RHA (Phone) Call to Action

January 23, 2010 § 3 Comments

Hey, New York State residents! Have you heard about the Reproductive Health Act? It’s pretty awesome.

According to NARAL Pro-Choice New York, the bill:

  • gives women control over their reproductive lives — including the right to choose or refuse birth control and the right to continue or end a pregnancy;
  • amends the NY State health code to make abortion a matter of public health, not an exception to criminal law;
  • states for the first time in state history that abortion must be seen as an option at any point during pregnancy if a woman’s health is in danger.

Apropos of yesterday’s Blog for Choice Day event, dedicating to dissecting what it means to “trust women” (especially in light of the 2009 murder of Dr. Tiller), NARAL-NY will be hosting an informational conference call about the RHA next Wednesday, January 27.

Join us for the Reproductive Health Act (Phone) Call to Action. We will educate our members and supporters on the bill and share opportunities for all pro-choice New Yorkers — from Buffalo to Staten Island — to get involved.

Wednesday, January 27
6:30-8:00 p.m.
Call in toll-free from anywhere in New York State

RSVP to Lalena Howard at lhoward@prochoiceny.org or 646-520-3506 today. Conference call number, agenda and materials will be provided when you RSVP.

I plan to call in, and you should too!

Emergency Phonebanks Against the Stupak-Pitts Amendment

November 17, 2009 § 1 Comment

Tonight (11/17) and Thursday (11/19) night from 6 to 9 pm, NARAL Pro-Choice New York will host phonebanks against the ridiculously anti-choice Stupak-Pitts Amendment in the healthcare reform bill. You’ll speak with voters and connect them to their Senators, so they can hear directly from constituents who oppose the amendment.

Phonebanks will be held at the NARAL offices, but you can also participate from anywhere as long as you have internet and a phone. The folks at NARAL will guide you through it.

Contact community organizer Lalena Howard at lhoward@prochoiceny.org or 646-520-3506 to RSVP.

Choices: Adoption

November 7, 2009 § Leave a comment

The lovely NARAL Pro-Choice New York has an awesome event lined up.

Choices: Adoption
Wednesday, November 18th
7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
NARAL Pro-Choice NY, 470 Park Avenue South, 7th Floor, NYC

(on Facebook)

NARAL Pro-Choice New York in partnership with co-sponsor Spence-Chapin present “Choices: Adoption” on Wednesday, November 18th. “Choices: Adoption” will highlight the work being done to ensure that all people have access to and are supported in the process of adoption.

Presenters will share the work they do to ensure that birth mothers are heard, that professionals are trained to include adoption when options counseling, that the socioeconomic factors underlying transracial adoption are discussed and that all individuals and families, regardless of race, sexual orientation and class are recruited as adoptive parents.

Presenters include:
Antoinette Williams, Assistant Director of Domestic Adoption at Spence-Chapin
Marci Lieber, MSW, Healthcare Advocate at Spence-Chapin
Molly HyoJung Bidol, LMSW, Counselor, Coach, Consultant on Transracial Adoption

The event is free, wheelchair accessible, and open to all with RSVP to Lalena Howard at lhoward@prochoiceny.org or 646-520-3506. Bring ID to get into the building.

Keep track of all NARAL’s cool events with their online calendar.

Saying No

October 28, 2009 § 3 Comments

You may have noticed that blog updates have been infrequent of late. I can’t speak for other contributors, but for me this lack of writing has much to do with my stress level. I’m applying to college, and I’m taking a lot of interesting and damn challenging classes.

There’s a lot I’ve had to be proud of recently: I’m finished with a couple applications; my modern dance classes have made my body feel awesome, limber and strong; I’m happy with my grades thus far; I’ve amped up my work with NARAL Pro-Choice NY; this week is my one-year anniversary of dating my boyfriend.

But I’ve noticed that it’s hard for me to take a break. There’s so much I want to do — not only do, but do perfectly — that it’s hard to carve myself any time for just nothing. It’s hard to keep my mental and emotional health strong.

Stress is just as much a feminist issue as its partner-in-crime, choice. As Courtney Martin suggests in her book, women feeling like we have to do everything may be an unintended consequence of the feminist movement, which has taught us that we can do anything. For (privileged) women, the array of opportunities we’re presented with — much broader than even a few decades ago — can be a double-edged sword.

