It Is Our Responsibility to Participate in Ending the Culture of Racism and Violence

Like many of you, we are astonished, outraged and saddened by the racist violence and the injustices faced by people of color in this country, most recently by the killings of Alton Sterling in Louisiana and Philando Castile in Minnesota. We agree with Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) who was quoted today in the Washington Post as saying, “There is a systematic targeting of African Americans and a systematic lack of accountability.” Whose job is it to hold our community leaders and law enforcement accountable? It is ours – all of ours. But that is not all we must do – there is so much work to be done to combat this crisis – a crisis which is not new, but thanks to communication technology, is increasingly coming to light.

We must stand together in outrage. We must join the protests – physically in our city, state and federal communities; not just in writing on social media.

We must acknowledge how each of us has contributed to the culture of racism and violence perpetuating in our society, even if we didn’t intend to. We must take the necessary steps to change this, even if we are having difficulty seeing how it directly affects our own lives.

We must talk about this with each other. We must bring the conversations back to emphasize that the executions of black people by police officers is about racism. Period. This isn’t about the circumstances, and no explanation of circumstances excuses the actions of law enforcement. What we all know is that white people in the exact same circumstances would not be shot and killed in the same way. Let’s remember that these are illegal killings, yet the officers involved are not being held accountable and the victims are not getting any justice.

What constitutes justice for someone who lost their loved one in an act of racist violence? Perhaps the best we can do to honor the people who lost their lives is to come together and end these injustices once and for all.

Join the protests. Stand and rally with the activist groups in your communities who are organizing demonstrations.

Demand for your leaders in your local community, state, and federal governments to take action. Demand it from the Department of Justice.

Put your money where your mouth is. Donate to and join organizations working on the front lines of this issue:

Campaign Zero: http://www.joincampaignzero.org/#vision

Showing Up for Racial Justice: http://www.showingupforracialjustice.org/splash?splash=1

Educate yourself and the people in your life and challenge them to think and act differently. Ask them to join you in making real change. Don’t allow them to divert attention away from the real issue – bring them back to what is at its core.

Police violence against people of color is absolutely a reproductive justice issue.  As Monica Raye Simpson, Executive Director of SisterSong states, “While there is without a doubt an epidemic of police violence and brutality against Black men and women and the overall need to address injustice in the criminal justice system, racism and white supremacy filters through every system and every community in this country. This is so much bigger than one system. It starts young when Black boys and girls are 3.5 times more likely than their white classmates to be suspended or expelled and continues throughout our lives when we are overrepresented in low wage jobs, experience higher rates of unemployment and continue to face huge disparities in access to quality health care resulting in much poorer outcomes and a maternal health crisis.”

It is our responsibility to stop the culture of racism and violence. It is time to stop standing on the sidelines and act now.

Below are some articles/blogs/images worth reading and sharing:

http://www.justinccohen.com/blog/2016/7/6/advice-for-white-folks-in-the-wake-of-the-police-murder-of-a-black-person

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/13-painful-facts-about-alton-sterlings-life-and-death_us_577d1220e4b09b4c43c1b14e?

http://myemail.constantcontact.com/Alton-Sterling-.html?soid=1102470515351&aid=0ryxay32h2A

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/monica-raye-simpson/challenge-to-white-allies-in-new-year_b_8924430.html

sotomayor quote

black lives matter black lives names repeal hyde end violence

 

 

The Politics of the Body

The following is a post from Megan Jones, an undergraduate from Temple University who is interning at Philadelphia Women’s Center

Since starting my internship at Philadelphia Women’s Center three weeks ago, I’ve learned a lot about abortion; the procedure itself, what to expect afterwards, and how to interact with women who are in the office to get an abortion procedure. But I’ve also learned the role that politics still plays in abortion rights not only in the United States, but all over the world. The 1973 Roe v. Wade landmark decision made abortion legal, but that does not necessarily mean abortion is more accessible, affordable or de-stigmatized as it was in 1973. In politics today, there are quite a few law makers who believe that abortion should not be legal, and many have been moving forward to pass a 20-week ban on abortion, like Republicans in Pennsylvania.

