Minnesota Feminists Speak Out!

The unofficial blog of Minnesota NOW


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Join Us at Pro-Choice Lobby Day 2013!

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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/

SEE YOU THERE!

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What’s at stake when women’s bodies are “evidence”

***Trigger warning for sexual assault, victim blaming***

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Barbara Kruger created this famous poster for a women’s rights march on Washington in 1989.  That the message remains chillingly relevant is a testament both to Kruger’s talent and to the continuous, relentless attacks on women’s bodily autonomy….and just when you think you can’t be MORE shocked, MORE disgusted, or MORE outraged, you are.

A Minnesota NOW friend who wishes to remain anonymous wrote us this powerful account of her reaction to the news that a New Mexico legislator would criminalize abortions after rape on the grounds that it would be “tampering with evidence.”

No, your eyes didn’t just explode–that’s actually what Rep. Cathrynn Brown suggested in a bill she introduced on January 24.

From our friend:

At age 17 I was raped by a young man I knew, at age 24 I was raped by two men I knew.  At age 17 I had an abortion, at age 24 I was escaping a violent marriage. Unfortunately I had a miscarriage 5 months later in my parent’s bathroom. I had no idea I was pregnant, and was told she probably died at 3 months because of the beatings I took from my ex-husband.

A bill has been introduced that rape victims carry their rapists’ child as evidence.

If I had to carry my rapist’s child (my ex-husband would not have been named a rapist) his friend may have…. what would I have told my son, 18 months old.  What would I have told him about his sibling especially if it wasn’t his father’s? What would I have told my son about his sibling while I went to court? What would I have told my son about his sibling if my rapist wanted joint custody and his father didn’t? What would happen when my husband adopts my son, but isn’t allowed to adopt my rapist’s child because a rapist has more rights than my husband?

For the men introducing these bills on behalf of the religious organizations that supported you and the other pro-life organizations that endorsed you, I know you have been asked what if this happened to your daughter. Well that doesn’t matter because all of you can afford the back room abortions, while people like me, would have had to rely on a shop vac, coat hanger, or many other life threatening devices.

If I had to give my rights to my rapists, I tell you right now, I would have dropped my son off at my parents and drove out to the country and shot myself in the head. I would not have put my parents and my son through the blind, bogus, bigoted, treatment, which you decided to enact.

Rep. Brown has since attempted to clarify that the bill would charge the rapist with a third-degree felony for evidence tampering, not the impregnated rape victim herself, though this flip-flopping most likely reflects her embarrassment at being in the middle of a national news story, not a serious change of heart.

The War on Women is real.  Your body is a battleground.  We can’t stop fighting.

TAKE ACTION!

Contact Rep. Cathrynn Brown via the New Mexico state legislature (she has removed her direct contact information–gee, I wonder why?!): http://www.nmlegis.gov/lcs/contactus.aspx

Sign a petition demanding her resignation here: http://signon.org/sign/cathrynn-brown-should.fb23?source=c.fb&r_by=6899454


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Robin Marty & Jessica Mason Pieklo Preview “Crow After Roe”

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As part of the Minnesota Choice Coalition’s celebration of the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, Minnesota NOW is thrilled to host Twin Cities-based writers Robin Marty and Jessica Mason Pieklo for a talk about the state of reproductive rights today.

This special event happens on Thursday, January 17, 2013, from 8-9 pm, at the  Ridgedale Public Library (12061 Ridgedale Drive, Minnetonka MN, 55305) The official, very shareable Facebook invitation: https://www.facebook.com/events/318790854897466/

Marty and Pieklo will offer a special preview of their book, Crow After Roe: How “Separate But Equal” Has Become the New Standard in Women’s Health and How We Can Change That. It will be published in April, but you can pre-order your copy now!

From the book’s Amazon listing:

2013 will mark the fortieth anniversary of Roe v. Wade, one of the most divisive rulings ever to shape American politics. In recent years, attempts to overturn Roe v. Wade have reached a fevered pitch. Since 2010 hundreds of bills banning or creating roadblocks to abortion access, contraception, and basic women’s health have been proposed across the United States, with nearly one hundred new laws going into effect. The goal is to create a law that will eventually be brought before the most conservative Supreme Court ever to occupy the bench, in order to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Crow After Roe: How “Separate But Equal” Has Become the New Standard In Women’s Health And How We Can Change That takes a look at twelve states that since 2010 have each passed a different anti-abortion or anti-women’s health law, and how each law is explicitly written to provoke a repeal of Roe v. Wade. The book will detail not just the history of the laws in question, but how they challenge Roe v. Wade and create a reproductive health care system that puts women—especially poor, rural, or those of color—into a separate class with fewer choices or control.

Robin Marty is RH Reality Check’s senior political reporter, focusing primarily on state legislation restricting women’s reproductive rights. Her political, women’s rights, and reproductive articles have appeared in Ms. magazine, Truthout, AlterNet, and BlogHer.

Jessica Mason Pieklo is the assistant director of the Health Law Institute at Hamline Law School in St. Paul, Minnesota. She covers law and politics at Care2.com and RH Reality Check. Her articles have appeared in Ms. magazine, Truthout, and AlterNet.


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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 5, 2010

MINNESOTA NATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR WOMEN (NOW) CONDEMNS PASSAGE OF H.R. 3, NO TAXPAYER FUNDING FOR ABORTION ACT, DENOUNCES ATTACK ON WOMEN’S RIGHTS

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:

www.mnnow.org

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

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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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The truth about sex ed from a pro-choice, pro-education, pro-health mama!

