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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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#WhyIDidntReport

Posted By Jenn French, Tuesday, October 30, 2018

A few weeks ago, the President of the United States mocked Dr. Christine Blasey Ford on his Twitter feed. In response, women throughout the country began to share their #WhyIDidntReport stories. Padma Lakshmi courageously shared her story in the New York Times. I shared mine too, on Twitter and Instagram. And nearly every single woman I know chimed in with #MeToo, with stories ranging from sexual assault to gender discrimination. I wish I could tell you this was my only #MeToo experience.

In the early months of 1999, I had just returned back to campus after winter break. I was newly single, having just broke up with my first “real” boyfriend in college, and the first person with whom I’d had sexual intercourse. I was briefly living in what we called a “single double” - my roommate had moved out the previous semester and my new roommate had not yet moved in. Ironically, I lived next door to the resident advisor.

I don’t remember much about that night. I know it was cold, and I’m pretty sure there was snow on the ground. I remember walking across campus to a fraternity house with two male friends. I know that I drank a lot that night. I was trying to hang with the guys, and my newly-single-self wanted to have fun. I’d met my ex-boyfriend in the first few weeks of college, so this was the first time I felt like I could really let loose. I was a “high functioning drinker” – I didn’t slur my words and stayed reasonably coherent, which meant that my friends often didn’t realize how drunk I really was.

One of the guys I was with that night was not drinking at the party. I had met him a few times but didn’t know him well. Due to the passage of time, and the alcohol I had consumed, I am hazy on the details. (This is a blessing and a curse.) What I do know is that he walked me back to my dorm room, just the two of us. I remember snapshots of what happened next. The blasting heat in my Wisconsin dorm room in sharp contrast to the cold winter air blowing in from the slightly open window. Trying to explain that I didn’t want to have sex. That I’d only done it with one person. I remember him telling me that it was okay. Everything was okay. He was a nice guy. We were friends. We were just having fun. What I don’t remember is whether he used a condom. I hate that I can’t remember this detail.

The next day I woke up confused and sore. I couldn’t understand why I would have had sex with him. It wasn’t in my character, but I was so drunk. I barely remembered the walk back to my dorm room. I don’t remember using my key to open the door. I don’t remember ever consenting, and I know today that I was too drunk to be legally capable of consent.

I went to a very small school, and within twenty-four hours, everyone knew what had happened. A “friend” I had met through my ex-boyfriend started rumors about me. She told everyone about what happened with this man and called me a slut. I was mortified and ashamed. But the worst part is that I believed her. I thought it was my fault. I was drunk. No one forced me to drink. We went to a party together. I assumed that I let him into my room, although I didn’t remember.

I didn’t tell a soul about what really happened. I ended up transferring to a different school and becoming a bartender, which opened me up to a whole other world of sexual harassment and assault. In late 2002, I finally sought therapy. I am forever grateful to my counselor, Lynn, for helping me see, for the first time, that it wasn’t my fault. I didn’t consent.

I was raped.

Why didn’t I report what happened to me? Surely this is a rhetorical question after the confirmation of sexual predator Brett Kavanaugh to our nation’s highest court. I was drunk, he was sober. I didn’t remember the details. I couldn’t tell you the exact date that it happened. I don’t even remember his last name. People saw us leave together and “I seemed fine.” And before I had a chance to think about reporting, everyone already heard a different version of the story: that I was a slut who wanted it to happen.

Why didn’t I report what happened to me? I knew that no one would believe me.

When I shared my story on social media, a well-meaning male friend commented that I could still report; even though the statute of limitations had run out, at least the man who raped me would have that on his record. This is something I never would have considered before Dr. Ford’s testimony, and something that I would never consider after the hearing. I went to college in a small town in Wisconsin. I can only imagine the jeering questions I’d get calling from California to report a 19-year-old sexual assault.

Like many women, I am shaking with anger at the outcome of this nomination process. I am outraged by the women, like Senator Susan Collins, who continue to prop up the patriarchy. These women enable sexual predators by saying things like, “boys will be boys” and “she must be confused, poor thing.” I am furious that 50 senators voted yes for a man who lied under oath, who was credibly accused of assaulting several women, whose demeanor revealed that he is objectively unfit to hold judicial office. And I am furious that those in power pushed this nomination through in record time with the specific intent to circumvent the November 6th election and to prevent Americans from weighing in on this crucial nomination—especially after what happened with Chief Judge Merrick Garland’s nomination. The hypocrisy is astounding and infuriating.

