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16 and Loved: Supporting Women Who've Had Abortions

Steph Herold

Posted by: Steph Herold
Attention pro-choice feminists! Exhale, an after-abortion counseling hotline, is partnering with MTV to support the young women who courageously shared their abortion stories on MTV's 16 and Pregnant special airing tomorrow titled No Easy Decision.

From the campaign website:

16 & Loved is a campaign brought to you by Exhale to give our public support to the three young women who told their abortion story on the MTV special – “No Easy Decision” - created for the popular series “16 & Pregnant.” Markai and several other young women did their part to let others know: “you are not alone. I’ve been there too.” Now, it’s time to do our part. We need to make sure these brave young women feel our unconditional love and our support. 16 & Loved sends love and support to Markai and the others on the show, and, in the process, lets every young woman who has had an abortion know that she is not alone. She is loved.
There are a few things you can do to support the campaign:
You can also join the Women's Media Center Watch-In to send a message to MTV that we expect fair and balanced coverage of all pregnancy options and decisions on this show and all others.

Send a Message to President Obama: Women Need Social Security


Tell President Obama...
take action

After taking action, please support our work!

With the new Congress and a Republican-controlled House, there is a serious possibility that proposals to slash Social Security benefits may go forward. We need President Obama and the Democratic leadership to draw the line against any legislation that would increase the retirement age or alter the benefit formula – either of which would significantly reduce Social Security retirement income. Send this message to the President; ask him to speak out against cuts to Social Security in his State of the Union message in late January and to work with Congress to prevent any undermining of this vital program.

Take Action NOW!


Bad Deal in Store? - We are hearing rumors that a very bad deal may be struck early next year where Republicans would agree to vote for raising the debt ceiling in exchange for, among other things, severe reductions in Social Security retirement benefits. Shockingly, a number of Democratic leaders have been hinting that they might support such a move. This would, indeed, be a deal with the devil, as far as NOW is concerned.

Social Security Keeps Many Women in the Middle Class - A substantial number of women depend upon Social Security benefits, both for retirement and disability income. Fifty-seven percent of all Social Security beneficiaries aged 62 and older are women; 69 percent of beneficiaries 85 years and older are women. Even though retirement benefits are modest -- an average for women of just under $12,000 annually -- monthly Social Security checks account for half the total income for widows and unmarried women over age 65. In fact, for 46 percent of unmarried women who receive benefits, Social Security accounts for 90 percent or more of their income! A lifetime of sex-based wage discrimination, years out of the paid workforce caring for family members and lack of access to pensions means that many older women face an uncertain retirement future -- made much worse if benefits are reduced.

Women of Color Especially Harmed by Benefit Cuts - Recent studies have shown that African American and Latina women are especially at risk when they retire. Nearly half of all single Black and Hispanic women have zero or negative wealth and many approach retirement years nearly exclusively dependent upon Social Security.

Social Security Cuts on Top of Retirement Crisis - The country is facing a devastating retirement crisis with the disappearance of pensions, the loss of value in savings and 401(k) plans,, the decline in home values and massive foreclosures combined with serious shortfalls in state and local government pensions. Slashing Social Security benefits in what may be the only retirement income available to millions is just plain cruel – and a shocking departure from the values of fairness and compassion claimed by the president and other Democratic leaders.

President Obama Needs to Hear from the Women's Community - We believe that many advisors in the White House just don't get it when it comes to Social Security and the retirement crisis. From what we can tell, they especially don't understand the critical importance of Social Security retirement and disability benefits to women. We are counting on our activists to send a message to the President to do the right thing -- preserve Social Security benefits from bad deals in Congress.

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Our Very Own Alison Turkos interviewed on Feminists For Choice


One of our newer members, Alison Turkos, was interviewed on Feminists For Choice.  Here is the complete article.  (Emphasis - ours)

Hell Yeah, I'm a Feminist!

