Healthcare

“If They Can Do It, I Can Do It”: Young Women of Color HIV/AIDS Coalition

June 22, 2011

In honor of their graduation, Young Women of Color HIV/AIDS Coalition is sharing video interviews with some of their 2011 program graduates. Here's the first five posted -- four young women who have found community and grown as leaders, working together as peer educators and activists.

Crystal

Amelia

Cassidi

Sade

Emily

Posted in: Community, Healthcare, Youth Organizing, YWCHAC

Double Standards: Congress Attacks Abortion and Families

May 12, 2011

In this segment from GRITtv, Paris Hatcher, Executive Director of SPARK Reproductive Justice Now, exposes the double standards at the heart of recent Congressional attacks on abortion and the rights of young people to parent:

"We're supposed to love life, right? And protect mothers and ban abortion because abortion is about ending babies lives, right? But then we see cuts to WIC, [Women, Infants & Children benefits], we know women are being chained to beds to give birth."

Posted in: Healthcare, Media, Reproductive Justice, SPARK

How Anti-Choice Billboards & Crisis Pregnancy Centers Target Women of Color

April 13, 2011

Writing at RHRealityCheck.org, Chicago Abortion Fund's executive director Gaylon Alcaraz describes the scene at a protest against the new anti-abortion billboards in Chicago:

As black women gathered to protest and demand the removal of those signs, which were posted up in the darkness from the night before, black preachers and other Life Always representatives stood at the microphone explaining why they chose this neighborhood and the president’s image for their tag line: “Every 21 minutes our next possible leader is aborted.”  These three identical billboards placed side by side on a building that face evidence of poverty, neglect and despair is ironic.  The lot in which the press conference was held is littered with broken glass and garbage, with grass nowhere to be found.  It is this scene that provided the backdrop for this Houston-based group to advocate for “Life Always.”  Yet, these outsiders fail to see the irony in telling black women in this depressed neighborhood not to abort their ‘babies.’ By coming into poor communities of color in an effort to regulate and attempt to control women’s decisions about reproduction and reproductive health, the group is spreading fear, myths and falsehoods not only about abortion (one lonely woman of color stood on stage and talked about breast cancer and abortion) but also about what these anti-choice organizations actually do.  For example, one preacher yelled from the podium that they advocate for more crisis pregnancy centers that would help women.  Yet, we all know that these centers do not help women but attempt to shame through various tactics, such as propaganda films and shoving mutilated dolls in front of women. One of the women that sought funding from the Chicago Abortion Fund, Nicole Goss, found a crisis pregnancy center before she found our information.  She had this type of experience.  In fact, she stated that the center she found herself in attempted to do everything to force her not to have an abortion, even telling her she was too far along to have a procedure – which was not true!  These centers are deceitful but very dangerous as well.  Nicole had a second- trimester procedure which proved to be not only more risky but drastically more expensive  than if she had access to an earlier first-trimester abortion.  This is a clear example of the deceptive work of these centers for which the preachers are advocating.
Over on Chicago Abortion Fund's blog, their members shared their reactions to the billboards:
What Life Always should have done was invested the time, energy and funds they used to put up those billboards into these neighborhoods and their schools. Fund and advocate for comprehensive sex education in the schools. Provide us with employment resources. - Brittany
Abortion is a choice and i know everyone is entitled to the own opinion however i still being this billboard should be removed. growing up in this community many would be surprise to know what goes on and what woman have to endure so i feel that attempting to alter someone minds and choice is wrong. Allow these woman to make there own choices who knows a few years down the road they too could be the next possible leader.... - Dominique Perry
You can keep connected with Chicago Abortion Fund's work in support of reproductive justice on their blog, Twitter, and Facebook.

