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RWVoices

Friday
Sep282018

Blasey Ford’s brave testimony should halt Senate GOP rush!

Blasey Ford testimony was credible, and should prompt investigation
 
After a harrowing hearing on Thursday, Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee voted today 11-10 to advance the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh over vehement objections from Democrats on the Committee. The vote came less than 24 hours after Dr. Christine Blasey Ford testified under oath that Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her when they were both teenagers.
 
Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) decried the “manic rush” to a vote when “I’m sure nobody doubted her (Blasey Ford’s) credibility.” He said that “our Constitutional obligation at the very least is to investigate the allegations. The first step is an FBI investigation.” Leahy charged that Judiciary Committee “is no longer an independent branch of government. We are a very weak arm of the Trump White House.”
 
Even though two more women—Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick—have accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault on the record and have called for an FBI investigation into their allegations, only Dr. Blasey Ford was allowed to testify.  
 
Afraid of the optics of having an all-male panel of GOP senators grill a survivor of sexual assault, the GOP hired Arizona prosecutor Rachel Mitchell to speak during their allotted time. No GOP senator asked a question of Dr. Blasey Ford. No GOP senator apologized to her for the ordeal of reliving the worst day of her life in front of millions of people.
 
Her testimony was earnest, polite, endearing, raw, and gut-wrenching. In one particularly powerful moment she described what she remembered most about the attack: “The laughter. The uproarious laughter between the two and their having fun at my expense."
 
In contrast, Kavanaugh dropped the mask of calm, impartial judge. His shockingly vitriolic and partisan performance revealed a temperament and political agenda completely inappropriate for the Court. His opening statement included conspiracy theories about the Clintons seeking revenge and veiled threats against his political opponents. Throughout his testimony, he yelled at Democratic senators, dodged questions about his drinking and misled about the evidence. In one particularly notable moment, he attacked Senator Amy Klobuchar after she’d talked about her own family’s experience with alcoholism. Jennifer Rubin characterized the exchange this way:
 
The worst moment was his confrontation with Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) who questioned him about blackout drinking. She explained that she understood alcohol abuse because her father was an alcoholic. “Have you ever blacked out?” she asked, a reasonable question, potentially designed to see if perhaps Kavanaugh might have blacked out and forgotten the alleged assault. He sneered in response, “Have you?” It was a moment of singular cruelty and disrespect. One saw a flash in the exchange with Klobuchar of the same sense of entitlement, cruelty and lack of simple decency that Christine Blasey Ford allegedly experienced way back then, the memory seared in her brain of two obnoxious teens laughing at her ordeal.
 
Republicans have refused to re-open the FBI’s background investigation into Kavanaugh or to subpoena Mark Judge, Kavanaugh’s high school friend implicated by both Dr. Blasey Ford and Ms. Swetnick. One commentator noted the absurdity of the GOP’s position: “To say the FBI doesn't come to conclusions so you don't need FBI investigations is like saying MRIs don't come to conclusions so you don't need MRI scans. The purpose is to surface information so others can make judgments.”
 
During the hearing, Kavanaugh himself was given multiple opportunities to say whether he wanted an FBI investigation and he refused to answer each time. The American Bar Association and four Republican governors have called for the vote to be delayed until a thorough, non-partisan investigation is undertaken, while the staunchly anti-abortion Jesuit magazine America reversed their support of Kavanaugh and called for the nomination to be withdrawn.
 
How did the senators vote? Of the Judiciary Committee’s 11 Republicans and 10 Democrats, all voted along party lines, with Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) indicating that thought he voted Kavanaugh nomination out of committee, he will not vote to confirm Kavanaugh without an FBI investigation of the sexual assault allegations.
 
Senate Democrats have been highly critical of the entire process, and are calling out the highly partisan behavior from not only the Republican Senators, but also Kavanaugh. “I have neer seen a nominee for any position behave in that manner,” Senator Feinstein (D-CA) said about Kavanaugh’s aggressive tone during his testimony. “Judge Kavanaugh used as much political rhetoric as my Republican colleagues, and what’s more, he went on the attack.” Senator Klobuchar (D-MN) echoed these seniments, saying “The Constitution does not say ‘We the Ruling Party.’ It says “We the People.” Senator Coons (D-DE) also reflected that he is “worried about the message we are sending to survivors if we plow through this nomination.”

