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Lawyers of San Diego is a specialty bar association committed to advancing the status of women in the law and society. We use this space to share articles written about Lawyers Club events and programs and items of interest to our members which are relevant to our mission. The opinions outlined in content published on the Lawyers Club of San Diego blog are those of the authors and not of Lawyers Club. All members are encouraged to participate respectfully in discussions regarding the topics posted on the blog. Guest writers are welcome.

 

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Guest Blog: 45th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade – Part 4

Posted By Christina Prejean, Tuesday, January 30, 2018
45th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade – Part 4

 

As part of a Lawyers Club blog series in celebration of the 45th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision, Roe v. Wade, I interviewed Chrissy Cmorik, the Education Outreach Manager of the San Diego location of Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest (PPPSW). Below, Ms. Cmorik details her role in the reproductive justice movement, and discusses both the changes made since Roe v. Wade and what still needs to be done to ensure that everyone has access to the reproductive services they need.

 

What is your role in the reproductive justice movement?

 

CC: My role at PPPSW is Education Manager. I ensure that our agency is providing medically accurate, inclusive, and comprehensive sexuality education in our communities. I ensure that all youth, regardless of their zip code or legal status, are receiving the same high quality sexuality education. I also train teachers, medical professionals, and other professionals on reproductive health as well as other topics around trauma informed care, sexual health disparities, values and sexuality. I have been a member of San Diego County’s SART (Sexual Assault Response Team) for 14 years. In this role, I respond to sexual assault cases to provide immediate counseling as well as advocacy to the survivor.

 

What does "reproductive justice" mean to you?

 

CC: Reproductive Justice is when all people have the economic, social and political power and resources to make healthy decisions about their bodies, sexuality and reproduction for themselves, their families and their communities in all areas of their lives.

 

How do you think reproductive rights, services or access have changed since the Roe v. Wade decision?

 

CC: There have been many changes since Roe v. Wade that has improved access for some members of our communities, in regards to access to abortion, birth control and reproductive health in general. But many of our marginalized communities (rural population, people of color, youth, and LGBTQ people) have been left out of the conversation around health care needs and access. In the past 13 years since I have been working with PPPSW, I have seen how people are starting to become more aware of the intersectionality between health and many other social justice issues and the organizations starting to work together to address health disparities and access.

 

What would you say is the number one need or reproductive service for those who have limited or no access to reproductive services in San Diego?

 

CC: Transportation. In San Diego, we do not have a strong public transportation system like other big cities. It is difficult for those who do not drive or have access to a car to access services at our health centers.

 

Where do you think the reproductive justice movement is heading, locally, statewide and/or nationally?

 

CC: I think we are headed into creating easier ways to access services; mobile health centers, minute clinics, etc. I also think we are starting to work out of our normal silos and with other organizations to help address the whole person and all of their needs.

 

What are the best ways for attorneys and law students to help?

 

CC: Advocating against and working to eliminate T.R.A.P. (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) laws that infringe on a person’s access to reproductive health.

 

 

Christina Prejean is a civil litigation attorney at Wood, Smith, Henning & Berman, LLP, who also handles pro-bono cases through Casa Cornelia and Protect Our Defenders, and wrote this for the Reproductive Justice Committee.

Tags:  guest blogger  LCB  reproductive justice  reproductive justice committee  reproductive rights 

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Guest Post: 45th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade - Part 3

Posted By Katie Aul, Thursday, January 25, 2018
45th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade – Part 3

 

As part of a Lawyers Club blog series in celebration of the 45th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision, Roe v. Wade, I interviewed Amanda Le. Le serves on the Board of Directors for the San Diego Coalition for Reproductive Justice and she’s employed by the American Civil Liberties Union of San Diego and Imperial Counties as a policy associate. At ACLU, her responsibilities include advancing reproductive justice such as implementation of comprehensive sexual education through the California Healthy Youth Act which became law in January 2016.

 

Below is a summary of my interview with Ms. Le:

 

What does "reproductive justice" mean to you? 

