Category Archives: Political Corner

Defunding women’s healthcare worldwide

By: Nicole McLaren

The U.S. is in the position to have an impact on many issues all across the world, one of these being access to healthcare for women. The current administration has attacked women’s reproductive rights already with both words and policy not only in the US but globally. They have decided to defund the United Nation’s Global Maternal Health Organization.

This is an organization that provides reproductive healthcare including abortion services to women all over the world. According to the administration this is to prevent the UN from conducting “coercive abortion and involuntary sterilization”. This claim is baseless according to the as there is no evidence that the organization does either of these two things.

George W. Bush used the same argument to defund the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), claiming it was supporting China’s one child policy with these funds. Even though the UN has expressed that they do not support the one child policy and no funds are used to support it.

The UNFPA and UN Global Maternal Health Organization provide contraceptives, family planning services, prenatal care, abortion, sexual and reproductive health services as well as education for populations all over the planet. This will take away over $70 million from the organizations but this only makes up 7% of the organizations budget. This is not the first attack on international women’s healthcare that the administration has committed. They have reinstated the Global Gag Rule which is a ban on U.S. funding to be given to any organization that provides safe abortions.

It is important for women to have access to reproductive healthcare, including abortions, not only in the U.S. but across the globe. The current administration is working to limit access to these services for all women and we must combat that by standing up for the rights of women. One way we can do that is having access to information. The UNFPA has a newsletter that anyone can sign up for so that you can be informed about these issues. Here’s the link

How Justice Gorsuch’s could impact your ability to access healthcare

By: Nicole McLaren

The battle between Republicans and Democrats for the Supreme Court seat is officially over as Gorsuch was sworn into the lifelong position earlier this week. He is replacing Scalia who passed away and left an open seat for more than a year. There are some key things that you need to know about his views that could impact your rights to healthcare.

  • His views on abortion are unclear

He has not ruled on a case that deals with abortion. Although we can make some assumptions from his book in 2006 about assisted suicide where he states “the intentional taking of human life by a private person is always wrong”.

  • His stance on maternity leave is also not clear

Two former students have stated that he accused women of using their companies for maternity benefits. He has claimed the students misunderstood him and that he was trying to teach young women about the unfair treatment they will receive in the work place and during the interview process.

  • He has a record of putting corportations over women’s reproductive health rights

      In the Hobby Lobby case he ruled that closely held businesses are not required to provide their employees contraceptive coverage that conflicts with the religious beliefs of the owner.

With this knowledge we can work to combat the rhetoric against women’s right to access reproductive healthcare services by working in our communities to try to ensure the safety and rights of all women. This can be done through volunteering with organizations like Planned Parenthood or even sharing the stories of how women have benefited from access to reproductive healthcare services. The US federal government has a blog that shares these stories here is the link

Sexual Assault or Harassment at School & Title IX

By: Cassandra Hedrick

What Title IX is and How it Works

Title IX is one of the 1972 Education Amendments. It requires schools to receive federal funding for fighting sex discrimination. This includes not being able to participate in an activity because of your sex, being denied benefits from your school because of your sex, and being sexually assaulted on campus or by someone you know from school. Title IX protects students, faculty, and those of any gender identity. This means those who identify outside the gender binary are protected as well This means they must have protocols for stopping any sort of sex discrimination in classrooms, sports, and clubs. If you cannot find these protocols, you can file a complaint here.

Beyond just making sure kids of any gender are treated equally, Title IX primarily deals with sexual assault. If you have been sexually assaulted at your school or by someone who goes to your school, you can file a Title IX report. Your school should have the instructions on how to do this in an easily accessible place, such as the school website or in your school handbook. They should also have a Title IX director who you can contact. If they do not have these things, you should file a complaint.

Beyond this, Title IX provides a “bill of rights” for victims of sexual assault. This includes providing the victim with any resources available to keep them in classes, clubs, and sports, such as providing security, allowing them to change classes, or anything else to prevent them from dealing with their attacker.  The Title IX office is also required to tell the victim of their options to report the attack (to the school, police, or both) and counseling resources.

Once you do report, your Title IX director is required to investigate and give you and the attacker the opportunity to make statements and give witnesses. You also have the right to know what happens during every step. This gives victims peace of mind; by letting them know what is happening during the process, they are not left wondering what is happening. Once the investigation is over, you must be notified of the outcome.

