Tag Archives: planned parenthood

Stand Against Hate – A handy action guide

If you’re on facebook, or twitter, or you have access to any online news, you know that there is a lot going on right now in the work to prevent president-elect Trump from enacting the hate he campaigned on. Even as that work takes place, you also know that he is appointing known, active neo-nazis to his staff and to positions of leadership that do not require congressional approval. He is also nominating those same kinds of people to positions that will require congressional approval. This is a test. Will we, the people, allow our elected representatives to sanction these choices, or will we demand that they refuse and reject hate?

If you have access to news, you also know that the list of conflicts of interest in a Trump presidency are piling up because he has not divested himself from his businesses, nor has he separated his family and heirs from his political transition team.

If you have access to news, you further know that the evidence of voting irregularities, illegal voter discrimination and disenfranchisement is growing. If this was happening in any other democracy in the world, we would be pointing to a fraudulent, stolen election. We would be backing the people on the ground asking for recounts and vote audits. It is happening here. And we need to take these same steps to advocate not just for ourselves, but for the ideal of a free and fair democracy.

So – Here are some tangible actions that we can, and should, all be taking.

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First: Call AND email the Department of Justice and demand an audit of the votes. This is less work than a full recount but can help determine if there were voting irregularities that should trigger a full recount. This is a time sensitive action item. Do it first, do it now.

Call the DOJ at 202-353-1555 and tell them you want the votes audited. Even if it’s busy, keep calling. It takes a few times to get through because of all the calls being made.

Email, if you don’t feel comfortable calling:  voting.section@usdoj.gov

Also, sign this petition for good measure.

Second: Ask the Electors in the Electoral college to  refuse to cast their vote for Trump. This feels like a desperate act, but the more I’ve read, the more I’ve learned that this situation is exactly why our founding fathers put the electoral college in place. Perhaps reminding them of that isn’t such a bad idea… Here’s how:

You can join the 4+ million people and sign the petition.

There are also ways to locate and contact your state’s electors. I am not linking to them here because as much as I believe in the possibility of this, I refuse to do anything that even remotely looks like Doxxing and every list I’ve seen is just names, which means I could accidentally unleash people into petitioning (aka harassing) the wrong people. Nope.  That feels wrong.

Third: Contact your representatives. Every. Single. Week. Calling works best. Emails are skimmed by bots for keywords that are responded to with an auto-reply. Phone calls work because you will be able to talk to congressional aides who have to listen to and record your concerns. This is necessary regardless of your representative‘s political affiliation, they all need to hear from us.

Not sure where to begin? An amazing person set up this great tool just for us! Use it! Set a reminder in your phone and get to work.

Fourth: Call to demand a bipartisan investigation of Donald Trump’s conflicts of interest. Seriously. This is important. Everyday there is a new report of another conflict of interest that involves Trump lining his pockets at public expense. This needs to be investigated and stopped. Call 202-225-5074 and say: “I am ________ and I am a vote. I am calling to request a bipartisan review of Donald Trump’s financials and conflicts of interest. Thank you.”

Also call some of the members serving on that committee: Mark Meadows (NC) – Chairman of the Subcommittee on Government Operations (202) 225-6401 and Jason Chaffetz (UT) – (202) 225-7751 and tell them you are a voter calling in support of a bipartisan review of Trump’s financials and conflicts of interest. You are gravely concerned about these conflicts of interest and believe they are of the utmost importance, as do many of your fellow citizens.

Fifth: Report Hate Crimes It is important to report hate crimes both to local law enforcement AND to the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division at: (202) 514-4609. It is important for these incidents to be recorded and investigated, especially as we continue to see a surge in such crimes across the nation in response to Trump’s “win.”

Sixth: Call Paul Ryan and register your support for the ACA. Speaker Ryan has set up a poll to hear what American’s think about the Affordable Care Act. Yes, you have to listen to some propaganda before you’re allowed to record your opinion, but it’s worth it to tell them that we like having insurance. Here’s the number: 202-225-0600. Press 2 to give your opinion, then press 1 if you are in favor of the ACA.