 

AL: To me, reproductive justice addresses one’s complete well-being and the ability to exercise complete autonomy over one’s own body. The Asian Communities for Reproductive Justice points out the importance of fighting for (1) the right to have a child; (2) the right not to have a child; and (3) the right to parent the children we have, as well as to control our birthing options. This description resonates with me.

 

It’s important to emphasize that the human rights framework of today’s reproductive justice movement was founded by women of color for women of color. I give credit to key figures in the movement including Loretta Ross of Sister Song Women of Color Reproductive Health Collective.

 

How do you think access to reproductive services and the ability to exercise reproductive rights has changed since Roe v. Wade

 

AL: Certainly, there’s greater access to reproductive services in California, in terms of availability and legal rights. However, access options can vary depending on affordability, distance to travel, and stigma. For example, denial of critical care at religiously affiliated hospitals is not uncommon. One in six hospital beds in the U.S. is in a facility that complies with Catholic directives prohibiting a range of reproductive health care services.

 

What would you say is the most needed reproductive service for those who have limited or no access to reproductive services in San Diego? 

 

AL: Oh, that’s hard. I’d say the greatest need is comprehensive sexual health education. It’s essential for people to have medically accurate and unbiased information so as to make healthy decisions. Additionally, it’s important that people know their rights related to their sexual health and accessing reproductive services.   

 

Where do you think the reproductive justice movement is heading – locally, statewide or nationally? 

 

AL: This has been a tough year for the reproductive justice movement. We’ve seen constant attacks on people’s reproductive rights and more. Nevertheless, it’s been heartening to see strong resistance and demonstrations of support from individuals and communities intent on protecting their more vulnerable neighbors.

 

I’m very inspired to see young people take ownership of reproductive justice issues in innovative and visionary ways. I’ve met students who were politically engaged, passionate, active in their communities, self-aware and confident. I truly believe that allowing more of this work to be informed and led by young people can only benefit the reproductive justice movement.  

  

What are the best ways for attorneys and law students to help the reproductive justice movement? 

 

AL: Law students can educate themselves on California Senate Bill 320, written to expand access to medication abortion at public universities. Currently, no publicly-funded university in California provides their students with medication abortion service. Students seeking early pregnancy termination are unable to access this care on campus, and often must find their way to unknown providers without reliable transportation. 

 

For attorneys: Donate your legal expertise through pro-bono work on cases related to reproductive justice, or volunteer time to a particular campaign. For attorneys with more disposable income than time, the reproductive justice movement welcomes financial support. For example, the National Network of Abortion Funds provides financial support to folks seeking an abortion throughout the country.

 

Lastly, attorneys and law students can help by sharing their own abortion story or sharing about a time they helped a loved one obtain an abortion. I believe in the power of storytelling to reframe narratives and lessen the stigma of abortion. 

 

 

Katie R. Aul wrote this for Lawyers Club’s Reproductive Justice Committee and is an associate at Ryan & Associates. 

Tags:  guest blogger  LCB  reproductive justice  reproductive justice committee 

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Guest Blog: 45th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade – Part 2

Posted By Tracy Rogers, Thursday, January 18, 2018
 

45th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade – Part 2

 

As part of a Lawyers Club blog series in celebration of the 45th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision, Roe v. Wade, I interviewed Marsela Rojas-Salas, Sexual Violence Prevention and Education Coordinator with El Programa Hispano Católico. Ms. Rojas-Salas will be receiving the first ever Audre Lorde Emerging Leader Award at the 45th Anniversary of Roe V. Wade Breakfast Celebration Breakfast hosted by the San Diego Coalition for Reproductive Justice on Friday, January 26, 2018. Below is a summary of my interview.

 

Marsela Rojas-Salas moved to San Diego in 2015 for graduate school and in the spring of 2016, furthered her activism with California Latinas for Reproductive Justice (CLRJ). With CLRJ, Rojas-Salas’s confidence in organizing began to grow. “The power of holding space for our traumas collectively, while organizing with and educating our community on reproductive justice issues was affirmed,” said Rojas-Salas.