Title IX is there to protect both students and faculty from any kind of sex discrimination, including sexual assault. Every schools’ Title IX procedure should be “well advertised,” but if you can’t find it, you should file a complaint. You should have a Title IX director that will walk you through every step in the process and keep you informed at every step. These procedures are put in place to protect and give peace of mind to victims of sexual assault.

Tom Price: Unhealthy choice for leader US Healthcare Services

By: Nicole McLaren


In the past two weeks the Trump administration has dominated the news, some of this has been about the nominations he has made for leadership positions in the executive branch. He has nominated Tom Price for Health and Human Services. This nomination could have a direct impact on access to healthcare services and could dis-proportionally affect women and others who have benefited from the Affordable Care Act.

Tom Price is a congressman for Georgia’s 6th congressional district. During his time in Congress he sponsored bills that attempt to dismantle federal funding for healthcare services and he has spent years attempting to get rid of the Affordable Care Act. There is also speculation that he used his power as a US representative to benefit a health company that he owns stock in. The bill reversed cuts in reimbursements to the company. Since 2012 he has traded about $300,000 worth of shares in almost 40 different health companies. He has directly benefited from the rising cost of health care in the US which poses a problem if he is going to be the leader of Health and Human Services.

He will now be in a place of power to directly influence healthcare in the US if he is confirmed as the head of Health and Human Services. This nomination could have direct impact on the access to affordable healthcare. The ability to access healthcare services including reproductive and preventative healthcare is extremely important. For women to be able to participate in society we must have access to these services so that we have a choice and a say in our futures.

It is also important to think about the impact this will have on women who need access to reproductive healthcare through Planned Parenthood and how funding for Health and Human Services could hurt the ability to access these things. Healthcare is a fundamental right for all people and we have to work to make that a reality.{%22search%22:[%22tom+price%22]}&resultIndex=1

Come Out of the Quiet

This speech by DeRay Mckesson caught my attention the other week, and I’ve been thinking a lot about his ideas since then.

(It’s really worth watching, but in case you’re just skipping ahead, here’s the part of it that I’m going to be talking about: even when a lot of us are ‘out’ about who we are, it can be easy for some of the less convenient parts of ourselves to get overlooked and/or pushed aside when we don’t prioritize talking about them.)

I really like thinking about this, because I feel like it fills in a gap in how we talk about marginalized identities. We’ve had the metaphor of in the closet for ages, but it describes a pretty all-or-nothing situation. My last big ‘coming out’ moment was almost 20 years ago when talking with my grandfather – ever since then, it’s something that comes up as I meet new people, but there’s no big reveal. And that metaphor has always broken down when it comes to talking about identities that are a lot easier to pick up on visually (many racial and ethnic minorities, a number of physical disabilities, etc.)

But regardless of how apparent these identities are, it can still be really easy for them to get overlooked. (The whole “I don’t see race” thing.) It’s not something that happens out of malice, but just a consequence of the fact that human beings are pretty self-centered – it’s easy for us to forget about perspectives that are different from our own unless we’re making a conscious effort to include them.

Which is why the idea of coming out of the quiet is so compelling. It captures the fact that we’re already here, and we’re already a part of things. We’re just told – in various ways – to keep it down when it comes to talking about things that challenge the status quo.

It’s becoming more and more apparent that all of our efforts are stronger when we include this breadth of voices, and that the costs of exclusion are far too high. So here’s to coming out of the quiet, in all of the various ways that we’re called to do so. May we end up making a glorious noise.

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Finding Your People

Recently, I was talking with some other folks at Planned Parenthood about how isolated some people who support PP and reproductive justice can feel. It made a lot of sense, but I realized that I hadn’t thought all that much about what kind of a toll that can have on people.

Part of that is definitely due to circumstance – I’ve lived and worked in various different ‘liberal bubbles’ for a while, and so even though my political opinions haven’t been universally shared, it’s always been somewhat easy for me to find moderately like-minded folks. (Given that meeting new people in the US often involves ‘what do you do’ as an opening question, I often let people identify themselves as kindred spirits early on. And there are also some abrupt changes of subject, too.)

So if in-person conversations aren’t necessarily going to be places where you find shared viewpoints, where do you look? When it comes to something like supporting women who have abortions or opposing the efforts to defund Planned Parenthood, people can easily find the statistics showing that that’s an opinion that the majority of folks in the US share. But abstract numbers can only do so much.

And this made me see a lot of the recent social media campaigns around PP in a totally new way. For most people, it was primarily about showing support for Planned Parenthood in the face of the ongoing attacks. But a side benefit of it is that you can be reminded of who the people are in your life who support this work. For people who feel isolated, that can be a real boon, and that feeling of camaraderie can translate into more in-person connections too.

