Minnesota Feminists Speak Out!

The unofficial blog of Minnesota NOW


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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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YOUR letter to the editor/legislature about pay equity!

Activists at Minnesota NOW are busy crafting our response to the recent announcement that the Minnesota legislature plans to repeal the Local Government Pay Equity Act.  We’re busy talking to the media here at home (Minnesota Independent) and across the country (Politics Daily) but we need YOUR help now!  Below is a sample letter to send either to the editor of your local newspaper and/or to your representatives in the legislature.  Please add your own comments about what pay equity means to you and your sisters, daughters, mothers and friends.

Click here to find out your legislator’s contact information: http://www.leg.state.mn.us/leg/districtfinder.aspx. If you receive a response or are printed, LET US KNOW!

Dear Representative/Senator/Newspaper Editor:

I am writing to let you know of my strong opposition to the provision in HF 7/SF 159, the proposal to abolish local government mandates, that would repeal the Local Government Pay Equity Act (LGPEA). This common sense legislation, on the books since 1984, is still necessary to ensure that Minnesota women are paid fairly for their work.

I have heard that the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce feels this law is “archaic,” but research by the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota, in partnership with the University of Minnesota’s Center on Women & Public Policy, found that women in our state are still earning less than their male counterparts. Their 2010 report showed that white women earn only 76 cents for every dollar earned by a white male, while Native American, African American, and Hispanic American women earn far less–69, 61, and 51 cents for every dollar earned by a white Minnesota man.

(Source:  http://www.wfmn.org/press/WFM_StatusOfWomenGirlsMN_17June10.pdf)

Clearly, pay discrimination is not a thing of the past! The LGPEA needs to remain a part of Minnesota law to ensure that Minnesota women receive fair compensation.

Women are now the majority of the American workforce, due in part to the recession’s disproportionate toll on men.  In simpler terms, women’s paychecks are crucial to families’ survival.  Repealing this law takes money out of women’s wallets, which in turn hurts Minnesota families. I urge you to speak out against this legislation and to vote against any change to LGPEA.

Sincerely,

Your name


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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. 


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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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