Posted in: Chicago Abortion Fund, Healthcare, Media, Reproductive Justice

LGBTQ Latin@s and Reproductive Justice: Why Reproductive Health Is a Queer Issue

June 22, 2011

Third Wave grant partner National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health shares this new issue brief, on LGBTQ Latin@s and Reproductive Justice:

LGBTQ people have been a part of movements for reproductive health and justice for as long as these movements have existed, and we are proud to honor that work and highlight the issues that LGBTQ Latin@s face when it comes to reproductive health and justice. Though some might say that reproductive health issues aren’t queer issues at all, we believe that this could not be further from the truth. The heavily gendered nature of reproductive health services, employment discrimination, and family recognition are all issues that affect LGBTQ people’s health and their access to quality care, and it’s time for reproductive health, rights and justice organizations to recognize and fight against these barriers. Immigration, too, places a set of barriers specific to LGBTQ communities, such as access to health care, safety in detention centers for transgender and gender-nonconforming people, and family reunification policies that do not recognize LGBTQ families. At the same time, it is important to acknowledge the resilience of LGBT Latin@s and communities of color, who are resisting exclusionary systems and recognizing reproductive justice as a critical issue in their communities.
You can download the brief from NLIRH's website, in English and in Spanish.

Posted in: Healthcare, NLIRH

Medicaid Is No Band-Aid: When Hospitals Discriminate

October 25, 2010

We're excited to have this guest post from Dashaya Craig of Chicago Abortion Fund, a 3W grant partner. There is a real scarcity of clinics in my community that are available to provide reproductive health care to poor people. The City of Chicago does have public health clinics that were designed to serve people that can't afford health care and don't have a private insurance or Medicaid. There are three public health centers on the south side of Chicago, but it usually takes months for someone to get an appointment. When a person does get an appointment it takes an entire day to get seen which could possibly be a day that they have to miss at work. Those conditions cause poor people to not utilize the public health centers and just not go to see a doctor. Now due to the current economical situation the City of Chicago is "cutting the budget" and two of those three clinics are going to close. So they are referring people to just one clinic and because they can't accommodate the overflow of people they are just turning people around. Other than the public health clinics there are no other in our community to provide health care for the poor and uninsured. This is one of the main reasons that poor communities are plagued with high rates of STI's, HIV/AIDS, and unplanned pregnancies. People in poor communities are not properly educated about sexual health, and they don't have equal access to reproductive health care. Until there is access to reproductive health care available in poor communities there will be a continuous increase in sexually transmitted diseases and unplanned pregnancies. I know a young single mother of two who was pregnant with her third child. She was reliant on Medicaid because she lost her job. The hospital in her neighborhood was a very prestigious and well known hospital in Chicago. It was blocks away from her house -- she had both of her older children there, and it was a great facility. When she made her first appointment they were under the assumption that she still had private insurance. However, when she arrived at her appointment and presented her state Medicaid card she was refused service, and referred to another hospital that wasn't nearly as prestigious and far away from her house. This hospital in particular is constantly turning women away that don't have private insurance. It's not that they don't have any insurance at all -- it's just not private insurance. That is another form of discrimination, because the only people that have Medicaid insurance are poor people. So this could lead you to believe that particular hospital didn't want to serve the people in the community they’re in. Regardless if a person is poor or don't have insurance they shouldn't be refused health care in their own community, especially when they are pregnant. This young mother with two children ended up not even getting proper health care, because she couldn't make it to her appointments. This isn't just her story -- this is the story of many poor women of color.

Posted in: Chicago Abortion Fund, Community, Healthcare, Reproductive Justice

Moving Beyond “Pro-Life” & “Pro-Choice”

February 15, 2011

La'tasha Mayes and Bekezela Mguni of New Voices Pittsburgh (La'tasha Mayes and Bekezela Mguni of New Voices Pittsburgh, via NVP Facebook) At The Root La'Tasha Mayes, executive director of Third Wave grant partner New Voices Pittsburgh, breaks down the ways our beliefs around abortion go beyond the oppositional frame of "pro-life" vs. "pro-choice:

La'Tasha Mayes, executive director of the activist group New Voices Pittsburgh: Women of Color for Reproductive Justice, says that frequent descriptions of African Americans as conservative and pro-life are an overgeneralization. She argues that it's time the country moved beyond the pro-life versus pro-choice binary of the abortion debate. "It's a limiting concept that says the choices that black women make are black and white. It's not that simple," Mayes told The Root, adding that the broader reproductive-justice movement -- for access to health insurance, family-planning services and abortion -- includes women with nuanced positions who identify as both pro-life and pro-choice. "I've learned that it's about people's individual experiences," she says. "Regardless of her politics and religion, if a woman does not want to have a child, she will not have a child. But the message from opponents of abortion is that we can't be trusted to make these decisions for ourselves and our families. They want to shame black women for the choices we have to make, mostly out of survival." Mayes rejects the idea that black women are being targeted for abortion, arguing that the conversation lacks a full sense of perspective. "The leap from abortion to black genocide is missing many steps in between," she says. "We can't look at abortion in isolation, as if it's a choice made independently from the context in which black women live. "After years of doing this work, I've realized that abortion becomes a choice for women when they have been socially, economically and politically marginalized in complex systems of oppression," she continues. "If you're not talking about race, class, sex and gender issues before you start talking about abortion, then you're missing the larger context."

