Former Co Chair, Global WomensCaucus , former Counsel, Democrats Abroad France, former Vice Chair, Democrats Abroad France, Voting Representative France, Global Women's Caucus Steering Team, Chair Reproductive Rights Task Force

  • published Paid Family Leave in Reproductive Justice 2021-03-04 05:22:28 -0500

    Paid Family Leave

    Paid Family Leave is a Necessity for all Americans
    By: Salli Swartz

    Many, if not most of us, live in countries where paid leave for maternity/paternity, and illness is provided by national law. That the United States remains the only industrialized country in the world that does not guarantee any type of paid family leave at the national level is a major failure of our Federal Government. Only six states and Washington, D.C., have adopted their own paid leave laws.

    In our country, a national law is still a pipedream and the effects of the absence of such possibilities are catastrophic not only to infants, children and all parents, but in particular to women who bear the brunt of unpaid absences with loss of income and jobs.

    “It is a national disgrace that our federal government does not guarantee paid family and medical leave for the American people,” said Melanie Campbell, President and CEO of The National Coalition on Black Civic Participation and Convenor, Black Women's Roundtable.

    Democrats Abroad supports paid family leave, and our 2020 DA Platform (adopted in June 2020) clearly states:

    All parents deserve an opportunity to support and bond with their children after birth, and all children deserve quality childcare. We advocate to extend policies to all American workers that provide both parents with six months paid parental leave which can be shared between the two parents. 

    The current patchwork of state and federal paid leave policies leaves 80% of private sector workers and 74% of state and local government workers without paid family and medical leave. A majority of Americans cannot take paid time off to care for themselves or their families. This is bad for families and bad for the economy and bad for women. Furthermore, the lack of national paid leave disproportionately impacts low-wage workers and people of color. 

    You may remember the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), was signed into law in 1993. It was a huge step because FMLA afforded certain employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for specific family and medical reasons. However, it provides for UNPAID leave only, and it only applies to private sector employers with 50 or more employees —leaving out as much as 56% of the U.S. workforce. Furthermore, it is not specific to maternity and paternity leave. Despite FMLA, only 16% of American employees currently receive paid leave through their employers.

    Perhaps hope is just around the corner.

    On the 28th anniversary of the Family and Medical Leave Act, U.S. Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) introduced the Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act (the FAMILY Act) to create a permanent, national, paid family and medical leave program.

    The FAMILY Act would ensure that every worker, no matter the size of their employer or whether they are self-employed or employed part-time, has access to paid leave for every serious medical event, when needed. The emergency paid leave provision that partially expired at the end of last year helped to prevent covered workers from having to choose between their paycheck or their health when they needed to stay home. Most importantly, DeLauro and Gillibrand’s FAMILY Act would create a permanent, paid family and medical leave program for all workers that provides up to 66% of wage replacement for 12 weeks.

    Under the program, both employees and employers would make a small payroll contribution each week (around $2 for the average worker) to an insurance fund that would enable workers to earn 66% of their monthly wages for the duration of their leave.

    Stay tuned for the Reproductive Justice Action Team, in coordination with the greater GWC, to begin actions to support this bill.

    Join us in our fight for equality and justice for all women. Volunteer to help us.

    Read more

  • signed up on Youth Caucus 2021-02-22 07:21:58 -0500


    The Judiciary Committee of the South Carolina Senate has voted in favor of a bill entitled “South Caroline Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act,” and it has gone to the floor of the Senate which passed the bill.

    This is NOT a pro-choice bill.

    It provides for a mandatory ultrasound with a display of the images, and a recorded written medical description of the images, of the unborn child’s fetal heartbeat.

    If the pregnancy is at least 8 weeks after fertilization, the abortion provider must tell the woman that she can listen to the embryonic or fetal heartbeat and must give a written report stating that the fetus has a detectable heartbeat and, to the best of the doctor’s knowledge (or based on statistical data available) the fetus will survive to term based on the gestational age of the fetus.

    Most importantly, it provides that no person shall perform, induce, or attempt to perform or induce an abortion before a physician determines whether the human fetus has a detectable fetal heartbeat and that if a fetal heartbeat is detected, no person can perform, induce, or attempt to perform or induce an abortion.

