Democrats must turn out to vote AGAINST the recall of current California Governor Gavin Newsom (D)! If this recall succeeds, Republicans will remove Newsom, who won in 2018 with nearly 62% of the vote, and replace him with a Republican.
Democrats can't afford to be complacent in this election! Democrats Abroad is here to assist with voting and returning your ballot.
RETURN YOUR BALLOT TO YOUR LOCAL ELECTION OFFICE IN CALIFORNIA--DON'T WAIT, DO IT NOW!
Deadline to return you ballot is September 14, 8:00 PM (California time)
Need information about
- What to do if you didn't get a ballot
- How to return your ballot
- Confirm that your ballot was accepted
NEED HELP? EMAIL US AT [email protected]
Andrea Host-Barth published Missed Period? There is a pill for that. in Reproductive Justice 2021-09-02 04:45:23 -0400
"Plan C and Progress Texas went on a road trip to share information. We went on an abortion road trip to let people know that you don’t need to go on a road trip anymore to get an abortion,” Plan C codirector Elisa Wells told Ms. “You can get an abortion by mail basically anywhere in the United States, including in Texas." Read to full article in Ms. Educating Texans on How to Get Abortion Pills Online: “Your Nearest Provider Is In Your Pocket”
Letter from the Editor
After a short summer holiday, the Global Women’s Caucus is back, and ready to continue the hard and necessary work to ensure a safe and equitable future for generations to come. In some ways, the current situation feels as though many of our hard won battles are once again rearing their ugly heads. Many States are making it nearly impossible for women to choose when and how they can have a family, and the use of the Filibuster is hindering any fair voting law. We are also all watching with keen attention to what’s unfolding in Afghanistan in respect to the fate of women and girls. We hope your batteries have been charged as well, and that you are ready to join us at this crucial moment as we resume raising awareness on the issues that affect women and girls, and begin to focus on the midterm elections.
This issue has important updates on the research our caucus is doing as well as articles and commentaries on current events. Don’t forget to check out our Artist’s Corner and take our July Newsletter quiz! Lastly, we love hearing from you and want your continued participation in our #MyStoryGWC campaign, where you can connect with other members through shared stories to highlight the issues most important to us.
We hope you enjoy this edition, and we look forward to seeing you at our events!
Stayce Camparo, Communications Co-director, Global Women’s Caucus
Over 10,000 members and growing! Join us
Message from DA Spain Chair
The Greek historian Heraclitus is quoted as saying “The only constant in life is change.” That’s as true for Democrats Abroad Spain as it is for anyone else. This last month we reluctantly accepted the resignation of DA Spain Chair Daniel James. Sadly, while we’ll be deprived of his proven and impressive leadership, family health concerns understandably forced him to leave his post and turn his full attention to his loved ones. I know you’ll join the Executive Committee in thanking Daniel for his contributions. We wish him and the James family the very best.
This resignation means that I’ve become Country Committee Chair (heaven help all of us!) and that we needed a new Vice-Chair. The talent in our organization evidenced itself once again by producing a great crop of candidates. I’m happy to announce that Carlos Colao of Madrid has been appointed Vice-Chair, and that the Executive Committee ratified this appointment at its August 12 meeting.
Carlos brings a wealth of talent and experience to our team. He’s a lawyer working for the Spanish equivalent of the US Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. He’s also active in DA Global, particularly on tax issues affecting Americans abroad. Carlos is married and has four children. Given all of this, I did inquire about whether he ever sleeps. He assures me that he occasionally does.
Since we’re back up to full staffing, it’s time to start focusing on our priorities for the near term:
- Gather information on the number of Americans in Spain and identity where in the country this population is concentrated;
- Reach out to areas where we currently do not have chapters (FYI, the current chapters are in Alicante, Barcelona, Madrid, and Valencia);
- Reach out to American military personnel stationed in Spain and their adult family members; and
- Create more detailed descriptions for DA Spain officer positions and update country committee/chapter bylaws.
DA Spain could really use your help on the first three of these items! The upcoming midterm elections promise to be both crucial and hard-fought. It’s going to be an “all hands on deck” effort to preserve our democracy, and we really could use many more hands.
DA Spain is also gathering information on how to obtain Spain’s digital COVID-19 certificates for vaccinations obtained outside the EU (see more on this below). This affects so many of us, who’ve gotten our vaccinations in the US while visiting family and friends. Please keep an eye on our social media platforms, like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for up-to-date information on this topic.