Posted in: Blog, Criminalization, Healthcare, Media, New Voices Pittsburgh, Reproductive Justice

Redefining Rape, Forcing Pregnancy: Push Back on HR3

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.

Posted in: Actions, Blog, Criminalization, Healthcare, Reproductive Justice

Smith Bill Update: Rape Redefinition Removed

February 3, 2011

Chalk one up to the many activists, organizations and political commentators who took on Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) for their attempt to redefine rape as part of a new bill Smith introduced, the "No Tax Payer Funding for Abortion Act" [PDF]. As originally drafted, the bill proposed to narrow the Medicaid funding exception that currently provides coverage for abortions in the case of rape to only cover a new category of "forcible" rape. Now, after five days of whirlwind outrage, such as the #DearJohn Twitter campaign and Jon Stewart's segment on "Rape Rape" vs. "Rapish" (below), the clause was finally removed this morning.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Rape Victim Abortion Funding
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog The Daily Show on Facebook
Let's not breathe a sigh of relief yet. There is so much yet left to challenge in the Smith Bill that would damage our ability to determine what happens to our bodies. The "forcible rape" clause was only one in a series of attacks on our reproductive and health options, especially for young people, low income people, and people of color. The National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF), the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH), and the Reproductive Health Technologies Project (RHTP) released a statement that calls the bill on its racist ramifications.
This bill would strip a woman of her right to decide which options best suit her health care needs and would add cruel restrictions for victims of sexual violence. Access to abortion is critically important for women of color and immigrant women who are disproportionally poor. Presently, 25% of poor women who want to choose abortion can’t because the federal government refuses to pay for it.
Among a slew of other attacks on women's access to healthcare, the bill would destroy private insurance coverage of abortion with broad reaching impact. Mother Jones explains that although the proposal "has a stated aim of making the Hyde Amendment (a rule that has to be renewed every year that prohibits federal funding of abortions through Medicaid) into permanent, government-wide law" it could be "a Trojan horse for the elimination of private insurance coverage for abortion." Specifically,
Smith's bill would create a huge incentive for employers to only offer health insurance that doesn't cover abortion. Insurers would respond to what their customers wanted, and the percentage of health plans offering abortion coverage—currently 86 percent—would undoubtedly plummet. …The employer tax exemption for health insurance is the government's largest tax expenditure. It affects nearly every American who gets health insurance through their employers. If the abortion rights advocates are right, the tax section of Smith's bill would affect far more people (and more money) than any other portion of the law.
We need to see this win — the removal of the "forcible rape" clause — as only the first step of many in knocking apart the Smith bill. My greatest fear is that we allow ourselves to celebrate or to be distracted: this is not a compromise. As a community of activists who care about protecting the health and well-being of the people who are most vulnerable to the harsh impacts of abusive legislation, we need to see the larger picture. Every part of this bill is a systematic attack on our access to safe, high quality and affordable healthcare, and we need to sustain our efforts to change it.

Posted in: Blog, Healthcare, NLIRH, Reproductive Justice

So-Called “Freedom Rides”

December 10, 2010

GRITtv examines the conspiracy tactics of the conservative anti-choice movement and the dangerous racist, sexist and classist implications of their attempt to limit reproductive health options for the people with the least access to health services.  Check out GRITtv Digs documentary series, Conspiracy Tactics, on just this topic. The most recent installment on this topic is an interview with Loretta Ross from SisterSong and Lynn Paltrow from National Advocates for Pregnant Women about the so-called "Freedom Rides" against abortion. Take a look:

More GRITtv

One of our amazing grant partners, SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW has been organizing in the face of these Freedom Rides which intentionally use the language of racism and  Civil Rights to increase the criminalization of black women. Read more about what SPARK's been up to here!

Posted in: Blog, Criminalization, Healthcare, Media, Movement Building, Reproductive Justice, SPARK