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.

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.

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)

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

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!

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.