“Leading Voices” and “Best of the Blogs”

Dear Readers,

I’m pleased to tell you that my commentary on the sad state of affairs in the U.S. Congress is getting some national attention.

In addition to the Huffington Post (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rebecca-sive), here are relevant links from the last few days:

http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/: “Leading Voices: Commentary from Leading Voices in the Reproductive Health and Justice Community.”


My reason for writing SiveSiftings is to spur action: So, if you think it helpful, please pass this information along, and then ask your colleagues, friends and family to tell the U.S. Senate and House to do right by American women. We will hold them accountable.

More blogposts to follow shortly. Also, please pay close to what Planned Parenthood and other pro-choice organizations are recommending we do.


It Takes a World to Raise a Woman: Thanksgiving-time Reflections

Dear Readers,

Here is my November 2009 posting for Today’s Chicago Woman (http://www.tcwmag.com/). I thought I would share it with you, too.

“Eat, Think & Be Merry” was the theme of the recent, 35th anniversary celebration of the Illinois Humanities Council.

The benefit luncheon featured roundtable discussions, hosted by local experts.

Topics included: “Can the public schools be saved (and should they be); Is the answer race or class; “The Chicago Way;” and my topic: “Are women’s rights the cause of our time?”

I suggested this topic to the Council’s terrific Executive Director, Kristina Valaitis, after reading a recent special issue of The New York Times Magazine: Saving the World’s Women: How changing the lives of women and girls in the developing world can change everything.

In part, the Times produced this special issue because of the attention Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has brought to the urgency of addressing the tragic plight of too, too many of the world’s women.

Indeed, all over the world, Secretary Clinton has been making the case that, if we improve women’s lives, we improve all lives.

And here’s the Secretary of State’s bold statement about the larger context in which this global fight for women’s rights is taking place.

“A society that denies and demeans women’s rights and roles is a society that is more likely to engage in behavior that is negative, anti-democratic and leads to violence and extremism.”

Well, we sure don’t need more of that, do we!

Why should today’s-Chicago-woman think about these global matters, when there’s already so much to do–right here in our very own neighborhoods–to make sure women and girls have the chance to fully participate in public life, succeed economically, and live safely?

Well, here are just the first three reasons that come to-mind: First, what Secretary Clinton says is true—more on that shortly. Second, it now appears that the U.S. will be in at least one war on foreign soil, for years to come. Chicago’s sons, husbands, brothers, and uncles, along with their sisters, wives, aunts, and daughters will be fighting and dying, for years to-come, a half-a-world-away. Third, the global economic meltdown of the last year requires a global solution.

So, in this month and week of thanksgiving (what a wonderful word that is), let us learn about our sisters across the oceans, too many of whom have too little to give much thanks for, but, with a hand-up, could give a whole lot to the rest of us.

Here are the facts and figures on their circumstances, as reported by the Global Fund for Women: http://www.globalfundforwomen.org/:

Economic Security:
Women perform two-thirds of all labor and produce more than half of the world’s food. Yet, women own only about one percent of the world’s assets, and represent 70 percent of those living in absolute poverty.

Violence Against Women:
The abuse of women and girls is endemic in most societies around the world. One in three women will be raped, beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise violated in her lifetime. Rape as a weapon of war is a feature of conflicts from Sudan to Iraq.

Two-thirds of the world’s uneducated children are girls, and two-thirds of the world’s illiterate adults are women. Numerous studies have demonstrated that educating women and girls is the single most effective strategy to ensure the well-being and health of children, and the long-term success of developing economies.

In developing countries maternal mortality is the leading cause of death for women of reproductive age. Women and girls lack access to the most basic health care services and are at the highest risk for contracting sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS.

Although women make up 51 percent of the world’s population, they hold only 16 percent of parliamentary and congressional seats worldwide.

You get the point, I’m sure.

Not only does it take a village to raise a child, (a village whose caregivers, odds-are, are mostly women), but it will take the whole world to raise the whole world’s women. And when we do, the world’s men will be raised, too.