In order to educate and inform women about the importance abortion rights in politics, I’ve been registering people to vote. This is very exciting to me, as I have been following the 2016 Presidential Election very closely and voted in the Presidential Primaries last month. Not only is voting a privilege that not all people have, but it is also the first time I am eligible to vote, and I couldn’t be more ready. There have been more acceptance and positive political changes that have happened in recent years, like the legalization of same-sex marriage in 2015. I believe we are on the brink of political revolution, and as a young, first-time voter, it is thrilling to be a part of that.

Working at Philadelphia Women’s Center has been extremely empowering. I am helping women choose what they want to do with their bodies and help them with making a decision that would impact that rest of their lives. I have seen all of the good that abortion does for women. Political involvement in women’s reproductive rights threatens to take away all of the positive work that places like Philadelphia Women’s Center do.

So how do we separate politics and abortion? The most important way is to be informed, and vote! Knowing your law maker’s and legislator’s stances on issues like women’s reproductive rights will help you cast your vote at the polls, and help keep abortion legal.

Not registered to vote? In a few simple steps, you can be!
1. To register to vote, go to our registration page here: Register to Vote!
2. To find your PA polling place, go to https://www.pavoterservices.state.pa.us/Pages/PollingPlaceInfo.aspx
3. To find out your politician’s stances on abortion rights, visit http://www.ladypartsjustice.com/ or http://www.ontheissues.org/
4. Important dates to remember: last day to register for the 2016 Election is 10/11/2016, Election Day is 11/8/2016

Supreme Court Affirms Rights to Access Abortion, but Fight is Far From Over

Today the Supreme Court struck down the Texas abortion restriction law in a 5-3 vote. The Court held that both the admitting privileges and surgical center requirement place a substantial obstacle in the path of women and constitute an undue burden.

So now the highest court in the land has affirmed that the Texas state legislators have gone too far, injecting their beliefs into women’s personal decisions. But make no mistake in interpreting this victory – the fight to protect abortion rights and access is far from over. We have seen that the anti-abortion extremists who serve in our state legislatures will go to any length to stigmatize providers, politicize women’s health and try to further restrict abortion. We are feeling this in all of our center’s states.

In Pennsylvania, state legislators are attempting to ban abortion procedures through Senate Bill 888. See our post, Keep Politicians Out of the Exam Room for details. Pennsylvanians need to follow the Supreme Court’s lead and build upon this decision by demanding that our state leaders reject SB 888 and pass laws that actually treat women with the compassion, respect and dignity they deserve in accessing abortion care, such as the bills in the Agenda for Women’s Health.

In Georgia, the landscape is nothing close to successful. In fact, instead of working to protect women and families seeking safe and legal abortion care, GA legislators have enacted a law giving two million dollars in state funds to faith-based organizations who specifically pose as medical providers without any licensure and routinely falsify information about the safety and availability of abortion in the state. Rather than put those state funds towards improving women’s health outcomes, the state has failed at ensuring compassionate, safe and dignified care.

In all of our states, we must insist that our leaders support legislation that puts a woman’s health, safety, and right to abortion care before politics, such as the Women’s Health Protection Act. We must insist that those who cannot afford abortion care receive the financial support they need, and outlaw the Hyde Amendment. We must address the daily acts of terrorism directed at abortion providers and enact more protections and increase prevention efforts, including the repeal of existing TRAP laws. Otherwise, centers across the country will continue to close and access will be further restricted for those who need it most.

Enacting laws that ensure access to high-quality abortion care instead of stigmatizing abortion and closing clinics is ultimately up to advocates and legislatures. Elections matter. This case shows the tremendous impact that elected officials – from the state house to the Presidency – have over our ability to lead healthy lives, plan for our future, and determine our own destinies. Up and down the ballot – from the most local race to the presidential election – votes matter.