Monday, 20 December 2010, 9:55 | Category : Feminist Conversations

By Serena

Feminist Conversations is a weekly series at Feminists For Choice.  We spotlight activists from across the interwebs to find out what feminism means to them.  Alison Turkos is a recent college graduate majoring in English writing and minoring in Women's Studies. She is a Development & Events intern with NARAL Pro Choice NY, she volunteers as a clinic escort, and she is currently attempting to enjoy all the feminist fun that New York City has to offer.  We met up last month at the Feminists for Choice Tweetup.  Here's what she had to say about feminism and choice.

1.  How did you get involved with NOW?
I became involved with NOW completely by chance. While attending the "Women and Power" conference at the OMEGA Institute I met a few young women who were/are involved with the NOW-New York State-Young Feminist Task force. After sharing stories, goals, and ideas they invited me to attend a gathering back in the city that the task force was holding after the conference. It was completely unplanned and all due to fabulous networking.

2.  NOW has sometimes gotten a reputation for being irrelevant to younger women, but what has your experience been like?
I have been involved with the organization for a VERY short amount of time, but so far, my experience has been amazing. The Task Force is a fantastic group of diverse individuals who all lead amazingly interesting lives, and come together for one common purpose: FEMINISM!

3.  When did you first decide to call yourself a feminist?  And what contributed to that decision?
I grew up in a very Feminist household, but my parents never used the term "Feminist." Gender roles have never existed in my house. I have two working parents, a mom who mowed the lawn, and a dad who is a master in the kitchen. My parents' marriage is an entirely equal partnership, so I grew up surrounded by Feminism and Feminist values, but there was never the "Feminist" label attached.

Like many other Feminists, I experienced my "click" moment when I was in college. I took a classes titled "Women in Contemporary American Culture," and on the first day of class the professor asked "who here is a Feminist?" I didn't raise my hand because I hadn't had much exposure to the word and it's meaning, but after she explained what she believed Feminism to be, I raised and my hand and declared to the entire class "hell yeah, I'm a Feminist," and ever since that day I've identified as a Feminist.

4.  What does feminism mean to you?

I'm a firm believer in the idea that everyone's Feminism is different. My feminism is about small things like letting people know that Feminism does still exist, and we still have a lot to fight for. But it's also about bigger things, like a woman's right to choose, and her access to all things regarding her own reproductive health. In my everyday life I attempt to work towards the main goals of Feminism. Whether it's as an intern with NARAL Pro-Choice NY, a clinic escort, through my recent involvement with NOW, or as the director of the "Vagina Monologues" in college.

5.  What is your favorite thing about living in New York City?
I moved to New York City for 2 reasons. The first being to join the feminist/women's community here, and the second being to jump start my career in development and fundraising in a women's organization.

I had such an amazing experience with the Women's Studies students and professors in college that I wanted to continue the adventure. So I would have to say my favorite thing about living in New York City is the opportunities it provides for me on a daily basis. I have the ability to attend a Feminists for Choice cocktail party, or a feminist film screening, or an event on a very regular basis, and for that reason I LOVE NY!

NOW Celebrates Repeal Of Don't Ask, Don't Tell


NOW Press Release

For Immediate Release
Contact: Mai Shiozaki, 202-628-8669, ext. 116

NOW Celebrates Repeal Of Don't Ask, Don't Tell

December 18, 2010

The Senate's vote today to repeal the military's unjust Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy is a landmark victory that ends the 17-year policy of discrimination against lesbians and gay men in the military and moves our nation one step closer to realizing the promise of equality.

NOW thanks all of the senators who voted to recognize the right of lesbians and gay men to serve openly in the military, especially those who for years have taken a lead role in the struggle. We also recognize the courage of the Republican senators who broke ranks to end the filibuster and move to a vote on this historic legislation.

NOW has long been concerned about the disproportionate impact of Don't Ask Don't Tell on women. According to the Service Women's Action Network, sexual harassment of military women frequently takes the form of "lesbian baiting." An indication of the lopsided impact of the policy is that, in 2008, 34 percent of service members discharged were women even though women constitute only 15 percent of military personnel.