Other bloggers deal with this, too. I have deep respect for Melissa’s and RMJ’s decisions to take some time off, decisions that, unfortunately, may have induced feelings of guilt. And I admired Kate’s post about refusing to feel guilty for being a busy person with many passions.

Sometimes I think of my feminism as two intertwined struggles: feminism for women, which I fight for through my pro-choice volunteering, blog writing and reading, and club-running, among other acts; and feminism for me, which may need some prioritizing. This kind of feminism is me encouraging myself to take a break, to relax with my family and friends, to cook for myself, to nap, to read, to say NO when I’m overwhelmed, to stop doing everything, to stop trying to be perfect by setting more compassionate and realistic goals.

Just some things to think about.

NYCers: Elect Pro-Choice Candidates on November 3rd!

October 19, 2009 § Leave a comment

The New York City elections for mayor, public advocate, comptroller, borough presidents, and city council representatives are Tuesday November 3rd. Join NARAL Pro-Choice New York as we call voters, empowering them to vote pro-choice.

Pro-Choice Election Phone Banks

Tuesday, October 27th
Wednesday, October 28th
Thursday, October 29th
Monday, November 2nd

All phone banks run from 6pm-9pm.

Join us as we make calls to ensure that New Yorkers vote pro-choice up and down the ballot this November 3rd! You can either join us in our NYC office or make calls from home using our web-based system. To make calls from home all you need is a computer with high-speed internet access and a phone. Laptops and cell phones are okay! You will receive all the log-in information when you RSVP.

Training is provided for everyone and dinner is provided for those joining us in the office. Our office is located at 470 Park Avenue South, 7th Floor in NYC. Space is wheelchair accessible.

To RSVP, please contact Lalena Howard at lhoward@prochoiceny.org or 646-520-3506.

Check out more opportunities to volunteer on NARAL’s Community Events Calendar.

Calling All NYC Pro-Choice Activists!

September 1, 2009 § 1 Comment

NARAL Pro-Choice New York is hands-down one of my favorite progressive nonprofits. They’re on the political, legislative, and community fronts working to secure safe and legal abortions for all women who want them. They also publish key resources like a pro-choice voter guide (here’s the one for September’s primaries); the Book of Choices, a comprehensive state-wide list of options for women facing unplanned pregnancies (in English and Spanish); a city-wide resource guide for free and low-cost reproductive health care; and a list of open-minded, pro-choice doctors who specialize in adolescent health (again, in English and Spanish).

That’s why I’m thrilled that they are seeking new members aplenty for their Activist Leadership Circle, a group of volunteers that Shira and I have been a part of since January.

We’ve written quite a bit about our work with NARAL, which has included calling voters directly during group phonebanks, distributing condoms and information about emergency contraception, rallying support for the Reproductive Health Act, and getting pissed when our efforts were essentially derailed by the childish behavior rampant in the New York state senate. We’ve also covered their fabulous Choices event series (though I’m sad to say I couldn’t make it to any of those three lectures).

Please consider donating your skills and pro-choice passion to this incredible organization. Here’s what’s involved in joining the Activist Leadership Circle…

Wednesday, 9/9/09, 6:00-8:30 pm: Welcome & NARAL Pro-Choice New York 101

Saturday, 9/12/09, time and location TBD: Pro-Choice Election Day of Action

Wednesday, 9/16/09, 6:00-8:00 pm: How to Talk About the Issues and Take Action

Wednesday, 9/23/09, 6:00-8:00 pm: Graduation and Welcome Party

All events (except the day of action) will take place at the NARAL Offices, 470 Park Avenue South, 7th Floor (you’ll need ID!).

And here’s what to expect when you join…

The Circle has three Action Groups that allow members to get involved in the work that is most exciting to them.

After attending our four-part series of new member trainings, you’ll be able to join one of three Action Groups:

Outreach Action Group: The Outreach Action Group is responsible for getting more people involved in NARAL Pro-Choice New York’s activist efforts and disseminating life-saving resources and information through tabling at events, street canvassing, and on-line event posting.

Political and Legislative Action Group: The Political and Legislative Action Group participates in efforts to elect pro-choice candidates such as election phone banks, disseminating voter guides, and representing NARAL Pro-Choice New York in campaign offices. Members will also help pass pro-active, pro-choice legislation by participating in legislation phone banks, petitioning, and lobbying efforts.