 

Expanding the reproductive justice network has been critical to her role in the movement. This led to bringing No Más Bebes to San Diego State University, engaging students to become more critical of the history of sterilization against Latina immigrant women in Los Angeles. Rojas-Salas also co-facilitated a workshop on the differences between reproductive rights, health, and justice through the Women’s Resource Center.

 

In August of 2017, CLRJ staff hosted their first California Latinas Presente! in which members from the San Diego chapter recruited community members to join a Day of Action. CLRJ provided hands-on training on California's policy making process and effective policy advocacy strategies, followed by visits with federal and state legislators and their staff to discuss priority reproductive justice policy issues like the Gender Recognition Act, which passed in California!

 

Rojas-Salas wants readers to know that reproductive oppression and the resulting movement involves many overlapping societal factors. Reproductive oppression is represented through the forced sterilization of black, indigenous people of color in the 1960s and 1970s in Puerto Rico and Los Angeles; coerced sterilization of women in prisons that only recently ended in 2014; and the ways in which people with disabilities have been deemed unfit for parenthood.

 

Reproductive oppression is also illustrated by the ways in which the mainstream media portrays poor black women as “Welfare Queens,” and the children of undocumented women of color as “anchor babies” who seek to suck the system dry of its so-called benefits. Such stereotypes blame women of color for overpopulation and insufficient government funds, and thus, shape U.S. policy that is anti-immigrant, anti-black, and forces parents of color and their respective communities to struggle under capitalism.

 

Reproductive justice must also be about the right to have children and the right to raise youth in a world free of police brutality, environmental racism, sexual and gendered violence, homophobia and transphobia, violent detention centers and deportations, gentrification and displacement of communities of color, and so much more! This requires radical friendships, says Rojas-Salas. “For many of us, our politics and our activism are intimately tied to cultivating radical friendships with women, femmes, queer, and trans folks of color,” and many more.

 

When asked, “What are the best ways for attorneys and law students to help?” Marsela replied, “Utilize a reproductive justice lens in your work. There is an organization called “If/When/How” that supports law students in creating reproductive justice chapters on campus and even provides online toolkits on various issues such as reproductive justice in the prison system, women of color and the struggle for reproductive justice, reproductive justice for LGBTQ folks, as well as a chapter leader guide.”

 

Tracy Rogers is an appellate lawyer specializing in criminal appeals and wrote this as the Lawyers Club liaison to the San Diego Reproductive Justice Coalition.

Tags:  activism  guest blogger  LCB  politics  reproductive justice  reproductive justice committee  reproductive rights 

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Guest Blog: 45th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade – Part 1

Posted By Mehry Mohseni, Tuesday, January 16, 2018

45th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade – Part 1

 

As part of a Lawyers Club blog series in celebration of the 45th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision, Roe v. Wade, I interviewed Professor Kimala Price. Professor Price will be the guest speaker at the Reproductive Justice Committee meeting THIS THURSDAY, January 19, 2018, at 12:00 p.m. at DLA Piper downtown. Dr. Price will be sharing her experience working in the reproductive justice social movement, her most notable research findings, and she will share highlights from her next publication entitled Reproductive Politics in the United States. This meeting is open to all Lawyers Club members and lunch will be provided. Please RSVP to mehry.mohseni@gmail.com by January 16th, 2018.

 

Here’s a summary of my interview with Professor Price, who has been involved in the reproductive rights and justice movements for more than 25 years as a scholar and an activist:  

 

MM: What does "reproductive justice" mean to you?

 

KP: First of all, reproductive justice is different from the “pro-choice” framework. Reproductive justice is both a theoretical and political organizing framework based on human rights doctrine and social justice principles. “Choice” is based on individual rights to privacy and autonomy, often narrowly focused on abortion rights.

 

Reproductive justice argues that reproductive oppression not only happens to individual people, but also to entire communities, such as the systematic coercive sterilization of women of color, poor women, and women with disabilities in the US throughout the 20th century.

 

Reproductive justice is also intersectional in its approach to reproductive and sexual politics. We must understand how gender, race/ethnicity, sexuality, socioeconomic class, ability, and other markers of identity interact with each other and how various groups of women experience reproductive oppression differently.  