Military leaders have endorsed repeal and are confident that the troops and their families are ready, and that repeal will not negatively affect military readiness, unit cohesion, unit effectiveness, or retention. The public is also ready. Numerous polls show a majority of Republicans, Independents, Democrats, conservatives, moderates, liberals and frequent church goers support ending Don't Ask Don't Tell.

The president is expected to sign the bill as soon as it reaches his desk. NOW urges military leaders to move forward rapidly to certify and implement its provisions as soon as the bill becomes law. Lesbian and gay service members should not have to wait a single unnecessary day to have the same right as heterosexuals to serve openly in the military.


NOW.org | Press Room | Support NOW's Work

Is Your School Accountable to Keeping Students Safe from Sexual Violence?


Daniel Wald, member of the NOW – NYS Young Feminist Task Force, is also a board member of SAFER.


Erin Burrows,
Campus Accountability Project Coordinator,
(347) 465-7233, contact@safercampus.org

Susan Celia Swan
Managing Director, Communications,
(917) 865-6603, susan@vday.org




New York, NY, December 15, 2010—College students are taking action to hold their schools accountable for making their campus communities safer. Students Active for Ending Rape (SAFER) and V-Day are proud to announce the success of the first year of student submissions to our online database of sexual assault policies from schools across the country. In an effort to publish 400 policies by May 2011, SAFER and V-Day are launching the Winter Break Challenge to further build the Campus Accountability Project (CAP) Policies Database as a tool for student-led movements to reform sexual assault policies. Currently, the CAP database houses 130 policies in an online, public and searchable database which details what colleges and universities are doing to prevent, reduce and respond to sexual violence on campus. 

CAP publicly recognizes the successes of some schools' sexual assault while also identifying gaps in others. Preliminary results show that an overwhelming majority (75%) of schools in the database provide 24-hour crisis services to survivors as well as security measures like campus blue lights and escort services. Policies are also largely inclusive of a diverse community—92% use gender neutral language and ensure access to resources for all students, regardless of sexual orientation, race or ethnicity. However, while 72% of the schools offer primary prevention programs to address the root causes of sexual violence, only 9% mandate student participation in such programs. Also, a mere 7% of schools in the database include a drug and alcohol amnesty clause for survivors of sexual assault and only 62% allow for anonymous reporting. Because fears of retaliation and feelings of shame and guilt are often barriers to reporting an assault, it is crucial that more schools adopt amnesty clauses and provide confidential and anonymous reporting options for survivors.

V-Day and SAFER are encouraging you to participate in the Campus Accountability Project during your winter break. The Winter Break Challenge asks students to register at www.safercampus.org and submit their school using CAP's easy, step-by-step policy review form. We're also asking you to encourage their friends and fellow activists at other schools to submit to CAP. The database is utilized by student activists looking to make positive change on their campus, and also provides us with a wealth of information on the best and worst practices in sexual assault prevention and response at schools across the country. Only students can submit to CAP, if you are not a current student, please forward this to someone who is. Anyone can access the database by registering for free at www.safercampus.org.

We have already heard from 30 new schools since the initial launch of the Winter Break Challenge on December 1, 2010 and we want to hear from you! You can help kick-start real change on your campus and at schools nationwide by forwarding this information to students you know, and posting the Facebook event on your wall and blog today! 

SAFER is a volunteer-run organization that has been training and supporting student activists for a decade. We offer comprehensive programming to support student-led movements for campus sexual assault policy reform. In addition to the CAP policies database, our website houses the Activist Resource Center, an online library of tools for organizers. We also run a national, in-person trainings program to help students kick-start policy reform campaigns and offer ongoing mentoring via the Activist Mentoring Program, (AMP!). 