Here is a list of organizations that do this work. Check-them-out. All are just great.

The Global Fund for Women
Planned Parenthood
International Women’s Health Coalition
Women For Women International

And for those among you who want to keep really up-to-date, here is the link to the United Nations’s Gender Equality News Feed.

So, this thanksgiving season, eat, yes, and be merry, yes, but think, too: think about your sisters around the world, and how we can hold hands, and be merry, together.


White Men Can’t Jump: The Rep. Stupak Edition

Dear Readers,

Here is the latest call-to-action from Cecile Richards of Planned Parenthood.

Please read, and take part. And, if you are in Washington, D.C. on December 2nd, there will be a major rally at The Capitol; see below for details.

Don’t let the anti-choice Stupak amendment become law.

You’re furious, and we hear you. Tens of thousands of Planned Parenthood supporters have expressed disappointment, sadness, and anger since the House adopted the anti-choice Stupak abortion ban to its health care reform bill.

Believe me, I’m just as angry as you are. And I want to take the outrage that supporters of women’s health are feeling and turn it into action. If we join together, we can still stop the Stupak ban and other efforts to undermine choice. The first step is simple, but it will be effective: sign our petition to President Obama, Senate Majority Leader Reid, and Speaker Pelosi.

If the Stupak ban becomes law, it will outlaw private abortion coverage for millions of women and prohibit coverage in the public option. That means that millions of women who currently have abortion coverage will lose it — and millions more will be locked out of the comprehensive coverage they have long deserved, even if they are paying for the entire cost out of pocket. It will be the most far-reaching restriction of abortion access in decades. We have to stop it now.

Take action to stop the Stupak ban before it’s too late. Click here to sign our petition:

When you speak out, lawmakers listen. [Last] Sunday, I asked Planned Parenthood supporters to contact President Obama and ask him to stand up for women — and more than 30,000 of you answered the call. The next day, President Obama reaffirmed his commitment to women’s health and stated plainly that Congress must pass a health care reform bill that does not impose any further restrictions on women’s ability to choose a health plan that meets all of their health care needs, including abortion care.

Now, our focus turns to the Senate. We are demanding that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid ensure that language similar to the Stupak ban does not become part of the Senate bill. Help us make it clear that the Senate must protect women’s access to complete reproductive care, including abortion.

Those of us who support women’s health and right to choose must come together and demand that women be treated fairly under health care reform. We need to tell our leaders — including President Obama, Majority Leader Reid, and Speaker Pelosi — that women must decide for themselves what kind of insurance coverage they can buy and what kind of health care they need.

Anything less is unacceptable.

Please, sign our petition right now:
http://www.ppaction.org/campaign/future/ii5n38i2p77k37xd?source=hcr09foc_e1_ppol — and know that this is just the first step in what will surely be a long fight for women’s health.

Over the coming weeks, I’m going to ask you for help again and again. And on December 2, thousands of supporters will gather at the Capitol to speak with one voice and tell our
leaders: health care reform must protect access to abortion coverage. I hope you’ll stand with us, today and throughout this crucial campaign.

(C)2009 Planned Parenthood(R) Federation of America, Inc.


Call Your Congressperson Now! Yes, I’m Asking You to Call Again.

EMERGENCY: We need your phone call NOW

FROM: Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood

“I’m writing to you with an urgent request.

“Late yesterday, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops met with leaders in the House of Representatives in their bid to eliminate women’s access to abortion care under health care reform.

“We have just received news that their efforts are working, and Representative Bart Stupak has introduced an amendment to the health care reform bill that will result in women losing health care coverage for abortion.

“We urgently need you, and your friends and family, to call your Representative. Call and ask him or her to reject the Stupak amendment that will remove abortion coverage from health care reform. After you call, just reply to this message and let us know how it went.

