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Donate Now: Click here to give onlineNovember 2009 Edition

Reproductive justice at risk

Chicago Foundation for Women releases new grant guidelines for spring 2010.
Scroll down for details.

What a week for abortion policies.
On Wednesday, we cheered a judge's order to temporarily stop an Illinois law requiring parental notice. On Saturday, we watched the House of Representatives strip women's access to abortion out of health care reform, making the historical vote bittersweet. We know that abortion policies can do more than affect a woman's right to choose--they directly affect the economic security, safety and dignity of women and girls. Here are the latest updates on the federal and state levels.


Grantees on the Hill
SisterSong conference attendees in D.C.

As the Saturday night debate raged on health care reform and abortion access in Washington, five of our Catalyst Fund for Reproductive Justice grantees were on Capitol Hill making their voices heard against the Stupak-Pitts Amendment. Our grantees joined other attendees at the annual SisterSong conference for the emergency visits. Kudos to Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health, Illinois Maternal and Child Health Coalition, Chicago Abortion FundYoung Women's Empowerment Project and Black Women for Reproductive Justice.

Grantees in the news

In response to the Chicago Tribune's editorial supporting parental notice for abortion, our grantees and allies wrote letters explaining how the law harms young women: 

* Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health
* Planned Parenthood of Illinois
* ACLU of Illinois
Veronica I. Arreola (mother and board member at Chicago Abortion Fund)
* Dr. Melissa Gilliam (medical doctor and professor at University of Chicago)

Health care reform falls short
Congressional leaders are proudly taking credit this week for passing landmark health insurance reform in the House, but a last-minute compromise with anti-choice members of Congress was struck over access to abortion. Late Saturday evening, the House voted to adopt the Stupak-Pitts Amendment, which you can read in full here, which goes even further than the 1976 Hyde amendment banning the use of federal dollars for abortion services. The Stupak-Pitts Amendment restricts women's access to abortion coverage in the private health insurance market, a direct violation of the spirit of health care reform intended to guarantee quality, affordable health care for all.

Margie Schaps, executive director of Health and Medicine Policy Research GroupMargie Schaps (left), executive director at our grantee Health and Medicine Policy Research Group, said to us, "Representative Stupak and his fellow anti-choice demagogues in the House have set reproductive health rights back decades. We must all redouble our efforts to ensure that the Senate bill does not include the restrictive language of the House." Schaps was a panelist at our Oct. 14 panel on women and health reform, cosponsored by the Anti-Defamation League. 

Carmen Prieto (right), a former Foundation board chair and now co-chair of our Catalyst Carmen PrietoSteering Committee, said, "Our government leaders have once again chosen political expediency over the health and welfare of women and girls as they struggle with issues of reproductive justice. The inhumane limitations placed on the utilization of government funds through Stupak's amendment make the need to support Chicago Foundation for Women's Catalyst Fund for Reproductive Justice more critical than ever." You can keep a national reproductive justice movement growing by giving to women and girls right here in Chicago: Donate to the Catalyst Fund and every dollar will be matched.

Check the facts:

Next steps: Health reform now heads to the Senate, where Majority Leader Harry Reid is still working to reconcile two proposals. If the Senate passes a bill, the House and Senate leaders will head into "conference" to agree upon a final bill, which would return to each chamber for another vote. In the meantime, make sure the White House knows how you feel. Ask President Obama to stand up for women's health care, using Planned Parenthood's action alert. Chicago Foundation for Women will continue to keep an eye on health reform. Stay tuned for updates from us as the legislative process continues. 


Parental notice on hold
Balance (scales of justice)As of Nov. 4, the 1995 Illinois Parental Notice of Abortion Act is not in effect. Until further notice, the law won't be enforced due to a temporary restraining order issued by the Cook County Circuit Court, which was made in response to a lawsuit filed by our grantee, the ACLU of Illinois. (To learn more about what the parental notice law says, read our Aug. 11 action alert.) This restraining order is good news since the Foundation and its allies feel that parental notice puts Illinois teens at significant risk for serious and irreversible harm.

How did the law get to this point? Here's a timeline of events from summer 2009 to now:

  • July 14: The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals lifts a federal injunction against the Illinois parental notice law.
  • Aug. 4: The law takes effect. That same day, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation grants a 90-day grace period before they will enforce the law.
  • Oct. 13: The ACLU of Illinois challenges the law, filing a lawsuit (PDF) on behalf of Dr. Allison Cowett and the Hope Clinic for Women.
  • Nov. 3:Chicago Tribune editorial supports parental notice and calls for swift enforcement. Advocates and doctors refute the argument (see sidebar, above and right).
  • Nov. 4: The Chicago Sun-Times weighs in with an editorial, saying that courts statewide are not ready to handle the judicial bypass that is part of the parental notice law. Illinois' medical disciplinary board meets and decides that the state is ready to begin enforcing the law, ending the grace period begun in August. Hours Illinois Judicial Bypass Coordination Project logo - click here to visit its websitelater, Cook County Circuit Judge Daniel Riley grants a temporary restraining order that blocks enforcement until further notice, in response to the ACLU of Illinois' argument that the law is unconstitutional.

Next steps: There will be another hearing before Judge Riley on Nov. 19. Going forward, the ACLU will continue to argue against the law's constitutionality. In the event that the law goes into effect once again, the Illinois Judicial Bypass Coordination Project offers resources for young women, their parents and their doctors about the law and the bypass process.


Foundation announcements
Spring 2010 grant information now online: The next grant cycle begins soon, with letters of intent due on Friday, Jan. 15. Projects that fall into any of our three issue areas--freedom from violence, economic security and access to health care and information--are welcome to apply. Read more and download the necessary forms on our grant webpage.

Internship opportunity: We are now accepting applications for the 2010 Jessica Eve Patt Intern, who will start in January. Download the job description (PDF) and follow its instructions on how to apply.


Our Events
Visit our website calendar to see all our upcoming programs and events.

NOV. 17 (Tues.): Achieving Balance: A Healing Workshop for Women (Asian American
     Leadership Council), 6-8 p.m.
NOV. 19 (Thurs.): Grantees: Capacity Building Workshop: Show Me the Money, 9 a.m.-12 p.m.

 

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