Victory for Equality in Pocatello, Idaho!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 21, 2014

Victory for Equality in Pocatello, Idaho; Voters Uphold Non-Discrimination Ordinance for LGBT Community

Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest Played Critical Role in Grassroots Organizing Efforts to Ensure All Pocatellans Are Protected from Discrimination

Pocatello – Advocates for equality across Idaho celebrated election results in Pocatello on Tuesday evening, where voters upheld their city’s non-discrimination ordinance making it illegal to discriminate against people for being gay or transgender in the areas of employment, housing, and public places. Results from the Bannock County Elections Office showed the repealing Proposition One failing 49.5% to 50.5% – a margin of 90 votes.

Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest (PPVNW) played a critical role in Fair Pocatello, the successful campaign to support fairness and oppose Proposition One, most notably by providing its Campaign Manager. Additionally, PPVNW served as a leader on the coalition table, recruited numerous volunteers, and provided support with dozens of like-minded volunteers calling into Pocatello from all over the state.

If Proposition One had passed, LGBT Pocatellans would no longer have been protected from discrimination, meaning they could have lost their jobs or their housing simply for being gay or transgender. It would have also created a slippery slope similar to the defeated legislation HB 427, giving employers or business owners the legal right to discriminate against customers or employees for a whole host of reasons. The Hobby Lobby case before the U.S. Supreme Court takes the same basic principle and super-sizes it for the entire country.

PPVNW believes that reproductive rights are deeply connected to LGBT rights and has been a regional leader on the issue of equality to ensure women, men, and young people can lead healthy lives, no matter who they are and no matter where they live. PPVNW served as a leader of the coalition that passed Washington state’s marriage and domestic partnership initiatives in 2012 and 2009, respectively. Additionally, PPVNW has been central to the Add the Words coalition in Idaho working to pass non-discrimination protections at the state level.

Statement from Hannah Brass Greer, PPVNW Idaho Public Affairs Manager and Legislative Director:

“The victory in Pocatello for equality and fairness is a resounding message to the rest of the country: it’s time to provide non-discrimination protections everywhere and for everyone. Seven cities and dozens of businesses in Idaho have already paved the way by passing non-discrimination rules, and now our elected officials in the legislature must do the same.

“Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest was proud to provide support in Pocatello, but this victory truly belongs to the dozens of grass roots organizers and volunteers who gave up their free time over the past several months to knock on doors, make phone calls, and connect with their friends and neighbors. This was Pocatello’s values, Pocatello’s ordinance, Pocatello’s campaign, and now it’s Pocatello’s triumph.

“The message to business owners and politicians is clear: voters do not want businesses to have a free pass to discriminate. Instead, we want basic protections under the law to ensure all people – not matter where they live or work – are treated with dignity and respect. Most people agree that if you open your doors to the general public you don’t get to pick and choose who you serve; similarly, if you are a corporation and you hire and serve the general public, you shouldn’t get to pick and choose which laws to follow.”

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AK: Senate Candidate Dan Sullivan Absent for Women

U.S. Senate Candidate Dan Sullivan Absent for Alaskan Women; Dodges Position on Critical Campaign Issue at Candidate Forum

Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest Delivers Copy of “Life at Conception Act” to Sullivan

Anchorage – During a U.S. Senate candidate forum that aired on April 25, Republican primary voters heard loud and clear from Joe Miller when he stated his steadfast support for S. 583, the Life at Conception Act, a so-called personhood effort introduced by conservative leader Rand Paul in the U.S. Senate that defines life as beginning at conception and could end access to safe and legal abortion in the United States. When pushed, Lt. Governor Mead Treadwell said he “will support legislation that supports the definition of life beginning at conception.” The third Republican contender, Dan Sullivan, dodged the question and said he needed time to read the bill.

Alaska voters are now left confused. On his campaign website, Sullivan’s position is clear: “life begins at conception and we must fight to protect the lives of the unborn.”

To help Dan Sullivan clarify his position and finally read the Life at Conception Act, Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest (PPVNW) is sending a copy of the bill to Sullivan in the mail today, with a request that he state for Alaska voters exactly where he stands.

See copy of letter attached. Click here for photo of the letter being mailed and click here for a copy of the bill.

“Voters are waiting to hear from Dan Sullivan on where he stands on important issues that his primary opponents have already weighed in on. That’s why we’re delivering a copy of the Life at Conception Act for his immediate review,” said Jessica Cler, PPVNW Alaska public affairs manager.