The full Senate could take its first procedural vote on Saturday with a vote on confirmation occurring Tuesday. Key votes will come from Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).

Call your senators today! Tell them to stop the rush to confirmation for Kavanaugh and demand a thorough investigation into the allegations brought forward against him.  The number is (202) 224-3121
 
Blasey Ford’s testimony has prompted others to disclose assaults.  Even as the vote remains uncertain, it’s clear that we’re in the middle of cultural sea change in how survivors are viewed. On C-SPAN, callers were describing their own long-hidden assaults, while around the country, women and men were talking to loved ones for the first time. On Fox News, conservative journalist Chris Wallace shared, “Over the course of this week, I think like a lot of American families, my family has been discussing this and disagreeing and arguing about it. Two of my daughters have told me stories I had never heard before about things that happened to them in high school—and hadn’t told their parents. I don’t know if they told their friends. Certainly they never reported it to the police.”
 
 
Raising Women’s Voices at Community Catalyst Convenings!

This week, some of the RWV staff and our regional coordinators have been gathered in Atlanta for the Annual Southern Health Partners (SHP) Convening and Advocates Convening, both organized by Community Catalyst. The Southern Health Partners project works to support Southern advocates to use this regional framework to improve and defend health care access, affordability and quality; expand access to Medicaid; protect consumers and address substance use disorders and other local and state health policy issues.
 
RWV’s Regional Field Manager, Kalena Murphy, and Progressive States Advocacy and Policy ManagerAnn Danforth, co-facilitated a panel entitled “Trusting the Experts: Grounding Your Health Justice Work in Lived Experiences.” The session featured Marsha Jones, Executive Director and founder of the Afiya Center, RWV’s Dallas-based RC, and Julie Warden, Communications Director for WV FREE, our Charleston-based RC, along with Gerrelda Davis, Executive Director of the Louisiana Primary Care Association. Presentations and discussion focused on how to make sure the lived experiences of diverse consumers are centered in work to identify health problems and craft effective policy solutions.
 
Speakers shared best practices about how to hear from those communities we don’t belong to, which often means taking a back seat and acting as an ally to elevate the voices of those who are directly affected. It also requires that we are aware of different power dynamics, such as those linked to race, class and gender.
 
In order to work effectively with the community, advocates must “know your audience,” advised Marsha Jones (pictured at right). Advocates need to have a nuanced understanding of the communities with which they are working, and should know how to relate to members of the community. “And if you don’t know your audience, then get someone who does,” Jones said. To ensure that members of the community are the ones creating and shaping policy change themselves, she encouraged the audience to reject the traditional notion of “empowerment.” “I don’t believe in empowering. I believe in co-powering,” she said. An advocate’s role isn’t to give power to members of the community, but instead to tap into the power that’s already there, she said.
 
On Thursday, RWV Co-founder Lois Uttley (who directs Community Catalyst’s Women’s Health Program) facilitated a panel discussion of “Disparities in Women’s Health: Threats and Strategies.”  Lisa Stand, Senior Policy Analyst for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), described the numerous threats to women’s health coming from the Trump administration, such as the proposed “gag rule” on Title X providers, and the disproportionate impact on low-income women, women of color and LGBTQ people.

Catherine Haywood, Community Health Promoter for Women with a Vision (a New Orleans-based RWV regional coordinator) discussed the challenges we will be facing in the upcoming Open Enrollment 6, given Trump administration actions attempting to undermine the Affordable Care Act, including slashing navigator funding. She described how she and colleagues at WWAV work to build trust with community members and then offer advice on why people should enroll in health insurance and how to go about doing it.
 
Kwajelyn Jackson, Executive Director of the Feminist Women’s Health Center (RWV’s Atlanta-based regional coordinator) focused on the crisis of rising maternal mortality among Black women, and what can be done to address it. Jackson is an advisory board member to the national Black Mamas Matter Alliance, which has been working to raise the visibility of the problem and seek solutions through education, improvements in health practice, intensified monitoring by maternal mortality review boards  and other approaches.

 

Thursday
Sep202018

Sexual assault in the national spotlight

Will allegations against Kavanaugh be investigated before a SCOTUS vote?

The allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh are shining a national spotlight on the incidence of sexual assault, especially when the survivors are teenagers, and spurring an array of #WeBelieveSurvivors actions. Girls ages 16 to 19 are four times more likely than the general population to be survivors of rape, attempted rape or sexual assault, according to statistics from RAINN, the national sexual violence hotline.  But often, these attacks remain an ugly secret, haunting women and girls who are reluctant to come forward. More than 60 percent of sexual assaults are never reported to police.

On Sunday, the Washington Post reported that California psychology professor Dr. Christine Blasey Ford had credibly accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault and attempted rape when they were both in high school. As reported in the Post, significant circumstantial evidence supports Dr. Blasey Ford, who described the attack to therapists in 2012 and 2013, long before Kavanaugh’s nomination.
 
The Senate Judiciary Committee had been scheduled to vote on the nomination today, with a vote in the full Senate planned for next week. At first, Republicans attempted to muscle their way through. When that became untenable, they hastily announced a hearing for this coming Monday, September 24, allowing little time to investigate the allegations beforehand.
 
Dr. Blasey Ford has called for an FBI investigation, and has said she will not testify on Monday. But this afternoon, it was reported that she has told the Senate Judiciary Committee that she “would be prepared to testify next week” although not on Monday, so long as senators offer “terms that are fair and which ensure her safety,” according to the New York Times. She has beenreceiving death threats, and her family has reportedly moved out of their home. As of this writing, committee Republicans are refusing to subpoena conservative writer and high school friend Mark Judge—an allegedparticipant in the attack— and are refusing to ask the FBI to re-open their background investigation on Kavanaugh. They are also refusing to allow corroborating witnesses to testify, including those who could testify to Dr. Blasey Ford’s character.
 

How can we send the message that #WeBelieveSurvivors?

Protestors gathered outside Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Chuck Grassley’s office this morning and social media channels were full of #BelieveChristine messages.  Today and tomorrow have also been designated as national call-in days, with SEIU offering a toll-free hotline (866-426-2631).

Let your Senators know that there must be a thorough, independent investigation of the  allegations against Kavanaugh before any vote on his nomination!
 
On Monday, the #SAVESCOTUS coalition has scheduled a variety of protest actions as the Judiciary Committee meets, most likely without Dr. Blasey Ford present. The sponsoring groups are asking people to register here, if you plan to show up and participate in the events taking place in the Hart Senate Atrium in Washington, D.C. starting at 10 a.m.  From 11 a.m. to noon, there will be an event in the atrium featuring survivors of sexual assault, #MeToo movement leaders and celebrities and leaders of many national women’s organizations. From noon to 1 pm, there will be a march to the Supreme Court for a symbolic collective action.
 
At 1 pm Eastern time on Monday, the coalition has called for a national walkout and moment of solidarity with Dr. Blasey Ford.  Participants are being urged to wear the color white and capture a photo of you and your allies walking out of work, classrooms or other places to share immediately on social media using the hashtag#BelieveSurvivors.  Want to organize an event in your community? Check out the “We Believe Survivors” toolkit here.

 
What are Kavanaugh and his supporters saying?
 

Kavanaugh’s boosters, for their part, have sought to minimize the allegations, tacitly accepting their credibility but arguing that attempted rape shouldn’t be disqualifying for a Supreme Court post if it happened long enough ago.
 
Kavanaugh himself has “categorically and unequivocally” denied the allegations altogether—a position that may be difficult to maintain under oath as senators question him about the hard partying and underage black-out drinking that both he and Judge have acknowledged in the past. In a 2015 speech at Catholic University, for instance, Kavanaugh joked: “What happens at Georgetown Prep stays at Georgetown Prep. That's been a good thing for all of us, I think." That line was missing from the speech transcript he submitted to the Judiciary Committee earlier.
 