Here’s one thing I know for sure: I’m glad that I finally shared my story. I’m not sorry that I did so, even though it didn’t prevent the confirmation of Judge Kavanaugh. I feel free, I feel lighter. And I feel solidarity with so many of my sisters who shared their stories and all those who are still too afraid to do so. I know that our conversations are not in vain, and I hope that, through these conversations, we can change this culture of toxic masculinity so that our daughters can say #NotMe, instead of #MeToo.

To my fellow survivors: I see you. I hear you. I believe you. You are not alone. And we will take back our government from those who believe that women’s lives are not as valuable as men’s lives. Please make sure that you are registered to vote, and vote for pro-choice candidates who will fight for equality on November 6, 2018. And after you’ve taken the time for self-care, please join us as we Demand Equality. The Women’s Advocacy and Reproductive Justice Committees provide excellent opportunities to channel your rage and disappointment into action.

Jenn French owns her own practice focused on civil litigation and handles pro-bono asylum cases through Casa Cornelia Law Center and co-chairs San Diego Lawyers Club’s Reproductive Justice Committee with Brigid Campo.

 

Tags:  Christine Blasey Ford  demand equality  Kavanaugh  MeToo  rape  reporting  reproductive justice  senate  sexual assault  Supreme Court  survivor  whyIdidntreport  women’s advocacy 

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Flashback to October 1991 | Lawyers Club Opposes Thomas Nomination

Posted By Lawyers Club, Tuesday, October 2, 2018
Lawyers Club News, October 1991, Page 3:

Lawyers Club Opposes Thomas Nomination
 
At its regular meeting on September 9, 1991, the Lawyers Club Board of Directors approved a statement of opposition to the appointment of Judge Clarence Thomas to be an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. Copies of the statement were sent to various media and to California's two U.S. Senators. The following is the text of the statement opposing appointment of Clarence Thomas to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court:
 
Lawyers Club strongly opposes appointment of Clarence Thomas to the U.S. Supreme Court. The evidence is overwhelming that he does not support the right to abortion and opposes affirmative action programs that benefit women and minorities. He has made his views known in his speeches, by his record as Chairman of the EEOC, and by membership in the professional and social organizations in which he participates.

Clarence Thomas has indicated that he would deprive women of the fundamental right to control their reproduction based upon his belief that the U.S. Constitution requires the criminalization of abortion. His belief in the "constitutional right to life" of a fetus greatly increases the likelihood that the court will overturn Roe v. Wade and return us to a time where women, especially those of low economic status, would be forced once again to resort to self-induced or back alley abortions.

We also oppose Clarence Thomas because of his views relating to protection of the civil rights of classes of individuals who have historically suffered from discrimination. He believes that affirmative action diminishes the motivation of the women and minorities who benefit from these programs. His rigid opposition to group rights will adversely affect the hard-won gains that women, minorities, and others who have been discriminated against have made in the quest to achieve social and economic equality.

Clarence Thomas' performance at the EEOC reflected an arrogant lack of respect for established laws, policies and legal doctrines. It would therefore be foolish, at best, to place him in the position of interpreting and enforcing laws. At worst, giving him supreme judicial power would wreak havoc on the rights which women and minorities have managed to wrest for themselves thus far.

The Justices of the U.S Supreme Court are charged with the responsibility of enforcing all laws and doing justice for all people of this land. Women and people of color are an integral part of the make up of this country and their rights must be protected vigorously and vigilantly.

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Tags:  Clarence Thomas  equality  feminism  LCB  reproductive justice  SCOTUS 

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Guest Blog: 45th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade – Part 5

Posted By Courtney L. Wine, Monday, February 12, 2018

45th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade – Part 5

 

Women Need More Choices

 

While in law school, I interned at the California Institute for Biomedical Research (Calibr). I was hired by Sabrina Martucci Johnson, who was the organization’s CFO/CAO at the time. Ms. Johnson is an advocate for women, and any time we have spoken about reproductive rights, it has been obvious to me that she cares deeply about women’s access to reproductive health care.

