April 28, 2009 § 1 Comment
NARAL Pro-Choice New York has been doing some great work with the Choices Series, “a six-part series of events examining the full range of reproductive choices available to women.” Next week is the Choices: Parenting event, hosted by Sistas on the Rise.
Thursday, May 7th
Sistas on the Rise
835 Dawson Street
Bronx, NY 10459
The second installment of the series will be Choices: Parenting, a look at the work being done on the ground to ensure that parenting is an accessible and supported reproductive choice for all. Co-sponsors and presenters include Sistas on the Rise, Baby’s First Home, the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU), and the Red Hook Initiative.
Free with RSVP to Lalena Howard at firstname.lastname@example.org or 646-520-3506.
Event is open to all and space is wheelchair accessible.
Hope some of you can make it!
February 19, 2009 § Leave a comment
Choices: Emergency Contraception
NARAL Pro-Choice New York and the National Institute for Reproductive Health, in partnership with co-sponsors Students Active for Ending Rape (SAFER), the New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault, and Harlem Health Promotion Center presents: “Choices: Emergency Contraception.”
Presenters will share info about EC and how to get it, their successes and lessons learned, and how we all can get involved in the efforts to make Emergency Contraception an accessible and supported reproductive choice for all!
Wednesday, February 25th
470 Park Ave. South, 7th Floor
New York, NY 10016
Free with RSVP to email@example.com or 646-520-3506.
Event is open to all and space is wheelchair accessible.
I can never make it to these events, but I encourage anyone who’s interested to contact Lalena Howard at the email above, she’s pretty awesome.
February 2, 2011 § 1 Comment
(Trigger warning for mentions of sexual assault.)
If you’ve been spending any time on the feminist Internet lately, you’ve likely read about HR3, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act. Besides codifying the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits almost all federal funding for abortion and vastly limits the access of low-income women to this procedure, the bill would all but remove the current exceptions for rape and incest. Even more problematically, it does so by redefining the only “acceptable” rape as “forcible” rape, something which would effectively bar the majority of rape survivors from receiving help aborting their rapist’s child.
When we talk about the “pro-rape lobby,” this is what we mean. It’s not enough for women who have been raped by a partner, acquaintance, or even stranger in a way that doesn’t comply with this laughably limited definition of rape (while, say, unconscious, drugged, or held down by someone much stronger) to be told that they should have fought back harder, should have watched their drink better, shouldn’t have gone out at all or let their guard down around their closest friends. It’s now going to be enshrined in law. I didn’t think there could be anything more outright evil than denying medical procedures to survivors of sexual assault, but this is almost it: They’re effectively telling people that they do provide funds for survivors, but you weren’t raped.
There are a lot of other reasons why this bill is terrible, many of which have been laid out over at Tiger Beatdown, where Sady is running her wonderful #DearJohn campaign. So what do we do about it now?
Really, in a liberal democracy, there are about four things we can do. The first, obviously, is vote. The nearest election might not be near enough, however, and since this is a blog for young feminists, many of us can’t vote, or at least can’t vote yet. So what do we do? The other three things.
The second is to contact your elected officials. If you’re in the US, find your representative and write them. Call them. Do both. Don’t threaten — we’re better than that. Just explain why the bill hurts women and rape survivors, and why the issue matters to you. Even if you can’t vote yet, let them know that you will be in the closest election.
The third is to make yourself heard. Minority groups like the Tea Party can dominate the national discussion through violent rhetoric and hate — but we can amplify our own voices as well. Follow this guide to joining the #DearJohn campaign — it’s a first step to aggregating the opinions of all the people against HR3. Find your local newspaper and write a letter to the editor — a real, physical letter. If you have access to readers through a blog, post on it. Most importantly, talk to the people you know about the resolution. You don’t have to start an argument or take on a group of people you know are vehemently anti-choice (unless you want to), but make sure that even the pro-choice people you know are aware of the implications of the resolution and why they should be against it.
The last is to consider donating some money to a pro-choice campaign or access fund. Even if we win on this, there are still many women who desperately want abortions — but can’t get the money for them. Try searching for your state’s abortion access fund — many, including DC and New York, have them. Donate to Planned Parenthood or NARAL. Even if you can’t give much, every little bit can help someone in need.
January 15, 2011 § 4 Comments
In addition to the constant calls for an end to comprehensive sex education and restrictions on birth control, conservative protesters in my neighbor state of Virginia have been pushing legislators to adopt tougher rules for abortion providers, something that could reportedly shut down up to 17 of the state’s 21 clinics. But the Virginia Pro-Choice coalition is pushing back. Come join them on Thursday, January 27, and let our officials know that reproductive freedom is not up for debate!