 

MM: How do you think reproductive rights have been affected since the Roe v. Wade decision?

 

KP: Reproductive rights and justice have been under constant attack ever since the Roe decision. The Hyde Amendment (1976) bans the use of federal funding for abortions. According to the Guttmacher Institute, states have enacted 231 abortion restrictions between 2011 and 2014. At the state and federal level, there have been efforts to cut family planning funding in general. All of these and other actions have made it more difficult for many women, especially low-income women, to access reproductive and sexual health services, although these services are legal.

 

MM: What are the best ways for attorneys and law students to help?

 

KP: The first step is to become better educated about the framework. There are a few “classic” books that laid the groundwork for the reproductive justice framework: Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty by Dorothy Roberts; Undivided Rights: Women of Color Organizing for Reproductive Justice by Jael Silliman, Marlene Fried Gerber, Loretta Ross, and Elena Gutiérrez; and, Pregnancy and Power: A Short History of Reproductive Politics in America by Rickie Solinger.

 

Another step is to support reproductive justice organizations by donating money, becoming members, and volunteering. I suggest supporting the smaller organizations run by women of color such as SisterSong, California Latinas for Reproductive Justice, Black Women for Wellness, Forward Together, and ACCESS Women's Health Justice.

 

I also suggest talking about RJ issues with your personal network of friends, acquaintances, and family. Post about these issues on social media, and hold elected officials accountable for reproductive justice issues. Commit to getting more young people involved in the RJ movement and in politics in general.

 

To learn more, RSVP for the January 19th Reproductive Justice Committee meeting where Dr. Price will be speaking (email me at mehry.mohseni@gmail.com).

 

Mehry Mohseni is a family law attorney with the firm Cage & Miles, LLP and wrote this as RJC Co-Chair. 

Tags:  LCB  reproductive justice  reproductive justice committee  reproductive rights  women of color 

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Why the outing of sexual harassers is not enough

Posted By Olga Álvarez, Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Why the outing of sexual harassers is not enough

 

Originally published in the San Diego Union Tribune

 

As the #Metoo campaign unfolds and the lives of powerful men crumble before our very eyes, Time magazine has made the bold choice to select the Silence Breakers as Persons of the Year. Like many feminists, I applaud the magazine’s choice, but my cheer is tempered by caution. To be sure, the outing of the most brazen and most powerful of sexual harassers may be vindicating to women who have suffered in silence for so long. But to me, the key challenge is not determining how to proportionately punish the harassers, nor is it how we can better nip harassment in the bud, or even how to prevent a culture of harassment from blossoming in the workplace. Instead, the more relevant, albeit the more vexing problem is, what makes our industries – from media to academia, from entertainment to law – so ripe for sexual harassment?

 

The problem is broader than any one industry, and broader even than the workplace. We know that sexual harassment and sexual violence exists in our schools, religious institutions, and even our homes. Regrettably, our culture has failed to keep pace with feminist ideals of personal choice and self-determination. Our media, our education system, our entertainment and our laws, routinely objectify, commodify, and regulate the bodies of women. The outing of serial harassers in newsrooms, legislatures and Hollywood demonstrates that in far too many industries, sexual violence is the norm and victim-blaming is commonplace: the very definition of a rape culture. We not only blame women; we don’t believe them.

 

In June, Anita Hill headlined Lawyers Club’s Annual Dinner. In 1991, a 35-year-old Anita Hill testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings. The committee, led by Joe Biden and comprised entirely of white men, eagerly cross-examined Ms. Hill about her sex life, why she “allowed” the harassment to continue, and, of course, why she hadn’t come forward sooner with these allegations? Why, indeed. (Joe Biden offered a half-hearted apology to Anita Hill in recent weeks, no doubt encouraged by the number of news stories about sexual harassment.)  In the recent past, women and men coming forward with harassment allegations against powerful men have been derided by the accused as liars, extortionists, too undesirable to harass, oversensitive and of course, the perennial favorite, crazy.