Seventh – Don’t forget – with the holidays just around the corner, it is time to make donations to the organizations working to support the people threatened by Trump. You can make your donations in the name of your loved ones and send them a card to let them know. You can also make these donations in Mike Pence or Donald Trump’s name and have the receipts sent to them at:

Office of Governor Mike Pence/State House Room 206/Indianapolis, IN 46204-2797

and

Donald Trump/ The Trump Organization/ 725 Fifth Avenue/ New York, NY 10022

(I recommend Mike Pence’s name for Planned Parenthood, Lilith Fund, AbortionFunds.org and any LGBTQ and HIV/AIDS organizations. I recommend Donald Trump’s name for the ACLU, Southern Poverty Law Center, and any organizations helping immigrants, Muslims, African-Americans, Jewish people, organizations working to end sexual assault, etc.)

I’ll be posting a follow up with a list of worthy organizations, but you can start with the above min-list.

Immediate Action needed – Stand with Standing Rock!! Don’t forget, Trump isn’t president yet – and while we’re all spinning out about what a Trump presidency might mean, the Standing Rock Water Protectors are being abused and tortured. They are being sprayed with water canons in below freezing temperatures, shot at with rubber bullets and tear gas, all because they are trying to refuse an oil pipeline that white residents already rejected. So, while you’re fired up and taking action – call the White House and demand an end to this militarized response to peaceful protesters trying to protect their land and water. Here’s the number to the Situation Room: 202-456-9431. You will get transferred to the main comment line and placed on hold. Stay on the line and leave your comment. It is important.

You can also donate to the people protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline.

AND here’s more concrete action you can take to Stand with Standing Rock.

Last – Hold the media accountable. When the media refuses to call Steven Bannon a neo-nazi, or when they glamorize the “white nationalists” riding the Trump Train, we must push back. We must also hold them accountable for using their investigative skills to determine the truth, before reporting rather than after. We must be diligent and determined in our demand for truthful, unbiased reporting. (And note – unbiased does NOT mean giving equal time to lies. That’s part of what got us into this mess.)

So – write letters to the editors, call the media out on social media, refuse to re-share fake news. If we want a free press, we have to participate. In fact, this election is one big reminder that if we want a democracy, we have to participate, we have to work for it – not just by voting once every 4 years if the lines aren’t too long and our dream candidate is running, but every day, all year long.

If this feels overwhelming – just pick one action to do today. Pick another one tomorrow. Bookmark this page and anytime you have a minute, come back to it and pick another action. Commit yourself to one action a day for as long as it takes.

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Democracy requires action. It’s time to take some.

Note: You can find additional petitions online at Change.org, the Southern Poverty Law Center, The White House, etc.

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Filed under Naive idealism, Of Course I'm a Feminist, Uncategorized

What Does Reproductive Freedom Mean Anyway?

Yesterday, as many of you know, I went a marching down to the Colorado State Capital to have a wee chat with some of my legislators about reproductive freedom and a few related bills that are slated to cross their desks soon.

Most of the ones I spoke to were on the same page as me. They got where I was coming from and appreciated hearing that they had my support, as well as the support of the group that I was with.

There was one stand out though, one guy who just didn’t understand what we were doing down there. He didn’t understand what the Family Care Act had to do with reproductive freedom, after all, there’s nothing in it about abortion OR birth control. He was right – it’s not about abortion. Or birth control. It’s about family – and THAT IS about reproductive freedom.

Based on this experience, I want to take a minute to clear something up. I know I can’t change the national zeitgeist around these words, but maybe I can help just one or two people hear them, and understand them, just a little better.

Reproductive freedom is, simply, the belief that ALL people should be able to choose whether to have a family, when to have a family, how to structure their family, who to have that family with, and how large of a family they want.

Sometimes to accomplish this family planning (another politically loaded phrase, though I cannot for the life of me figure out why.) the best course of action is birth control.

My husband and I used birth control after we got married because we did not want children right away. We wanted to figure out the whole being married thing first. Then we got a dog. Then, once we had that whole waking up in the middle of the night to let something out to pee, and remembering to feed it three times a day and take it outside for walks thing down… THEN we chose to get pregnant and start our family.

Sometimes to accomplish family planning, abortions are necessary.

There are many reasons a woman, or a couple, might choose to have an abortion. The law of the land says – that’s none of your business. God says, “Judge not, lest ye be judged.” (Matthew 7:1)

Another way in which family planning might be accomplished is through IVF or other fertility treatments. Sometimes the problem is not one of over-fertility, but under fertility. Sometimes couples ask science to step in where nature has failed them.

