June 16, 2011
Yesterday we asked the Third Wave community: tell us #whatitreallytakes to get an abortion. Your responses are inspiring, overwhelming and powerful.
March 29, 2011
(anti-choice billboard image via Feministing) Third Wave grant partner Chicago Abortion Fund released this statement today, denouncing a new series of anti-choice billboards targeting communities of color -- this time, in their hometown Chicago:
Chicago Abortion Fund (CAF) is against the billboard being unveiled at 58th and State Streets on the South Side of Chicago on Tuesday, March 29, 2011. The ongoing anti-choice movement to target women of color in cities across the country is both despicable and deplorable. Not only is the ad attempting to shame black women but placing a picture of the President Obama alongside the message stoops to a new low. CAF demands that elected officials and community leaders immediately reject this racist billboard campaign. Life Always, the organization responsible for the billboard, is just one of the many anti-choice organizations seeking shock value through a message that many don’t believe. These organizations and their billboard campaigns fail to address the social conditions that create the need for abortions, including poverty and a lack of access to contraception and reproductive health care. Says Gaylon Alcaraz, executive director of the Chicago Abortion Fund, “These people who insist on shoving down our throats their anti-women messages through lies and misleading information should be ashamed of themselves. Women have a legal right to access abortion services and should not be shamed regarding the personal choices they make. Abortion is a personal decision, not a political discussion. We will not be moved by this anti-choice attempt to hijack our communities. Only we, women of color, can speak for our communities. Only we, women of color, know what is best for our families.”Last year, similar billboards first began to appear in Georgia. Third Wave grant partner SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW successfully mobilized their community and allies in Atlanta to denounce the billboards and speak to the truth of black women's fight for reproductive freedom. For more on the network of anti-choice organizations funding these billboards, check out Miriam Zoila Pérez's investigation at Colorlines. Update (March 30, 2011): Gaylon Alcaraz on NBC Chicago, at yesterday's protest against the billboards:
March 28, 2011
Stephanie Alvarado, National Field Organizer at the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH), spoke in support of the activism of undocumented immigrant youth at the March 2011 Coming Out of the Shadows Rally in New York's Union Square. NLIRH has been a major force in bringing the struggles and triumphs of immigrant women to the forefront of the reproductive health and women’s movements. "We stand with the DREAMers," said Stephanie. "Your bravery will not be in vain."
September 8, 2010
As the summer wound down and legislative season ramped up, two of our grant partners, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health and the Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights, along with California Latinas for Reproductive Justice, teamed up to host the First Annual Latina Week of Action for Reproductive Justice. Over Facebook, Twitter, and on their own blogs, NLIRH gathered and published stories from their members and extended community about the kinds of power they have over their own reproductive and sexual lives -- and the times when they didn't get the care and information they sought out. We asked Miriam Perez and Maria Elena Perez of NLIRH to tell us more about their collaborative, online storytelling campaign. Third Wave: What was the inspiration for using blogging and social media as a central part of the RJ Week of Action? Miriam Perez: For the Latina RJ Week of Action we wanted to elevate the dialogue that is already happening across online communities about reproductive justice from a Latina perspective. We wanted to do so in a coordinated and organized way, so folks across the RJ community (and the blogosphere in general) could sense the breadth and depth of our issues and perspectives. We also just really wanted to get folks talking to each other, and about their stories -- specifically, this time, their "contraception story." We know Latinas have unique experiences when it comes to contraception, sex ed, interactions with providers. We wanted to spend a week pushing those stories to the top and bringing them into the spotlight. The conversations on Facebook in response to five questions we were asking (one each day) were probably the most successful and direct conversation builders, and we also had over 20 blog posts about the week of action across the web. Third Wave: What's been the biggest takeaway or success from the RJ Week of Action? Maria Elena Perez: The biggest takeaway has been the power of social media and blogs to raise awareness around an RJ issue. The Week of Action was a success on the ground as well, but the coverage we got through the blogosphere was more than we expected. Next year with more time and planning, we want to involve more groups. Also, I can't stress enough how instrumental Miriam was to our success with the blog carnival and all the coverage there. She really leveraged her relationships as a blogger to get other Latina bloggers on board to blog about this and then coordinating the interns' blogs. Miriam, works as a consultant with us on our e-communications efforts and by working with her, we've been able to elevate our blog. In the past, before the week of action, interns' blog posts have been cross posted on RH Reality Check, which was really exciting to see. Also, for Facebook we had an intentional strategy of having staff and interns respond to the questions. We weren't getting much dialogue on our page and we decided asking questions would generate some traffic, but more importantly having staff and interns participate. We've seen on other pages, once folks from the org and others comment, other people feel more inclined to do so. Something small but definitely made a difference with the dialogue happening on Facebook. People like questions and also feeling like they are getting to know the organization (and people there).
December 9, 2010
This November, New Voices Pittsburgh, a reproductive justice and human rights organization and one of Third Wave's grant partners, held a speak-out in honor of Amy Lynn Gillespie, who died in the Allegheny County Jail in January. Amy had been sentenced to jail when she became pregnant while serving parole. While in jail, she was denied medical treatment for pneumonia by guards, and died three weeks later. Her family has since filed a lawsuit against the jail. In their campaign of support, New Voices states:
The recently filed lawsuit against the Allegheny County Jail must draw our attention to the grave Reproductive Justice issues and fatal Human Rights violations affecting incarcerated women. The allegations about the conditions in Allegheny County Jail raised in this lawsuit are of serious concern to New Voices Pittsburgh and our allies. The death of Amy Lynn Gillespie was seemingly preventable with basic medical care and reproductive healthcare. The death of any pregnant woman from preventable causes is reproductive injustice and is especially egregious in the custody of the Allegheny County Jail. We challenge the coercive and intrusive practice of conditioning work release on not getting pregnant. We must expose the criminalization of women and pregnancy as a threat to Human Rights that risks women’s health and women’s lives.Since January of this year, NVP has been working on their FOCUS on Women Campaign, a community organizing initiative led by New Voices Pittsburgh to address the Reproductive Justice and Human Rights issues of incarcerated women in the Allegheny County Jail. "Our strategy for public policy change led to the passage of Pennsylvania Senate Bill 1074, the “Healthy Birth for Incarcerated Women Act” in July through the efforts of our allied organizations," says NVP. "Our campaign produced the Policymaker Leadership Institute with the Urban Initiative for Reproductive Health to “Protect the Rights of Incarcerated Women to Reproductive Health Care” in October." You can find photos from their march and speak-out, as well as updates on how you can support their campaign, at New Voice's Facebook page.