About V-Day

V-Day is a global activist movement to end violence against women and girls that raises funds and awareness through benefit productions of Playwright/Founder Eve Ensler's award winning play The Vagina Monologues and other artistic works.In 2010, over 5400 V-Day benefit events took place produced by volunteer activists in the U.S. and around the world, educating millions of people about the reality of violence against women and girls. To date, the V-Day movement has raised over $75 million and educated over 300 million people about the issue of violence against women and the efforts to end it, crafted international educational, media and PSA campaigns, reopened shelters, and funded over 12,000 community-based anti-violence programs and safe houses in Democratic Republic Of Congo, Haiti, Kenya, South Dakota, Egypt and Iraq. In 2001, V-Day was named one of Worth Magazine's "100 Best Charities" and in 2006 one of Marie Claire Magazine's Top Ten Charities.

John Boehner and Randall Terry: One Dangerous Anti-Choice Duo


Recently, notorious anti-abortion rights thug Randall Terry was treated to a face-to-face meeting with Rep. John Boehner's chief of staff. It's no exaggeration to say that when terrorists team up with the leadership of the newly elected Congress, we are facing dire threats to women's access to abortion care.

That's why your generous support of the NOW Foundation is more important than ever. NOW Foundation has a proud history of standing up to anti-abortion rights bullies like Randall Terry who use violence, threats of violence and intimidation to shut down abortion clinics. Will you make a year-end, tax-deductible contribution to the NOW Foundation today?

An urgent reminder of what's at stake is taking place just a few miles from my home, where Dr. LeRoy Carhart is being met with the same threats of violence and intimidation that led to Dr. George Tiller's brutal murder. And similar scenes are taking place all across the country.

When we honored Dr. Carhart at our annual conference last summer in Boston, we were inspired by his dedication to helping women who need abortions when pregnancies go horribly wrong. NOW Foundation stands by Dr. Carhart and other abortion providers across the country. We won't let the haters win -- no matter who their "friends in high places" may be. Please contribute today.

For equality and justice,

Terry O'Neill
President, NOW Foundation

P.S. Your tax-deductible donation will play an essential role in strengthening our ability to defend abortion clinics and health care providers and in advancing our mission of winning reproductive rights for all women. Please contribute today.

NOW Foundation Home

Women's Rights Are Human Rights. NOW-NYS Foundation Needs You!


Dear Women's Rights Supporter,
What do you think happens when two thugs meet to discuss the future of women's rights? If you guessed that women lose out, you are correct. Just today, NOW-New York State learned that anti-choice zealot Randall Terry was treated to a face-to-face meeting with the future House Speaker Republican John Boehner's chief of staff. This can mean only one thing. They are plotting to take away women's right to choose safe and legal abortions.
Over the years, you supporters have given generously to NOW-New York State. Today I am asking you to continue this crucial assistance. The likes of Randall Terry and his Operation Rescue bullies are not going disappear. Indeed, they will continue to use violence, threats of violence, and intimidation to close abortion clinics. And as you probably already know, eighty-seven percent (87%) of US counties are already completely devoid of abortion services. 
We also need to remember that just a few short years ago, abortion provider Dr. George Tiller was murdered by such terrorists as are inspired by Randall Terry and company. And at last summer's National NOW conference in Boston, our brave Dr. LeRoy Carhart, the physician who assumed Tiller's practice, spoke of the terrorism still visited on his clinic and on other abortion providers across the country. We cannot let these criminals win, no matter who their friends in high places may be.
When Hillary Clinton spoke at the 1995 Beijing-based Fourth World Conference on Women, her words rang very true: "Women's rights are human rights." And we all know that in order to determine their own futures and to make decisions about our medical care, abortion needs to remain a legal medical procedure. We won this right many years ago, but with these anti-choice thugs working hard, we could lose this right in a heartbeat. 
So please take the time to donate to NOW-NYS Foundation. Your donation is tax deductible, but you must act before the end of the year. Let's start the New Year with a strong presence, including the passage Of the New York State Governor's Reproductive Health Act. You can help by giving generously, so we can continue to educate and lobby for reproductive rights. I promise that your donation will be put to good use on behalf of women and girls.  
Happy Holidays to everyone from NOW-NYS
In Sisterhood,
Marcia Pappas
President, NOW NYS

