2,550 Coloradans join tele-town hall to discuss reproductive rights
On August 23, 2016, Act for Women state partners NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado, Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, and the Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR) held a tele-town hall to discuss the state of reproductive rights at the federal and state levels. Speakers included the Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus Chair Congresswoman Diana DeGette (D-CO), Andrea Ferrigno of Whole Woman’s Health, and staff from the host organizations and the Center for Reproductive Rights. More than 2,550 Coloradans joined the call to discuss the Whole Woman’s Health case, the Women’s Health Protection Act, and the EACH Woman Act.
Save the Date: 2016 Advocacy Day to Support the Women’s Health Protection Act
Act for Women campaign members and other partners: Invite your staff, donors, board members, affiliates, and other key leaders with whom you work to the 2016 Advocacy Day. The event brings together advocates and health care providers from across the country to educate Congressional offices about the importance of the Women’s Health Protection Act.
The event, happening May 11 -12 in Washington, D.C., builds on the success of the 2014 Women’s Health Protection Act Advocacy Day. Experienced and first-time advocates are welcome to attend!
For More Information
For registration and travel information, including details about financial assistance, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
U.S. Supreme Court to Hear Abortion Access Case
On November 13, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole, a case challenging two onerous abortion restrictions. The case will determine whether Texas can shut down nearly all abortion care providers in the state, placing countless women at risk of serious harm. At issue in the lawsuit are the kind of laws that would be prohibited if the Women’s Health Protection Act is enacted.
For more than 40 years, the Supreme Court has affirmed that the Constitution protects a woman’s right to make her own decisions about her health and family. Laws like the one in Texas that is under review have been developed by politicians to sneak around the Constitution and end abortion by preventing women from accessing legal health services.
While it is essential that the Supreme Court protect our rights in this case, it is also the responsibility of Congress to enact policy that advances reproductive health and upholds these constitutional values.
The case will be heard this spring, with a decision expected in June 2016. This is a pivotal moment in our movement, and you can use the
case as a conversation starter about the need for federal policies that improve access to reproductive health care.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: The war on women is over, and women lost. In the past five years, states have enacted over 230 new abortion restrictions. Planned Parenthood is under constant attack and losing ground quickly. The promise of Roe v. Wade is lost, its precedents irreparably undermined. Basically, it’s over.
Yes, it’s a familiar narrative. Safe, legal, accessible abortion is a thing of the past, and we’ll soon be forced to admit our defeat. As someone who works on reproductive rights policy, I hear this frustration frequently, from friends and acquaintances. Why is the pro-choice movement always on the defensive? Why do our allies use language that stigmatizes women who choose abortion? Why are we allowing our freedoms to be legislated away? Why aren’t we more proactive?
The Act for Women campaign is partnering with key state organizations to build out the ground game for the Women’s Health Protection Act. These advocates will advance the Act through community education, engagement with members of Congress, state and local policy initiatives, grassroots mobilization, and more.
Michigan and Ohio are neighboring states at the front lines of some of the worst pending abortion restrictions in the country. As a result, some women are forced to leave their home state to seek abortion care elsewhere. A new organization known as Reclaim, along with NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio Foundation, will ensure the story of the impact of abortion restrictions on Ohioans and Michiganders informs the Act for Women and reaches the members of Congress who need to hear it.
In Tennessee, SisterReach will approach the Act for Women campaign from a reproductive justice perspective, highlighting how the passage of the Women’s Health Protection Act would positively affect low-income and rural women, and women and girls of color.
In Virginia, members of the Virginia Latina Advocacy Network of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health will activate their constituency in support of this important bill.
Campaign Members Hit the Hill
On October 5 and 6, 2015, Act for Women campaign members visited with staff from nearly a dozen U.S. House Representatives, introducing them to the campaign and seeking their support for the Women’s Health Protection Act.
DC-based advocates from the Center for Reproductive Rights, ACLU, NARAL, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, National Abortion Federation, National Partnership for Women and Families, National Women’s Law Center, Physicians for Reproductive Health, and Reproductive Health Technologies Project participated in the meetings.
Each group spoke about why the Women’s Health Protection Act is important to their organization and constituency, and emphasized the movement’s excitement around having a proactive campaign. Several of the staffers expressed optimism about the bill and likelihood that the Congress member they work for would be able to co-sponsor the bill. The advocates also visited with some of the bill’s champions to hand out campaign buttons and thank them for their leadership.
Florida Congresswomen Call for an Antidote to Anti-Choice State Laws
On April 27, 2015, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida held a press conference calling for a veto of the state’s mandatory delay bill (SB 724/HB 633), which would impose a 24-hour waiting period on women seeking abortion care. Joined by former state senator Nan Rich, an activist from National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, and Dr. Karla Maguire of Physicians for Reproductive Health, Rep. Wasserman Schultz highlighted the Women’s Health Protection Act as the antidote to anti-choice state legislation like the Florida bill. Supporters from the local Planned Parenthood, National Council of Jewish Women, and the Center for Reproductive Rights were present to stand with the Congresswoman as she spoke.
Adding to the drumbeat, on May 5, Rep. Lois Frankel hosted a press conference in West Palm Beach, joined by State Rep. Lori Berman and Mona Reis, founder and CEO of Presidential Women’s Center, to call on Gov. Rick Scott to veto the state’s mandatory delay bill. Frankel also urged support for the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would prevent harmful regulations like forced waiting periods.
Congress Acts for Women
Senator Richard Blumenthal and Congresswoman Judy Chu reintroduced the Women’s Health Protection Act in the 114th Congress on January 21, 2015. First introduced in the 113th Congress, the bill (S. 217/ H.R. 448) had 32 original cosponsors in the Senate and 72 in the House—a substantial success. These Congress members recognize that the Women’s Health Protection Act is a key proactive measure to fight back against a wave of restrictions at the state and federal levels.
Senator Tammy Baldwin, a lead cosponsor of the bill, and Congresswomen Chu and Lois Frankel issued press releases upon the reintroduction of the bill. More than a dozen members of Congress tweeted with the #ActforWomen hashtag to mark the reintroduction. State and federal nonprofits also took to social media and the press to highlight the importance of the Women’s Health Protection Act. Fifty-six organizations signed on to endorse the bill.
The witness panel in support of the legislation featured Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, Dr. Willie Parker, an abortion provider in Mississippi, and Wisconsin State Representative Chris Taylor. Twenty-three organizations submitted written testimony in support of the bill.
The hearing drew a packed crowd, with supporters of the bill lining up several hours before it began to secure seats, and prompted media coverage across the country. Hearings on proactive abortion rights legislation are rare, and this event provided an opportunity for legislators, experts, and state and national organizations to discuss the importance of protecting access to abortion for all women, regardless of where they live.