Friday Femorandum: This Is Not a Drill.

It’s getting real, folks.

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We don’t mean to alarm you, but in just over one week, Donald Trump will be inaugurated as the 45th President of these United States, and the party that believes in forced birth and full human rights for fertilized eggs will have absolute control over the executive and legislative branches of our federal government, and will be well on its way toward taking over the judicial branch as well. As Reuters reports, “The battle to restrict abortion in the United States, heating up with the election of Donald Trump as president and a conservative Congress, will be waged from the nation’s highest court down to state legislatures.”

If you’re a person with a uterus or care about someone who is, here’s a preview of what we’re up against in the coming year. And take heart: Even if we’re stuck with Trump for the next four years, Congressional midterm elections are in less than two, and many states and cities (including Seattle) will have elections in 2017. The days of what House Speaker Paul Ryan calls, chillingly, “unified government,” are almost certainly limited.

In the meantime, though, Republicans are most definitely after your birth control. As Mother Jones reports,  in its rush to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the Senate rejected an amendment that would have required insurance companies to continue to cover the full cost of contraception, including longer-lasting, more effective methods such as the IUD. The amendment, sponsored by Sen. Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY) (as reported on Rewire) would have also continued to require insurers to pay for mammograms and cover maternity care, and the ACA-imposed ban on charging women more for “pre-existing conditions” (such as a previous pregnancy).

what confused worried huh oh noTwo reports this week from the Guttmacher Institute highlight the need for low-cost birth control and other reproductive health care. The first concludes that the number of women who need publicly funded family planning services increased by a million between 2010 and 2014, and that access to affordable reproductive care, including contraception, reduced the number of unintended pregnancies by an estimated 2 million a year. The second finds that between 2012 and 2014, when the guarantee of contraception coverage went into effect, the number of women with private insurance who paid nothing out of pocket for the pill increased from 15 percent to 67 percent, with similar increases for other methods. The report concludes, “it would be shortsighted for policymakers to undermine or eliminate the federal contraceptive coverage guarantee and all the benefits that accrue from it.”

As part of the ACA repeal, Ryan and the Republicans have also promised they will eliminate all federal funding for Planned Parenthood, despite the fact that a 15-month-long, $1.6 million “investigation” into the health care provider’s business practices revealed nothing nefarious. MTV News reports that the so-called Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives managed to issue a lengthy set of “infant protections” designed to put Planned Parenthood out of business without once mentioning infant mortality—the supposed focus of the committee.

reactions awkward new girl nick miller embarrassed“By announcing the defunding now, Ryan and his party show that they’re not too worried about providing a better alternative to Obamacare, or even protecting actual infant lives. If they were, they’d be proposing new bills aimed at lowering infant mortality,” MTV News’ Jamil Smith writes. “Their real accomplishment, if they succeed, will be to increase the likelihood that someone will get sick with an untested sexually transmitted disease, or will be unable to have their cancer detected, or won’t have access to any number of other health care services.”

It’s hard to say exactly how much anti-choice Republicans will be able to get away with legislatively. One thing that’s clear already, though, is that they plan to give Trump’s virulently anti-choice, anti-birth control, and anti-woman Cabinet appointees an easy buy. Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions, who in addition to opposing laws against voter suppression and racially biased policing also opposes women’s right to choose, appears headed for easy confirmation by his Senate colleagues.

As Rewire reports, Sessions had a friendly reception at the Senate Judiciary Committee, whose Republican members gave him a pass on his abysmal record on civil rights and reproductive health care. Eventually, Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein asked Sessions where he stood on Roe v. Wade; he responded that he believes the 7-2 1973 Supreme Court ruling “violates the constitution.” Okay, then.

Quick Action Alert! Monday was the start of the Washington State Legislative session, and as our lawmakers get to work in Olympia, now is the perfect time to let them know that we’re counting on them to protect and expand reproductive freedom in our state.
Write to your legislator today and urge them to stand with women by preserving access to health care, protecting pregnant workers, and preventing the passage of anti-choice laws that have no place in our state. Click the link above and you’ll be redirected to a handy, pre-drafted and customizable message to your representatives!

