Leaping from Our Spheres
There is unfortunately always some breaking news to report – or more accurately, old news that is finally getting some print and air time – about sexual violence against women and girls. This week was no exception, from collegiate football players who are apparently being shielded from rape charges in the midst of a winning season; to an esteemed comedian who had been accused for years of drugging and assault; to a gang rape just exposed in a University of Virginia fraternity which has brought to light years of inaction and cover ups of previous known incidents. Continue reading
This week in municipalities and states around the country, in a run up to Thanksgiving and what is arguably the annual season of conspicuous charity, “Give” days are being held. Citizens are urged to contribute financially to local nonprofits and schools, with incentives of matching gifts, Golden Ticket random money prizes, and other incentives, including free metro passes in some areas. In my town, the neighborhood email chat is buzzing with pitches for daycare centers for homeless children and urban wilderness preserves. In Minneapolis, there’s a running tally of the “votes” for Habitat for Humanity, a Twin Cities Dance company, an emergency assistance program – and the Minnesota Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC).
The refusal of the US Supreme Court to hear appeals of favorable lower federal court rulings overturning bans on same sex marriage, opening up legal marriage for gays and lesbians in five more states, is being rightfully celebrated. Change of public opinion and change of legal status have come with great and gratifying speed.
However, while the SCOTUS decision not to hear any cases opposing legalizing these marriages protected and advanced prior actions in a number of states, their choice to stay out of the fray leaves another 20 states without such advancements – at least for now. Following the announcement, attorney generals and governors of some of our most socially conservative states wasted no time announcing they were determined to continue to staunchly defend their constitutional amendments prohibiting same sex union.
The gathering a couple of weeks ago in Washington, D.C. of nearly 200 reproductive justice advocates from all over the country under the auspices of the All Above All coalition to restore and sustain abortion coverage for low-income women, was not only high spirited but also grounded in solid messaging.
The role-plays we observed or participated in the day before we descended on Capitol Hill were based on the most recent qualitative and quantitative research. We were briefed, not only on the issue we were there to get some attention for (the last week before a Congressional break for elections), but also immersed in the underlying values that serve as touchstones to remind us why we so persistently support keeping abortion “legal, available, and affordable.”
They were law students, English students, clinic workers, community organizers, exchanging their piercings and bright colored sneakers for conservative business suits and sensible pumps. Only a few had gray hair, or were alive when the Roe V. Wade came down from the Supreme Court legalizing abortion nationwide – or when only a few years later the Hyde Amendment eliminated federal Medicaid funding for these procedures.
One hundred seventy women, most of them young (and a few men) had come to Washington, DC last week, in the last few days that Congress was in session prior to the mid-term elections break, under the auspices of a national reproductive justice campaign All Above All. Organizational supporters included the Unitarian Universalist Association (under whose auspices I was invited), Law Students for Reproductive Justice, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the National Council of Jewish Women, the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice and dozens of other groups.