Notably, this isn’t Kavanaugh’s only association with sexual misconduct and violence against women. Kavanaugh’s longtime mentor on the federal court, Judge Alex Kozinski, was forced to retire early after more than a dozen women described sexual harassment and groping. Kavanaugh clerked for Kozinski in the 1990s, Kozinski’s son clerked for Kavanaugh last year and the two have remained close. Kozinski’s reputation was widely known—women law students were warned to avoid clerking for him—in part because he ran an email list for law clerks, judges and attorneys in which he shared incredibly vile sexually explicit material. Then there is Kavanaugh’s friendship with disgraced senior White House aide Rob Porter, whose violent physical abuse of his ex-wives was known to the White House for a year before it became public. Porter got his White House gig on Kavanaugh’s recommendation.
 
Further affecting Kavanaugh’s credibility is significant evidence that he lied to Congress under oath during his previous confirmation hearings about a host of other issues, including whether he knowingly used stolen documents, was involved in vetting radical judicial nominee Charles Pickering and had defended the Bush administration’s illegal use of torture. 

How are senators responding?

 
Three Senate Democrats—Doug Jones (AL), Patrick Leahy (VT), and Richard Blumenthal (CT)—have questioned whether the White House knew about the allegations beforehand.Writing to White House Counsel Don McGahn, they noted the cover-up of Porter’s history of violence towards women and the suspicious timing of a letter signed by 65 of Kavanaugh’s high school acquaintances designed to discredit the allegations. (A number of Kavanaugh’s character witnesses have declined to reaffirm their support on the record after the allegations came to light.)
 
In contrast, Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) referred to the allegation of attempted rape as “a little hiccup” in a conference call with “VIP” supporters, before assuring them “we’ll get through this and we’ll get off to the races.” Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) seemed to echo the White House’s talking points rejecting the need for an FBI investigation and hinting that if Dr. Blasey Ford refuses to testify without one, the Kavanaugh confirmation should move forward.
 
Every woman in America understands what Republicans are trying to do to Dr. Blasey Ford -- and we aren’t going to stand for it.  The Republican men on the Senate Judiciary Committee are trying to drag out Dr. Blasey Ford without her consent and on their own terms, take it or leave it. Every woman understands what that feels like.
 
Kavanaugh has the potential to shift the balance of the court on issues critical to women’s health for an entire generation. If he is confirmed and proves to be the pivotal vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, all three women on the Court will have voted to uphold abortion rights while two of the five men voting to take those rights away will have been credibly accused of grave sexual misconduct.

 
Why don’t victims of sexual assault come forward sooner?

Why didn’t you come forward sooner? This question – faced by countless sexual victims, and now by Dr. Blasey Ford --  is rooted in misconceptions about abuse, stigmatization and trauma relating to sexual violence. It is very common for survivors to delay sharing their trauma because of feelings of shame and denial, fear of what will happen as a result of sexual violence and low self-esteem. Survivors are also deterred from speaking out due to a lack of information about sexual violence, issues of memory loss from being drugged and having a history of being sexually violated.

How can we support those experiencing sexual trauma and work to prevent sexual violence? RAINN provides 24/7 hotline services online and by phone at 800-656-HOPE. They offer a range of services including education on the warning signs of sexual violence for different age groups and demographics as well as prevention services. To learn more visit: www.rainn.org

Friday
Sep142018

New Black Women’s Health Policy Agenda!

Black Women’s Health Policy Agenda to be released today

The Black Women’s Health Imperative (BWHI) is releasing Black Women Vote: The 2018 National Health Policy Agenda today at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation (CBCF) Annual Legislative Conference. The agenda includes policy positions and recommendations, as well as a feature that will be especially useful during this fall’s election season: a two-page, fill-in report card for voters to assess candidates’ policy positions on key health issues related to Black women.

“We are excited to release this first-of-its-kind policy agenda, which offers our nation a framework for addressing health inequities for Black women and girls," said Linda Goler Blount, President and CEO of BWHI. "We want to provide voters with a way to assess candidates for office at all levels on issues that are important to Black women, such as ensuring access to quality health care and protecting an individual’s right to make personal decisions about reproductive health.”

BWHI, which is one of the three national Raising Women’s Voices coordinating organizations, produced the agenda with support from Planned Parenthood, In Our Own Voice, the Coalition of 100 Black Women, U.S. Senator Doug Jones and U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly.  The agenda will be unveiled at Rep. Kelly’s panel, “CBCF Health Braintrust: Truth and Reconciliation in Health,” and Rep. Danny K. Davis’ CBCF-ALC Community Health Centers’ panel entitled "Breaking Down Barriers and Closing the Health Care Gap for Black Women."