Calls to Action
If you’re from California—or even if you’re not—you might have heard that a special election is being held on September 14, 2021, in a GOP-led attempt to recall Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom.
If you’re unclear as to why this election is taking place, grab a chair. In 1911, California enacted a law that would allow the state’s voters to pass and repeal laws, as well as recall elected officials, by placing them on the ballot. The idea was to give ordinary Californians more voice and control over their government. This year, enough petition signatures were collected to proceed with a recall election of Gov. Newsom. This year’s recall petition was driven by the state’s conservative contingent, who claimed that the Governor had mishandled the pandemic in addition to preexisting gripes: the ongoing homelessness crisis, high taxes and cost of living, immigration, and rationing of water and energy use. It is important to remember that Gov. Newsom won his 2018 gubernatorial run in a landslide, and that he is up for reelection in 2022. This is a statewide election with nationwide implications - take it from the guys at Pod Save America! If you are a California voter, do not sit this one out! Registration deadline is August 30. Read more...
Gearing Up for General and Special Congressional Elections in NJ, VA and OH!
A few other states have elections coming up later this year: Virginia, New Jersey, and two congressional districts in Ohio. Rally-type online events, with a voter assistance component, are currently being planned with candidates and party leaders for the CA, NJ, VA, and OH congressional races.
Tentative dates are:
CA -- August 29
VA -- September 12
OH-11 / OH-15 -- September 19
NJ -- September 26
Event pages will be posted and distributed soon, so if you vote in these states, keep an eye out. Live voter assistance will be provided via Zoom on select Thursdays and Sundays in September and October. Dates and details will be forthcoming.
Are you a phone-banker? Are you interested in learning how to become one?
In 2020, DA callers made more than 600,000 phone calls to overseas Americans, encouraging them to vote, helping them to register and following up to make sure that every ballot was returned on time. And it made a huge difference! This outreach helped Democrats win the House, the Senate, the Georgia Runoffs, and the Presidency. As we gear up for the 2022 elections, training sessions for this important GOTV activity are scheduled for August 30 & 31 and September 1. See https://www.democratsabroad.org/phonebanking_training for more information and to register. These sessions, which will be recorded for those who can’t attend live, are intended for both new and experienced phonebanking volunteers.
New training features include:
- optional PRACTICE CALLS available 24/7 to friendly practice volunteers, helping trainees feel more comfortable before attempting a first call
- demonstration VIDEOS are now incorporated into the training presentation, showing a call, revising data, adding a new mobile number, etc.
- expanded explanation of the CONFIDENTIALITY agreement you signed
- an open-book QUIZ on the calling essentials, to better prepare new callers
- expanded resources for caller SUPPORT, caller groups, and engagement
- September 6-19 -- Phonebank Virginia (message: request your ballot)
- Call-a-thon and rally-type event scheduled for September 11-12; details forthcoming
- September 20-30 -- Phonebank New Jersey (message: request your ballot)
- Call-a-thon and rally-type event scheduled for September 25-26; details forthcoming
- October 6-12 -- Phonebank Virginia (message: return your ballot)
- October 16-26 -- Phonebank New Jersey (message: return your ballot)
The two infrastructure bills currently progressing through the US Congress—the bipartisan “roads and bridges” bill and the much more ambitious budget reconciliation bill—are enormously important priorities for President Biden and Democratic members of Congress this year. The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report released just this month has made shockingly clear the need for ambitious climate-centric infrastructure improvements. Overseas voters have proven to be instrumental in past elections, and it is crucially important that we take the time now to contact our Representatives and Senators to tell them why they should vote in support of both pieces of infrastructure legislation.
If you don’t know what to tell your legislators or whom to contact, see https://www.democratsabroad.org/congressional_call_storm for ideas.
COVID Vaccine Certificates
As overseas Americans, some of us have received COVID-19 vaccines while visiting friends and family stateside. Recently, the EU launched a Digital COVID Certificate program, both for cross-border travel between EU member states and -- as in the case of France and increasingly elsewhere -- for entry into public spaces like theaters, restaurants, and shops. Certificates come in differing types, depending on whether a person (1) has received an approved vaccine, (2) has proof of recovery from contracting COVID-19, or (3) has a recent negative PCR test result.