Pro-Choice Lobby Day will run on January 27, 2011 from 8am to 2pm at the Richmond General Assembly, and will feature pro-choice speakers, break-out sessions, and opportunities to tell your elected officials the importance of protecting reproductive choice in the Commonwealth. If you’re interested, you can register here with pro-choice coalition partners Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia; bus tickets from different parts of the state (as well as subsidies for those who might not be able to attend) are available during the registration process. More information for Pro-Choice Lobby Day is below; questions can be sent to Joseph Richards at 202.530.4168 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pro-Choice Lobby Day
Date: Thursday, January 27, 2011
Time: 8 a.m.-2 p.m.
Address: General Assembly
9th Street & Broad Street
September 24, 2010 § Leave a comment
…apply to be a part of this ABSOLUTELY DOPE program!
Teen Outreach Reproductive Challenge (TORCH) is a program of NARAL Pro-Choice New York that will pay you to teach other students about sexual health.
TORCH is a nationally recognized peer education program that trains high school freshmen, sophomores and juniors who are interested in reproductive rights and related topics to give presentations to other youth groups throughout New York City.
Participants must be available to attend trainings in our Manhattan office from 4-6 pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays from December through June.
TORCH provides young people with a community in which to build their self esteem, learn leadership skills, discuss reproductive health issues, and educate themselves and others to make intelligent decisions.
The application deadline is October 18, 2010 so APPLY TODAY!
I truly wish I had known about TORCH before I got too old to apply. I encourage you to take advantage of this amazing opportunity! Apply here.
August 26, 2010 § 1 Comment
Remember this epic fail of an article from back in April, in which Newsweek posited that young voters, women in particular, are “lukewarm” on pro-choice politics and think abortion rights “don’t need defending”?
Ugh. If you’d forgotten, I’m sorry to bring it up.
The article relies heavily on commentary from Nancy Keenan, the president of NARAL Pro-Choice America. To be fair, there are not many direct quotes from her, but there are monumentally disheartening paragraphs like this:
NARAL president Nancy Keenan had grown fearful about the future of her movement even before the health-care debate. Keenan considers herself part of the “postmenopausal militia,” a generation of baby-boomer activists now well into their 50s who grew up in an era of backroom abortions and fought passionately for legalization. Today they still run the major abortion-rights groups, including NARAL, Planned Parenthood, and the National Organization for Women.
Ahem. Emphasis on the “they still run.” Young women, and particularly young women of color, are systematically kept out of the boardroom and away from leadership positions in non-profit and advocacy groups. Latifa Lyles’ campaign for president of NOW is a perfect example of this. Notes from the campaign in June 2009:
Both contenders [Latifa Lyles and Terry O’Neill] expect the election to be close, and both are promoting themselves as best able to bolster NOW’s membership.
“We are not the strongest grass-roots movement we can be — we both agree on that,” Lyles said. “The question is how we deal with that.”
Noting that she contrasts with NOW’s mostly white and over-40 membership, Lyles said she could help give NOW a new image of youth and diversity that would appeal to younger feminists and reinvigorate the broader movement.
“The profile of NOW is just as important as the work we do,” she said. “There are a lot of antiquated notions about what feminism is.”
Lyles, a 33-year-old black vice president of the organization, was edged out by 56-year-old white activist Terry O’Neill, despite an enthusiastic endorsement by NOW’s then-president Kim Gandy. Qualified, passionate, well-recommended… but not elected. Clearly it’s not for lack of interest that young women aren’t running the pro-choice show.
Back to Keenan and NARAL.
These leaders will retire in a decade or so. And what worries Keenan is that she just doesn’t see a passion among the post-Roe generation — at least, not among those on her side.
THIS SHIT IS OUTRAGEOUS. MY PRO-CHOICE GIRLS GOT PASSION RUNNING OUT THEIR EARS. For me, the cherry on top is that I have been volunteering at NARAL Pro-Choice New York, the state affiliate of the national NARAL, for years.
I just don’t know what we have to do to be seen and heard. Online activism isn’t taken seriously, apparently — even though groups like NARAL certainly rely on blogs and social networking sites to get the word out. But it seems that the hundreds of hours of in-person volunteer work that this lady, right here has contributed — collecting petition signatures for the Reproductive Health Act, calling voters in support of pro-choice candidates, distributing condoms and information about emergency contraception, blah blah blah — aren’t taken seriously either.
Jessica Valenti was so fucking right on when she wrote of this debacle last summer:
Who do you think has been making your photocopies and volunteering and organizing for these big organizations all of these years?