NOW Urges Democratic Leadership to Name Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney Ranking Member of Oversight Committee


For Immediate Release
Contact: Mai Shiozaki, 202-628-8669, ext. 116

NOW Urges Democratic Leadership to Name Congresswoman
Carolyn Maloney Ranking Member of Oversight Committee

December 15, 2010

The battle to lead the Oversight Committee has begun, and the National Organization for Women and other leading women's groups are supporting Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) to be the next Ranking Member of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee (OGR). She is the second-ranking Democrat on the committee after Committee Chairman Rep. Ed Towns (D-N.Y.), who is giving up his post, and he has given his support to Maloney.

Rep. Maloney has an extraordinary record of legislative accomplishments and effective oversight, and when appointed, Maloney would be the second Democratic woman ever to serve as ranking member of the Oversight committee. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) has announced that he will be running against Maloney.

"With all due respect to Rep. Cummings, Congresswoman Maloney is next in seniority, a champion of women's rights, and has a strong track record of accomplishments," said NOW President Terry O'Neill. "We believe Rep. Maloney will be a strong and effective leader of this important committee."

Rep. Maloney has proven to be a prolific and effective legislator in a wide range of areas, often taking on powerful interests such as Big Oil and Wall Street. She authored and passed more than 50 bills, including landmark legislation such as HR 627, the Credit CARD Act. Her bill prevents credit card companies from using many of the most egregious tricks and traps that entangled consumers in an unending cycle of debt.

Congresswoman Maloney has been one of the strongest and most effective advocates for women's rights in Congress, with a significant record of passing measures that make a difference in women's lives. These include her Breast Cancer Early Detection Act of 1997, which provides annual mammograms for women on Medicare; and the Debbie Smith Act, which provides funding to increase the number of rape kits processed so prosecutors have access to DNA evidence – the best evidence to convict or acquit a rapist; and the Hate Crime Statistics Improvement Act, which added gender-based hate crimes to the list of hate crimes that the FBI is required to track; and the End Demand for Sex Trafficking Act.

NOW and a coalition of women's groups including Feminist Majority, National Council of Women's Organizations, Women's Campaign Fund and National Women's Political Caucus, has signed on to a letter of support for Congresswoman Maloney, strongly urging the Democratic leadership to honor seniority and appoint Maloney as the next Ranking Member of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee.


NOW.org | Press Room | Support NOW's Work

National Organization for Women News and Action Summary: Obama's Tax Plan, Wal-Mart, DADT


NOW News and Action Summary

National Organization for Women:
News & Action Summary

December 14, 2010


Wal-Mart: Too Big to Sue?

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear retail giant Wal-Mart's challenge to a class-action lawsuit against the company involving more than 1.5 million women. The court will not review the actual charges that Wal-Mart routinely discriminated against its women employees. Instead, the challenge seeks to deny these women their day in court. Read more.

NOW Urges Senate to Reject Obama Tax Plan: Economy Can Be Stimulated Without Undermining Social Security

The agreement reached by President Obama with Republican leadership is the wrong way to stimulate our economy. With cuts to Social Security's dedicated funding stream, it is particularly troubling for women, who rely more on Social Security than men do. Read more.

Support Repeal of Military Women's Abortion Ban and DADT

Urge your senators to vote for the DOD Authorization Bill, which contains a repeal of the ban on abortion services at military hospitals overseas, in addition to abolishing the discriminatory Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy. Take action!

Good News and Bad News for Women in Deficit Commission Vote

NOW President Terry O'Neill comments on the fiscal commission vote, including the good news (the recommendations won't go to Congress for a vote) and the bad news (too many commissioners were willing to cut Social Security). Read more.

Urge Republicans to Stop Blocking Vote on DADT

Please contact both your Senators, and urge them to repeal the military's unjust Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy prohibiting lesbians and gay men from serving openly. Take action!

