Planned Parenthood Affiliates of Ohio released their monthly Thanks and Spanks today. The organization's cheers and jeers go to two groups or individuals who have made a difference in reproductive rights, either good or bad.
If there is one voice for women in Ohio, it is that of Connie Schultz. The Pulitzer-prize-winning columnist for the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes twice weekly in defense of the underdog and the underprivileged. Ms. Schultz's column is a voice for reproductive rights, gay rights, sexual equality, affordable and accessible health care, workers' rights, military families, and ending violence towards women and children.
In 2009, Connie Schultz raised her voice to a pitch often described as a roar, in support of women and reproductive rights. In April, Ms. Schultz served as keynote speaker at the Freedom of Choice Ohio Lobby Day. Her speech urged the women in the room to play a greater role in politics. She inspired us to look even within ourselves for the next reproductive rights warrior.
In November, Ms. Schultz slammed Rep. Bart Stupak and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops for claiming religion is a legitimate reason to deny access to health care. In the same column, she warned "self-proclaimed progressives" against asking women to forfeit their rights so the Democratic Party could have a hollow political victory. Her description of the "me-first-you-never approach to women's rights" could not be more true.
For speaking out for those without a voice, Ms. Schultz is re-paid with thousands of insults and criticisms that flood her inbox, often slamming her for her pro-choice views regardless of the topic of her latest column.
For those reasons and so many more, we offer our special year-end THANKS to you, Connie Schultz! We are proud to have you on our side and appreciate your voice.
To Thank Ms. Schultz for her year of hard work and to ask her for more of the same in 2010, you can write her at Cschultz@plaind.com or call her at the Plain Dealer at 216-999-5087.
Oh, Congressman Boehner, how do I dislike thee? Let me count the ways.
Congressman Boehner, the House Minority Leader, has spent 2009 spreading misinformation and outright lies. In January, we told you about Congressman Boehner’s attempt to kill the Medicaid Family Planning State Option because it would include contraceptive coverage. In August, Congressman Boehner was up to his old tricks again, claiming that a public-option would force American citizens to fund abortion on demand.
Predictably, he's still at it. This month, the House Minority Leader's office released a statement blasting Senator Harry Reid for forcing all Americans enrolled in a proposed insurance plan to "pay a monthly abortion premium." What Boehner doesn't explain is that these proposed plans would be created for the specific purpose of giving women the option of having abortion coverage. They would be strictly voluntary and fully funded by the private premiums paid by the individual. In other words, no Americans would be forced to have abortion coverage or pay for it if they chose not to do so. Yet another attempt at fear-mongering by Congressman Boehner.
For this reason and so many more, we award Congressman Boehner with the SPANKS of the year! And here is the rest of it.
Salon.com published a letter from a fictional member of Congress about redistricting. I think it's definitely worth a read because Ohio will lose one or two Congressional seats when the lines are redrawn. Every Ohioan should understand the decade-long implications of this process.
This past Wednesday, I was part of a group of ralliers that gathered to express our concern at the STOP Stupak Speak Out held in the Wexner Center Plaza on Ohio State University's campus. Read the OSU Lantern's coverage of the event here. Many of us were from feminist groups on campus and a few professors joined us too- which was amazing! We gathered because we are ardently opposed to the eleventh hour addition of the Stupak amendment to the House healthcare reform bill. And we also don't want a likewise anti-choice amendment being added to the Senate healthcare reform bill- or any of the same in the final bill. I feel that anti-choice language is not only morally wrong but also an overt way to control women's reproductive organs. It seems that women's bodies are always used as a gambling chip and we need to tell our legislators that this is NOT OK. We held the speak out to inform other students of this antic-choice language being successfully added to the House bill and to collect signatures for the anti-Stupak amendment petiton.
The day itself was not a great day to have a speak out as it was rainy and very COLD (and the last week before finals to boot) BUT we were still going to make our voices heard. We shouted some chants, held up posters, got signatures for the petition all whilest passing out condoms. The reaction to the speak out seemed pretty positive and several cars driving by honked their support. The Lantern (OSU's paper) came by and gave us some great coverage too. It was awesome to have the chance to talk to female AND male students about the implications of this amendment and to hear that most of them supported what we were doing. And some OSU maintenance workers were clearing up leaves near us and a bunch of them came over to sign the petition! They were there to do their job but then became interested in what we were doing. It’s so encouraging to see people walking by, caught up in their own world, suddenly stop and decide to stand up against something that will adversely affect millions of lives. I really feel that voting can be great way to make your voice heard BUT there are other means such as rallies, speak outs, petitions, phonebanking, and canvassing that can be extremely effective as well.
Thanks to the witnesses and supporters
who attended the first Ohio Prevention First Act
hearing for proponent testimony
On November 18th, thirty-six activists packed a crowded Statehouse hearing room to witness the first ever proponent testimony for the Ohio Prevention First Act (HB 293). In total, sixteen witnesses provided testimony. Copies of submitted testimony are available at www.ppao.org.
The witnesses represented a variety of backgrounds and levels of expertise and included testimony from:
- two medical doctors
- a clergyman
- a professor of health education
- a sexual assault survivor
- high school and college students
- two social workers
- a person denied birth control by a pharmacist
- the Ohio Business and Professional Women
- the National Council of Jewish Women
- Lucas County Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative
- the League of Women Voters
- the Coalition for Family Health
questioning of Prevention First witnesses
During the Ohio Prevention First Act hearing, Coalition for Family Health convener Judi Wolf presented testimony on the need for comprehensive sex education. Her testimony was followed by the claim from Representative Lynn Wachtmann (R-Napoleon) that pro-prevention advocates are encouraging young people to be anything but abstinent and will contribute to the increase in sexually transmitted diseases. He accused advocates of comprehensive sex education of having an agenda that puts young people at a greater level of risk.
Ms. Wolf replied that medically-accurate, age-appropriate sex education will give young people the understanding of how to prevent contracting STDs. She informed the committee that students do not receive adequate education from abstinence-only programs.
Rep. Wachtmann's reply, "You're wrong!"
Really, Representative Wachtmann?
Ironically, two days before the hearing, the Centers for Disease Control released their study of STD rates in America. Their finding: STD rates increased significantly in 2008. This increase occurred at a time when the federal government gave millions of dollars to states, including Ohio, to provide abstinence-only programming.
Dr. John Douglas, head of the CDC's Division of Sexually Transmitted Disease Prevention, said to avoid STDs, teens can delay the beginning of sexual activity, people can limit the number of sexual partners and use condoms. "Condoms have risk-reduction value for every sexually transmitted condition," Douglas said.
Either the Centers for Disease Control has an agenda set on harming teens or maybe it's Representative Wachtmann who is wrong.
-Gabriel Read more...
This age-appropriate, medically-accurate lesson plan is proven to reduce sexual activity in teens, delay the age when students decide to become sexually active, and increases the use of condoms and birth control among students who do become active.
Rep. Slesnick is taking the responsible course of action in bringing this discussion and this bill to the Ohio House. Bravo!
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