Sometimes family planning involves sperm donors, egg donors, surrogate wombs… Family planning is complicated.

Reproductive freedom is not.

If it’s not hurting you, if it’s not about you, let it be. You don’t want me in your bedroom judging your love life, so stay out of other people’s relationships. A minister speaking for Civil Unions yesterday had me cheering out loud when he said, “God cares more about the content of your heart than the relative genitalia of your partner.”

Family planning, reproductive freedom, reproductive choice – they all amount to the same thing – allowing your fellow citizens to enjoy the same rights, privileges and freedoms that you do. The right to love who they love, to marry who they want, to have as many – or as few – children as they desire. The right to make educated choices, using scientifically sound and evidence based information and tools – or to leave it up to THEIR god(s).

I think that when we dispense with the rhetoric, we’re all on the same side. We all want happiness for ourselves and our loved ones.

So, remember this. Statistically speaking, you are friends with someone who is gay. You are friends with someone who has had an abortion. You are friends with people who use birth control. You are friends with people who are exercising their right to reproductive freedom.

In fact YOU exercise your rights to reproductive freedom every single day. No one is forcing you to create children. And no one is legally preventing you from creating children. You get to choose.

And that is all it means to be pro-choice.

Welcome to the revolution.

revolution

Live and let live.

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Filed under Of Course I'm a Feminist, Rant

Democracy in Action

First, let me start with how close “Democracy in Action” is to “Democracy Inaction” One little typo and you have the US congress…

Moving on – If you follow me on twitter, you already know that I spent my day down at the Colorado State Capital talking to my legislators today – lobbying as it were. I was down there for Reproductive Freedom Lobby Day put on by the awesome folk at Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, Boulder Valley Women’s Health Clinic, NARAL, the ACLU and all the other awesome organizations that make up the Reproductive Freedom Coalition in Colorado.

What an amazing experience. I learned so much. And I need to share, because maybe some of what I learned today can inform you the next time you get on your soapbox.

Disclaimer – I took American Government, Civics and studied American History.

Yet… I did not know that ANYONE can go down to their state capital basically any time they are open for business and ask to speak to their representatives and… (unless your rep is super busy that day) get a personal audience with them! Seriously. I had no idea Democracy was this easy.

I mean – I vote. Every single election, even the off years. I live in a state that makes that crazy easy – we have mail in ballots and they show up, with information about the people/issues we’re voting on and I get online, do my due diligence, vote and mail it back – EASY. But… There is so much more to democracy than voting every now and again.

Democracy is a year round, day in, day out thing. If we just vote every 2-4 years and then sit back on our laurels and hope the people we voted for do what we thought they said they would… Well, we’re sort of asking for it, aren’t we?

Democracy is supposed to be a participatory form of government. And while I am a ranty pants and I do call and petition and send emails… It never occurred to me that I could just… show up and (politely) demand an audience.

Today I had the extreme pleasure of meeting, and shaking hands with Senator Mark Jones, Representative Jonathan Singer and Representative Mike Foote.

We were there lobbying for a couple of bills. One to help schools define, and access funds to help them institute comprehensive sexual education. This is a bill of huge personal importance to me. First, because I was the victim of abstinence only sex-ed in high school and I saw what it did. (My town had the highest teen pregnancy rate in the continental USA when I was there, as well as a rising AIDS problem. It was, to put it mildly, no bueno.) Also, I have two daughters, and while my husband and I are very open with them in discussing anything they have questions about… The same cannot be said for most of their friends, nor most of the people they will date when they are older. And I want my girls to be able to choose from a school of educated suitors. People who understand that sex comes with some heavy responsibility – and that it needs to be founded in deep respect and solid communication.

We were also lobbying for the Family Care Act, which would broaden the definition of family to include civil unions, domestic partners, adoptive families, and all the other many arrangements of modern family structure – allowing any primary caregiver or partner the ability to take (unpaid) time off work to care for a sick or disabled loved one for a short time without fear of losing their job as a result. It’s a modern extension of the Family Medical Leave Act signed into law by President Bill Clinton.