In Spain, public access to these certificates is managed by each autonomous community and many have no protocol in place for verifying the administration of vaccines obtained outside of Spain. In parts of the country, only those vaccinated in Spain have succeeded in soliciting digital certificates, while US-vaccinated folks are left in the lurch. Similarly, Spanish citizens who study or work outside the EU, where they were vaccinated, are facing this difficulty upon returning home. Read more...
Chapter and Verse
The Barcelona chapter of Democrats Abroad has mostly been in vacation mode during the month of August, but we are very aware of the importance of the upcoming special elections, and we are here to provide assistance to members who will be casting absentee ballots in the coming months (Hola, California?).
Plans are also underway for an exciting slate of events in the fall and through the end of the year. We hope to hold various in-person events (movie nights, postcard campaigns, etc.), as well as renewing our popular Tuesday evening La Lucha Continúa series on Zoom. Be sure to join our Signal group now, so that you don’t miss any updates when the pace picks up in September, and let us know if you are available to help with organizing upcoming events ([email protected]).
In between vacations, work, and trips to the pool, the DA Madrid ExCom got together to start planning for the next few months. We have a lot of great ideas for events, volunteer opportunities, and other ways for you to get involved with Democrats Abroad!
To help us plan for events and other initiatives, we've prepared the following member survey. While we plan on sending this out again once everyone's back from vacation, feel free to fill it out now if you have the time.
As we all know, COVID-19 is an ongoing issue, with restrictions, regulations, and measures that change from region to region. If you were vaccinated in the US or are still in need of your first vaccine, here is some information from the Comunidad de Madrid: Getting a digital COVID certificate with overseas vaccinations and Walk-in vaccinations at the Isabel Zendal Hospital and Wizink Center.
Barring any future changes, our next event will be on Thursday, September 16th. Unless otherwise noted, we plan on holding events on the 3rd Thursday of the month. We're still researching possible indoor venues, so if you have any suggestions, send us an email at [email protected] or fill out the above survey.
We're looking forward to seeing you soon! Hope you're having a great summer.
In sunny Valencia, we’ve taken the month of August off, but are preparing for exciting Fall events and get-togethers. In the meantime, our main priorities are (1) making sure that Democrats win upcoming state and special elections, (2) providing voter support and guidance to overseas Americans, and (3) advocating for the improved standing of overseas Americans under US law. We’ve been working behind the scenes to make sure your interests are represented stateside and abroad.
Check back to this exact spot in the September issue of this newsletter for September events. We look forward to visiting with old friends and making new ones in the months ahead. If you’d like us to focus on specific political issues that are near and dear to your heart, please drop us a line at [email protected]. We’re eager to give voice to your concerns and advocate on your behalf.
To volunteer your time with DA Valencia, please complete this volunteer form.
Hello to our DA Alicante chapter members from Denia to Torrevieja along the Costa Blanca! We all love summer. Spending more time with friends, soaking up the sun on the beach, and enjoying the good food, drink, and entertainment all around our communities.
Our Alicante team is taking some time off this summer to travel and visit family, but on behalf of the team we welcome your thoughts, opinions, and passions with our members through our DEMOCRATS ABROAD ALICANTE Facebook group. And be sure to check out the Facebook pages for DA Spain and DA Valencia for different points of view and local activities in their regions.
Our goal is to reach more Americans living in our chapter’s Costa Blanca region and we ask you to share any ideas you may have to broaden our community and help to provide valuable voting information to our members. Your diverse set of abilities and experiences will allow us to continue to be an effective organization engaging and representing US citizens abroad. We look forward to hearing from you.
Enjoy yourselves, and stay safe!
Spain Fun Fact
Spain is, after Switzerland, the most mountainous country in Europe. Almost a quarter of the country is above a thousand meters and the average altitude is 660 meters above sea level (source). Other sources debate this ranking, but all agree that Spain is near the top of any list (see https://www.quora.com/Which-European-country-is-the-most-mountainous).
The country’s highest mountain is El Teide on Tenerife (Canary Islands), with a height of 3,715 m. El Teide is the world’s fourth tallest volcano and remains active, having erupted most recently in 1909. El Teide was a sacred mountain for the aboriginal Guanches, who believed it held up the sky (source: Wikipedia).
