Support Abortion Access

We’re bringing back Abort Theocracy t-shirts!

Show that you are #shameless about supporting abortion and bodily autonomy! Proceeds will help those who need it to access this vital medical care.

In honor of our organization’s recent move to Ohio and in protest of Ohio’s adoption of a six week abortion bill, we’re raising funds for Women Have Options.

This campaign lonly lasts for a few more days. So hurry and make a bold statement!

National Women’s Law Center’s amicus brief

As the only US-based organization focused on amplifying the voice, presence, and influence of non-religious women, Secular Woman, through our @AbortTheocracy project, is committed to protecting reproductive freedom. As such, we have a particular interest in ensuring that everyone receive access to preventative care, including the full range of FDA-approved contraceptives and related education and counseling––without cost sharing––as intended by the Affordable Care Act.

 

Secular Woman has signed on to the National Women's Law Center’s amicus brief in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius. These cases involve for-profit companies challenging the health care law's requirement that all new health insurance plans cover the full range of FDA-approved contraceptives and related education and counseling, without cost sharing.

 

Among the plaintiffs in this case is Hobby Lobby, a craft supply chain with over 13,000 employees across the country. Hobby Lobby’s leadership wants to impose religious beliefs upon employees by denying comprehensive health care that includes birth control.

 

“Companies have no right to dictate a formulary simply because their employees do business with that insurer,” says Becca Thomas, director of @AbortTheocracy and Secular Woman board member. “Individuals don’t have the right to force their religious choices on others––why should corporations?”

 

Thomas adds, “Under the previous administration the HHS ruled that it was discriminatory to exclude a specific class of drug from a formulary. It was decided that to do so was discrimination. That we are revisiting this issue is absurd.”

 

Inmate Sterilization, the Continued Assault on Women’s Autonomy

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

For more information, please contact:

Kim Rippere, Secular Woman President: 404.669.6727  E-mail

Elsa Roberts, Secular Woman Vice President: 906.281.0384 E-mail

Inmate Sterilization, the Continued Assault on Women's Autonomy

The Center for Investigative Reporting released a report indicating that nearly 150 inmates in two California state prisons were sterilized without state approval between 2006 and 2010. The tubal ligation procedures were in violation of prison rules, but according to a database of contracted medical services for state prisoners, the state paid doctors $147,460 from 1997 to 2010 to perform these sterilizations. Worse, former inmates interviewed for the story reported that prison medical staff coerced the women, allegedly based on their likelihood of returning to prison.

“This apparent targeting of women in prison and coercing them into sterilization––without state approval––is reminiscent of the eugenics practices of the early 20th century,” said Secular Woman President Kim Rippere. “These women have been manipulated and robbed of their reproductive rights at a time when they were most vulnerable.” The sterilizations echo a disturbing past for the state of California in particular. “Between 1909 and 1964, about 20,000 women and men in California were stripped of the ability to reproduce – making the state the nation’s most prolific sterilizer,” reports the Center for Investigative Reporting. “Historians say Nazi Germany sought the advice of the state’s eugenics leaders in the 1930s.” Racial minorities, the disabled, the poor, criminals, and the mentally ill were targets of compulsory sterilization laws in California and 31 other states.

The number of incarcerated women is increasing at nearly double the rate of men in the United States, with a high number of nonviolent, drug-related offenses; female inmates have disproportionately prevalent histories of physical and sexual abuse. African-American women are three times more likely than white women to be incarcerated, while Hispanic women are 69 percent more likely to be incarcerated. In the context of these alarming numbers, these recent findings of coerced sterilizations in California prisons seem to be  merely a continuation of California’s dark history of eugenics.  

Secular Woman decries this abuse of women already in the vulnerable position of incarceration; we support every woman’s right to body autonomy and are gravely concerned at this attempt to control reproduction by selectively sterilizing groups considered to be unfit to procreate. Tubal ligation is a major surgery for women under the best of circumstances––much more invasive than vasectomy for men––requiring general anesthesia and, also, unlike vasectomy, is irreversible. Reports from former inmates indicate that many were coerced into sterilization while under sedation, in labor, and often based on inaccurate advice regarding their risk factors––for example, based on the idea that women who have had multiple C-sections should be sterilized. “Dr.Carolyn Sufrin, an OB-GYN at San Francisco General Hospital who teaches at UC San Francisco, said it is not common practice to offer tubal ligations to women who’ve had one C-section,” the report stated. “She confirmed that having multiple C-sections increases the risk of complications, but even then, she said, it’s more appropriate to offer women reversible means of birth control, like intrauterine devices or implants.”

This attempt to selectively control women’s reproductive choices has extremely disturbing social and medical implications; furthermore, shaming women into a serious and permanent medical procedure that will impact the rest of their lives is the height of unethical behavior. Secular Woman hopes that, as a result of these findings, swift action will be taken to ensure transparency and proper acquisition of approval for medical procedures in U.S. prisons, to prevent unethical physicians from taking advantage.