“By redefining ‘person’ in state law to include fertilized eggs, so-called ‘personhood’ efforts could interfere with personal, private medical decisions relating to birth control, access to fertility treatment, management of a miscarriage, and access to safe and legal abortion.  Indeed, ‘personhood’ is government gone too far, and the defeat of ‘personhood’ state constitutional amendments all across the country — from Colorado and Ohio to Mississippi and Oklahoma — sends a clear message:  health care decisions should be left to a woman, her family, her doctor, and her faith — not politicians,” continued Cler.  

Two weeks ago, women’s health champion Mark Begich began airing a new radio ad on women’s health, criticizing his main two opponents on abortion, government intrusion, Medicaid cuts, minimum wage, and equal pay. Senator Begich has a 100 percent rating on the Planned Parenthood Action Fund congressional scorecard for his votes to protect women’s health.

“Unlike his opponents, U.S. Senator Mark Begich respects women and believes that private medical decisions about birth control and safe and legal abortion should be left between a woman and her doctor, not politicians. That’s why we’re proud to support Senator Begich in his re-election campaign for U.S. Senate,” said Cler.

Background: Over the last several years, Planned Parenthood political and advocacy organizations have successfully educated key voters about where their candidates stand on women’s health issues. Most recently in Virginia — where it had been decades since the party holding the White House won the governor’s race — Planned Parenthood political and advocacy organizations helped elect women’s health champion Terry McAuliffe and defeat extreme opponent of women’s health Ken Cuccinelli.

The majority of Americans believe that a woman and her doctor, not politicians, should be making health care decisions.

  • Women’s health played the defining role in Terry McAuliffe’s gubernatorial victory last year in Virginia. He won women by nine points — matching Obama’s 2012 advantage with Virginia women, beating Obama’s 2008 advantage with Virginia women by two points, and flipping Republican Governor Bob McDonnell’s eight point advantage with women that propelled him to victory in 2009. Notably, 20 percent of Virginia voters said abortion was the most important issue in determining their vote, and McAuliffe won 59 percent of those votes.
  •  Polling from the 2012 election shows that access to safe and legal abortion, affordable birth control, and basic health care access are motivating voting issues for women, who view them as core economic issues for their families.  An overwhelming majority of women voters trust Planned Parenthood political and advocacy organizations when they speak out about issues affecting the health of women.
  • 2012 post-election report from the Sunlight Foundation on big winners and losers found that the Action Fund and Planned Parenthood Votes had a 98 percent return on investment — having supported 12 winning candidates and opposing 12 losing candidates.

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2014 Annual Luncheon

Reproductive health and rights are under attack in America, and the U.S. Senate is one of the last lines of defense. Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest fights to advance and protect women’s health in Washington, Alaska, and Idaho – but we can’t succeed without our allies in Congress. Senator Mark Begich from Alaska is a women’s health champion with a 100% rating from the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, a critical ally with Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell against Tea Party conservatives who want to limit women’s reproductive options and cut access to birth control.

This year the stakes could not be higher – Senator Begich’s seat and control of the entire Senate are up for grabs. If Mitch McConnell and the Koch brothers take power, they’ll be able to push an extreme anti-women’s health agenda nationwide that will interfere with Washington’s proud tradition of supporting reproductive health.

Mark Begich is fighting back, and so are we. Join us for the PPVNW annual luncheon to hear about how the fight for reproductive rights in DC and the 2014 U.S. Senate landscape are affecting the work we do in Washington.

Click here to RSVP for the PPVNW 2014 Annual Luncheon on June 6th!

WHEN

Friday, June 6, 2014
12:00pm-1:30pm

WHERE

Washington State Convention Center
800 Convention Pl, Seattle, WA 98101

AK: Bill to Block Abortion Access for Low-Income Women Passes Both Houses

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 14, 2014

 

Unconstitutional Bill to Block Abortion Access for Low-Income Women Passed by Both Houses, On to Governor’s Desk

Action Comes After Weeks of Anti-Women’s Health Comments from Legislators

Alaska – On April 13, the State House of Representatives passed Senate Bill 49, a severe and unconstitutional restriction designed to block abortion access for low-income Alaskan women. The legislation is virtually identical to Governor Parnell and Lt. Governor Treadwell’s recent administrative rule currently enjoined and under legal challenge in Alaska Superior Court. The next day, on April 14, the State Senate concurred with the House’s version and sent the legislation to Governor Parnell’s desk to be signed into law or vetoed.