We were there with information about a bi-partisan bill (yes, you read that right) called the Crimes Against Pregnant Women Act, which would close a loophole in Colorado law and define crimes against pregnant women that result in the loss of the fetus as more severe than crimes against a non-pregnant person. (Without creating a back door to fetal personhood. It preserves a woman’s right to an abortion – and a doctor’s right to perform an abortion. It simply acknowledges that when something tragic happens and a crime results in the loss of a wanted pregnancy, there should be some legal recourse for the affected parties, and defines those terms and legal options.)

Finally, we were there to show our support for Civil Unions and participate in the rally supporting legislation that would put all Colorado citizens – and all Colorado couples – on equal legal footing. (I hope, I hope, I hope that repealing the (un)constitutional gay marriage ban is next on the agenda. Civil Unions are all well and good, but speaking as a married person – marriage is where it’s at. Everyone should be allowed to have this – loud and proud – with the person they love.) After all “Families are families and love is love.”

The senator and representatives that my group met with were all in – across the board. Each of them was a sponsor, or co-sponsor of at least one of the above bills. My day was easy. It was joyful. It was empowering. It was what I always thought Democracy should be, but didn’t realize it actually was.

Other people’s day’s were not quite so smooth as mine, as I learned when I had the honor of speaking to Representative Spencer Swalm (District 37, Centennial, Colorado) today as well as my representatives.

The group that was supposed to speak with Rep. Swalm thought they had missed him and had moved on before he was able to take a moment away from his committee meeting. When he came out he was angry, and flustered. He was confused.

I offered to speak to him, letting him know that I was not his constituent, but that the woman who had requested a moment of his time was, and that we were there for the same purpose.

He wanted me to explain how the Family Care Act was a reproductive rights issue. After all, “It has nothing to do with abortion OR birth control!”

He’s right. It doesn’t. None of the legislation we were there to support had anything at all whatsoever to do with abortion or birth control. (Unless educating children that these things exist and are legal and available, and that if you are going to have sex and you don’t want to get pregnant or diseased, there are things that can help limit the risk counts as having to do with birth control.)

He wanted me to explain why our group was lobbying for this bill, since it clearly had nothing to do with our mission of reproductive freedom.

I tried to explain to him that reproductive freedom is about more than abortion, or birth control. Reproductive freedom is the belief that all people deserve to choose not only when to have a family, and how large of a family to have, but also who to have it with, how to structure it, and to have the same freedoms and protections that other families enjoy.

We support the Family Care Act because it will help offer equal protection, and equal freedom to non-traditional families. And that IS a reproductive rights issue.

He blustered and let me know that sending in paperwork lobbying for a bill on stationary that read “Reproductive Rights Lobby Day” was a sure way to get him NOT to vote our way.

Then he tore up the pages, threw them in the trash and walked away.

I was a little stunned, but then the crafty red-head in me had an epiphany. He had just shown me the chink in his armor.  If he was my representative, I would so totally start letting him know that all kinds of things that he would normally support are, in fact, reproductive rights issues. Giving guns to teachers – totally a reproductive rights issue. After all, once they have guns, they can force all their students to take birth control… Mwa-ha-ha!!

I went to the capital today to bring the message that all Colorado families, and all Colorado citizens, should be treated fairly under the law. That all Coloradans should have equal access to science based information about their bodies, their health, their choices. That all Coloradans should have their government working FOR them, instead of against them.

I didn’t win everyone, but I met a great group of people and I learned – Democracy doesn’t sleep. It’s there, happening, all around us, every day – just waiting for us to jump in and participate!

I hope next time I have a day off, you’ll join me for a lobby side chat with our state legislators. They need to hear from us, and for the most part – they appreciate us coming down to let them know we care.

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Filed under Of Course I'm a Feminist, Rant

I’m just a girl

Just when I think I’m going to get to stop talking politics and go back to covering books and writing, Ohio goes and unilaterally votes against the testimony of doctors, constituents, and the will of the people and passes legislation to defund Planned Parenthood.

Now, I am not an Ohioan. So perhaps you are wondering why I care? I am also not a Texan, but it happened there too, just before the election. But I am a woman and actions like these, if allowed to move forward unchecked, create problems for us all. They also spread, if one state gets away with it, it emboldens certain members of a certain political party to try in other states. And I will be damned if I let this crazy spread. We stood together when Komen attempted to defund Planned Parenthood, we need to stand together now.