The work of the mainstream pro-choice movement is built on younger women’s labor — unpaid and underpaid — who do the majority of the grunt work but who are rarely recognized. And I don’t know about you — but I’m sick of working so hard on behalf of a movement that continues to insist that we don’t exist.
Where would NARAL Pro-Choice America or NOW be without the work done by younger women?
Who would do their outreach? Who would volunteer? Who would take unpaid internships? Who would carry their action items on blogs and forward them by email, Facebook and Twitter? Who would Blog for Choice?
Seriously, what would happen if young women decided they had enough of being ignored and started simply decided to stop working for these organizations? Even if for a month young women boycotted the organizations that refuse to acknowledge their hard work — the movement would fall on its ass.
And there’s the rub — young women don’t want to forsake this movement. We don’t want to let it crumble to the side of the road, because control over our own bodies is infinitely more important than “postmenopausal militia” doubt about our commitment. Dropping out of the race is counterproductive. We’re still running, we’re still working damn fucking hard, no matter what any president says.
Edited for clarity on August 27.
June 24, 2010 § 4 Comments
You might have heard about the Reproductive Health Act. In fact, I hope you have, because I’ve been writing about it incessantly since the beginning of this blog. It’s an awesome and necessary bill that I, personally, me, this person right here who is in high school and not a paid lobbyist, have been invested in for the past two years.
The bill will update New York State’s abortion law for the first time since Roe. It will remove abortion from the criminal code, where the right to choose is stated as an exception to homicide, and put it into the public health code where it belongs. Perhaps most importantly, the bill will permit late-term abortions not only if a woman’s life is in danger, but also in cases where her health is threatened. When the RHA is passed, New York’s women will no longer have to rely on federal legislation to protect our fundamental right to choose; no matter what happens on the national level, our rights will be covered.
People have been talking about the RHA a lot recently because the state legislative session is likely to end soon, as soon as the state budget is passed. (Once the session ends, the senators won’t come back to work until January.) Though the budget is top priority, the senators have been discussing and passing other legislation in the meantime, so it’s not unfeasible that the RHA might be introduced before the end of the session.
There’s another layer of complexity with this bill: different advocacy groups have different ideas about the most effective lobbying methods. Some groups, like NARAL Pro-Choice New York (which — full disclosure — I volunteer with and love), are calling for the bill to be introduced as soon as possible, even if it doesn’t get passed during this session. The idea behind this is that pro-choice organizations and voters will know where their representatives stand on choice issues, and hold accountable those who say they are pro-choice but vote otherwise. This is especially important because this fall is election season. Other groups, most notably Family Planning Advocates of New York State, would rather wait to introduce the bill until it is very likely to pass.
Interesting, yes! Very political, slightly exhausting, undeniably nuanced.
Nuance! It is great. Here is something that is not nuanced: the title of Nicholas Confessore’s New York Times City Room blog post on this issue.
Abortion Rights Supporters Squabble Over Bill.
Here, if you are wondering, is a reliable dictionary definition of that heinous word, squabble: “to engage in a disagreeable argument, usually over a trivial matter.” Fascinating! Because do you know what is not, in fact, a “trivial matter”? WOMEN’S AUTONOMY AND CONTROL OVER OUR OWN BODIES. And do you know who, in fact, might agree with me? MORE THAN HALF THE POPULATION OF THIS FINE STATE.
Fuck this shit.
The media loves to focus on “squabbling” women because it is so easy! It is so fucking easy to get a reader’s attention by writing “Hey! Look at these silly catfighting ladies!” instead of delving into complex political issues. That’s lazy journalism, and entrenched sexism. It’s part of a larger social pattern of framing conflicts between women as desperate and catty, while positioning male conflicts as stoic and totes serious. It’s part of a widespread attempt to delegitimize women’s extremely legitimate political frustrations.
I find this article absolutely hilarious. Because do you know who is actually squabbling? The fucking State Senate! You know, the people who we pay to get important shit done, like, you know, the budget for the entire state of New York. And who we rely on to keep their shit together, not, you know, act like “feuding junior high schoolers.” Have people forgotten about that outrageous, embarrassing, and illegal COUP that happened last June? I remember. I can’t forget.
New York’s women have waited long enough for the Reproductive Health Act. We’re not squabbling. We’re demanding what we deserve.
May 7, 2010 § 1 Comment
…we need you!
I have been personally connected to this bill for the past two years. I’ve collected petition signatures at street fairs, hand-delivered hundreds of signatures to my state senator Eric Schneiderman, written letters to my representatives, and called voters all across the state to rally support for the bill.