An earlier version of SB 49 contained an amendment for the Medicaid Women’s Health Program that was later stripped out by the House Finance Committee and agreed to by the full bodies of both Houses.

“SB 49 is a blatant attempt to put politicians between low-income women and access to abortion, and by removing the Medicaid Women’s Health Program, the legislature has made it clear that their only interest is restricting women’s pregnancy decisions – not promoting women’s health or reducing unintended pregnancies,” said Jessica Cler, Alaska Public Affairs Manager.

“It’s truly puzzling that politicians, including Governor Sean Parnell and Lt. Governor Mead Treadwell, think that they should be making the personal medical decisions of Alaskan women. In reality, these decisions must be made between a woman and her doctor. Parnell, Treadwell, and the legislators who voted for SB 49 are politicians with no grasp on the issues facing women in Alaska. We urge the Governor to do the right thing and veto this bill.”

The Alaska Medicaid Women’s Health Program, if enacted, would be 90% federally paid and would eventually result in net savings to the state of $8.9 million per year. In its first year alone, the program would provide family planning services to roughly 11,725 women who currently do not have access through Medicaid, and prevent 555 abortions.

Passage of SB 49 is just the next installment in the parade of recent anti-women’s health actions and comments over the first part of 2014. In case you missed it:

  • Pete Kelly Proposed Putting Pregnancy Tests in Bar Bathrooms. On March 20, Senator Pete Kelly proposed that the state “flood” bathrooms in bars with publicly funded pregnancy tests in ‘plastic bowls.’ He said this way women will “act responsibly.” Even worse, he’s against birth control access because “birth control is for people who don’t necessarily want to act responsibly.” [Anchorage Daily News, 3/20/14]
  • Fred Dyson Told Women to Save Money for Birth Control by Not Buying Coffee. In March, Senator Fred Dyson inexplicably and incorrectly argued that women in Alaska have no issues with birth control access. As a result, he said that the state shouldn’t expand birth control coverage for low-income women. He even advised some of Alaska’s poorest women to save money for birth control by not buying “four to five lattes” each month. In reality, many women are struggling to feed their families, and sometimes the money for birth control just isn’t there. That’s why women’s health advocates have been asking politicians for years to implement the Medicaid Women’s Health Program to fund additional low-income birth control access. [Anchorage Daily News, 3/7/14]
  • Gabrielle LeDoux Said Access is So Good in Alaska That Putting Birth Control in Drinking Water is Only Way to Improve. On April 10, Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux claimed that there were no issues with birth control access in Alaska. She said, “Other than putting contraceptives in the drinking water, I mean we’ve done just about everything we can do as far as family planning services.” [Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, 4/10/14]
  • Governor Parnell, Lt. Gov Treadwell, and Legislators Push Unconstitutional and Heavily Restrictive Measure to Block Abortion Access for Low-Income Women. In January, Governor Sean Parnell and Lt. Governor Mead Treadwell certified a Department of Health and Social Services rule to essentially block abortion access for low-income women in Alaska. The measure is a clear constitutional violation and currently enjoined in court, but that hasn’t stopped the legislature from considering identical legislation in the form of SB 49. In late February, the House Finance Committee passed the harmful bill. [Alaska Dispatch, 1/7/14; AP, 2/4/14; Anchorage Daily News, 2/27/14]
    • House Finance Committee Removed Medicaid Women’s Health Program Without Hearing Any Testimony. In the process of considering SB 49, the House Finance Committee eliminated a productive amendment to establish the Medicaid Women’s Health Program in Alaska – before hearing a single second of testimony. The program would be 90% federally funded and would save the state $7.3 million over the first two years. It would reduce unintended pregnancies and abortions in Alaska while helping women achieve economic security. [Anchorage Daily News, 2/25/14]

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Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest (PPVNW) is an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization educating Alaskans and policy-makers about reproductive health issues. PPVNW lobbies and educates to advance Planned Parenthood’s mission and also engages in limited electoral activities.