The agenda includes in-depth policy positions and recommendations under four main pillars: Access to Quality and Affordable Healthcare, Equitable Responses to Public Health Emergencies, Sufficient Diversity in Clinical Research, and Increased Funding to Support HBCUs (historically-black colleges and universities). The first pillar asserts that Black women’s health outcomes depend on the accessibility, availability and affordability of quality health care. Access to quality, affordable care will allow health care providers to detect and treat health issues more effectively in Black women, which can potentially lead to a reduction and, hopefully, elimination of health disparities impacting Black women.

BWHI seeks to generate and leverage evidence that strongly supports the prioritization of the following policy and community-level issues for Black women and girls: the preservation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), including meaningful and affordable insurance coverage; strengthening of Medicaid and protection of Medicare; patient access to affordable prescriptions; access to high quality maternal health resources; reproductive health, rights and justice (Title X, access to affordable contraception, access to safe, legal abortion, comprehensive sex education, access to care for endometriosis and uterine fibroids); access to cancer prevention, screening and treatment services (for breast cancer, lung cancer, colorectal cancer and cervical cancer); improved cardiovascular health; and education and advocacy for preventive and diagnostic resources (for diabetes, HIV/AIDS, sickle cell anemia and mental health).

You can download Black Women Vote: The 2018 National Health Policy Agenda for free on the Imperative’s website, bwhi.org, starting today. Any questions and comments on the agenda should be directed to the BWHI Director of Policy and Legislative Affairs, Tammy Boyd (tboyd@bwhi.org).
 
What’s the latest on the SCOTUS nomination?
 
On Thursday, Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously blocked Democratic efforts to access documents from Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh that the White House has kept hidden. Even though Kavanaugh has signaled that he would protect the president from investigation, two of Donald Trump’s most vocal Republican critics, Senators Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Ben Sasse (R-NE), joined the party-line vote in committee.
 
Meanwhile, the Senate’s lone Republicans who profess to be supportive of abortion rights -- Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) -- have indicated they are likely to support the nomination, claiming that Kavanaugh won’t be the deciding SCOTUS vote to gut reproductive rights. Several Senate Democratic conservatives -- including Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Joe Donnelly (D-IN) -- have been vocal about their support of protections for people with pre-existing conditions, but they have thus far refused to say how they will vote on Kavanaugh, despite his clear hostility to the ACA.
 
The Senate Judiciary committee will vote on Kavanaugh next Thursday morning, September 20, teeing up a vote by the full Senate during the week of September 24. If Kavanaugh is confirmed, he will join the Court before its new session begins October 1. 
 
On Monday, September 17, disabled women from across the country will come together to fight for the right to control their own bodies, live in their own homes and the keep their health care. Non-disabled allies are welcome to join as supporters. The group will be using the hashtags #SaveRoe #HomesNotInstitutions #DisabledWomenResist #CancelKavanaugh. On Thursday, the Save SCOTUS coalition will be lining the halls outside of the Judiciary Committee hearing room to demand senators #StopKavanaugh. (Please note NO signs are allowed inside the building.)
 
And, of course, it’s absolutely critical to keep up a drumbeat of calls in senators’ offices. You can reach Senators by calling 202-224-3121.
 
Renewed GOP threats to repeal the ACA!
 
Republicans have made clear that if they retain control of Congress after the mid-term elections, they will make another attempt to repeal the ACA and gut Medicaid.This week, House Republican Whip Steve Scalise told the Fox Business Network, "We’ve got to hold the House, but if we get more Senate seats, which I think we will, we’ve got to go back to health care. Obamacare’s only getting worse. … And [we’ll] transform Medicaid, which is the most failed part of health care."
 
Scalise, you may recall, was seriously wounded by a gunman last year and recovered with the help of his government-funded health care through the ACA. In his home state of Louisiana, 473,900 people gained coverage through Medicaid expansion, driving down the state’s uninsured rate from one out of every four people to one of out of nine.
 