 

Ms. Johnson is the founder and CEO of Daré Bioscience, a clinical-stage pharmaceutical company committed to the development and commercialization of innovative products in women’s reproductive health. Daré’s first clinical candidate is a nonhormonal contraceptive ring called Ovaprene®. By helping to develop a nonhormonal birth control ring, and thus expanding the options women have in that realm of health care, Ms. Johnson is advocating for women’s reproductive rights in a time when women’s health care is being challenged.

 

As part of a Lawyers Club blog series in celebration of the 45th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision, Roe v. Wade, here’s a summary of my interview with Ms. Johnson:

 

What is your role in the reproductive rights and services field?

 

SMJ: We founded Daré Bioscience to ensure that innovative products for reproductive health make it to market so that women have numerous choices when it comes to maintaining their reproductive health (whether it is contraception, vaginal health, menopause, fertility or sexual health). Expanding product choices helps enhance access and reduces stigma. I am also on the board of Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest.  

 

What does the term "reproductive justice" mean to you?

 

SMJ: It means having access to the right products and services to address your specific reproductive needs and circumstances, no matter where you live, what your socioeconomic status is, your race, or your health.

 

How do you think reproductive rights and services have changed since Roe v. Wade or since you began your work?

 

SMJ: It has changed to expand beyond abortion to broader access to reproductive care, and beyond limited legal arguments to include the social and health factors that impact women's reproductive choices and decision-making ability.

 

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

 

SMJ: More needs to be done on behalf of women and their families to deliver new and improved forms of contraception, fertility treatments and products for vaginal health. Bottom line: Women need more choices – including non-hormonal contraception – so that wherever they are in their reproductive lifecycle they have viable options.

 

We also need to continue to work hard to ensure that people have access to the information, services, and products they need. There are organizations that can provide appropriate, unbiased, and inclusive care, and we should make sure there is general awareness of these services.

 

For an interesting look at women’s health and the biotech industry, please read this STAT News article, co-authored by Ms. Johnson and Jessica Grossman, CEO of Medicines360. In the article, Ms. Johnson and Ms. Grossman articulate the barriers that women face regarding access to health options.

 

Courtney L. Wine wrote this for the Lawyers Club Reproductive Justice Committee and is contracts counsel at the California Institute for Biomedical Research.

Tags:  reproductive justice  reproductive justice committee  reproductive rights 

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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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My So-Called First World Problems: "Good Luck With That Abortion"

Posted By Rebecca Zipp, Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Good Luck With That Abortion

 

Ohioans can breathe a sigh of relief! On December 13, pro-life Governor John Kasich vetoed Ohio’s “fetal heartbeat” bill – a bill banning all abortions after six weeks’ gestation, which is the point at which a fetal heartbeat can be detected. 


But the news is not all good. Governor Kasich did sign a 20-week abortion ban into law. As anyone who has ever received prenatal care knows, the “big” ultrasound is done at 20 weeks. That’s when you either breathe a sigh of relief because your fetus is healthy, or the technician runs out of the room to fetch a doctor to deliver sad news. Abortions past the 20-week mark are rare, (between 1% and 1.5% of all abortions occur past 20 weeks), and they are often performed in heart-wrenching situations where the parents badly wanted to have a child.


Our President has taken a flippant anti-Roe stance, dismissively saying that the issue should be left to the states. So, what options does a woman from Ohio have? I surveyed the states sharing borders with Ohio. Below, I share my findings and precious few words of comfort. 


Indiana made national news when then-Governor, now United States Vice President Mike Pence signed a law requiring that miscarried and aborted fetal remains be cremated or buried. The law is so extreme that it was opposed by pro-life women legislators. Also, you must wait for 18 hours to elapse between your state-mandated counseling session and your abortion procedure. Perhaps you can visit one of Indiana’s beautiful state parks as you mull the decision you had already made when you made interstate travel plans to carry out that decision.