Thank WWH CCR graphic

Keep Politicians Out of the Exam Room

keep politicians out of the exam roomThroughout her pregnancy, a woman must be able to make her own decisions with the advice of the health care professional she trusts – without interference from politicians. Yet politicians in Pennsylvania are doing just that – and last Tuesday they passed HB 1948, which bans a medically-proven method of abortion and all abortions at 20 weeks. In effect, this bill will deprive a woman of her ability to make an extremely personal, medical decision and hand it over to politicians.

This bill is another example of politicians attempting to eliminate access to abortion care – however, what they are really doing is eliminating access to safe abortion care. Many PA representatives opposing this bill told heart wrenching stories of women and their families whose health and lives would be harmed if this bill had been law when they had their abortions. As they repeatedly reminded the general assembly, most fetal anomalies are not detected by ultrasound until after 20 weeks, and there are no exceptions for these circumstances, nor are there exceptions for rape or incest. Women will be forced to carry unviable pregnancies and doctors will face criminal penalties if they provide the best care for their patients.

Baseless Arguments With No Science Behind Them

The proponents of this bill made two main arguments in support of this bill – that there have been “advances in medicine” able to keep a fetus alive earlier in pregnancy; and that a fetus can feel pain at 20 weeks. This is simply not true and the legislators arguing for the bill could not support these arguments with scientific or medical data. In truth, studies of infant survival and impairment rates support that 24 weeks as the point at which a fetus is considered viable*. In addition, the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists in Great Britain found that nerve connections in the fetal brain are not sufficiently formed to allow pain perception before 24 weeks**. The real issue here is not advances in medical science or fetal pain, but the attempt by proponents of the bill to take the decision about abortion away from a woman and her doctor.
Every pregnancy is different, and politicians simply cannot know all of the personal and medical circumstances behind a woman’s decision to have an abortion. It is wrong to let politicians create one rule on abortion for all circumstances. In drafting this bill, there were no public hearings, no testimony heard from reputable medical professionals (both the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the Pennsylvania Medical Society oppose this bill), and no consideration by the House Health Committee. In fact, MDs who provide abortions were in Harrisburg last Tuesday representing Physicians for Reproductive Health and were denied the opportunity to present their experience and the effect that this legislation will have on their patients.

contact your legislator

It is time for this to stop. We need your voice to stop these bills from going to the Governor. UPDATE 7-11-16: The PA Senate Judiciary Committee voted 9 to 5 to move HB 1948 for a full senate vote.  It is now more critical than ever that you call, email, Facebook or tweet your state Senator – you can look yours up here: http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/findyourlegislator/ and tell her or him to VOTE NO ON HB 1948. There is also a Governor’s petition you can sign here, however calls, emails, and those with personal stories have the biggest impact.

Your Voice Matters

your-story-mattersWhen you contact your Senator, please consider sharing why this legislation is personally so important to you. Your experiences and stories of how this legislation could affect you or your loved ones is paramount to reducing the stigma of abortion and helping to prevent bad legislation like this from becoming law.

*Moore GP, Lemyre B, Barrowman N, Daboval T. Neurodevelopmental outcomes at 4 to 8 years of children born at 22 to 25 weeks’ gestational age: a meta-analysis. JAMA Pediatrics. 2013; 167(10): 967-974

Moore T, Hennessy EM, Myles J, Johnson SJ, Draper ES, Costeloe KL, Marlow N. Neurological and developmental outcome in extremely preterm children born in England in 1995 and 2006: the EPICure studies. BMJ: British Medical Journal. 2012; 345:e7961

Rysavy MA, Li L, Bell EF, Das A, Hintz SR, Stoll BJ, Higgins RD. Between-hospital variation in treatment and outcomes in extremely preterm infants. New England Journal of Medicine. 2015; 372(19): 1801-1811

 

**Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. Fetal awareness: Review of research and recommendations for practice. March 2010

Join Cherry Hill Women’s Center for a screening of Trapped on May 22!