 

So, why don’t more women come forward? Because we can be certain that our personal lives will be combed through by lawyers and reporters; that our careers will be snuffed out before they’ve begun; that we will be terminated from our jobs for making trouble; that too many of us do not understand our rights, and even if we did, we can’t access a lawyer, can’t afford a lawyer, and really can’t afford to lose our jobs.  As a society, we need to ask smarter questions. Questions like, “Why would he do such a thing?” and “How can we help you through this?” rather than “What did you do to lead him on / deserve this?” “Were you in a room alone with him?” or “What were you wearing?” (Brock Turner’s rape victim, famously, wore a cardigan, as if that were the point.)

 

Instead of perpetuating a culture where victims of sexual harassment and abuse are blamed and the perpetrator’s actions are excused, every one of us must take responsibility for changing it. Better laws and stronger policies are necessary but insufficient on their own. Often, laws and policies focus on how to address harassment after the fact. Of course, perfecting those remedies is critical. But what is really needed is to ask how we can prevent harassment from occurring in the first place. 

Part of the answer, of course, is buy-in from the top. The C-suite, the managing partner, the agency director, need to make clear to the organization that workplace harassment will not be tolerated.  More broadly, though, we need to both develop and teach empathy, communication skills, and problem-solving skills to our children well before they enter the workforce. We must offer intellectually honest sex education curricula which emphasize healthy sexual behavior, self-respect and respect for others. Respect is anathema to objectification, the act of treating a person as an object without regard to their personhood or dignity.

 

Our harassment problem is, at its core, an objectification problem. Only when – and if – our society resolves to treat women as people, and by this I mean people who are fully capable of bodily self-determination, whose value is not defined by the male gaze, who deserve equal pay for equal work, will we be addressing the root cause of sexual harassment in a meaningful and holistic way.

 

Olga Álvarez is co-founder and shareholder of Heisner Álvarez, APC in La Jolla. She is a Certified Legal Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust & Probate Law and is president of Lawyers Club.

Tags:  LCB  legal profession  metoo  sexual harassment 

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Chasing the Last Wave: Reclaiming My Name

Posted By Molly Toronski Wescott, Friday, December 8, 2017

Chasing the Last Wave: Reclaiming My Name

 

Although I have been absent from the Lawyers Club Blog (LCB) for some time, I have nevertheless been chasing my own last wave on the path to realizing my true, feminist self. My journey recently culminated with a legal name change, as reflected by my new last name. I have come to think of my recent experiences as “reclaiming my original name.”

 

When I married young decades ago, I took my husband’s last name without giving it a second thought. That is what women (or at least the vast majority of women) did at that time. That married name became my professional name as well as my personal/family name. At one point, I recall pondering the question of why women continue to take their husbands’ names, a tradition rooted in patriarchy and property rights, as we lawyers know. It is, of course, more convenient for couples/parents and children to have the same last name, but why in heterosexual marriages do couples always assume the man’s last name? (I recognize that some couples join and hyphenate their names, but that can be problematic in many ways.) If men took women’s names in equal share, then the practice of a shared last name would seem fairer and more in line with my feminist thinking.

 

When I found myself starting a new chapter of life in San Diego (no longer married), I began to think about not retaining my married last name. I was not eager to retake my maiden name (which I had been using and continue to use as my middle name), as it is not the easiest name to spell or pronounce. Moreover, that name harkens back to who I was at a much younger age, and I’m not that person anymore. I then began to think about taking an entirely different last name. I read an article about women divorcing later in life and taking a new last name entirely of their own choosing. One day it came to me that I would take my mother’s maiden/adopted last name of “Wescott.” I had always loved that name and when I mentioned the idea to my mother who just turned 94, she felt honored and thrilled.

 

And so I began the legal process of petitioning to change my name. After filing the petition and arranging publication, I was required to appear for a court hearing on a Friday morning calendar. While I was not sure what to expect at the hearing, I found a diverse group of people changing their names for various reasons and a judge who treated the proceedings as wholly celebratory! I walked out of her courtroom feeling happy and complete, and feeling like I had somehow reclaimed my original name. The process of then changing my last name (and email) on numerous accounts and in every place that my name exists has been a time consuming one, but not as daunting of a task as I had feared. The process proved liberating, and it is now essentially complete.