Caveat: If your fetus is past 13 weeks’ gestation, travel elsewhere. As recently as early December 12, 2016, Hoosier women typically traveled to Ohio for their second-trimester abortions. They did this because Indiana law requires second-trimester abortions to be performed in a licensed surgical center or hospital – making the procedure unnecessarily, and often prohibitively, expensive. But now, abortions past 20 weeks are not available in Ohio even in cases of rape or incest. So sad, too bad.


You can always travel east to Pennsylvania. Abortion here is legal until 24 weeks of gestation. And, you can enjoy a mini-vacation, as you must spend 24 hours between your first doctor’s appointment and your abortion. Are you a minor? Bring mom or dad along, unless you can obtain a judicial bypass. The thought of involving the judiciary in my personal life is daunting for me, as an old, white, married, lady lawyer. But maybe post-millennials are bolder than my generation and this is a realistic option for Buckeye girls.


Michigan’s abortion laws are similar to Pennsylvania’s. In addition, there is state-directed “counseling” designed to discourage the patient from having an abortion. Medicaid patients will have to cover the entire cost of the procedure, unless they are rape or incest victims, or the pregnancy is life-endangering.


West Virginia would not be my first choice, as a mere .2% of American abortions occur in this state. But . . . mini-vacation! West Virginia has a 24-hour waiting period as well.

Kentucky’s public employees carry insurance policies which do not cover abortion. The waiting period is a mere 18 hours, but still requires you to be in Kentucky overnight. Also, you will need two medical doctors to determine that the abortion is “necessary.” Public hospitals may not perform an abortion unless the pregnancy endangers the mother’s life.


Angry yet? Good. Donate now to one of the local abortion funds listed here. It may take a few clicks, but you will help a woman in need.

All facts and statistics are from The Guttmacher Institute unless otherwise noted.

Rebecca Zipp is an unapologetic defender of reproductive justice and a Lawyers Club Director.

Tags:  LCB  My So-Called First-World Problems  reproductive justice 

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Guest Blog: "Happy 100th Birthday, Planned Parenthood!"

Posted By Anne Haule, Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Happy 100th Birthday, Planned Parenthood!

 

The “birth” of Planned Parenthood Federation of America can be traced to the first birth control clinic in the U.S., which was opened by Margaret Sanger, her sister, and a fellow activist in Brooklyn, New York, on October 16, 1916. As the 6th of 11 children born out of 18 pregnancies in 22 years to an Irish Catholic mother who died at 49, it is not surprising that Sanger became a birth control activist.

 

Sanger became a fearless activist, educating women about how to avoid pregnancies that too often resulted in self-imposed abortions and death. She published contraceptive information unavailable elsewhere, (even in libraries or from physicians), due to prohibitions on sex education deemed “obscene” by the federal Comstock Act.

 

Fast forward to today: One hundred years after the opening of the first clinic, Planned Parenthood is still fighting—a fight that has broadened in scope from education and access to reproductive justice.

 

Some highlights of the 100-year fight include:

  • 1921: Establishment of the American Birth Control League, adding legislative reform and research to its mission (the name was changed to Planned Parenthood in 1942).
  • 1951: Research grant awarded to Planned Parenthood to develop a birth control pill.
  • 1965: Supreme Court legalized birth control for married people; Estelle Griswold, Planned Parenthood’s Connecticut President, opened a birth control clinic to challenge the state’s ban on birth control and successfully overturned the ban!
  • 1970: Contraceptives and sex education and contraception research becomes available through public funding; President Nixon and Republican leadership agree that family planning is part of public health.
  • 1973: Abortion becomes legal when the Supreme Court rules that abortion is a protected privacy right guaranteed by the Due Process clause of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution (Roe v. Wade).
  • 1970s to present: Physical attacks on clinics and providers and continuous legislative attempts at restrictions on abortion.
  • 2011: Affordable Care Act requires health insurance plans to cover contraception.
  • 2016: 100 years after Sanger’s first clinic opened in New York, the U.S. Supreme Court holds Texas’ restrictions on abortion providers that severely limited access to be illegal in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt.

Today, Planned Parenthood continues to be the subject of attacks by politicians and religious extremists. As a patient escort at a local abortion services provider, I can testify to offensive rhetoric of some anti-abortion protesters (among other names, fellow volunteers and I have been referred to as “Satan’s spawn” and “conspirators to murder”). Planned Parenthood’s physicians, staff, and volunteers are courageous in the face of such opposition.