We hope you are having a relaxing summer, enjoying the beaches, bars and festivals while staying safe from COVID-19. Thanks for reading, and pass it along.
If you’re from California—or even if you’re not—you might have heard that a special election is being held on September 14, 2021, in a GOP-led attempt to recall Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom.
If you’re unclear as to why this election is taking place, grab a chair. In 1911, California enacted a law that would allow the state’s voters to pass and repeal laws, as well as recall elected officials, by placing them on the ballot. The idea was to give ordinary Californians more voice and control over their government. This year, enough petition signatures were collected to proceed with a recall election of Gov. Newsom. This year’s recall petition was driven by the state’s conservative contingent, who claimed that the Governor had mishandled the pandemic in addition to preexisting gripes: the ongoing homelessness crisis, high taxes and cost of living, immigration, and rationing of water and energy use. It is important to remember that Gov. Newsom won his 2018 gubernatorial run in a landslide, and that he is up for reelection in 2022. This is a statewide election with nationwide implications - take it from the guys at Pod Save America! If you are a California voter, do not sit this one out! Registration deadline is August 30.Read more
Message from DA Spain Chair and Vice-Chair
Happy July, friends! It’s summertime, and according to the Gershwins, the livin’ is easy. We’re taking this sentiment to heart here at DA Spain and not filling the schedule with activities and Zoom calls. But we do want to share a few items with you this month.
Even as the calendar remains blissfully empty, lots of work is going on behind the scenes. As always, our focus is on electing Democrats at all levels of government. To that end, the Executive Committee has been working on long-term planning to prepare for next year’s midterm elections. The emphasis this fall will most likely be on increasing membership, registering voters, and recruiting volunteers for the work ahead.
Similarly, DA Spain has a number of national-level committees with work underway. You see it, for example, in the newsletter you’re reading now. The Communications Committee has been hard at it. Likewise, the Bylaws Committee has been working on revising our governing rules to update and strengthen our infrastructure. This latter initiative is being helped along by our new intern, Ryan Eijkholt, a US College student from Texas studying in Spain. So the pot bubbles, even if the stove may look cold.
But as this newsletter demonstrates, the real work - and the real fun - of DA is in the activities where people gather to work and play together. The chapters, the caucuses, and the individuals who are highlighted below show us the myriad ways in which participating in DA Spain benefits us all. So enjoy the summer, bask in the sun and in companionship, and keep an eye out as we gear up again in September.
– Daniel James (chair) and Kathy Tullos (vice-chair)
Message from DA Spain Chair and Vice-Chair
According to the old song, June is bustin’ out all over, and DA Spain is just as busy.
For starters, several of your Executive Committee members attended the virtual Global DA meeting last month. We voted on changes to the organization’s bylaws and considered several resolutions. But the highlight of the meeting was the election of new DA Global officers, and we’re happy to report that the organizational leadership is experienced and already getting started on preparations for the midterm elections next year. As a bonus, the new Global Chair, Candice Kerestan of Germany, met with the DA Spain Executive Committee just a few days ago to talk about her plans and to solicit feedback on potential projects.
The other current big push in DA Spain is the staffing of our new teams. In May, the Executive Committee authorized the creation of five teams: Strategic Communications, Get Out the Vote, Finance, Bylaws Revision, and Member Onboarding and Training. You’ll hear more from these bodies as they begin their work, but all of them will play essential roles in helping organize and grow DA Spain. And each team is welcoming new members, so lots of opportunities are available if you’d like to get more involved.
Our focus on these two occurrences is in no way intended to downplay the other great work being done in DA Spain. Chapters continue to offer high quality programs, the Women’s Caucus is growing in membership and is hosting interesting events, we’re celebrating Pride Month…. You get the idea. Please take a few minutes to read through the newsletter and find out if there are opportunities you’d like to take advantage of. And let us know if you have questions or comments.
Daniel James, Chair, DA Spain
Kathy Tullos, Vice-Chair, DA Spain
Message from DA Spain Chair and Vice-Chair
And you thought New Kids on the Block was a boy band
Greetings from your new DA Spain Chair and Vice-Chair! Although we are both relatively new to DA, we are both very happy to be involved in this great organization and committed to making the most of our time in office.