PPVNW Praises Begich For Paycheck Fairness Vote

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 9, 2014

Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest Praises Mark Begich For His Vote in Support of Paycheck Fairness

Alaska – Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest today praised Senator Mark Begich for his vote in support of the Paycheck Fairness Act.  The bill, introduced by Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), would have provided women with increased protections against pay discrimination. Unfortunately, Republicans blocked this legislation from passing, the latest tactic in a string of measures by some members of Congress to restrict women’s rights, instead of advancing equity.

Statement from Jessica Cler, Alaska Public Affairs Manager:
“Today, Senator Mark Begich stood up for working women and families when he voted in support of the Paycheck Fairness Act, a common sense bill which would have protected women in the workplace.

“This vote is yet another example of how Senator Begich stands up for Alaska women and families. In these tough economic times when one-third of all American women are struggling to get by, it’s critical that members of Congress work together toward solutions that improve the lives of women and their families by remedying pay disparities and relieving the economic burden of birth control. 

“In contrast, his three challengers – Dan Sullivan, Mead Treadwell, and Joe Miller – have stayed noticeably silent on this issue. Alaskans need to know where these three men stand on paycheck fairness.

“At Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest, we’ll be working around the clock to ensure voters in our state know where the candidates stand on issues important to women’s health and economic well being. Women are watching and we want leaders that will move our country forward, not backwards on women’s health and rights.”

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Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest (PPVNW) is an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization educating Alaskans and policy-makers about reproductive health issues. PPVNW lobbies and educates to advance Planned Parenthood’s mission and also engages in limited electoral activities.

Idaho: Human Rights Lobby Day 2014!

February 17, 2014. That’s the day when dozens of Planned Parenthood and ACLU supporters will unite in Boise for our annual Lobby Day!

Every year, our legislators get a bit of a surprise when dozens of people descend on the State Capitol to promote pro-women’s health and pro-LGBT rights legislation.

Join us in February on this fun day of action with your fellow activists!

idaho lobby day 2012

The fact is, Planned Parenthood wouldn’t be successful without grassroots supporters like you who stand up and speak out. Lobby Day is our biggest (and most exciting) event of the year, and we can’t wait to see you there.

Click here to join us by RSVPing to Lobby Day 2014!

There is no experience necessary. We provide excellent training, great company, and food. We even provide lodging and transportation if needed. Don’t miss this thrilling and important day of action!

Alaska: Restrictive “Medically Necessary” Abortion Rule Change Approved


DHSS AND LT. GOVERNOR MEAD TREADWELL APPROVE RESTRICTIVE, UNCONSTITUTIONAL “MEDICALLY NECESSARY” ABORTION RULE CHANGE

Restrictive rule change could cost taxpayers $1 million in legal fees

[Alaska] — Today, the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services and the office of Lt. Governor Mead Treadwell certified adoption of the “medically necessary” abortion rule change. The rule, similar to failed legislation from last year, is so restrictive that it’s essentially a nearly complete ban on Medicaid funding of abortion.

Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest (PPVNW) condemns this decision by Mead Treadwell and DHSS to adopt an unconstitutional policy that interferes with women’s personal medical decision-making. The Alaska Supreme Court has already considered exactly this type of restriction, ruling that women’s pregnancy decisions need to be given equal protection under the law. Additionally, during the open comment period the state received an overwhelming number of messages from Alaskans against the change – outnumbering those in favor by nearly a five to one margin.

“Every Alaskan should be able to make the pregnancy decision that’s best for herself and her family,” said Treasure Mackley, PPVNW’s Political & Organizing Director. “Today, Mead Treadwell and the DHSS have trampled on this right in a misguided restriction that will interfere with women’s personal medical decisions and end up costing taxpayers more.”

If the “medically necessary” rule is challenged in court as unconstitutional, DHSS Commissioner Bill Streur has estimated it would cost the state around $1 million to try to defend. That’s a cost that Alaskans can’t afford and shouldn’t be asked to pay when restrictions like these have already been found unconstitutional.

“If the Lt. Governor is actually interested in reducing abortions or saving money, he should focus on increasing access to birth control and funding for family planning services,” said Mackley. “This restriction only serves as another example of government officials putting themselves between a woman and her doctor. Only a health care professional should determine what’s ‘medically necessary,’ not a collection of bureaucrats in Juneau.”

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Washington: Lobby Day 2014!

February 3, 2014. That’s the day when hundreds of Planned Parenthood volunteers and supporters will unite in Olympia for our annual Washington Lobby Day!