What follows is the text of the speech given by Minnesota NOW State Board member and longtime reproductive rights activist Kriss Hakala at the 2010 Pro-Choice Lobby day on March 4.

I’m 3rd Generation Pro-choice, a Daughter, a Sister, an Aunt, a Granddaughter, and a Mom from the Forest Lake School District. Today is a very important event, not only for us to get energized but especially for all of the UNPROTECTED kids here in Minnesota.  – !
This is my story as a parent, but more important, IT’S THE KIDS’ STORY AND I THANK THEM FOR THEIR PERMISSION TO TELL IT.  My boys are students in the Forest Lake School District, which is comprised of a lot of small towns.

In fifth grade my boys learned about AIDS and STIs.  Their assignment was to make an AIDS project and I was happy to help! However, when I suggested COLORED CONDOMS for Hunter’s MonopolAIDS GAME PIECES or the word CONDOM for one of the words for Jake’s crossword puzzle, both boys told me that they couldn’t use THAT WORD.  I was taken aback, but thought maybe in 8th grade it would be okay.  In 8th grade a note came home to opt out of sex education.  I was happy as I thought they would get the Real thing – comprehensive sex education – !

Well, in 8th grade, they separated the boys and girls and talked at them about anatomy, pregnancy, AIDS and STDs, but failed to talk about contraception, how to protect themselves, or about having healthy relationships.    I was sick as I knew from my sons and their friends that the teens were having sex; there were multiple pregnancies in the High School, not to mention the Junior High Schools.
A very popular teen couple told their story of an unintended pregnancy to the Forest Lake press.  Her Mom wouldn’t agree to birth control until she got straight A’s and was responsible enough to load the dishwasher.

(Editor’s note: read the story here and consider how the glowing spin on their story actually makes teen parenthood alluring–call it Bristol Palin syndrome.)
All along I had been discussing facts with my kids, giving them the information they needed to be safe and the information they could share with their friends, rather than the locker room talk that can get them into trouble.
But what about the kids I didn’t know or talk to?

I decided to take action.  I called the Superintendent to enlist his help in changing the growing statistics of pregnancies and STIs in our community.  He rejected my request. Next, I got educated from everyone and anyone who would talk to me; I bought hundreds of condoms, directions and fact sheets.  I got all of my help from the pro-choice community.
While it may be true that one person can’t change the world – I’ve set out to prove that ONE PERSON can make change a School District.
Forest Lake hired a new Superintendent, Dr. Linda Madsen, last fall.  I immediately contacted her with my concerns. She called me the next day, created a Curriculum Review Committee, and invited me to speak to all of the Health Teachers to give them every available resource and the reasons WHY our kids deserve comprehensive sex education.  The Committee will make recommendations early next year to the School Board.  Sigh of Relief – I had possibly made a difference.  I was fairly confident that I had done my job and was continuing to educate kids.
I WAS PRETTY PROUD OF MYSELF UNTIL …….. my son came home to tell me a very disturbing story.  Hunter is 16; he is sophomore and enrolled in “Health Class.”  He happened to have a guest speaker that day.  Her name was Kelly; she has a website called Solid Options and her curriculum is called “no touchy.”

She started class guaranteeing them that “after today none of you will be having sex.”  She than asked for a raise of hands – how many of you talk to your parents about sex? 10 kids raised their hands.  Then she asked: how many of you are comfortable talking to your parents about sex? 5 kept their hands raised.   The class continued on the dangers of AIDS and STIs and teen pregnancies but not about how to prevent them.

Kelly told the class that 2% of teens know how to use condoms.  Hunter raised his hand and asked her to show them.  She said THEY DON’T WORK ANYWAY.  (Editor’s note: Kelly, if you’re reading, try getting the facts at Planned Parenthood.) She continued to say that girls should never touch a boy’s JUNK, because you won’t know what will happen.  If you are making out, say TURNIP.

TURNIP, according to Kelly, is a safe word.  What happened to NO?
This is why we need evidence-based sex ed:

  • To help kids prevent STIs by using condoms properly
  • To build healthy relationships so kids can avoid unwanted sexual experiences
  • To help protect our kids instead of treating them like they are too young or dumb to understand things

We have the same end result in mind–we only differ on the means.  We care about the health of our kids. We want them safe, free from disease and harm, and educated so that they make responsible decisions.  But we need to educate our kids using medically accurate facts and in a non-judgmental way rather than through distortions and moral judgment.
I am lucky enough to have the support of many organizations that help me get accurate facts and I’m ok with talking in a frank manner with my kids, but not everyone has the same network I do, and not everyone is ok with having these hard conversations with their kids.   This is why we need schools to be prepared with facts and no judgment, so our kids can get FACTS that will protect them.
I have experienced firsthand the impact when teens don’t receive comprehensive, medically accurate and objective information about preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.  Ignorance is not bliss, and the research is clear: Informing young people about these topics does not make them have sex.  In fact, evidence- based Sex Education has been proven to be effective in delaying the onset of sexual activity and increasing responsible contraceptive use among sexually active teens. Abstinence-only education has not.
I WILL NOT ACCEPT that our students shouldn’t have comprehensive sex education.  This is what I WANT:
1)    Each and every one of us has to do our part to EDUCATE ALL kids.
2) PASS THE  BILL – !  GET REAL – SEX ED – !


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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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