16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence: Congress Should Adopt IVAWA

Contact your Senate and House members to urge them to pass the International Violence Against Women Act. This legislation will greatly enhance U.S. prevention of and response to gender-based violence in the international community. Take action!

Pentagon Report Supports the End of Don't Ask, Don't Tell

"The Pentagon survey makes it clear that lesbians and gay men serving openly in the military are not the problem," said NOW President Terry O'Neill. "The problem is Don't Ask, Don't Tell, which should have been repealed long ago." Read more.

NOW Conference 2011 *SAVE THE DATE*

The 2011 National NOW Conference will be held June 24-26, in Tampa, Fla. Bookmark this page and sign up for updates.

Action Spotlight

Urge Congress to Amend Lopsided Tax Package and Protect Social Security

Please urge Congress to reject President Obama's tax package, and instead adopt a stimulus package targeting relief where it's needed most, will do the most good, and won't cut Social Security's dedicated funding stream. Take Action NOW!

Join or Give

We have so much work to do! NOW is dedicated to taking action to eliminate sexism and end all oppression. Your support is absolutely vital to our ability to take on the right wing and push ahead on all of our important issues.


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Action Alert: NYPD Fakes Statistics, Downgrades Rape Charges


From Change.org's Women's Rights Blog 2:41 pm / 13 December 2010
by Amie Newman
In February, journalist Debbie Nathan was sexually assaulted in a New York City park. She immediately reported the incident to the police, who took the report, but purposefully and wrongly classified the assault as a misdemeanor. It was only after Nathan protested to the Manhattan District Attorney, who did his own investigation, that the incident was reclassified as a felony. According to the Huffington Post, "the six officers who responded to Nathan's attack admitted leaving key portions of her story out of the report."
Why would they leave out key portions of her story?

An investigative report by the Village Voice uncovered nothing short of a scandal. A series of articles exposed the New York Police Department's practice of consistently "undercharging" crimes in an effort to meet "performance measurements" (quotas are illegal) and make crime statistics appear more palatable. The manipulation of statistics was caught on tapes in which NYPD higher-ups can be heard telling street cops to downgrade crimes or simply not to report particular crimes at all.

Numerous courageous police officers have come forward to tell their tales of questionable police policies, such as retired detective Harry Hernandez, who details a harrowing account of police misconduct related to serial rapist Daryl Thomas. While NYC sexual assault prevention groups say that the issue of under-reporting and undercharging of crimes has been a "growing problem" over the last two years, these "shady police policies," writes Alex DiBranco on the Women's Rights blog, had particularly devastating consequences when Thomas was able to sexually assault six different women in a single neighborhood over a period of two months. He was on his way to a seventh when a "lucky break" fueled his capture by police. The brutal spree should have triggered alarm bells, but went unnoticed for so long because the NYPD kept downgrading the assaults to "criminal trespassing."

In other words, until exposed through a series of recordings as well as an FBI report, New York City police officers had been covering up sex crimes with the full knowledge and even the direction of their superiors. In fact, it seems likely it's still happening.

Change.org member Jaclyn Munson isn't willing to sit by and wait for the NYPD to take action voluntarily -- or not. She's created a Change.org petition to collectively raise our voices and demand change in the way sex crime statistics are handled by the NYPD.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. campaigned on an unfulfilled "promise" to release accurate and detailed sex crime statistics. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has is directing NYPD Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly to investigate the corruption in his own department.

Do we take the Mayor, the Police Commissioner, and the DA at their words? Even while the cover-ups still seem to be occurring? It's clear that Bloomberg, Vance, and Kelly need strong encouragement to take immediate action to stop the downgrading and under-reporting of sex crimes in NYC. Honest reporting of crime statistics paints a realistic assessment of risk for women -- not false numbers and "juked stats." Join fellow Change.org member Jaclyn Munson and tell the NYPD that rape is a serious crime.