Reproductive Health Education Group: The Reproductive Health Education Group’s current project is researching the issue of Crisis Pregnancy Centers in New York State in order to develop a strategic advocacy plan. The Reproductive Health Education Group will also be a space to discuss emerging reproductive health issues and develop new initiatives to address them.

You can read more about the project details here and here.

If you are interested in joining the Activist Leadership Circle, contact NARAL’s community organizer Lalena Howard at lhoward@prochoiceny.org or 646-520-3506. Feel free to email me at womensglib@gmail.com if you have any questions about the structure or current projects of the circle.

Cross-posted at Deeply Problematic.

SAFER teach-in event

July 29, 2009 § Leave a comment

I love Students Active for Ending Rape (SAFER). It’s a totally badass organization that provides resources for college students to improve their schools’ sexual assault prevention and response programs. Through our work at NARAL, Shira and I met Nora, an awesome activist who sits on SAFER’s board and was kind enough to speak at a meeting of our Feminist Focus club. It rocked.

So if, unlike me, you’re available during a weekday afternoon, I highly encourage you to make your way to this event they’re holding on Monday:

WHAT: A FREE teach-in for students who want to learn more about what SAFER does and how to get active on their campus.
WHEN: Monday, August 3rd from noon to 2:00pm
WHERE: NARAL Pro-Choice NY Offices (470 Park Ave South, 7th floor) — bring ID!
RSVP: contact@safercampus.org

Hope some of you can make it!

What the DOE doesn’t want you reading

July 6, 2009 § 1 Comment

Hey Women’s Glib: this is my first real guest post on Feministe. My introductory post, if you’re curious, is here.

As I mentioned in my introductory post, I will be a senior at a public high school in NYC this fall. (As much as I’d like to forget all about school during these fleeting summer months, it still seems to be on my mind.) As far as public schools go, mine is pretty well furnished. We have a dedicated Parents’ Association that puts on impressive fundraisers, and most of our students come from families privileged enough to donate — though because of massive budget cuts (even worse than last year’s), all of the nifty electives our teachers planned for are simply not happening next year.

So we’re relatively well off, and that means we have quite a few computers: one in each classroom, mostly for teacher use; a few in our small school library; and around forty in a lab that’s available for us students to use during our free periods and afterschool.

The problem is that when you’re using a computer at school, finding what you’re looking for on the internet can be quite a task. You see, the New York City Department of Education uses Websense, a service that “provide[s] hundreds of organizations around the world with the latest security warnings on malicious Internet events including spyware, phishing, spam, crimeware and compromised Web sites.” In our case, the so-called “malicious” and “compromised” sites are identified by categories; if the program picks up on one of its trigger categories, the entire website will be blocked.

So what does the DOE consider “malicious” enough to block?

The category “personal networking” is blocked. This is ostensibly to stop students from logging on to Facebook, though I’m of the opinion that a little downtime on Facebook would make kids more relaxed and productive overall — but this also means that I can’t read Shapely Prose and some other blogs while at school.

The category “pro-choice” is blocked. This means that not only am I unable to use NARAL Pro-Choice New York’s Book of Choices to find a clinic where I can pick up free emergency contraception, I’m also unable to do research on abortion laws for an assigned project.

The categories “sexuality” and “homosexuality” are blocked. This means that not only am I unable to look up counseling resources from the Anti-Violence Project to use in a Gay-Straight Alliance club meeting, I’m also unable to find HIV/AIDS infection statistics in preparation for my school’s AIDS Action Day.

These are just a few categories that have given me trouble recently. I’m sure there’s a wealth of even-more-taboo keywords that are also blocked. Obviously there’s quite a lot of unbiased information that the DOE doesn’t want students worrying our silly little heads about.

Cross-posted at Feministe.

Choices: Abortion

June 30, 2009 § Leave a comment

Coming up next week is another of NARAL Pro-Choice New York’s Choices events.

Choices: Abortion
Wednesday, July 8th
6:30 PM- 8:30 PM
NARAL Pro-Choice New York
470 Park Avenue South, 7th Floor, NYC

NARAL Pro-Choice New York and the National Institute for Reproductive Health in partnership with co-sponsors the New York Abortion Access Fund and Exhale presents Choices: Abortion.

Presenters will share the work they do each day to provide financial assistance to low-income women who cannot afford to pay for an abortion, support and counsel women after they have an abortion, ensure that all women have the health care coverage and access necessary to obtain reproductive health care, and work on the legislative and political levels to ensure that all people have access to safe and legal abortion.