Every year, our legislators in Olympia get a bit of a surprise when hundreds of people wearing pink shirts descend on the State Capitol to promote pro-women’s health legislation.

Join us in February on this fun day of action with your fellow activists!

The fact is, Planned Parenthood wouldn’t be successful without grassroots supporters like you who stand up and speak out. Lobby Day is our biggest (and most exciting) event of the year, and we can’t wait to see you there.

Click here to join us by RSVPing to Lobby Day 2014!

There is no experience necessary. We provide excellent training, great company, food, and comfortable transportation. You can find more details and a FAQ at the link. Don’t miss this thrilling and important day of action!

Washington: Join us Oct. 30th for hospital mergers education event

We know that women’s health care decisions are best made by women and their families. We’ve been fighting back political attacks, but did you know that your health care options could be impacted by your hospital’s religion?

Many secular hospitals and clinics in Washington state are facing important decisions about whether to merge with larger religious health care systems. In fact, the ACLU estimates that by the end of the year, 47% of hospital beds in Washington state will be Catholic owned or controlled.

These mergers could have a wide range of impacts on the lives of everyone in our state. For example, a religious-based hospital system could deny treatment for comprehensive reproductive health care and end-of-life care, even during emergencies. And to make matters worse, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender patients and their families could be denied care. There’s a lot at stake.

At Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest we are doing everything we can to learn more about this issue, which is why we have organized an event with our partners that you are invited to:

On Wednesday, October 30th, we are hosting a free educational event called “Hospital Mergers & Religious Restrictions on Health Care: What do they mean for you?”

Please RSVP here to let us know you’re coming to our free informative event at Town Hall Seattle (7pm on October 30th).

Come learn for yourself how religious hospitals could be changing the face of health care in Washington.

We look forward to seeing you there.

Another Attempt to Roll Back Women’s Rights in Alaska

Feeling a little deja vu? That’s because they are at it again. We spent all legislative session fighting this, 2,000 of you spoke out in opposition, and yet they are trying again to roll back women’s rights by over 20 years, taking away access to abortion from low-income women who can afford it least. They must think we are not paying attention.

A new rule by the Department of Health and Social Services is so restrictive that it is tantamount to a complete ban on Medicaid funding of abortion unless a woman’s life is in danger or the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.

Last year when women’s health was under attack, your comments stopped a bad DHSS decision from going into effect. With your help we can stop this latest attack.

Take action now! DHSS is accepting comments and it is crucial that you email yours.  Here are a few talking points to use in your email:

  • It’s Unconstitutional: Every Alaskan should be able to make the pregnancy decision that’s best for herself and her family. The Alaska Supreme Court has already considered exactly this type of restriction, and struck down a regulation that eliminated state funding for abortions, ruling that women’s pregnancy decisions – whether it’s to terminate a pregnancy or carry a pregnancy to term - must be given equal protection under the law.
  • This does not save the state money – in fact, it will cost tax payers more. DHSS claims this restriction is about saving the state money, but that’s simply not true.
  • Without access to abortion, many low-income women will have their right to private, personal decision-making about their pregnancies taken away. Unplanned pregnancies and a lack of early prenatal care can lead to difficult pregnancies and poor birth outcomes- at a high cost to the state’s medicaid program. If this is about saving money or reducing abortions, the state should focus on reducing the number of unintended pregnancies through family planning services and access to birth control.
  • Further, should these proposed regulation changes be adopted, this regulation and the issue of medical necessity will become subject to litigation once again.  We’ve already wasted enough tax dollars over the years fighting abortion care for low-income women in court. Even Commissioner Streur has estimated that litigation could cost the state $1 million. Enough is enough!
  • This is blatant government interference with women’s decision-making. A woman’s pregnancy decision is private, personal and complex and should be made in consultation with her doctor, not government officials. No one without a relationship to the patient can possibly make the call about what’s in a patient’s best interest.

In the real world, women don’t turn to government officials for advice about birth control, mammograms, or cancer screenings. This is no different. Take action and email your comments to Commissioner Streur at DHSS now.

Ultimately, decisions about whether to choose adoption, end a pregnancy, or raise a child must be left to a woman, her family, and her faith, with the counsel of her doctor.

The Commissioner needs to hear loud and clear that Alaskans are paying attention, and we won’t stand for this.