August 10, 2010
Third Wave grant partners National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health and the Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights, along with California Latinas for Reproductive Justice, have teamed up to host the First Annual Latina Week of Action for Reproductive Justice on August 9-15. Over on the NLIRH blog, folks are sharing their stories about access to sex education and contraception. Here's Rita Martinez, writing on her "So-Called Sex Education":
Like many young Latinas, I never really felt comfortable talking about contraception with my parents; god forbid they think I was “active,” (shudder). This subject matter was only really appropriate among girlfriends and the like, where it was easier to share such experiences. To exacerbate the problem, aside from a couple days of Sex Ed in 6th grade and that dreadful quarter in Freshman Studies, I don’t recall ever having a real opportunity to discuss contraception options. Nay, I became understandably naïve in the matter, which is not to say I didn’t know of birth control, but it definitely did not hold an even “remotely visible” role in my high school scene.Check out their campaign and learn how share your story, spread the word, take action, and lend support. You can also join in on Twitter by tagging your posts #latinaRJwk, or coming out to events in California, Florida, New York, and Texas.
March 8, 2011
Young Women United (YWU) is a Third Wave grant partner organization working to end violence against women with a two-fold campaign: calling attention to the deaths of young women in their community in New Mexico, and holding the media and public officials accountable for the ways these women's lives and power are erased, even in death. In the wake of the mass shooting at Rep. Gabrielle Gifford's town hall in Arizona, YWU's director Adriann Barboa shares a powerful remembrance and vision for "an America to be as good as these women needed it to be:"
Two years ago today, in a story that shook me to my core, a woman walking her dog found a femur in the desert. She alerted the police, who began a three-month dig, covering a vast area of the mesa near my home. The police found the bodies of 11 women, one of whom was four months pregnant. Many of the women were close to my age and grew up here like me. Were brown like me. Had struggled here, like me. But when these women were found dead, President Obama did not come to town. There was no jam-packed memorial to mourn their lives cut short. What we had instead were devastated families whose greatest fear had been realized when their daughters' remains were discovered on the mesa. As the story unfolded, terrible sounds echoed in my ears. Not the sounds of shovels in the desert, but the sound of these lives being erased. Not only through death, but through the official description of the events. The women were not brave heroes who faced histories of poverty, abuse and trauma with the best tools they could find. They were “addicts.” And because they used drugs, many earned money the best way they could—by selling sex. And so they were “prostitutes.” The authorities thought the story could begin and end there: bodies found, case closed. 11 more prostitutes dead. Done.Read the rest of Adriann's call on Young Women United's website and learn how to support their campaign to end violence and strengthen young women's power.
February 1, 2011
This weekend, feminist activists ramped up their opposition to HR3, the so-called "No Taxpayer Funding For Abortion Act." Speaker of the House John Boehner has called passing this act “one of our highest legislative priorities.” With a coordinated campaign to call Congressional representatives quickly underway (organized over the Twitter hashtag #DearJohn), it's clear reproductive justice activists are determined to push back hard. If passed, HR3 would put the burden on survivors of sexual assault to prove their rape was "forcible" in order to qualify for any public assistance for abortion. As Mother Jones reported last week, this Republican plan to redefine rape isn't just a hateful attack on survivors of violence. It marks a shift in anti-abortion tactics with devastating implications:
"Since 1976, federal law has prohibited the use of taxpayer dollars to pay for abortions except in the cases of rape, incest, and when the pregnancy endangers the life of the woman. But since last year, the anti-abortion side has become far more aggressive in challenging this compromise. They have been pushing to outlaw tax deductions for insurance plans that cover abortion, even if the abortion coverage is never used. The Smith bill represents a frontal attack on these long-standing exceptions."So in addition to rolling back almost all of the (very few) exceptions for Federal funding of abortion, House Republicans (and a handful of Democrats) are attempting to redefine rape in order to restrict abortion access. Reproductive justice activists have long recognized that sexual violence and abortion access are deeply connected. As a matter of body autonomy, we all should have the power to decide when we want to have sex and when to have children. These attempts to regulate reproductive and sexual health access out of existence aren't just an attack on our rights. They are a form of institutional violence, and they disproportionately impact people of color, low income people, and young women, transgender and gender nonconforming youth. HR3 has 173 co-sponsors. You can find out if your Congressional rep has backed HR3, and give them a call to let them know how HR3 will impact you and your community if it passes. Right now, HR3 is sitting in committee -- there's still time to have your voice heard. Once you've made your call, drop us a comment here, or chime in on #DearJohn on Twitter.
August 4, 2010
When anti-choice activists Priests for Life organized so-called "Freedom Rides" to Atlanta last week, members of SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW called a rally to counter the divisive rhetoric and actions of Priests for Life. SPARK, a Third Wave grant partner, along with SisterSong and SisterLove, gathered to speak out against the ways that the "Freedom Ride" activists use a history of racism in reproductive control as a way to blame and shame black women.