Here’s a bit of background. Daniel worked in public service for 34 years and worked in The US House of Representatives and USDA. Kathy is a retired lawyer and law professor who splits her time between Central Texas and southeastern Spain (specifically, Torrevieja, near Alicante). She’s also a murder mystery aficionado, wife, mom, and relatively recent grandmother.
Although we are very different people, we share a single, overriding goal for DA Spain: to elect Democrats in the upcoming midterm elections. We both believe that Biden’s victory in 2020 can lead to complacency on the part of Democratic voters. In the meantime, Republican voter suppression measures in several states will make it more difficult to elect Democrats to support and enhance Biden’s agenda.
Our team is rounded out by our recently elected secretary, Katharine Giery who hails from San Sebastian and Christina Samson of Madrid who is assuming the role of treasurer that she previously held in her home chapter.
Next week we will be joined by our newly elected Voting Reps Jo-Angela Touza Medina of Vigo, Laura Rostowfske and Chris Reilly of Barcelona and Jim Mercereau of Madrid as we attend the virtual Global Annual Meeting in the Asian time zone. Meeting start time is 3AM our time. We will be voting for the new leadership of Democrats Abroad Global and a series of Resolutions and By-Law changes. We will be drinking a lot of coffee.
So thank you for entrusting these offices to us. We’re hoping to make you proud in the coming months. And please contact us if you have ideas or feedback! Our inboxes are always open.
Andrea Host-Barth published Women's Economic Empowerment Initiative in Issues & Actions 2021-05-06 02:26:14 -0400
Andrea Host-Barth published Spain Women's Caucus Welcome in Women's Caucus 2021-04-14 05:37:49 -0400
DA Spain Women's Caucus says Hola!
Twenty people attended the preliminary organizational meeting of the Democrats Abroad Spain Women’s Caucus on March 18.
The meeting opened with participants’ introductions and a presentation by Ann Hesse, Chair of the DA Global Women’s Caucus (GWC). Ann provided a quick history of the GWC and laid out its three pillars: Education; Community Building; and Activism, particularly in the form of get-out-the-vote efforts. Approximately 10,000 women currently belong to the GWC. Over 300 of those members live in Spain.
Next up, moderator Andrea Host-Barth led the discussion, turning the focus to goals and organizational steps for a DA Spain Women’s Caucus. The Caucus intends to focus initially on providing education on environmental issues, and building community with small, local events. Members were encouraged to support the call-to-action initiatives already available on the GWC website.
The Caucus hopes to play two other roles as well. First, the Caucus can interact with the GWC, helping members in Spain and members of the worldwide group to share ideas and coordinate activities. Second, the DA Spain Women’s Caucus can serve as a template for creating Women’s Caucuses in other countries.
DA Spain’s Women’s Caucus is moving forward in its organizational process. The Caucus welcomes people of all genders as leaders, members, and volunteers.
Interested in starting your country women’s caucus? Send email to [email protected]
See all posts
What a shame that there’s even a need for the ERA! But there is and I want my grandchildren, who live in Florida, to grow up knowing they have the right to be treated fairly, equally and with respect. As a young adult ready to head out into the real world as a woman, no one told me I could or should go to college. My parents encouraged my brothers to go to college or follow their dreams, but for me it was a given that I would get married, have kids, and be a homemaker. Instead, I joined the military then used the GI Bill benefit to pay for my education. The US was a republic for 150 years before women got the right to vote. In 50 years we haven’t been able to get the ERA passed. It’s time to pass the ERA now! -- Andrea Host-Barth: Living in Spain; Voting in Florida
Click on the links below to find the current and past articles.
No August 2021 Newsletter
January 2021 Newsletter
November 2020 Newsletter
October 2020 Newsletter
Andrea Host-Barth published Is Motherhood For Sale? in Reproductive Justice 2021-02-21 09:36:34 -0500
Buried in that nearly 400-page New York State budget was a provision to legalize reproductive commercial surrogacy. Passed without the opportunity for legislative hearings or public debates, the law came into effect on February 15, 2021. Many countries, such as France, have banned reproductive surrogacy for many reasons. The DA Global Women’s Caucus Reproductive Justice Action Team takes this matter seriously and will be organizing a webex soon. In the interim, the Coalition Against Trafficking of Women is holding a webinar Feb. 25, 2021 at 12:30 p.m. EST for At the Edge of the Margins: New York legalizes commercial surrogacy — now what? This webinar is open to the public and you can register here.
