’ when the issue is tough, possibly unpopular, and just plain not fun.

And it’s my job and your job to hold our officials accountable…AND to prop them up and let them know we’re behind them so they will take a stand for us.

A good read – please share – please discuss/comment.


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Crisis Pregnancy Centers and family dynamics

This is an excellent piece from Katherine Spillar.  If you have just 10 minutes, watch the YouTube video and read the text later.  And then do your homework: what’s happening in your community?  what are your thoughts on the issue, and on the larger issues of reproductive rights, sex education, deception/shaming of women about their bodies and choices, religion in health care, and federal funding.

And read below the link…the issue of Crisis Pregnancy Centers is personal to me…but not for the reason you might assume.

Crisis of Deception: Fake Clinics Spread Misinformation on the Federal Dime

 by Katherine Spillar (www.rhrealitycheck.org)

Crisis pregnancy centers are fake clinics that provide deceptive and erroneous information to both pregnant and non-pregnant women on pregnancy, abortion, and contraception. And they often brazenly violate the separation of church and state. …

A personal connection, a family division

I sent the above article to a few friends with the following note:  “[...] My mom volunteers at a “crisis pregnancy center” [...]. I am respectful and don’t confront her – it wouldn’t do anything but drive a wedge.  But I would welcome any advice from my sisters on how to rationally speak with my family on why such clinics are NOT HELPING ANYTHING, and are immensely harmful and dangerous.  My family is quite religious [...] I would like to start a dialogue…but this proud Feminist is struggling.”

Advice came in.  Most said that despite how I feel about crisis pregnancy centers (and I DO think they’re dangerous, and DO think they’re spreading information that is not factual or scientific and are scaring women into a decision that isn’t based on their decision, made after they have all the information on all options for their care), I can’t change my family and shouldn’t try.  And on reflection, I realized they were correct.  I wrote back to the same group of friends.  Here’s part of what I said:

I didn’t intend to come across as if I expected that I could somehow change my mom, dad, or anyone else in my family, but see now that I did (and OK, maybe some small part of me wishes we agreed on a few more things OR that we were a big ‘debate the issues’ family, which we’re not…pretty much the opposite).

I know I can’t change anyone except myself.  So I will keep on lovin’ each one of them and supporting them where they are and in what they believe, and I will hope that perhaps some some day we’ll all be more comfortable discussing my point of view.  Why do I say discussing “my point of view”?  Because I listen at length to anything and everything they have to say.  I am comfortable with it, and supportive of their views, ask questions, and actually find it all interesting; it helps me understand them and their lives…and they are where I came from.  It just gets hard sometimes because I don’t feel I have the same invitation to speak of my feelings/thoughts on issues.

This is how we’ve operated since I left home for college: Leave politics and the issues discussed in this article out of the conversation (other than to occassionally touch on mom’s volunteer time at “The Center”).  We know we are on opposite sides of the line on abortion (we talked about it once when I was 17 and she made me watch a video about abortion and watch an abortion actually being done).  Even so, I do think we might agree on other reproductive rights issues: positive effects of good prenatal, natal, and post-natal care; the positive effects of widely available birth control to help people safely plan families and to reduce abortions and disease; etc.  But we’d have to talk about it as women’s health care, not reproductive rights.  And that’s just fine, since reproductive rights are a part of health care.
 
I know in my heart, head, and soul that my mom, dad, and brother have only the very best in mind for their fellow human beings.  And so do I.  My mom and dad are where I got my love for volunteering, my desire to give back, my sense of duty (in a positive way) to donate money/goods/give to those in need even when it’s not always easy, and to genuinely love others unconditionally.  And dad taught me what being egalitarian means.  Mom and dad continue to do this, and I only hope I live up to that valuable teaching.
 
So, dear reader, what is YOUR experience with crisis pregnancy centers…and with your family/friends/co-workers/acquaintances as relates to them (and to sex ed, reproductive health, etc)?
 
In sisterhood,
Jessica Trites Rolle
Feminist, MN NOW Legislative Coordinator


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Faith-based Initiatives & Abortion

Another thing I found in my federal budget digging (and oddly exciting activity) was a little document that President Obama is apparently applying to his Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative, Title X of the Public Health and Services Act. Most of the act seems pretty good, supporting sex ed programs and the like, but Section 1008 struck me as troubling. The little passage states that “None of the funds appropriated under this title shall be used in programs where abortion is a method of family planning.”

Hmm. Apparently just saying that you’re not anti-choice doesn’t mean you’ll fund programs that mention non-medical abortions… If we’re going to choose something about the President’s plans for Family Planning, please let’s use his support for PHS Act Title X, and not his appointee to run faith-based programs.

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