Planned Parenthood recently announced that they are moving away from “pro-choice” language because it doesn’t reflect the complexities of women’s reproductive decision making. My latest piece for RH Reality Check, “After Pro-Choice: What’s Next For Our Messaging?,” was inspired by mainstream media coverage of this issue which coincided with the 40th Anniversary of Roe. v. Wade. I spoke with some leading reproductive justice advocates and activists about how what this means for our movement and how we can better integrate reproductive justice frameworks into media messaging and the way we speak about reproductive health and rights in our communities. The segment from “Now With Alex” on MSNBC exemplifies many of the challenges and opportunities for success.
We have heard lots in the news about the Affordable Care Act, “Obamacare,” or health care reform but what does it mean when it’s time for us to go to the doctor? Did you know that there are benefits you can access NOW? Since much of the conversation can be confusing, I worked with Raising Women’s Voices to host a tweetchat about the benefits of the new health care law (the Affordable Care Act) that are available now to women currently with insurance, and what is coming up for all women in 2014. We had important information about well-woman exams, breastfeeding support, the elimination of “pre-existing conditions,” and were grateful to have the official Health and Human Services Women’s Health Twitter account, join the discussion. Raising Women’s Voices has compiled some excellent, easy-to-read and understand resources and if you missed our tweetchat, follow the story here!
Leading up to this year’s Election Day, Swirl PR worked with a project called Hoodie Vote, a grassroots movement to get people to the polls this Election Day in their hoodies. This was not to disrespect Martin’s memory and his horrific murder. Instead, it is to harness the energy that united us after Martin’s murder and to put it towards voting so we can make help create the communities we want and deserve by denouncing destructive policies.
While there was some pushback from people who thought it was “gimmicky,” there was a lot of momentum and love from young people, student organizers, celebrities, activists and media. We had Questlove involved and endorsements from Dick Gregory, Jesse Jackson, Russell Simmons, Amanda Seales, Jasiri-X, Ian Huckabee (one of the creators of “Glee”) among others. It was a movement that grew organically through teamwork. Check out our coverage on the Grio, Parlour Magazine and the Nation.
St. Mary’s Center, an HIV/AIDS skilled nursing facility (SNF) and adult day health care (ADHC) program celebrated their 20th anniversary on October 15, 2012 at Billie’s Black in Harlem. For 20 years they have remained Harlem’s only nursing home for people living with AIDS and are a cornerstone in the community. St. Mary’s longevity can be attributed to their quality medical and social services, along with the individualized care and attention that clients and residents receive. Many clients and residents have been at St. Mary’s for many years and consider it their home because of the peer support and warm environment. Cuts in New York state Medicaid have presented challenges, however they continue to provide a high level of care that the community depends on. To learn more about St. Mary’s and to donate, visit stmarysharlem.com.
May was an exciting month for the NYC Reproductive Justice Coalition! In collaboration with Women’s eNews, we put together our first annual NYC RJ Coalition Media Conference, a gathering of national reproductive justice (RJ) advocates, mediamakers and communicators to discuss reproductive justice framing in the media. The two-day conference featured a full day of workshops and panel discussions about RJ research, message development, working with the media and tips from reporters, followed by a film fest and brunch. We were able to convene RJ superstars from Advocates for Youth, the Women’s Media Center, Trust Black Women, Colorlines, California Latinas for Reproductive Justice, Forward Together/Strong Families, the Native Youth Sexual Health Network, Women in Media and News, Planned Parenthood and more. It was incredible to be able to have so many fierce and brilliant minds in one room, along with via Skype and Twitter!
To get some excellent and thorough recaps, check out coverage from Parlour Magazine: “How Much Do You Know About Reproductive Justice and How It Affects You?,” and the Center for Media Justice: “The Danger of One Story.” Please follow the conversation and participate via Tumblr, Twitter: @NYC4RJ or contact us at @firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sincere thanks to the Ford Foundation and Planned Parenthood for making this a reality.
On June 14, Girls for Gender Equity (GGE), a Brooklyn-based organization promoting the physical, mental, economic and social well-being of girls and women, will celebrate their 10th anniversary with a fundraiser cocktail reception honoring the iconic Anita Hill! Through our educational trainings, workshops and programs, GGE creates spaces to empower young women and help them develop strong voices. One of GGE’s amazing young leaders, Emily Carpenter, was just featured on the Melissa Harris-Perry show speaking about the importance of young women’s self-expression.