And I’ve been overwhelmingly outraged at how fucking long it’s taken to pass this thing — thanks in no small part to our childish state senators! Now is the time to pass the Reproductive Health Act. Join NARAL in calling voters to transfer them directly to their representatives and reiterate support for this bill. Details are below; visit their events page for more information.
Secondly, NARAL is welcoming new volunteers into its Activist Leadership Circle, a committed and absolutely inspiring group of advocates that I’ve been part of since its inception in January 2009 (coincidentally, right around the time that Women’s Glib was created!).
The anti-choice movement gets a lot of attention for its organizing strategies. But you know as well as we do that pro-choice activists are impassioned, excited, and eager to get out there to enact our pro-choice values.
The Activist Leadership Circle is NARAL Pro-Choice New York’s core network of highly active volunteers, trained by our community organizing staff to help guide our advocacy efforts. The Activist Leadership Circle meets once a month to discuss current reproductive health issues, learn about opportunities to participate and lead upcoming advocacy efforts, and develop new initiatives and campaigns.
After attending our four-part series of new member trainings, members of the Circle join one of three Action Groups: Outreach Action Group, Political and Legislative Action Group, and Reproductive Health Education Group. Our new member welcome and training kicks off on Wednesday, May 12. Join us!
Below is the complete new member training and event schedule:
Wednesday, May 12, 6:00-8:00 p.m.: “Welcome & NARAL Pro-Choice New York 101”
Wednesday, May 19, 6:00-8:00 p.m.: “How to Talk about the Issues and Take Action”
Thursday, May 27, 6:30-8:30 p.m.: “Pro-Choice Action – Phone Bank”
Wednesday, June 2, 6:00-8:00 p.m.: “Graduation and Welcome Party”
For more information and to RSVP, please contact Lalena Howard at email@example.com or 646-520-3506.
March 9, 2010 § 2 Comments
… according to myriad sources, the MTA will display some 2,000 anti-abortion ads across the NYC subway system this month. Visuals of the massive ad campaign haven’t been released yet, but apparently they show either a woman saying “I thought life would be the way it was before” or a man saying “I often wonder if there was something I could have done to help her.”
Quoth Samantha Levine of the lovely NARAL-NY: “The campaign suggests that feelings of sadness and self-harm are the universal experiences for someone who had an abortion. And there’s no evidence to suggest that that’s true.”
From what I understand, the campaign is sponsored by the apalling “organization” Abortion Changes You. (Psst — abortion does change you! It makes you not pregnant anymore. Most people know that already; you probably didn’t need to go to all this trouble to get that message across.)
Can we talk about how much money this campaign costs? I don’t have the numbers, but I’m guessing the sponsors paid a pretty penny for 2,000 ads. Can you imagine what else they could have done with this money?
Pro-choicers know better than to spend our money on disrespectful and invasive ad campaigns. We don’t blow $2.5 million on a 30-second commercial. Instead, we donate to help low-income women pay for their abortion, to provide teenagers with real sex education, and to create progress for economically disadvantaged queer people.
If pro-lifers really gave a shit about women’s woes, they’d use this enormous sum to HELP WOMEN. They could provide healthcare to uninsured kids. They could pay the hospital bills of teen mothers. They could rally for sex education — you know, the kind that prevents unwanted pregnancies — in our schools. But truly, they couldn’t care less about our lives or well-being.
This campaign reveals what the pro-life sect is all about: demonizing women and demoralizing the choices we make about our own damn bodies.
March 3, 2010 § Leave a comment
Wednesday March 24 is 2010’s Back Up Your Birth Control NYC Day of Action, hosted by an organization I love to talk about on Women’s Glib — NARAL Pro-Choice NY. Shira and I participated in the Day last year and had a blast. During the event, volunteers stand outside NYC subway stations, handing out free condoms and information about emergency contraception. (This is an especially fun way to volunteer since you’ll get virtually no backlash — in my experience, everyone loves a free condom.) You can join a group of NARAL volunteers at certain stations, or organize at your own stop — it’s up to you (they’re big on choice at NARAL).
Here are the deets for this year’s event:
BACK UP YOUR BIRTH CONTROL NYC DAY OF ACTION
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Create your own shift anytime between 7:30am — 7:30pm
If you are organizing at your own subway stop, please RSVP by Wednesday, March 17 to ensure that there is enough time for us to mail you the materials and condoms. NARAL staff will bring materials for all those joining us in Union Square or Herald Square.
NARAL STAFFED STOPS and TIMES:
14th St. Union Square, 12:00 – 2:00 pm
34 St. Herald Square, 5:00 – 7:00 pm
To RSVP contact Lalena Howard at firstname.lastname@example.org, with your stop, shift, and contact info for all members of your group. Also check out the Facebook event page.