Buried in that nearly 400-page New York State budget was a provision tolegalize reproductive commercial surrogacy. Passed without the opportunity for legislative hearings or public debates, the law came into effect on February 15, 2021. Many countries, such as France, have banned reproductive surrogacy for many reasons. The DA Global Women’s Caucus Reproductive Justice Action Team takes this matter seriously and will be organizing a webex soon. In the interim, the Coalition Against Trafficking of Women is holding a webinar Feb. 25, 2021 at 12:30 p.m. EST for At the Edge of the Margins: New York legalizes commercial surrogacy — now what? This webinar is open to the public and you can register here.
Spotlighting Three Black Women in Biden’s New Administration
By: Jamie McAfee, Communications Co-Chair, Global Women’s Caucus
Vice President Kamala Harris, Georgian heroine Stacey Abrams and National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman made headlines around the world for their historic achievements. Their stages were broad, glittering with lights, flashbulbs popping, iPhones recording and reporters shouting. Notoriety well-earned and deserved, African American women are walking across the international stage filled with hope that this change in the air, swept in by Black women voters, is permanent. Black women fought to mobilize voters, and on-the-ground efforts helped turnout people of color, pushing Biden to victory. During his acceptance speech in Philadelphia, President-elect Biden acknowledged the groundswell of support from Black voters throughout the election process when he stated, “…especially for those moments when this campaign was at its lowest—the African-American community stood up again for me. They always have my back, and I’ll have yours.”
Since the Inauguration, the new administration has tackled various crises that directly impact communities of color, but President Biden is going beyond policy. He seems to be living up to his campaign promises by staffing his cabinet to look like America, starting with the selection of Harris as his running mate after a contentious primary. With over 1200 Senate-confirmed appointments to fill, we look at three Black women President Biden has nominated for leadership positions. Each woman has a unique, inspirational story worth exploring beyond these introductions.
Vaccination Hesitancy Remains for Certain Populations
By: Stayce Camparo, Communications Co-Chair, Global Women’s Caucus
On January 16th, 2021, a doctor by the name of Kimberly D. Manning prepared a vaccination station for Ms. Eloise, an elderly black woman who had come to the clinic to get her vaccine. Soon after Dr. Manning started preparing the syringe, Ms. Eloise started crying, confessing her doubt that she was doing the right thing. Dr. Manning paused the inoculation, and began to talk with her, gently asking her about her hesitations. Ms. Eloise explained that she didn’t want to go another year, not being able to hug her grandkids -- “I’m more scared of going another year not hugging my grands than I am of…whatever.”
“Ms. Eloise, I bet you’ve seen a lot of…whatever,” stated Dr. Manning. Ms. Eloise replied, “Yeah, I have.”
This excerpt was retrieved from the twitter account of Dr. Kimberly D. Manning, illuminating a conflict of trust that many Black Americans are confronted with when making healthcare decisions. Dr. Manning, also a Black woman, ended the post with #BlackWhysMatter, a directive to her followers to listen to the hesitancy of those who have historically been taken advantage of by the medical and healthcare communities.
Among Black Americans, trust in vaccine safety is only 14%, and two in three people believe that the government should “rarely, or never, be trusted to look after their interests.” In Latinx communities, these statists are 34% and 43% respectively -- lower than what many health officials need for public health conformity, yet a bump up from reports by Black Americans, displaying a deep divide in opinion among two populations that have historically been marginalized. The efficacy of any vaccine to provide widespread protection lies within the population’s willingness to get it, and if certain groups are hesitant, then everyone is at risk.
What Ms. Eloise and many others are afraid of, however, is not unjustified; throughout history, Black Americans have suffered from unspeakable tortures, prejudices, and disparities in medical research and healthcare. In 1932, the Tuskegee Institute, along with the Public Health Service, began to study the natural course of syphilis by recruiting 600 Black men, half with syphilis and half without, without their informed consent. In return for the study (originally supposed to last six months), the men received free regular medical exams, free meals, and free burial services. The study went on to last for 40 years, and in 1947, when penicillin became the chosen drug to cure syphilis, the men of the Tuskegee study were not offered it, with later investigations finding no evidence that the participants were even given a choice to quit the study. This incident sparked the establishment of the International Review Board, and a strict code of ethics that is rigorously analyzed for the use of human subjects in research.