 

We assume many different “names” and titles during our lives, and many are temporary. Often it is necessary to let go of one form of name or one chapter of life in order to move on with life in a deeper way. Letting go of my former last name and assuming a name once held by my mother has allowed this new chapter in my life to take hold in a much deeper way while allowing me to reclaim something I had thought lost.    

 

As we chase the last wave of feminism, I hope we will figure out a better solution for “naming” ourselves, our spouses and our children, so that we can all retain our original name. 

 

 

Molly Toronski Wescott, who serves as the Assistant Dean for Career & Professional Development at USD School of Law, is passionate about advancing women in the legal profession.

 

 

Tags:  Chasing the Last Wave  equality  feminism  feminist  gender  LCB  name  women 

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Guest Blog - Leading Lawyers: Choosing Vulnerability

Posted By Guest Blogger, Tuesday, November 28, 2017
Leading Lawyers: Choosing Vulnerability 

This summer, someone I knew took his life – the brother-in-law of one of my best friends. I did not know him well. I know his wife better, and have watched his teenage kids grow up over the years. I became peripherally involved at the last minute: Asked to assist with legal insight and advice navigating work-related litigation; talking and texting with his concerned and anxious wife; determining if I could possibly help relieve his fears and anxiety.

I never ended up actually communicating with him directly. Instead of making our scheduled call, he chose to opt out of life. His family had been worried. They knew he could be at risk. They tried to get him to seek help – not simply legal, but psychiatric. As I understand it, he refused, not seeing an avenue out other than the one he chose. 

When something this sad happens, it leaves everyone with questions. A main one for me: Why is there such a continued stigma in our society about seeking support for depression, mental illness, or for a really bad, it-just-keeps-getting-worse time in life?

Particularly in the legal culture, heaven help those who show vulnerability. We are a culture of advocates, warriors, and, quite frankly, bullies. The old “take no prisoners” mentality gets equally applied to those within our firms and sometimes families. It happens all the time; I know from decades of personal experience and observation.

For our own health and the well-being of our profession, that antiquated mentality needs to change. Yes, we are tough—tough enough to make it acceptable to ask for help and support when we need it, without the accompanying stigma and shame. We lose too many brilliant lawyers every year. Even more suffer silently from depression and substance abuse issues. We all know the statistics.

Vulnerability is strength.

How as a leader in your life and law firm do you embrace and model vulnerability? How do you acknowledge that it is acceptable to be human and still be a strong, brilliant advocate? How do you show up for others by demonstrating with your mere honest presence that they do not have to do life alone?

Somehow, in the legal culture, we need to accept and acknowledge that it is okay to be vulnerable. That in our vulnerability, contrary to popular opinion, we actually demonstrate strength – a strength of perseverance and surrender that opens the door to true meaningful connection with others, a connection that might just help us heal, that might just help us find a path forward out of the dark, both as individuals and in the collective.

The fact is, we all need help at one time or another. Unless you live in a Teflon bubble, life gets the best of everyone at some point. Sometimes our only way through is by accepting that we cannot do it alone. It is too big. Too messy. Too unknown. Just plain too much. And, that has to be acceptable.

A paradigm shift starts with individual leaders. Begin to be brave and dare to challenge the idea that vulnerability means weakness and failure. We are all human and imperfect, accept that fact and life gets easier. It just does. 

My heart goes out to my friend, her family, the kids, and loved ones. Take time to care for you and yours. Remember, success is a team sport – you don’t have to do it alone.

Michele Powers, Esq., wrote this for the Leadership Development Committee and is the owner of Elite Lawyer Coaching (www.elitelawyercoach.com).

Tags:  authentic  career  guest blogger  LCB  leadership  legal profession  strength  vulnerability 

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Guest Blog: Women's Voices

Posted By Diana Rabbani, Tuesday, November 14, 2017
Women’s Voices

What was once a silenced and nearly invisible mass of people is now rapidly scaling the walls that kept them hidden away: Women.