Presenters include:

Event is free and open to all with RSVP to Lalena Howard at lhoward@prochoiceny.org or 646-520-3506. Event space is wheel-chair accessible.

I hope to make it, and I’d love to see lots of people there!

Our State Senators, the “Feuding Junior High Schoolers”

June 26, 2009 § 3 Comments

It’s been two and a half weeks since the feud in the New York State Senate began up in Albany. The Times broke the news on June 8:

Republicans apparently seized control of the New York State Senate on Monday, in a stunning and sudden reversal of fortunes for the Democratic Party, which controlled the chamber for barely five months.

A raucous leadership fight erupted on the floor of the Senate around 3 p.m., with two Democrats, Pedro Espada Jr. of the Bronx and Hiram Monserrate of Queens, joining the 30 Senate Republicans in a motion that would displace Democrats as the party in control.

The quite possibly illegal coup has had ramifications for many legislation, including a proposed bill to legalize same-sex marriage that has been stalled indefinitely. It has also suspended a vote on the Reproductive Health Act, a bill that will codify Roe v. Wade into New York state law and establish political standards for reproductive health legislation.

Kelli Conlin, president of NARAL Pro-Choice NY and the National Institute for Reproductive Health, writes:

With passage of this legislation, every woman in New York would have been assured that her fundamental right to choose abortion would be protected. Critically, the Reproductive Health Act would also have clarified that a woman would be allowed to have an abortion if her health or life was endangered. The bill, which has been loudly debated for three years, was going to be voted on quietly and respectfully so that each senator could fully vote his or her conscience.

But two days earlier, the Republicans — with the help of Sen. Pedro Espada and Sen. Hiram Monserrate, both Democrats, ostensibly — engineered a coup that took down the pro-choice Senate leadership and attempted to reinstate the same anti-choice Republicans who’ve been blocking pro-choice legislation for 40 years.

This maneuver appears to have effectively derailed the bill — ironically, as both Monserrate and Espada are co-sponsors of the Reproductive Health Act.

One would think that Monserrate, of all people, might want to make women’s issues a priority. One would think Espada, whose health center serves low-income women, might want to make women’s health a priority. One would think that Sen. Dean Skelos, who really ought to be noticing the national trend away from Bush-era extremism, might want to make women’s issues a priority.

Women’s health and rights matter in New York. Polls have repeatedly shown that nearly three quarters of New Yorkers (across all party lines and demographics) support the Reproductive Health Act.

Yet the anti-choice Republican leadership has maintained a stranglehold on the Senate, kowtowing to fringe interests.

The RHA is near and dear to my heart. In fact, as part of my volunteer work with NARAL over the past year and a half, I’ve been collecting petition signatures in support of the bill at street fairs and calling voters to transfer them directly to their district representatives. The week before this free-for-all began, I walked over to my state senator’s district office to hand-deliver almost a hundred petitions from my district alone. Soon after, he signed on as a co-sponsor.

I have been working to make this bill a law because it’s fun, it’s empowering, and it will have incredible consequences for New York’s women. But my commitment to action and dialogue has been completely silenced, while the people we’ve elected to represent us get paid to act like children.

New York did not have one State Senate on Tuesday [June 23]. It had two.

Democrats sneaked into the Senate chamber shortly after noon, seizing control of the rostrum and locking Republicans out of the room. Republicans were finally allowed to enter about 2:30 p.m., but when they tried to station one of their own members on the dais they were blocked by the sergeants-at-arms.

So then something extraordinary — and rather embarrassing — happened.

The two sides, like feuding junior high schoolers refusing to acknowledge each other, began holding separate legislative sessions at the same time. Side by side, the parties, each asserting that it rightfully controls the Senate, talked and sometimes shouted over one another, gaveling through votes that are certain to be disputed. There were two Senate presidents, two gavels, two sets of bills being voted on.

…and again just a few days later:

This feckless bunch in Albany, a k a your state senators, can’t even scuffle properly. Just when you thought they couldn’t embarrass themselves any further, they reduced themselves this week to “my gavel is bigger than yours” gamesmanship and to nyah-nyah name-calling.

“You’re out of order,” cried George H. Winner Jr., a Republican senator. No, shouted back Ruth Hassell-Thompson, a Democrat, “you’re out of order.”

And people think high school students are immature?

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