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Secular Woman is an educational non-profit organization whose mission is to amplify the voice, presence, and influence of non-religious women. For more information about Secular Woman visit: www.SecularWoman.org.

 

The Invasion of Women’s Bodies continues in North Carolina

The Invasion of Women’s Bodies continues in North Carolina

by Elsa Roberts, follow her on Twitter

North Carolina legislators continued their underhanded attack on women’s reproductive rights yesterday with a sleight-of-hand move, transferring the anti-abortion language on HB 695 to a motorcycle safety bill (SB 353) early yesterday morning. This surprise move includes citizens being denied their right to speak; there is a three hour comment period today, but it is only open to representatives, many of whom have done a very poor job representing – as the continued Moral Monday protests demonstrate.

Suzanne Buckley, Executive Director of NARAL North Carolina, expressed the anger many in NC, and concerned citizens across the country feel, stating,

 

the process this legislation has taken shows an utter disregard for women’s health and safety. This is not the kind of leadership North Carolina voters deserve. The women’s health advocates and reproductive rights supporters who have showed up at the NCGA every day this week to protest HB 695 will not be silenced by empty promises or word-games, and they will not be fooled by claims that SB 353 is somehow a pro-women bill.

It is clear that NC legislators are determined to stomp out women’s reproductive rights, despite the will of the people and the disastrous effects it will have on women’s life and health. Secular Woman President, Kim Rippere, urges women from around the U.S. to “stand with NC and continue to fight.” She reminds us that this bill and other’s like it are “part of a concerted effort by theocratic politicians to push through religious based legislation nationwide, from Texas to Ohio to North Carolina.” She continues, “We must fight against this trend to legislate religious based ideology into women’s uteri and lives and maintain a firm separation of church and state.”

North Carolina lawmakers are barely adhering to an appearance of process, restricting and outright denying public comment, switching language to new bills with only a moment’s notice, and restricting the audience to an unreasonable degree (no laughter or clapping in hearings). “They have made it clear that injecting their religious beliefs into bills is more important than representing the people they were elected to and upholding the constitution and women’s rights,” states Secular Woman President Kim Rippere.

These laws, if passed, cannot stand. They fly in the face of women’s constitutional rights and years of court precedent. Secular Woman looks forward to the injunctions sure to be placed on legislation of this type and of the courts upholding women’s right to bodily autonomy.

With these continued roadblocks and underhanded moves state lawmakers hope to wear women and their supporters down, but we can’t let that happen! To hold on to our rights and reject the insertion of religion into our bodies we must remain vigilant and continue to keep up the pressure, in North Carolina and across the country. We must Stand With Women! Take action and contact Governor McCrory and spread the word on what is happening in North Carolina.

 

 

#ShameLESS, a Campaign to Help End Abortion Stigma

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

For more information, please contact:

Kim Rippere, Secular Woman President: 404.669.6727  E-mail

Elsa Roberts, Secular Woman Vice President: 906.281.0384 E-mail

#ShameLESS, a Campaign to Help End Abortion Stigma

Secular Woman, through its latest project @AbortTheocracy, is launching a new month-long campaign aimed at reducing abortion stigma and encouraging people to talk openly, shamelessly, about their abortion experiences. The campaign is, appropriately, called #ShameLESS. And, in July, we will be sharing your stories about abortion through memes which you can share via social media, as well as articles on abortion and reproductive health and rights throughout the month.

This campaign is a response to the fact that even though approximately one in three women will have an abortion in their lifetime, many women and people designated female at birth (DFAB) are silent and ashamed about their abortion. When we are silent we are alone.  It is possible that the peson sitting next to you has had an abortion and never told their sister, mother, best friend, or anyone – this collective silence disempowers and isolates us.  Just as domestic abuse victims were alone and isolated in the 1970s before talking about abuse became more acceptable. When women find their voice and use it to tell their lived experiences they change our lives, the lives of future women, and society.

Abortion is a medical procedure, and, like other medical procedures, a woman (or person DFAB) and her doctor should be making the decision without interference or intervention from religious groups or any governmental legislative body. One of our goals for this year is to “advocate for women’s bodily autonomy and sovereignty”; this campaign is an integral part of that.

This campaign will launch with a story from the co-founder, Kim Rippere who says, “I am Shameless and I’m ready to tell my story.” Storytelling is a powerful force for change, with each story told this month another woman will find her voice and other women will be empowered to be #ShameLESS and unafraid.  

 

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Secular Woman is an educational non-profit organization whose mission is to amplify the voice, presence, and influence of non-religious women. For more information about Secular Woman visit: www.SecularWoman.org.

@AbortTheocracy is a project focused on the intersection of religious power over women's bodily autonomy and sovereignty, dedicated to terminating that connection by opposing religious influence in government.