Even after women received the right to vote in 1920, they faced an uphill battle trying to make their voices heard. But in recent years, women have created space for themselves and have become much more active participants in the political arena—calling attention to women’s issues and general political issues of interest.

Women are advocating more than ever. They are taking it to the streets; they are taking it to Congress, to local movements, and to social media. The premiere example of all these efforts was the Women’s March, held the day after the 2017 presidential inauguration. Women all over the world used social media to plan what turned out to be one of the largest single-day protests in U.S. history. Not only did women attend the flagship march in Washington, D.C., but the march also turned global. Women used this march to advocate for causes such as human rights, women’s rights, reproductive rights, immigration reform, healthcare reform, religious freedom, environmental awareness, LGBTQ rights, and racial equality. The prowess behind January’s Women’s March arguably inspired protests and marches that occurred afterwards such as “A Day Without a Woman” and the “March for Science.”

Social media has been a huge factor in bringing women from all over the world together to stand up for causes in which they believe. It creates a common platform for women to plan events, hear from other women, and publically broadcast their views on certain topics. For better or worse, social media allows a person to let the world in on their thoughts the moment they occur.

Female attorneys already have the advantage of being trained in the law and knowing the steps that must be taken to turn a mere hope into law. Therefore, it benefits the goal of women’s advocacy for female attorneys to use social media to express their thoughts and hear from each other to learn about the issues that are collectively important to women. Social media can then be used to plan events, such as the widespread Women’s March. Planned events need not be at such a grand scale in order to be effective. Arguably one of the most effective methods of advocacy would be for women to get together and reach out to local political officials to have their interests represented.

In the age of social media, which connects a person to the world with just few clicks of a smart phone, women are using this method to band together and speak. It is of utmost importance that women continue to advocate and use their voices to raise awareness and fight for important causes. Not even 100 years ago, women’s voices were all but silent. It is time to speak. It is time to advocate. 
   

Diana Rabbani graduated from Notre Dame Law School in May 2017 and is currently a post-bar clerk at the San Diego City Attorney’s Office. 

Tags:  Advocacy  LCB  social media  speech  vote  women’s advocacy 

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My So-Called First World Problems: Meet Tim Murphy

Posted By Rebecca Zipp, Wednesday, November 1, 2017
My So-Called First World Problems: Meet Tim Murphy

A day before his life imploded, (former) Congressman Tim Murphy, a longtime member of the House Pro-Life Caucus, cast a vote in favor of a bill banning all abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.


(Former) Congressman Tim Murphy (R-PA)’s was forced to announce a hasty resignation from office when his mistress’ divorce proceedings revealed that:


a) Congressman Tim Murphy was engaged in an extramarital affair with one Dr. Shannon Edwards;

b) Dr. Edwards experienced a pregnancy “scare” as a result of her relationship with Murphy; and,

c) Murphy’s response to the pregnancy “scare” was to encourage Dr. Edwards to abort.


I have long imagined that the pro-life community harbored those who, when push came to shove, would avail themselves of the safe, legal abortion they spent so much energy railing against. But I was caught off-guard when an eight-term U.S. congressman and enthusiastic House Pro-Life Caucus member was exposed for having encouraged his own sexual partner to abort.


Murphy, a sexagenarian, (was) a full-time federal employee and a practicing psychologist. His mistress, age 32, is likewise a psychologist. These are people who can afford their co-pays, who can afford travel, who would never have to sleep in their car if forced to travel to obtain a medical procedure. There was no sexual assault. No incest. These were not lusty teenagers. There was no apparent concern about maternal health or fetal abnormalities. These people are not impoverished, and (former) Congressman Murphy’s only child is grown, so it is doubtful that he is currently overwhelmed by the demands of parenting. 


This is a case of two highly educated, older adults, with the ability to self-determine, to choose whether to engage in sexual activity (extra-marital or otherwise), and finally, these are people with the freedom to choose whether to embrace the unintended consequences of their sexual activities or not.