 

Planned Parenthood is now the largest provider of women’s healthcare in the country. According to Planned Parenthood statistics, one in three women have abortions at some point in their lives. Thanks to Planned Parenthood and other providers, abortion has become a safe medical procedure and self-imposed abortion deaths familiar to Margaret Sanger have become a thing of the past in the United States.

 

For all the important work performed by Planned Parenthood over the past 100 years that has allowed us to advance the cause of women and families, let us all take the time to acknowledge the 100th birthday and consider donating our time and/or our resources to continue the fight.

 

This blog post was authored by Anne M. Haule. Anne M. Haule is a writer, feminist, progressive activist, and retired health lawyer, who wrote this on behalf of the Lawyers Club’s Reproductive Justice Committee. 

Tags:  Anne Haule  birth control  healthcare  LCB  parenthood  planned  planned parenthood  reproductive justice  reproductive justice committee  RJC  sanger 

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Guest Blog: "Lawyers Club of San Diego has a New Committee Focusing on Reproductive Justice"

Posted By Mehry Mohseni, Tuesday, November 15, 2016

"Lawyers Club of San Diego has a New Committee Focusing on Reproductive Justice"

 

Lawyers Club of San Diego has two new committees – The Reproductive Justice Committee and the Women’s Advocacy Committee. The two are a split of the former Reproductive Rights and Women’s Advocacy Committee. Why the split and why change from reproductive rights to reproductive justice?

 

Many of the victories won under the reproductive rights movement have typically been limited to two topics: access to contraception, and the availability of safe and legal abortion. At the very core of the movement is a desire for these basic rights to be guaranteed under the law. But for many, particularly women of color, the fight does not end there. A much broader set of concerns stems from the barriers for many women in actually realizing these rights.

 

Thus, a change in the movement arose, and the term “reproductive justice” was originally coined to represent the unique fight of women of color for reproductive rights, blended with an ongoing fight for social justice. Reproductive justice moves beyond the focus of individual choice, and closely examines the way in which our communities and government may create inequality for women through limited or no individual reproductive choice.

 

The term Reproductive Justice has been defined as: “The complete physical, mental, spiritual, political, social, and economic well-being of women and girls, based on the full achievement and protection of women's human rights.” It’s important to note this movement stretches beyond a woman’s right to limit the number of children, if any, she wishes to have. It also addresses the right a woman has to raise her children with dignity in a safe, healthy, and supportive environment.

 

Including the important perspective of a diverse group of women allows the movement to unfold layers of oppression that our communities face, through an intersectional analysis of women's “real life” experiences. Some of these cross-sections include women of color, women with disabilities, incarcerated women, women involved in sex work or sex trade, low-income women, and LGBTQ women.

 

One alarming and complex example of the reproductive justice analysis occurred in Texas in 2011 after state lawmakers decreased funding for family planning services by 66 percent, closing 82 family planning clinics. Not only did low-income women in particular have less access to birth control, but the number of pregnancy-related deaths doubled from 78 in 2010 to 148 in 2011.

 

A task force was created to examine this increase and discovered a shocking statistic - African-American mothers accounted for 11.4 percent of Texas births in 2011 and 2012, but 28.8 percent of pregnancy-related deaths. The task force stated the overall increase in deaths was likely due to a “multitude of factors," including the funding decrease coupled with a lack of affordable health care for low-income women. The reproductive justice framework analyzes the effect of these drastic funding cuts from the perspective of women of color and low-income women who are already at risk of not realizing their full reproductive health needs.

 

I’m excited to Co-Chair the new Reproductive Justice Committee this year and to challenge Lawyers Club members to view reproductive health not just from the legal stand point that we are used to, but in a more complex and broader context of well-being and community. I hope you will join us!

 

(Meetings are held the first Friday of the month at 12:00-1:00p.m. at DLA Piper downtown. Contact Mehry Mohseni or Chelsea Mutual with any questions on how to get involved.)

Mehry Mohseni is a family law attorney with Cage & Miles, LLP and co-chair of the Reproductive Justice Committee. 

 

Tags:  guest blogger  LCB  reproductive justice  reproductive rights  womens advocacy committee  women's advocacy committee 

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