Friday Femorandum: A Look at the Fight Ahead

Nate Makuch 2016 trump donald trump c4dIn light of the avalanche of recent bad news for reproductive rights, and the rights of marginalized and oppressed people in general, it feels a little strange to say “Happy New Year.” As advocates, we go into 2017 with teeth gritted and fists clenched in the face of what we’re up against. It’s been a rough few months since the election, with the ascension of anti-choice zealots like Mike Pence and Tom Price to the highest levels of power in our country, and it’s easy to get discouraged. But pro-choice activists across the country are gearing up to fight back in 2017, and NARAL Pro-Choice Washington is going to be leading the charge here in Washington State. Here’s a look at some of the challenges we face in the coming year. Here at the Femorandum, we’re feeling recharged and ready to go, and we hope you are too.

Anti-choice activists are hoping that Trump starts implementing their wish list the day he takes office. Among the agenda items the new President can enact with the stroke of a pen: cutting funds to Planned Parenthood; preventing foreign aid from going to groups that perform abortions; and allowing employers to refuse to pay for health care that conflicts with their religious beliefs. “The high expectations are a change from what’s been a rocky relationship at times between Trump and abortion opponents,” The Hill reports. “Now, though, anti-abortion groups say they are more confident in his commitment to their cause.”GIPHY Studios Originals 2016 fire happy new year kill it with fire

Newsweek columnist Nina Burleigh, in her introduction to an insightful interview with NARAL Pro-Choice America president Ilyse Hogue, frets openly that the Trump presidency will be a “nightmare for women’s health,” giving power to “a fierce, single-issue cult that has been trying for decades, with increasing success, to limit women’s access to contraception and abortion.” Asked what women should to to prepare for the coming attacks on women’s health, Hogue says that the most important thing is “to sign up to organize and mobilize people in support of our freedoms and hold elected officials accountable.” Oh, and getting an IUD now (while long-acting birth control is still fully covered) isn’t a bad idea either.

Because, as the New York Times points out, the new administration doesn’t have to ask Congress for permission to eliminate full coverage for birth control. Incoming Health and Human Services secretary Tom Price  can eliminate contraceptive coverage on Day 1, and has given every indication that he will. Moreover, the NYT reports, Price’s anti-woman agenda extends far beyond making it harder for them to prevent unwanted pregnancies. Price has opposed laws that would ban employment discrimination against women who use birth control or have abortions; sponsored legislation that would have defined life as beginning at conception; and supports efforts to overturn the ACA, which, in addition to providing health care coverage to 20 million previously uninsured Americans, banned the previously universal practice of charging women more for health care—simply because they’re women .

mtv 2016 meme the office kevin maloneDidn’t know about that aspect of the plan to repeal the health care plan? You’re not alone—many women aren’t aware of all the other health benefits that are at risk if Price and Trump succeed in persuading a friendly Congress to overturn the ACA. Kaiser Health News reports on some of the main benefits that will no longer be guaranteed without the Act, starting with maternity care—an essential part of many women’s health care that was offered by just 13 percent of individual plans as recently as 2009, the year before the health law passed.

“Women were also generally charged higher rates for health insurance on the individual market before the law,” Kaiser reports. “According to the National Women’s Law Center’s analysis, 60 percent of best-selling individual plans in 2009 charged a 40-year-old nonsmoking woman more than a 40-year-old man who smoked, even in plans that didn’t include any type of maternity coverage.” The ACA barred insurance companies from charging women more than men for identical services. Other guaranteed benefits that could go away? Screenings for breast and cervical cancer; screening and counseling for domestic violence; and annual well-woman visits.
In preparation for the reproductive rights battles ahead, the always-invaluable Guttmacher Institute put together an issue of its journal, Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, geared specifically toward arming advocates with the facts and research they’ll need in the coming year. The articles in the journal include an analysis of the impacts of abortion stigma on women who seek abortions and abortion providers; studies of the impacts of new abortion restrictions in Utah, Texas, and South Carolina, and a commentary on the structural differences between the movement for LGBTQ equality and the movement for reproductive rights.