 

Senator Wendy Davis Leads “Unruly Mob” in Exercise of Democracy

Thanks to the bravery of Texas senator Wendy Davis, the Texas democrats, and hundreds of Texans in attendance at the capitol yesterday, Senate Bill 5––a bill that would have legislated widespread restrictions to abortion access––is dead. Secular Woman applauds this brave stand by Davis, whose filibuster last night that made national news and quickly garnered massive support on social media (including a tweet linking to the livestream from President Obama, using the hashtag #StandWithWendy.).

Though Texas lieutenant governor David Dewhurst suspended the filibuster at 10 p.m. last night, claiming Davis digressed from the topic at hand with her discussion of mandatory ultrasounds, the Democrats appealed the decision immediately, and the already-inspired crowd became even more animated.

Spectators filled the chamber gallery, chanting “Let her speak” for several minutes after the filibuster was suspended. The Austin Statesman reported that the senate struggled to vote on the bill “over the sustained and screaming protests from spectators in the gallery,” especially when Republicans motioned to call off all debate. Senators tried to vote on the bill, but the crowd continued its protests, exploding into cheers when State Sen. Leticia Van De Putte, challenging the ruling against Davis, asked, "At what point must a female senator raise her hand or her voice to be recognized over her male colleagues?” The "people's filibuster" delayed the vote until the clock ran out on the session, the Statesman reported this morning; Secular Woman donated to RH Reality Check’s call for funds to help provide food for the protestors. Lt. Gov. Dewhurst expressed his frustration to the Statesman, remarking, "An unruly mob, using Occupy Wall Street tactics, disrupted the Senate from protecting unborn babies.” If the “tactic” he is referring to is democracy, he couldn’t be more correct.

Monday night, Davis tweeted, "The leadership may not want to listen to TX women, but they will have to listen to me. I intend to filibuster this bill. #SB5 #txlege" Beginning at 11:18 a.m. on Tuesday, and sporting pink tennis shoes, Davis began an eleven-hour filibuster against a bill that would have closed all but five of the state's abortion clinics, prohibited abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, forced clinics to upgrade to ambulatory surgical centers, and restricted access to medication abortions, reported the Huffington Post. The bill also would have required any doctor at a clinic to obtain admitting rights at a local hospital, reporter Ben Philpott told NPR. “In rural Texas… you don’t have a hospital within 30 miles of some of these clinics, let alone one that would then be able to give you admitting privileges.” While Republicans argued that the bill would help ensure women’s safety, it would effectively have shut down all but a handful of clinics in the state.

Secular Woman supports every person's right to bodily and sexual autonomy and opposes all attempts to criminalize or limit access to comprehensive reproductive services such as contraception and abortion. Our @AbortTheocracy campaign, which covered the session proceedings until the wee hours via Twitter, is specifically focused on the intersection of religious power and women's bodily autonomy and sovereignty and dedicated to terminating that connection by opposing religious influence in government. We stand with Wendy Davis and applaud her activism to protect women’s health in Texas. “Women are entitled to full and complete ownership of their bodies,” says Secular Woman President Kim Rippere.

The connection between full bodily autonomy and religious influence in government must be terminated so that women are free, empowered, and in control of their lives and their futures.

Davis began her filibuster by accusing the GOP of "a raw abuse of power," citing their decision to allow the bill to be debated without the required two-thirds support and accusing them of placing a political agenda over the well-being of Texans. “The reality of this bill is not to make women safer … it’s to force the closure of facilities across the state of Texas that would provide proper care to women,” Davis said. “The actions intended by our state’s leaders hurt Texas; they hurt Texas women and their families.”  

Texas rules for a filibuster prohibit leaning on one's desk, pausing, or straying off subject; warnings work on a three-strike system, reports NPR. Davis took no bathroom breaks, spoke with no food or water, and wore a back brace to avoid needing to lean. At one point Republican Sen. Tommy Williams  attempted to have her filibuster suspended because of the back brace. Democratic Senator Kirk Watson expressed support for Davis's filibuster, telling the Statesman,

There’s an assault on women in this state and this legislation is a prime example of that. It’s important that a woman who’s the mother of two daughters will be the one standing. We will all be there providing assistance and help.
 

Though The Texas Legislative Service originally listed SB5 as having passed on “6-26-13,” the listing was changed shortly after 1 a.m. to reflect passage before midnight; at 3 a.m., Dewhurst announced that although the bill passed on a 19-to-10 vote, it was dead.

“Today was democracy in action,” Davis told her crowd of supporters last night. “You all are the voices we were speaking for from the floor.” In response to Lt. Gov. Dewhurst’s “unruly mob” remark, Davis retorted, “I think that’s a disservice to the people who were here. The people who were here were justifiably upset about an attempt to infringe upon a constitutional right they hold dear, primarily one that would have an impact on women but also on the men who love them.”