Vice President Mike Pence told a campaign rally in August that, “We made an effort to fully repeal and replace Obamacare. And we’ll continue. With [Republicans in the Senate], we’ll go back to that.” And Axios quoted a “senior GOP aide” as saying Republicans won’t describe their next attack on health care as “a cutting Medicaid exercise.” Rather, he argued, describe it as “a 'screw the blue states' exercise and block grant to states.”  Two Republican Senate candidates running against ACA supporters are attorneys general pushing the court to revoke the ACA’s protections for preexisting conditions.
 
The Protect Our Care Coalition is launching a nationwide bus tour this fall to hold repeal-and-sabotage Republicans accountable. Kicking off in Portland, Maine, on September 24, the bus (“Care Force One”) will make 48 stops across 23 states, covering a total of 11,303 miles. The bus tour schedule is available online, along with ways to get involved. Check it out and meet the bus when it comes to your state!

 

Thursday
Sep062018

SCOTUS nominee a threat to ACA protections, Roe v. Wade!

Kavanaugh won’t promise to protect people with pre-existing conditions

Our concerns about Brett Kavanaugh’s views on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Roe v. Wade deepened this week as Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on his nomination to the Supreme Court got underway.

Kavanaugh’s responses to senators’ questions on Wednesday appeared to confirm fears that he would pose a threat to our health care, if confirmed. Kavanaugh told Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) that he can provide “no assurance” that he would uphold requirements thathealth insurers provide coverage to people with pre-existing conditions. He later declined to give an answer to Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) on whether or not he believes President Trump (who nominated him) should have the executive power to repeal protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

What about his views on Roe v. Wade?

Kavanaugh remained vague and noncommittal when questioned Wednesday by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) about his views on Roe v. Wade, saying no more than that the ruling is “settled as a precedent” and “has been affirmed many times in the past 45 years.” Feinstein tweeted out this response:
Feinstein’s skepticism seemed to be validated this morning, when the New York Times published leaked emails that Kavanaugh had sent when he was a White House lawyer in the Bush administration. One of them, from 2003, said this: “I am not sure that all legal scholars refer to Roe as the settled law of the land at the Supreme Court level since Court can always overrule its precedent.” Kavanaugh’s answers were troubling, but no surprise, as he has taken a regressive stance in cases involving health care and women’s reproductive rights. Just last year, he voted against assuring that an undocumented teenage immigrant could obtain a timely abortion.
 
During the hearings, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) reminded the committee what’s at stake with Kavanaugh’s nomination: “We’re talking about the impact of one individual on… whether a woman with breast cancer can afford health care or is forced off life-saving treatment; whether a gay or transgender worker is treated with dignity, or treated as second-class citizen; whether a young woman who got pregnant at 15 is forced to give birth or, in desperation, go to a back alley for an abortion.”

Sen. Maizie Hirono (D-HI) said Kavanaugh was hand-picked by Trump’s ultra-conservative advisors to act as the “decisive fifth vote” on a Supreme Court that currently consists of four Democratic appointees and four Republican appointees. “It could take just one vote on the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade and deny women control over their reproductive rights… [and] to declare the ACA pre-existing conditions protections unconstitutional,” she said.

Such a court decision would have devastating consequences for the estimated 130 million people across the country, including 67 million women and girls, who have pre-existing conditions.Without the ACA’s protections for pre-existing conditions, people could be denied health insurance coverage or charged higher premiums simply because of their health status. Unsurprisingly, a new Kaiser poll finds that the ACA’s protections for people with pre-existing are overwhelmingly popular with the public, with 90% saying they want the ACA’s pre-existing condition protections to remain law.

The hearings on Trump’s SCOTUS nominee continue today, and a vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee is planned for later this month. If you care about protections for people with pre-existing conditions, Roe v. Wade or contraceptive coverage, listen carefully to Kavanaugh’s answers to Senators’ questions. Then use this link to let your Senator know how concerned you are about what Kavanaugh could mean for people with pre-existing condtions and for women’s reproductive health.

How are we speaking out about these threats?

Leading up to this week’s SCOTUS hearings in the Senate, advocates across the country have been speaking out about the threat his confirmation could pose to the ACA, Medicaid, and Roe v. Wade. As part of the Unite for Justice Day of ActionNorthwest Health Law Advocates (NoHLA), our Seattle-based regional coordinator, participated in their local rally at Westlake Park.