The Cherry Hill Women’s Center is proud to be partnering with South Jersey NOW – Alice Paul Chapter, the Judith Glick Buckman Fund for the Future, UUCCH Womyn and Religion, and the New Jersey Abortion Access Fund to host a screening of TRAPPED on Sunday, May 22, at 5:30pm.  Trapped is an award winning documentary by filmmaker Dawn Porter about the Targeted Regulation of Abortion Provider (TRAP) laws passed by state legislatures nationwide.

As the U.S. Supreme Court decides in 2016 whether individual states may essentially outlaw abortion (Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt), Trapped follows clinic workers and lawyers who are on the front lines of the battle to keep abortion safe and legal for millions of American women.

To learn more about the documentary and view the film trailer, please go towww.trappeddocumentary.com.

To learn more about NJAAF or to make a donation to the NJ Abortion Access Fund, please go to njaaf.org

Registration is required to attend the screening.  To register, please click on this link:  http://cherryhillwomenscenter.com/trapped-screening

Trapped Poster

TRAPPED – Trailer from Dawn Porter on Vimeo.

 

1.Dr. Willie Parker is one of two doctors who perform abortions in Mississippi. He says that it’s hard for many protesters to accept that he performs abortions because he is Christian.

Dr. Willie Parker is one of two doctors who perform abortions in Mississippi. He says that it’s hard for many protesters to accept that he performs abortions because he is Christian.

2.June Ayers, co-owner of Reproductive Health Services in Montgomery, Ala. displays blueprints for changes to her clinic that are necessary to adhere to new state guidelines.

June Ayers, co-owner of Reproductive Health Services in Montgomery, Ala. displays blueprints for changes to her clinic that are necessary to adhere to new state guidelines.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Action Needed to Oppose PA Abortion Ban

On Monday April 11, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives will vote on House Bill 1948, which is another piece of anti-abortion legislation fast-tracked for passage without a public hearing by politicians deliberately intent on further limiting access to needed abortion care in Pennsylvania. Components of the bill include a 20-week abortion ban and a ban on one of the safest and medically-proven second-trimester abortion procedures available to doctors in Pennsylvania. This is a very dangerous piece of legislation, and it is critical that PA residents speak out about it to lawmakers, and quickly.

Throughout her pregnancy, a woman must be able to make her own decisions with the advice of the health care professionals she trusts – without interference from politicians. As dedicated abortion providers and patient advocates, we know first-hand the obstacles already facing a woman seeking abortion care. Many things stand in her way, from bans on insurance coverage, not being able to afford it, not being able to find a doctor nearby, waiting periods, and other barriers put in place by politicians. We hear story after story about the hardships women face when trying to obtain an abortion.

We cannot know all of the personal and medical circumstances behind a woman’s personal decision to have an abortion. Every person’s situation is different and many times there are no simple answers. We do know that women who have abortions are good, moral, and responsible human beings worthy of dignity and respect. We can all agree that a woman’s health, not politics, should drive important medical decisions at every point in her pregnancy.

How You Can Help:

Please contact your Pennsylvania legislator as soon as you can and ask him or her to vote NO on HB 1948. You can easily find your legislator here. Share personal stories if you have them – they make a difference.

Sign AccessMatters’ petition to stop the PA Abortion ban here.

Please spread the word! Share this story with your social networks.

For More Information:

The Women’s Law Project has a post about 10 facts you should know about this bill. You can access it here.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and on our other Social Network links posted below.