Stand Together

Thank you Planned Parenthood, for standing up for me. Today, I stand for you.

So let me tell you my Planned Parenthood story. And… spoiler… It doesn’t even involve an abortion. Because see, that’s why these people keep voting to defund this organization, because it uses PRIVATE donations to help women obtain a LEGAL medical procedure that they disagree with. What they seem to forget is that for most women, what Planned Parenthood provides is not abortion, but primary preventative health care. Hundreds of thousands of women across this country rely on Planned Parenthood for their health and well-being. For 16 years, I have been one of them.

In the past sixteen years I have used (and paid for) the services of Planned Parenthood in the following ways:
I have received my annual women’s check-up and pap smear to screen for cervical cancer.
I have gotten STD tested twice. Once after being raped, and once before I married my husband.
In college I got my birth control pills through Planned Parenthood. (I credit the availability of this choice with making it so that I did not also have to get a pregnancy test after I was raped.)

I continued using planned Parenthood as my primary care provider even after I was married. Again, they were affordable, and they treated me with genuine care at every visit.

After my two children were born Planned Parenthood helped me get everything back in shape after my c-section, and again after my VBAC. They helped me deal with thrush that infected my breasts and made it nearly impossible for me to feed my 3 month old. They allayed my fears when I started having cramps and hormonal changes and helped me find natural ways to get back on track. (After I was laughed at and dismissed by a “traditional” gynecologist who charged me 4 times as much for worse care.)

When my husband and I were done having children, we went to Planned Parenthood together to talk to them about more permanent forms of birth control. He wanted a vasectomy and they provided us with referrals to a number of qualified doctors in the area who were partnered with them. They also paid for half of the procedure.

Two weeks ago when I went in for my annual exam, they found a lump in my breast. I am young and very, very low risk for breast cancer. That said, I’m a mom and I can’t afford to die right now. So, I talked to the Nurse Practitioner and using Planned Parenthood’s partnership with Komen, I was able to get a diagnostic mammogram and ultrasound.

It’s not cancer. And it’s not anything else scary either. I can breathe again. So can my husband, and my children, and my mom and dad and sister. Because Planned Parenthood took the time to talk to me and to help me find the services I needed.

I am not saying that no other service provider could have done all of these things for me. But I will say, that for the price, I have never found better care. Even now, when money is not the primary factor in my health care choices, I choose Planned Parenthood because they treat me as a whole person, not just a vagina with a bottomless insurance card.

In the 16 years that I have been going to Planned Parenthood for my care I have never once been offered an abortion. I have never once been pressured to use birth control. I have never once been slipped a “morning after pill.” I have never been forced, or coerced, into undergoing unnecessary and expensive tests. I have never been judged for my choices: to have sex, to marry, to have children, to stop having more children… Instead I have been supported, emotionally and physically. I have received scientific and medically accurate information at every appointment. I have received help in making responsible choices in every stage of my life, from reckless college student enthralled by her own perceived immortality, to married mother of two making decisions that will affect my whole family.

Now, I realize that I am just a girl and so my experience only counts for 3/4 as much as a male politician’s opinion – but all the same, I hope that if enough of us stand up and tell our stories, we will be heard and Planned Parenthood will be given the credit it deserves for making the lives of women (and families) in this country better, safer and healthier. I hope that if we all rise up together women will be recognized as people too. People with hopes and dreams – and the God-given right to pursue them – which includes determining when, if and how we have children.

The UN declared access to birth control and women’s health services a human right. The same day, the former GOP presidential candidate declared access to birth control and basic health services for women a gift.

Ladies – it is up to us to change this story. It is up to us to define this narrative. It is up to us to demand our rights – to health, to safety, to equality. Our rights are not a gift to be granted, they are not a privilege to be doled out by politicians in exchange for good behavior. They are ours, by birth, and it’s time we stood up and claimed them.

So, please, stand with me. Share your story – here or somewhere else. Men, you’re invited to participate too. Many of you have also received care at Planned Parenthood. Your lives are also affected by these decisions, and your voices have a place in this conversation.

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Filed under Of Course I'm a Feminist, Rant