“When we planned this issue, our hope was that the work it brings together would help point the way toward undoing some of the damage that has been done by past policies, and ensuring that newly elected officials and others understand the value of making abortion available as a matter of basic reproductive health, free of stigma and of restrictive policies and practices,” the authors write. “We may need to recalibrate our expectations now, but we remain committed to the notion that good, solid science is the only appropriate foundation for the policies and practices that affect women’s and men’s sexual and reproductive health.”

GIPHY Studios Originals 2017 new year happy new year ooo

Once you’ve armed yourself with information, check out a couple of guides to getting active and involved in the fight to protect and preserve reproductive rights in 2017. The first, from Bustle, is a handy list of concrete steps you can take to “be a better advocate for reproductive rights in 2017.” The second, from Care2, includes an often-overlooked suggestion that is really key to the struggle for reproductive rights in America: Don’t just complain about the lack of pro-choice representatives; promote progressive female candidates, or run for office yourself! And of course we’d be remiss if we didn’t remind you that now is also a critical time to contribute to the fight for reproductive freedom at the state level by donating to NARAL Pro-Choice Washington. Our members are our strength, and right now, we need all the strength we can get.

Have a safe and happy new year from your friends at NARAL and the Friday Femorandum!



Friday Femorandum: Secretary of Sexism

“Nobody has more respect for women than I do. Nobody.”

So said president-elect Donald Trump at the second Presidential debate, sending a ripple of laughter through the Las Vegas audience and a chill up the spine of every woman who has experienced harassment, abuse, assault, or discrimination at the hands of men who say they “respect” women.

HULU tv wtf what parks and recreationNow the man who bragged about grabbing unconsenting women by the genitals is President-elect, and his cabinet appointments so far are right in character for the nation’s most famous serial sexual harasser. There’s Health and Human Services director nominee Tom Price, who believes “no woman” has ever been unable to afford birth control, is linked to a radical anti-choice “personhood” organization, and has vowed to overturn the Affordable Care Act and slash benefits for low-income women who rely on Medicaid; Housing and Urban Development nominee Ben Carson, who has compared abortion to slavery; and Jeff Sessions, who in addition to espousing racist views has consistently opposed efforts to close the wage gap between men and women, opposed Title X funding for women’s health care, and opposed the Violence Against Women Act

Let’s start with his pick for labor secretary, Carl’s Jr./Hardee’s CEO Andy Puzder, whose company is famous for its sexist commercials featuring models moaning orgasmically over burgers, feeding each other bacon while writhing around in bikinis, and licking ketchup off their bodies. Puzder’s attitude toward women is right in line with a president-elect who routinely ranks women on a scale of 1 to 10; last year, Puzder dismissed complaints about his company’s sexist ads, saying, “I like our ads. I like beautiful women eating burgers in bikinis. I think it’s very American.”

wtf reactions no way disbelief jaw dropIn real life, Puzder’s history with women has been checkered. His ex-wife accused him of domestic abuse, alleging that he hit her, threw her to the ground, and prevented her from calling the police. On another occasions, she claimed, Puzder punched her in the face while the two were driving home. (St. Louis cops were called to the couple’s house at least twice for domestic disputes, Jezebel notes.)

Puzder also has a long history as an anti-choice activist. In the 1980s, Mother Jones reports, he wrote the Missouri anti-abortion law that the Supreme Court upheld in the 1989 Webster v. Reproductive Health Services decision. That case allowed states to impose much harsher restrictions on abortion rights than had been allowed under Roe v. Wade. The Missouri law defined life as beginning at conception in contexts unrelated to abortion–effectively granting embryos property and contract rights, for example, as a prelude to challenging legal abortion. Puzder and his allies in the anti-choice movement in Missouri added a slew of other anti-choice provisions to the law, including one barring public spending on abortions.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, Trump’s pick for labor secretary is no fan of labor laws, particularly the minimum wage. As head of a fast-food company, he has fought tirelessly against increases to the federal minimum wage and rules proposed by President Obama that would have expanded the number of employees who qualify for overtime pay. (Those rules are now on hold and seem likely to be overturned by the Trump administration). Women make up the majority of fast-food workers, and of minimum-wage earners in general, in the country.