Not everyone feels the same kind of need to cultivate community around these issues, but for those of us who do, I’m really glad that the internet is making is easier in a lot of ways. If we have to weather the kinds of political attacks that have been coming down lately, at least we can do it together.

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Fighting back – what you can do

Orange logo that says "I stand with Planned Parenthood" in white text

image via The Riot

Feronians, we’ve gotten a lot of questions about how people can help fight back against all of the ridiculousness that’s been surrounding Planned Parenthood lately. From smear campaigns to pushes to take away funding to flat out lies about what happens at health centers, there’s no shortage of things to deal with! But sometimes it can be hard to know what to do specifically, since a lot of this is playing out on a sometimes distant-seeming national stage.

So if you’re fired up and looking for a place to get started, here are some places to begin!

  1. Write a Letter to the Editor
    Many individual voices together can make an impact that goes beyond all of the press conferences and interviews that we could ever hold. Write from the heart at home, or join one of our Wednesday Activist Meetings to join in with others doing the same.
  2. Share Your Story
    What draws you to reproductive justice? Are you one of the 1 in 5 women who’s used Planned Parenthood, or one of the 1 in 3 women in the US who’s had an abortion? What’s inspired you to become a supporter of this movement and this work?Particularly with all of the political rhetoric that gets flung around when it comes to reproductive health, the public conversations that take place often forget about the people who are at the heart of all of this. By talking about your particular connection to these issues, you can help to bring the focus back where it belongs.You can do this with people in your life, or reach out more widely through campaigns like Share Your Story or Humans of Planned Parenthood.
  3. Join Planned Parenthood’s Action Alert Networks
    You can text “Stand With PP” to 69866 to join the mobile action network, sign up for the local email list here, or find out more about volunteer opportunities near you.
  4. Make a Donation
    Especially as local affiliates work to fight back against baseless investigations and false claims, your support is more vital than ever. These attacks only serve to make the hardworking people at the health centers more determined to keep providing affordable, low cost sexual and reproductive health services to their communities.
  5. Follow Planned Parenthood on Social Media
    News is running at a breakneck pace these days, and we want to be sure you have all of the information that you need! You can get updates from Planned Parenthood on Facebook and on Twitter to hear about how what’s happening in the push back against these attacks, and about all of the work that happens in our health centers every day for the people who depend on us.
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Mean girls? Or just mean headlines?

Recently, I was catching up with an old friend when the topic of workplace culture came up. I made some offhand remark about the fact that I’ve only had one job with a male boss, and that the vast majority of my coworkers have all been women, and was really surprised by her response. She immediately expressed sympathy, and said that she could only imagine ‘all the drama’ that goes along with that.

I told her that I never really experienced any of that, our conversation moved on, and I probably wouldn’t have thought of it again except for Facebook. That weekend, another friend posted a meme about the Icelandic Women’s Strike of 1975, with a caption of “What power women have when they unite – instead of tear ourselves apart through gossip, demeaning behavior and ridicule.”

Image via Planting Peace

Image via Planting Peace

Now, it’s always amazing to see what can happen when a large group acts collectively, and it’s a hard and therefore pretty rare thing to see. But is the idea of women’s cattiness so deeply ingrained that it’s always the default expectation for a lot of people? I’ve heard the tropes about this before, but I thought that most of it was like the idea that all lesbians always wear flannel, or that all pregnant women only eat fried pickles: a stereotype that’s an easy sitcom punchline, but one that (almost) no one takes seriously.

Looking into it a bit, though, I found that a *lot* of people take this seriously, and I found myself shocked by the fact that I hadn’t run up against this more often.

We’re only now starting to get more objective data on these kinds of behaviors, though, so assumptions have had a long time to go unchecked. Psychologists call this kind of behavior indirect aggression, and past research tended to focus much more closely on direct aggression. It’s easier to see and categorize shoves and punches, and it’s a lot harder to ask questions about when people have been snide or exclusionary.

The research so far is pretty interesting, especially in the differences between men and women: there aren’t many. Men “gossip” more than women, but if often doesn’t get that label. And men and women express indirect aggression at the same rates, even though a lot of the mainstream press articles about new papers won’t mention that fact.

When I first started looking into this, I was wondering if I’d just been unfathomably lucky in my life and friendships. I’m glad to see that my friends, coworkers and I aren’t anomalies, but I’d be even happier if we could put the tired stereotypes to rest.

