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Monday, April 30, 2012

FIGHTING BACK AGAINST THE WAR ON WOMEN

April 28 Speech
My understanding of how this event got started is that a couple of women simply had enough of the war on women. So those women, Karen Teegarden And Desiree Jordan started a new Facebook group, “Organizing Against the War On Women.” Within twenty-four hours there were almost 500 people asking to join and offering up their skills. This rally, and those like it across the country, is a result of those two women just saying “enough.”  They certainly struck a chord with the women of this land.  We are here today to keep that fire going and pick up the mantle of those that came before us. They fought hard for our rights, and we are not simply going to let them be thrown out the window.
last week  I heard Mr. Romney, say “people are saying we have a war on women.  There is no war on women.”
Well, Mr. Romney, yes, there is a war on women.  It’s been going on for quite some time and we are here today to fight back.
We are not talking about any violence here.  But be clear, we are strong.  We are determined.  And we do not intend to back down and lose all that previous generations of women gained for us.
Mr. Romney, this is how we know there is a war on women.  This is what it looks like:
Women waited for years for the Lily Ledbetter law that requires equal pay for equal work. There shouldn’t be anything radical about a person get paid fairly for their work.  But yet, a candidate for Senate right here in Michigan, Pete Hoekstra,  called The Lily Ledbetter Act annoying.  This man is running for Senate in this state and yet says it is annoying to have to pay us our worth.
Another piece of evidence of the war on women:  Virigina passed into law a bill forcing women to endure medical treatments against their will.  These are the very people who yammer about liberty.  Well, apparently they are not concerned about women’s liberty because they want to force women into unwanted medical treatments not ordered by the doctor.
Some legislators even suggested a bill that in cases where an abortion is required to save the mother’s life, hospitals allow women to simply be left to die. Maddie Oatman, Mother Earth News.
 A state legislator in Georgia wants to change the legal term for victims of rape, stalking, and domestic violence to "accuser." Victims of other less gendered crimes, of course, like burglary, would remain "victims."  According to this state legislator, however, when a woman is the victim, she is suddenly not a victim.  She is simply an accuser.
Right now there is an issue at the Federal level. The Violence Against Women Act became law in 1994 and was reauthorized in 2000 and 2005. Death from domestic violence fell dramatically as a result of this law.  It now needs to be reauthorized again.  It passed the Senate.  We don’t yet know what will happen in the House of Representatives.  But let’s keep our eye on it.  If any of our congress people vote against it, let’s expose them for waging this war on women.
It has been a bit of a challenge making this list, because every day my inbox is filled with more examples of this war on women.
They have tried to redefine rape, cut funding for women and children’s programs.  They have even tried to cut funding for early childhood programs because “women should stay home and raise their own children.”
Hundreds of pieces of legislation have been introduced across the country to harm women in a myriad of ways.
And these are from the “pro family” candidates.  I hate to see what they would do if they were “anti-family.”
So, yes, Mr. Romney, that is how we know there is a war against us.  And pretending there isn’t a war will not make it go away. Stopping the attacks is the only thing that will make them go away.
Today we are here to stand up in defense of women across this country.
Right now I am going to venture out and talk about the thorniest of all thorny issues:  abortion. 
This is the most complicated, frustrating, nuanced, divisive issue facing us as a country today.  And yet, we have boiled the whole issue down to just a few words:  pro choice or pro life.  And that’s where all discussion stops.
I think those labels miss the mark.   The question is this:  are we going to handle this dilemma by criminalizing it or denying access?  Or are we going to find a solution that is actually effective?

I did a little research to find out how other countries handle this.  What I discovered is not only shocking, it is counterintuitive.  The countries that have criminalized abortions actually have MORE abortions.  I want to repeat that.  The countries that have criminalized it actually have MORE abortions.  Countries where it is legal, but there is good solid education and available birth control, have a greatly reduced abortion rate.  THAT is what we need to be talking about.  This information does NOT come from any biased organization; it doesn’t come from the right-to-life organization or Planned Parenthood.   It comes from scientific studies by the Guttmacher Institute and the World Health Organization.
So today I am calling on those organizations that call themselves “pro life” to join with us on developing and implementing EFFECTIVE solutions that we can all agree on -- making birth control available, education, and medidal research.  How about a motto like this?  Education, not legislation.  There is a huge common ground here and we need to find it, so we can resolve this issue and  address other important dilemmas we are all facing:  global climate change, public education, public safety and public health to name a few.  While we are fighting about whether to criminalize abortion, which we now know is an ineffective solution, all those issues are lying dormant and unresolved.
So – Education, not Legislation
Another point I’d like to make is that when we look at our elected officials we immediately see that women are drastically underrepresented.  In the state of Michigan, not even 25% of our legislators are women.   The governor, Lt. Gov and Attorney General:  all men.  As a matter of fact, of the top six most powerful people in this state, five of them are men.  I don’t know how it is in your town, but where I live, in Muskegon County, there is only one woman on our county board.  There has never been more than one woman at a time on our county board. 
So women, it’s time for us to stand up, get out in front and become leaders in our communities.  No one will ever address our issues as well as we do. We need YOU to run for public office, so women’s voices can be heard.  Studies have shown that the more women who are in an elected body, the less corruption.  When there are women on board, the men simply act better.  So we are needed out there.
Sometimes, though we are our own worst enemy.  We were told so long we are not capable, that we have come to believe it.  But ya know what?  That is simply not true.  We are smart, committed, and capable and should be out there doing our share.
So we know there is a war on women.  How do we stop it?  We can now see that ignoring it didn’t help; it just got worse.
It is up to each one of us to meet our legislators, talk to them, find out what makes them tick and where women fit into this society.  Remember.  You are THEIR boss.  You do not need to be intimidated by them or worry about what they think.  YOU are the boss; you have every right to find out about their stands on issues.  More importantly, you can research their votes.  There are plenty of legislators out there who say they are pro-women, then introduce or even vote for legislation that will harm us.  Talk to them, but do your research as well.  It is your right and duty as a citizen of a democracy.
And when you figure out who is truly your ally.  Do everything you can possibly do to get that person elected.  Talk to others about them, knock on doors for them, walk in parades.  And lastly. DONATE!!  We all hate the corrupting influence of money on politics.  But if we don’t donate, our candidates will lose.
There is a pretty strong war going on against us.  They are well-financed, well organized and they never give up.  But there are more of us.  But we need to be on the front lines making informed decisions about who we vote for and we need YOU to work in the trenches.
Today is the day.  This is the day we pick up the mantle left to us by previous generations of women run with it.
I want to close with a quote from Harriet Tubman, who DID change the world.
“Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience and the passion to change the world.”
Thank you.

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