Many women, understandably, want to protest these appointments, and Trump’s election in general, around inauguration day. Unfortunately, according to the Guardian, the Parks Service, at the behest of the Presidential Inauguration Committee, has filed an “unprecedented” blocking permit placing large swaths of the National Mall, Pennsylvania Avenue, the Washington Monument, and the Lincoln Memorial off-limits to protesters during the days and weeks leading up to and after the inauguration. Hundreds of thousands of women are expected to show up on January 21 for the Woman’s March on Washington, which was supposed to begin at the Lincoln Memorial. The “omnibus blocking permit” will effectively ban the march, forcing women who want to exercise their right to protest to do so in a remote location. It’s somehow fitting that one of Trump’s first acts as President will be an attempt to literally silence women’s voices.


Friday Femorandum: After Trump, Week 2

film sad crying david lynch kyle maclachlanTen days A.T. (after Trump), it’s still somewhat hard to grasp the enormity of what U.S. voters have done. The week and a half since Trump’s upset victory has been filled with think pieces and post mortems trying to dissect what went wrong, and who’s to blame. Is it white women, who voted for Trump at about the same rate they voted for Mitt Romney? Is it Latinx voters, who were “supposed to” turn out in much greater numbers? Is it vote suppression, racism, misogyny, the fact that no one believed this could really happen?

Right now, as far as we’re concerned, none of that matters* nearly as much as this question: What does the future look like under President Trump? This isn’t a rhetorical question anymore, or the headline for a think piece. This is real life, and Trump is starting to provide some answers. Since his election, the ex-reality TV show host has appointed a white nationalist anti-Semite as his strategic advisor, nominated an anti-immigration senator who believes “Islam is a political ideology” as attorney general, and indicated his commitment to overturn both the Affordable Care Act and Roe v. Wade as quickly as possible. (Trump has promised to appoint “pro-life” justices who will ensure that repeal of Roe “will happen, automatically.”)

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Post-Roe (we can’t believe we’re writing those words either), Trump suggested, people seeking abortion “will have to go to another state”–suggesting that abortion will merely become somewhat less convenient for women to obtain. Although many women already do cross state lines for abortion care thanks to state laws that make abortion much less accessible in places like Texas and Indiana (thanks, Mike Pence!), it’s disingenuous to suggest that traveling long distances for medical care is a solution to the problem of access. Trump may be able to hop in his gold-plated private plane (and, soon, Air Force One) to travel quickly across the country, but for most women, long-distance travel involves taking time off work, making arrangements for family obligations, and spending money they can’t afford on gas and motel rooms just to access a basic medical service.

Even if you happen to live in one of the states, like Washington, where the right to choose is protected by the state constitution, you can’t afford to be complacent. Trump and his virulently anti-choice vice president, Pence, have pledged to support nationwide legislationthat would ban all abortions after 20 weeks, and there is no reason not to take them at their word. If such legislation passes, and is upheld by the Supreme Court, no state–including Washington–is safe. A national personhood law, or even a 20-week ban, would put millions of women’s lives and health in danger. No one, not even those of us in comfortably blue states, will be exempt if that worst-case scenario comes to pass.

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Here’s some more news on reproductive rights, and women’s rights, from Week 2 A.T.

The radical anti-choice group Operation Rescue “could not be happier” with Trump’s pick for attorney general, Jeff Sessions.

Trump’s election raises fears of increased violence against women.

Anti-abortion House panel seeks to double budget.

Total ban on abortion proposed in Indiana.