“The charge she led 10 years before GGE began allowed us to believe we could combat sexual harassment in schools under the auspices of Title IX of the Education Amendment. We stand on Professor Hill’s shoulders as we work to keep communities safe from gender-based violence and remove barriers that impede students’ academic achievement.”
Please join us on June14 as we celebrate our 10th anniversary where we honor the legendary and inspirational Anita Hill, and recognize “Gender Justice Warriors,” women from all walks of life whose dedication to gender equity has been instrumental in GGE’s success. Ticket sales and donations go directly to supporting GGE’s ongoing programs for the next 10 years and beyond!
Swirl PR is excited to work on the launch of “Justice for Young Families,” an initiative by California Latinas for Reproductive Justice (CLRJ) to change the dialogue around pregnant and parenting youth from one of blame towards a nuanced discussion that considers the relevant social, cultural, economic, and educational factors.
Check out their first issue brief,” Supporting Latina/o Youth: Strengthening Latina/o Young Families and Communities,” along with their featured blog post, “Keep Your Stigma, Latina/o Youth Need Support,” authored by Marisol Franco, Director of Policy and Advocacy on Alternet and RH Reality Check.
March 14, 2012, marked the one year anniversary of the incarceration of Bei Bei Shuai, a pregnant woman living in Indiana became so depressed that she attempted to end her own life. With help from friends who intervened, however, she survived. Although Ms. Shuai did everything she could, including undergoing cesarean surgery, to ensure that her baby survived, her newborn died shortly after birth. Ms. Shuai was arrested, charged, and has been held based on the claim that Indiana’s murder statute (death penalty or 45-years-to-life) and attempted feticide statute (up to 20-years) may be used to punish pregnant women who cannot guarantee a healthy birth outcome.
Not only is it unfair and unjust to criminalize pregnant women who are depressed (non-pregnant depressed people often get mental health support) but these laws are being used by a purported “pro-life” movement which aims to control women’s autonomy. If these feticide statutes continue to move forward, pregnant women can be prosecuted for the outcomes of their pregnancies so that women who have miscarriages and stillbirths can be interrogated by police. This is a very slippery slope.
National Advocates for Pregnant Women (NAPW) is petitioning the Indiana Attorney General and the Marion County prosecuter to drop all of the charges and release Ms. Shaui. Join the fight via Change.org and follow the developments on Twitter using the hashtag #FreeBeiBei.
National Advocates for Pregnant Women works to secure the human and civil rights, health and welfare of all women, focusing particularly on pregnant and parenting women, and those who are most vulnerable – low income women, women of color, and drug-using women.
On Valentine’s Day this year, the Who Cares? I Do campaign gathered human service providers across New York City to show their love for human services. What exactly are human services? They are day care and after school programs, domestic violence shelters, senior centers, mental health services, substance abuse counseling and support, job training, homeless shelters and all of the services that keep our communities safe and healthy.
Check out the photos from New Yorkers across the five boroughs who made valentines in appreciation for what human services brings to their lives! Please continue to support the campaign and stay tuned for the latest budget updates on the Who Cares? I Do. on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
In this summer’s politically charged climate, sexual health and reproductive justice issues continued to garner national attention and much of the discussion is based in stereotypes and misinformation. Case in point: controversial and inflammatory anti-choice billboards targeting women of color made their way to Los Angeles and Oakland claiming that the most dangerous place for Latina and African-American babies is in their mother’s womb.
California Latinas for Reproductive Justice (CLRJ) was not only part of a state-wide coalition to get the billboards taken down but they released new research directly refuting this propaganda which diverts attention from the real issues that are important to Latinas/os (and communities of color): access to quality health care, good paying jobs to support their families, and significant educational opportunities. Their report, Unearthing Latina/o Voices, examines Latinas’ attitudes and beliefs regarding reproductive and sexual health issues, particularly around pregnancy; pregnant and parenting youth; communication around sexuality; and accessing reproductive and sexual health information and services, including pregnancy termination.
The Center for American Progress featured CLRJ’s research and Director of Policy and Advocacy, Marisol Franco, in a detailed article about the ongoing billboard attacks. In collaboration with MpactPR, we were able to get national attention for this research and its potential to denounce the incendiary rhetoric against Latina women. CLRJ’s Senior Research Coordinator, Ena Susseth Valladares spoke with Michael Eric Dyson about the report and its relevance as reproductive justice continues to be under attack.
We’ll be continuing to update you with the latest from CLRJ and reproductive justice efforts from around the country.