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Say It Like You Mean It: Reflecting on Women’s Voices

I come from a family that can be judgy as anything when it comes to how things sound. There are a number of family stories that circle around it, but one that comes to mind is from a parent-teacher night at my high school. One of the French teachers for 9th grade was fluent in a number of languages, but her accent lagged a bit behind her knowledge. Mme. Plume ‘s pronunciation was French-atop-German-atop-New Jersey, and it was the only thing my mother could talk about when she came home.

Now, my mother doesn’t speak a word of French or German beyond hello, but she’s got a degree in music and a well-developed ear. She was in charge of signing me up for classes, and I think that she might not have cared about anything that night other than making sure I got into someone else’s section.

I won’t lie – my accent is probably better off for it. And coming from a family where all things audible could be up for critique, the fact that she talked about it off and on for weeks was normal. While that story faded into memory, there were others that came up pretty regularly. And each time, even though the wincing wasn’t exactly polite, it was coming from such a gut level that I knew that whatever judgment was there was also accompanied by true discomfort.


(You knew there was a but coming, with all that rambling above.)

As I grew up and saw more cycles of hand-wringing about voices – almost always female voices – I started to question why this was. Whether it was hearing people bemoan valley-speak, its legacy of ‘like’ as an interjection, upspeak, or now vocal fry, it was almost always women who were getting criticized.

Eventually I saw that, at a certain level, this criticism stems from the fact that women are expected to be pleasing no matter what else we are. Any woman who’s had to endure ‘helpful feedback’ about a presentation that focuses on her shoes, skirt length, or hairstyle is all too familiar with this, although most men will never face the same. (Though the social rules, as always, are different for men who aren’t white and/or aren’t traditionally masculine.)

These standards are especially damaging when it comes to world events, where a lot of what’s worth saying isn’t pleasant. So while I applaud all of the many excellent articles that have been pushing back about how things vocal fry are ‘the worst,’ I especially enjoyed this one by Jen Dziura, which focuses on all of the ways that speech patterns that are ‘too’ feminine can be used effectively.

And when it all gets to be just a bit too depressing, there’s always this hilarious takedown.

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The Supreme Court’s Decision in 5 Powerful Photos

It was an incredibly powerful and historical weekend, Feronians. On Friday, the Supreme Court came down with a ruling in the Obergefell vs. Hodges case. Marriage equality is now the rule of the land. Here’s the most beautiful excerpt from Justice Anthony Kennedy:


This historically significant decision was perfectly timed to coincide with Pride parades/festivals all over the United States. An unprecedented number of Americans showed up at Pride events to show their support, and it was beautiful. I, myself, marched in my city’s parade, and I was so moved by the sheer number of people and positive energy coming from the crowd. The images of those people along the parade route will forever be seared in my memory. In the event that you didn’t make it out to a Pride event, I’ve collected 5 powerful images from the weekend that I hope will “hit you in the feels.” This first one makes me weepy every time I look at it…

Alejo Jumat, left, hugged his husband, Christian Crowley, outside the Supreme Court on Friday. The couple rode their bikes over to the court after hearing about the ruling.Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times

Alejo Jumat, left, hugged his husband, Christian Crowley, outside the Supreme Court on Friday. The couple rode their bikes over to the court after hearing about the ruling.Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times

 After 54 years as a couple, George Harris, 82, and Jack Evans, 85, shed a tear after being married by Judge Denise Garcia at the Dallas County records building. The two were the first gay couple to be issued a marriage license and to be married in Dallas Photograph: Ashley Landis/AP

After 54 years as a couple, George Harris, 82, and Jack Evans, 85, shed a tear after being married by Judge Denise Garcia at the Dallas County records building. The two were the first gay couple to be issued a marriage license and to be married in Dallas. Photograph: Ashley Landis/AP

 The North Portico of the White House was illuminated with rainbow colors on Friday night. Photograph: Michael Reynolds/EPA

The North Portico of the White House was illuminated with rainbow colors on Friday night. Photograph: Michael Reynolds/EPA

Carolyn Finken-Dove holds up a sign as she celebrates.

Carolyn Finken-Dove holds up a sign as she celebrates.

Emma Foulkes, left, and Petrina Bloodworth held hands and showed their wedding rings after being married at the Foulton County Courthouse in Atlanta. JOHN BAZEMORE/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Emma Foulkes, left, and Petrina Bloodworth held hands and showed their wedding rings after being married at the Foulton County Courthouse in Atlanta. JOHN BAZEMORE/ASSOCIATED PRESS

And lastly, because it will always be relevant…


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