Janet Varon, NoHLA’s Executive Director (pictured at left), attended the rally to highlight the rights at stake for NoHLA’s constituencies, including Roe v. Wade, voting rights, workers’ rights, LGBTQ rights and immigrant rights.

In Washington, D.C., RWV co-founder Cindy Pearson joined women leaders from across progressive movements at the Senate Hart Atrium for the “I’m What’s At Stake Vigil,” where women shared their personal stories about why they’re in this fight and what the threat of Kavanaugh’s confirmation means to them personally. 
Texas lawsuit threats pre-existing condition protections

As we continue to follow the Senate hearings, we’re also closely watching a lawsuit attempting to strike down the ACA as unconstitutional. On Wednesday, a Texas district court judge heard oral arguments in a lawsuit filed by a group of conservative state Attorneys General who are seeking to overturn the ACA on the grounds that the federal tax cut bill enacted last year repealed the ACA’s individual mandate to have health insurance. Legal experts believe this lawsuit is likely to make its way to the Supreme Court, and that Kavanaugh, if confirmed, could tip the balance of the Court to rule against the ACA and its protections for people with pre-existing conditions. 

Advocates in West Virginia, including staff from our Charleston-based RC, WV FREE (pictured), came together at a press conference to highlight how West Virginians with pre-existing conditions could be harmed by the lawsuit. At stake  is the fate of 737,900 West Virginians with pre-existing conditions, who could lose their health insurance without these protections. The press conference was held at Charleston’s Recovery Point, a treatment center for women with substance use disorders. Speakers discussed what life was like before the ACA, when insurance companies could deny coverage to people with a history of substance abuse or mental illness, as well as the role Medicaid expansion played in increasing access to treatment for West Virginians with substance use disorders. 

 

Thursday
Aug302018

Get ready for post-Labor Day advocacy!

Next week’s a big week for protecting women’s health!
 
We all deserve a little rest and relaxation over the long Labor Day weekend. We’ve had a busy year so far protecting women’s health from an onslaught of attacks by the Trump administration and GOP leaders in Congress.  Raising Women’s Voices wants to thank you for all you’ve done this year!
 
But we also want to make sure you’re prepped and ready to go after the holiday, because we are going to have a busy week ahead.  The U.S. Senate will open three days of hearings on Trump’s nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court on Tuesday, September 4.  The following day, September 5, a Texas district court judge will hear oral arguments in a lawsuit attempting to strike down the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as unconstitutional. What will these events mean for women’s health, and what can you do?
 
The ACA’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions are at stake in both the Texas court hearing and the SCOTUS nomination.  An estimated 130 million people across the country, including 67 million women and girls, live with pre-existing conditions. If these protections are repealed, millions could face the possibility of being denied health insurance coverage or charged higher premiums. (The loss of the ACA would also take us back to a time when insurers could charge women more than men.)
 
The lawsuit, filed by a group of conservative state Attorneys General, seeks to overturn the ACA because the federal tax cut bill enacted last year knocked out the ACA’s individual mandate to have health insurance.  In response to the lawsuit, the Trump administrationhas refused to defend the ACA.  Fortunately, 17 Attorneys General from more progressive states have intervened in the lawsuit to defend the ACA and Democrats in the Senate and House have filed resolutions that would give House and Senate legal counsel the authority to intervene in the lawsuit. If the lawsuit works its way through the levels of federal courts and up to the Supreme Court, the confirmation of Kavanaugh to the court could tip the balance against the ACA.
 
To highlight what’s at stake for people with pre-existing conditions, RWV co-sponsored a successful Twitter Chat last week with Community Catalyst, the Black Women’s Health Imperative, American Heart Association, Little Lobbyists, Families USA, Protect Our Care and SEIU.  Many of our RWV regional coordinators also participated, including California Latinas for Reproductive Justice, COLOR, EverThrive IL, Consumers for Affordable Health Care, Consumer Health First, Northwest Health Law Advocates, and WVFREE. Our chat quickly reached a wide audience and our hashtag #130MillionStrong was trending in the top 10 nationally. We were even joined by Rep. Nancy Pelosi and the First Lady of NYC, Chirlane McCray. Many health care consumers also shared their personal stories about why protections for people with pre-existing conditions matter to them and their loved ones. 
 