PA HB1948 Badge V2_blue-01 PRH Graphic_4.8.16-01 (2)

 

National Abortion Access Bowl-A-Thon

The Women’s Centers is proud to have two teams participating in this year’s National Abortion Access Bowl-A-Thon to help raise funds for the NJ Abortion Access Fund.  We bowl on Saturday April 2 and both teams are less than $500 away from meeting our goals!  Please consider sending us a donation, no matter how small.  To illustrate what a difference these donations can make, please consider that $20 can contribute to:

  • A tank of gas to get to our Centers
  • Babysitter coverage during an appointment
  • Not needing to choose between food and medical care
  • Helping a woman without insurance coverage get the care she needs now, rather than her waiting until her 2nd trimester when she is further along in her pregnancy (and fees increase)

Click the links below to donate to our teams.  We very much appreciate your support!

Team AdvoCATS

Team Terminators

Supreme Court Rally to Protect Abortion Access

On March 2, join us for a historic rally at the U.S. Supreme Court as the Justices hear arguments in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, a critical case about abortion access that will affect generations to come.

For decades, the Supreme Court has affirmed that the U.S. Constitution protects every woman’s right to make her own personal decision about her pregnancy. But Texas politicians have passed a law that buries women’s health clinics under requirements so onerous they would drive more than 75 percent of clinics out of business. These requirements will harm women’s health, not improve it.

Help us make a strong statement to the public and to the media that the court must reaffirm our right to safe, legal, and accessible abortion care.

Rally to Protect Abortion Access
March 2, 2016, 8 AM – 12 PM
U.S. Supreme Court, Washington, D.C.

Watch LIVE here!

 

Invitation to Join #FrancisLovesMeToo Campaign

We want you to help us welcome the Pope and join in celebrating his messages of inclusion, mercy and economic justice … and call for changes in Pennsylvania.

Please join us in reminding Pope Francis and the attendees of the World Meeting of Families that Pennsylvania is in desperate need of inclusion, mercy and economic justice.

Religion is the major societal contributor of stigma in America, which we loosely define as the notion that abortion is morally wrong and/or socially unacceptable. Abortion stigma has unhealthy consequences for our patients who come from a Catholic upbringing.  They are bullied, shamed, and marginalized.  Catholic women are essentially prevented from seeking safe health care services by their church which should be a source of daily inspiration and safe guidance. For providers, we are harassed, dehumanized and targeted because of abortion stigma created and upheld by the Catholic Church.

Consider the following:

  • Pennsylvania laws against abortion have historically contributed to restrictions in other states creating a nation that denies equal access to safe medical care.
  • Philadelphia has the highest rate of deep poverty in the country.
  • Children are routinely ravaged by the traumatic effects of poverty and violence, and women suffer the highest rate of maternal mortality in the country.
  • Pennsylvania was just ranked the next-to-worst state to have a baby.
  • Discriminating against LGBTQ people is legal in Pennsylvania.
  • The minimum wage is the lowest allowed by federal law, a system that makes it impossible for tens of thousands of full-time workers to support their families.
  • Pennsylvania women are not expected to achieve equal pay until 2072.

We recognize Pope Francis has not changed church law or the harm caused by its stigma. However, this does invite Catholic women back to church in a political decision that appears to be motivated by compassion and acknowledgement of the reality of abortion and complexity of decisions. Our hope is that this invitation will extend beyond this election cycle and will grow include to abortion providers, and to patients choosing abortion in subsequent pregnancies.

We feel compelled to also gain perspective by turning to female church leaders and found the messaging put out by the National Coalition of American Nuns paraphrased below, to be powerful:

…NCAN realizes the Pope’s desire to be pastoral and making any statement about abortion might seem to be helpful as it takes away excommunication and the need to confess to a Bishop. However, women do not find this new ruling very affirming because:

  1. It does not respect the moral authority women have in making decisions for their own reproductive anatomy.
  2. It still holds those decisions made by a woman as sinful.
  3. It does not acknowledge that sperm from males produced these unplanned pregnancies.
  4. It only serves to highlight the fact that women should be eligible for all sacraments.
  5. It continues the practice of men proclaiming what is right and just for women.

Join now by visiting our FB page facebook.com/francislovesmetoo where you can upload video, snap pics on Instagram and follow us on Twitter!