Though the research community has taken strides to assure equality in experimentation and scientific study, we are far from rectifying the persistent systemic racism embedded in the American medical system; inequalities and prejudices still exist and are evident in the high mortality rates among Black mothers and infants, and in the striking disparities in Coronavirus cases among Black Americans. And to say that the problem is being confronted flies in the face of reports showing that race is not being adequately tracked in vaccination distribution. Moreover, the process for acquiring a vaccination appointment, even by those who are eager to get it, is displaying racial inequities, in terms of the time and resources needed to book such an appointment. If we are to take on the labor of Sisyphus and tackle the predominant vaccine hesitancy among Black Americans, then we must confront the bleak reality of medical racism, and learn more about the groups that are being targeted by disinformation campaigns looking to suppress and mislead.
Unfortunately, women, particularly Black women, are one of the more vulnerable populations targeted by propaganda. Broken down only by gender, a recent National Geographic survey showed that 51% of women reported that they were likely to take the covid vaccine, compared with 69% of men. Some research shows that the anti-vaxxer movement, primarily made up of women, has infiltrated mainstream, predominantly female, domains, like wellness and cuisine. These campaigns are succeeding in spreading false information to a population that is chiefly responsible for making health decisions for their families. Furthermore, there is warranted hesitancy among Black women given the history of distressing medical outcomes during childbirth, compounded by a lack of medical research for this demographic. Though some policy leaders have considered targeting Black communities first with the vaccine, given that those communities have been hit the hardest by the pandemic, an established and reinforced distrust in healthcare and health professionals have left many Black women wary to be first in line.
Professionals and experts in the study of disinformation and inequality have a few suggestions to help everyone stay savvy to credible information and hopefully help increase willing participation in vaccination. For one, we need to listen to those who are hesitant because of a long-established system of medical racism. We also need to become informed consumers of accurate information, and use the tools available to us to call out and combat false messaging. Remember Occam’s razor? Some stories are just too convoluted to be true. Lastly, we need to get this vaccine. Though some experts theorize that hesitancy in women arises partly from research showing that women fare better than men when infected with the coronavirus, our physical health, mental health, and futures all depend on stepping up as a community and listening to science.
Ms. Eloise had a fear of being disconnected from the people she loved, and that fear ultimately helped erode the fears she harbored as a Black woman. Thank you, Ms. Eloise. Our neighbors and leaders must learn from your example, and from your #why.
By Kathryn Tullos
Congress probably will consider reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) during the current session. Authored by then-Senator Joe Biden, the bill originally passed in 1994. VAWA must be reauthorized every five years, and Congress approved that reauthorization several times during both Democratic and Republican administrations. However, in 2019, legislation to reauthorize the law died in the Senate. Opposition to the 2019 measure came from critics of measures expanding opportunities for immigrant victims of domestic violence to remain in the United States legally and protections for persons in same-sex relationships, as well as opponents of provisions limiting gun ownership by perpetrators of domestic violence or sexual assault.
VAWA is important because it changed the legal landscape in domestic violence and sexual assault cases. The original Act contained a number of measures that helped close loopholes in domestic violence cases. For example, the Act required each state to recognize protective orders issued in any other state and provided incentives for states to enact laws mandating that police make arrests when they respond to domestic violence incidents. VAWA also created an Office on Violence Against Women in the Department of Justice and enabled federal prosecutors to act in cases of domestic violence and sexual assault crimes that had crossed state lines. The Act also has provided approximately $8 billion in grants for education and crisis assistance related to domestic violence and sexual assault. More recent iterations of VAWA have focused on outreach to marginalized persons, such as immigrants, Native Americans, and people of color and have prohibited measures that discouraged reporting of violence and assault, such as requiring rape victims to pay for their testing in hospitals and clinics.
Advocates of VAWA point to significant progress in the area of domestic violence since it became law. Roughly half of the states enacted mandatory arrest laws during that period. Too, the United States has seen substantial declines in rates of violence against intimate partners since 1994. According to the Congressional Research Service, the incidence of serious intimate partner violence against women declined 70% between 1994 and 2018; the incidence against men declined 87% in the same period. Advocates note, however, that domestic violence and sexual assault remain significant problems. Experts estimate that as many as one in three American women will experience one or both of these during her lifetime.