We urge you to keep spreading the word about the importance of protecting coverage for people with pre-existing conditions. Using social media, share stories of how you or family members with pre-existing conditions have been able to get health coverage because of the ACA. Tweet at your members of Congress asking them to protect people with pre-existing conditions and defend the ACA. Community Catalyst has an easy-to-use action page that can help you compose your tweet and get it to the correct members of Congress.  Submit a letter to the editor or an op-ed to your local newspaper using a sample op-ed available here.
 
If you are in a state where the Attorney General has joined the lawsuit to overturn the ACA, consider organizing a protest event in front of your AG’s office using this Advocacy Guide from Community Catalyst. The states are Texas, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah and West Virginia.

Women across the country unite to save SCOTUS!
 
Advocates in all 50 states participated in more than 200 events across the country on Women’s Equality Day this past Sunday to warn that the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court could turn the balance of the court against women’s reproductive rights and produce a ruling to undermine or repeal Roe v. Wade. Organizers said the Unite for Justice Day of Action was the largest single-day action against a Supreme Court nominee in the country’s history.  RWV and our regional coordinators promoted and participated in local events in CO, GA, MA, ME, NJ, NM, NY, OR, TX, WA and WV to highlight the dire threat Kavanaugh could pose to the ACA, Medicaid andRoe v. Wade.

Raising Women’s Voices-NY (pictured) joined a rally in downtown Manhattan, where we heard from speakers who highlighted what’s at stake with Kavanaugh’s nomination. Alyssa Mastromonaco, former Obama staffer who just joined NARAL Pro-Choice America, explained: “We are the last line of defense for the 93 million women in America who need family planning, affordable health care, and access to safe and legal abortions.” New York activist Therese Patricia Okoumou, best known for climbing the Statue of Liberty on the fourth of July to protest the Trump administration’s policy of separating migrant families, spoke about the inextricable link between reproductive rights and immigrant rights
 
Both our Charleston-based coordinator, WV FREE, and our Portland-base coordinator, NARAL Pro-Choice Oregon, joined the national conversation via Tweet Storm. NARAL Oregon encouraged participants to take it local by using the hashtag #ORDissents to highlight why opposing Kavanaugh means protecting Oregonians and their ability to access abortion.
 
The Afiya Center, our Dallas-based regional coordinator, hosted a community conversation to discuss the impact of the SCOTUS nomination and how it will impact the lives of Black women and the larger Black community. Marsha Jones, Executive Directorand Deneen Robinson, Program Director (pictured at right), also discussed abortion rights and the importance of keeping Roe v. Wade.  
 
Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR), our coordinator in Denver, was one of the many groups to participate in the national Reproductive Justice Day of Action on SCOTUS. Women of color took action on the Hill and across the country to make their voices heard on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh.
 
COLOR joined in these efforts locally by taking action in Denver at Senator Cory Gardner's and Senator Michael Bennet’s district offices. Advocates Kylie Dennis and Maria Ignacia Miranda Santis (pictured at right) met with Senator Bennet’s staff to share their concerns about Kavanaugh’s stances on abortion access, immigrant justice, and LGBTQ liberation.
 
What’s next in the SCOTUS fight? We need to continue to stay loud, particularly as we head into next week, when Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings begin in the Senate. What can you do? Reach out to your Senators, and let them why you think that Trump’s nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, would turn the balance of the Supreme Court against the rights of women and LGBTQ people. Use this Take Action page to reach your Senators.
 
Meet our new regional coordinator in the South!
 
We would like to welcome the Mississippi Black Women’s Roundtable to the RWV regional coordinator network. Mississippi Black Women’s Roundtable (MS-BWR), is an intergenerational civic engagement statewide network and the women and girls empowerment arm of the of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation (NCBCP) that champions equitable public policy on behalf of Black women and girls nationally and across the South. The Mississippi effort is led by co-convenors Cassandra Welchlin & Debra Robinson.

BWR is a highly effective economic and social justice organizing network led by Black women across the country, with a focus on expanding inter-generational leadership and addressing economic insecurity, education and health disparities that perpetuate systemic, multi-generational poverty for too many Black women, families and communities.