I mention this because a recent 14-country study showed that most women report seeking abortion because of socioeconomic reasons, because they want no more children, or because they wish to space their children.


It’s not for me to dictate the circumstances under which someone else should be able to obtain an abortion, and I recognize that the circumstances of Edwards’ putative pregnancy were less than ideal. But, it is difficult to imagine a greater act of hypocrisy than encouraging your mistress to abort while devoting much energy to making abortions more difficult to obtain. The cherry on top is that a mere day before the revelations about the affair, the pregnancy, etc. broke, (former) Congressman Murphy voted to ban all abortions after 20 weeks.

When a pregnancy is inconvenient for the man, let's allow abortion with impunity. When the pregnancy impacts the woman's life plans, throw as many barriers in her way as possible. Liberal men certainly have their share of sex scandals. (Remember San Diego Mayor Bob Filner?) But, these men don't flout a philosophical adherence to puritanical sexual mores, nor do they publicly advocate putting the kibosh on a woman's ability to self-determine. Or, as Jennifer Weiner puts it, they are not, "pro-life in the streets, pro-choice in the sheets."

So, to (former) Congressman Tim Murphy: Good night, sweet prince. And may flights of angels sing thee to thy departure from public life.

 

Rebecca Zipp co-chairs the Women's Advocacy Committee, serves as Lawyers Club Board Secretary, prosecutes securities fraud at the San Diego District Attorney's Office, and recently began composting.

Tags:  abortion  abortion access  anti-abortion  Bob Filner  congress  hypocrisy  LCB  reproductive rights  Tim Murphy 

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Guest Blog: Combatting Sexual Harassment

Posted By Guest Blogger, Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Combatting Sexual Harassment

 

Daily news feeds are filled with stories of women coming forward with allegations of sexual harassment in a variety of industries. Allegations in the tech and entertainment industries have made headlines, but these issues equally impact attorneys.

Several issues contribute to sexual harassment in the legal profession:

o   36% of attorneys are women

o   18% of law firm equity partners are women

o   18% of managing partners are women

o   24.8% of general counsels at Fortune 500 companies are women

o   19.8% of general counsels at Fortune 501-1000 companies are women

o   31.1% of law school deans are women

  • Pay Inequity:  Pay inequity persists. Some female attorneys at high-profile firms have filed claims (and won settlements) alleging they are not paid equally despite the same level of experience, output and contribution. 
  • The Continuing Prevalence of Unchecked Behavior:  Over the last 12 months, public scandals in the technology and entertainment sectors reveal a pattern of powerful men engaging in offensive behavior. Several stories involve enablers who sat by silently--or worse, helped or rewarded harassers. The Harvey Weinstein scandal shows that many in Hollywood knew about his abhorrent behavior, but kept it a secret. Fox News renewed Bill O’Reilly’s contract amid the Roger Ailes scandal, even after O’Reilly allegedly settled a harassment claim for $32 million.
  • Weak Attempts to Address the Issue:  Claiming a “commitment to a harassment-free workplace” will not cut it. Simply implementing requirements that a law firm will not tolerate unlawful behavior fails to address the underlying issue – that harassment thrives in cultures that turn the other way when allegations are raised. Decision-makers must stop viewing human resources as the department that exists to “protect the company.”

The #metoo campaign enabled millions to share their personal stories. This is a wake-up call.


Now is the time for solutions. Lawyers Club is hosting a Solutions Summit on November 3rd. The event will bring together industry experts, legal professionals, professors and students to robustly discuss these vital issues. The conference will focus on finding practical and viable solutions.

 

Topics that will be covered:

  • How to recruit allies
  • Practical tools and resources
  • How to change workplace culture, with the support of leadership

This is the beginning of a long journey. Join us on November 3rd to be a part of the solution.

 

Guest blogger Patti Perez is the Founder and President of PersuasionPoint Inc.

Tags:  Bill O'Reilly  Fox News  Harvey Weinstein  human resources  LCB  legal profession  metoo  Roger Ailes  sexual harassment  solutions  summit 

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