The only time AG nominee Jeff Sessions voted to expand health care: When he pushed to provide health care to fetuses at the expense of the women carrying them.

Fewer women of reproductive age were uninsured in 2015; that will change if Trump successfully repeals the Affordable Care Act.

* Although if you’re going to read one more election analysis from this week, make it this one.


Friday Femorandum: The Highest, Hardest Glass Ceiling

30535583262_80bb893dd3_zThere have been a lot of dizzying highs and crushing lows this election season, which has pitted a tax-evading white nationalist and self-professed pussy grabber against a woman who has endured 30 years of sexist, partisan attacks and emerged as perhaps the most-qualified Presidential candidate in US history.

If you haven’t voted, vote–not just for Hillary, but down the ballot, in your state and local races (if you live in Washington, check out our Pro-Choice Voters’ Guide for our endorsements in your part of the state!) If you don’t vote, your  voice doesn’t count, and right now, we need every pro-choice, pro-woman vote we can get.

As a break from all the terribly troubling news about FBI leaks, voter suppression, and ever-scarier Trump rallies, here are some stories about why Hillary’s supporters say they’re with her.


At the Atlantic, Chimamanda Adichie punctures the myth that Hillary Clinton’s fans aren’t “enthusiastic,” in a piece titled “What Hillary Clinton’s Fans Love About Her”–including her dedication, her history, her wonkishness, her enthusiasm, and her grit. But still…

Because Hillary Clinton is a woman, she is judged too harshly for doing what most politicians do—hedging sometimes, waffling sometimes, evading sometimes. Politicians are ambitious; they have to be. Yet for Hillary Clinton, ambition is often an accusation. She is held responsible for her husband’s personal failings, in the gendered assumption that a wife is somehow an adult and a husband a child.

There are millions of Americans who do not have the self-indulgent expectation that a politician be perfect. They are frustrated that Hillary Clinton is allowed no complexity. And they love her.

Angry Asian Man has a piece by LGBTQ and API activist Glenn D. Magpantay, who writes that he’s proud and excited to support Hillary because her values reflect his values, because she’s intelligent, impressive, and genuine, because he’s voting for his community, and, yes, because she’s a woman.

As a man, I want to vote for a woman. It’s about time we had a female president. I want my sister and nieces to see that they can be anything they want to be. I want my son to see that women are equal to men and can achieve leadership at the highest levels. This should be the norm. Having a female president will send a powerful message to so many people.

30460701710_323046e646_zAt ShareBlue, Matthew Chapman, who has autism spectrum disorder, notes that Clinton is the only candidate in the race who has a comprehensive plan to help people like him–including nationwide childhood screening, requiring insurers to cover occupational therapy and accommodation, and launching a national school-to-work transition program called Autism Works.

Every time I read her policy document, the one thing that leaps out at me is her empathy. She never once, as many people do, refers to my struggle as an “illness” to be “cured.” Nor does she simply seek to make it easier for society to deal with me. She seeks to ensure that I can deal with society. That I can live my life with independence, pride, and fulfillment.

Also at ShareBlue, Melissa McEwan writes about the irrepressible fact that women who vote for a feminist, female, major-party nominee are etching their names in history.

Hillary Clinton has made history already. By becoming the first female nominee of a major party, she forever changed American politics.

It is an achievement so momentous, I can barely put into words its significance. I still cannot even talk about it without tears spilling from my eyes.

And yet: The historic nature of her candidacy is treated as though it is barely remarkable. A footnote. An aside. Expected.

Which, in some ways, makes me quite angry. But then there is this: The fact that Clinton made shattering a 227-year-old glass ceiling look inevitable is testament to how thoroughly she has changed the landscape.

All she had to do was be extraordinary.


Finally, at the Huffington Post, a woman records her mom after driving her to the polling place to vote, and asks her why she’s crying. “I got to vote for a woman for President,” she says.

All pictures, by the way, from Hillary Clinton’s Flickr pool, which is a breath of fresh air all by itself in these final few days of the most divisive national campaign most of us alive today have ever seen.