“If the bishops and their anti-choice partners in the House succeed, they’ll permanently alter health care in America, even taking away benefits from women that they have today. The bishops want to effectively eliminate abortion coverage in both private plans and the public option. We simply cannot stand for such a discriminatory, mean-spirited attack on women.

“It’s a chilling ultimatum: eliminate choice for millions of women, or the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops will do all they can to kill health care reform. This is a true crisis for American women, and we need you to act now.

“Call your representative at (202) 225-5006 and tell him or her to reject this attack on women’s health — and then forward this message to your friends, your family, everyone you know and ask them to do the same (and don’t forget to post the news to Facebook, Twitter — everywhere).

“We need you now, more than ever. Thank you for standing strong with us in the face of this vicious last-minute attack on women.”


Cecile Richards, President
Planned Parenthood Federation of America

P.S. Here’s how you can urge others on Facebook and Twitter to call Congress:

For Facebook, post this to your status:
EMERGENCY – Representative Bart Stupak has just introduced an amendment to the health care reform bill that will eliminate coverage for abortion care. I just called my Rep and you should too. Call 202-730-9001 and ask him or her to reject the amendment.

Post this message on Twitter:
URGENT – Call yr Rep NOW to reject the Stupak amend to hlth care reform. Wld eliminate all abortion care. 202-730-9001. Pls RT.
And here’s the news report: http://www.newser.com/story/73534/health-care-reform-hinges-on-house-abortion-vote.html


http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rebecca-sive (Here’s my debut blogpost for Huffington Post, related to this matter, and what the President ought to do, in my view.)

My November 3, 2009 Post:

House Dems Continue Health Reform Negotiations, Close to Deal on Abortion Coverage


November 3, 2009 — House Democrats are nearing a compromise over abortion language in the chamber’s health care reform bill (HR 3962), CongressDaily reports. House leaders are hoping to attract enough support from moderate Democrats “to mitigate a threat” from Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) that he will block the bill from coming to the House floor, according to CongressDaily (Hunt/House, Congres Daily, 11/3). Stupak said on Monday that he will “continue whipping my colleagues to oppose bringing the bill to the floor for a vote until a clean vote against public funding for abortion is allowed.”

According to the Washington Post, the outcome of the negotiations “could be crucial” to determining if the legislation will pass, since “Democrats need the vast majority of their caucus to back the bill” and nearly all House Republicans have said they will vote against it. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said, “We are making progress” on the issue, adding that an agreement has not been reached (Bacon, Washington Post, 11/3).

Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) has been working on the compromise with Rep. Brad Ellsworth (D-Ind.), who on Monday circulated language that would revise an amendment sponsored by Rep. Lois Capps (D-Calif.) without codifying Hyde Amendment language, according to CongressDaily. After reviewing Ellsworth’s draft, Rep. Baron Hill (D-Ind.) said his concerns about abortion coverage in the bill were eased because “[i]t makes it clear that no federal dollars can be used for abortion” (Hunt/House, CongressDaily, 11/3).

According to the Post, the disagreement over abortion coverage focuses on proposed federal subsidies to help lower the cost of policies under new health insurance exchanges. The Capps amendment allows people who are eligible for subsidized coverage to purchase policies that cover abortion services. Insurers would segregate a portion of funds generated through employer or individual premiums from public funds to ensure that no federal money goes toward abortion (Washington Post, 11/30). Abortion-rights advocates say that the amendment would not expand access to abortion beyond what it is now, NPR’s “Morning Edition” reports. Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said that this is “not at all what the reproductive rights movement had hoped for,” adding that it is “not a win for women — it’s a compromise.” Northup went on to note that about one in three U.S. women will have an abortion in her lifetime and that the procedure “should be a part of her reproductive health care.”

Abortion-rights opponents claim that the amendment favors abortion rights, “Morning Edition” reports. Douglas Johnson, legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee, called the amendment a “sharp departure from decades of federal abortion policy” (Rovner, “Morning Edition,” NPR, 11/3).
For more information, go to: http://www.nationalpartnership.org/