Congress likely will consider reauthorization and expansion of VAWA in its current session. During his campaign, President Biden marked this as a top priority. He called in particular for expansion of access to services for victims of violence who live in rural areas and for more resources to house women fleeing abuse. In addition, a number of professional groups that deal with domestic violence and sexual assault have announced support for reauthorization. In the legal field, the American Bar Association has called for reauthorization. And in the medical field, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists supports VAWA and has urged Congress to appropriate emergency funds to expand services to domestic violence victims trapped with their abusers during the COVID pandemic.
Andrea Host-Barth published Abortion Rights Update in Violence Against Women 2021-02-16 15:04:14 -0500
Abortion Rights Update: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, but a little Good
by Kathryn Tullos
Laws regulating abortion have changed recently in several countries.
As of 24 January 2021, abortion is now available on demand in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy. This development marks a substantial departure from previous Argentinian law, which allowed terminations in only cases of rape and danger to the woman’s life. Under the new law, abortions performed after 14 weeks will be subject to the same restrictions that were previously in place throughout the entire pregnancy.
This legislative change resulted from a combined effort by Argentina’s president, Alberto Fernández, and sustained grass roots pressure from the group Ni Una Menos, or Not One [Woman] Less. Ni Una Menos formed in 2015 to protest widespread violence against women. The organization has also lobbied and protested in favor of gender parity issues, marriage equality, and the rights of transgender persons.
Research indicates that thousands of illegal abortions have occurred in Argentina each year. In 2016, the last year for which data was available, roughly 40,000 of these procedures led to health complications requiring hospitalization.
On 25 January, the Thai Parliament passed legislation allowing abortions during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. The legislation now proceeds to a review by Thailand’s Constitutional Court. If the Court rules that the legislation comports with the country’s constitution, the King will sign and publish the bill, which then becomes a law.
Previously, abortion had been available in Thailand only in cases of rape or danger to the health of the woman. Cases of illegal abortion could result in the imprisonment of both providers and patients. Under the new law, women who have abortions after the prescribed 12-week period are still subject to fines, imprisonment, or both, unless the procedure is deemed necessary under Thai medical guidelines.
A near-total ban on abortions has taken effect as of 27 January in Poland. The country’s Constitutional Court ruled in October 2020 that abortion would no longer be allowed in cases of fetal abnormalities, even when those abnormalities were severe or fatal. Terminations because of fetal abnormalities make up 98% of the annual legal abortions in Poland. Facing the largest country’s largest protests since the fall of Communism, the socially-conservative government had delayed publishing the law, which puts the law into effect, until late in January.
Polish law still allows pregnancies to be terminated in cases of rape, incest, or danger to the woman’s life. However, such terminations are uncommon, and experts estimate that approximately 200,000 Polish women receive abortions illegally in country or abroad.
The Ugly and Some Good
United States of America
The United States has seen conflicting recent developments in the laws and judicial decisions governing abortion.
In a move restricting access to abortions, the Supreme Court ruled that a federal judge erred in overruling a Food and Drug Administration rule requiring women to pick up pills to end pregnancy in person. The lower court had ruled that, in light of the health risks and reduced access to hospitals and medical offices caused by the COVID pandemic, making a woman pick up pills in person placed an undue burden on her right to an abortion.
The 6-3 decision in Food and Drug Administration v. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, came down on 12 January 2021. Justices Sotomeyor and Kagan dissented, and Justice Breyer voted against the majority without stating his reasons for doing so.
In contrast, on 28 January, President Biden rescinded the Mexico City Policy, commonly known as the Global Gag Rule. This measure had barred US funding to international medical groups that used non-US money to fund providing abortion information or services. Biden’s decision frees up approximately $7.3 billion in funding for health groups around the world.
President Biden also announced that he would restore $69 million in funding for the United Nations Population Fund. The Fund’s Director, Dr. Natalia Kanem, estimated that the additional funding could prevent 1.4 million unintended pregnancies and 32,000 unsafe abortions. She also stated that the funds would be used to provide reproductive health services to 4.2 million people and counseling to over 75,000 victims of sexual violence.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Please help us fight for our reproductive freedom! All you need to do is join the Reproductive Justice Action Team. We had our first planning call on February 8, 2021 and will post the minutes.
If you are interested in working with us, please contact Salli Anne Swartz [email protected]