    Violations are punishable by a find of $10,000 and/or imprisonment of not more than two years.

    Exceptions cover medical emergencies which must be noted by a doctor (including the potential death of the women or a serious risk of a substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant woman), rape, incest, fetal anomaly or lack of fetal heartbeat.

    Abortions performed due to rape or incest must be reported by the doctor to the sheriff’s office.

    The bill also creates a cause of action for a woman on whom an abortion was performed in violation of the law, and a woman to whom the mandatory information was not given. The bill specifies that any such woman can claim damages of $10,000, or an amount awarded by the judge, including court costs and reasonable attorney fees.

    Next Steps

    • The bill will be sent to the House
    • The House will assign it to a committee
    • Subcommittee will hold a hearing on the bill and vote on it
    • If passed in subcommittee, the bill will be considered by the full committee
    • If passed by committee, the bill will go to the House floor
    • On the floor, the bill will receive three readings, and House members will have a chance to debate
    • If the bill is passed on the House floor with new amendments, the House and Senate will conference to resolve differences. Thereafter, both chambers would vote on the agreed bill.
    • If the bill is passed on the House floor without amendments, it will be sent to the governor’s desk. S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster has vowed to sign the bill into law.

    STAY TUNED. We are following this bill closely, and we will be in contact with a letter writing campaign as soon we feel it necessary to do so.

    To help us defeat this bill and other similar bills, join our Reproductive Justice Team. Send an email to Salli Swartz [email protected]


  • donated via 2021-02-11 15:42:30 -0500

    $2,781.05 raised
    GOAL: $2,021.00

    Candice Kerestan's 2021 Birthday Fundraiser


    As many of you know, Democrats Abroad has been a big part of my life since I moved to Germany seven(!) years ago, and it’s remarkable what the organization has accomplished in that time! This past election cycle, we engaged Americans abroad like never before and delivered decisive votes in races across the United States.

    But as they say, “after the election is before the election”, and it’s important to me that we continue setting up Democrats for success in 2022. As I start this next year of my life, I invite you to join me in making a contribution to Democrats Abroad, an organization near and dear to me.


    Donations are made to Democrats Abroad (Democratic Party Committee Abroad) and not to any candidate for Federal Office.

    Donations to Democrats Abroad are not tax-deductible.


  • Reproductive Justice January 2021 Update

    In a statement to the Hill back in October 2020, Rep. Linda T. Sánchez declared that “according to Republicans, just being a woman is a pre-existing condition.” While the Affordable Care Attack (ACA) came under attack by Republican proposals for a sweeping new Healthcare agenda, the Gender Equity in Health Premiums Act, a bipartisan piece of incorporation into the ACA, was all but certain to be eliminated. That would have meant “that a new mom could have her maternity care not covered. A grandmother might put off critical preventive screenings — like a mammogram — because it’s no longer a covered health benefit. A middle-aged woman who survived COVID-19 might find that she now has a preexisting condition, and insurance companies refuse to pay for her care,” Sánchez stated. What was apparently clear in October for defenders of the ACA, and has been clear for all women across generations, is that our basic reproductive rights are not yet guaranteed. Based purely on the physiological differences that allow us to bear and give birth, “Women [would] find they were paying more for health care than men simply because they were women.”

    Read more

  • published Voting Update in Reproductive Justice 2020-11-18 16:30:49 -0500

    Voting Update

    As many of you know, at the same time we voted for President, there were down ballot elections as well as propositions. Here is an update on State proposals restricting access to our reproductive rights.

    The fight is far from over.

    Watch this page for the date and time of our next Reproductive Rights Action Team conference call.


    Louisiana added language to its Constitution stating that "nothing in this constitution shall be construed to secure or protect a right to abortion or require the funding of abortion."

    Colorado voted down a measure to prohibit abortions in Colorado after a fetus reaches 22-weeks gestational age.


  • published ACB template in Reproductive Justice 2020-10-12 10:59:46 -0400

    Template - Letter to your Senator - Amy Coney Barrett confirmation

    Dear Senator xxxxxxxxx,

    I hereby urge you to vote against the confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett for Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.

    She is certainly an able judge, but she does not represent the will of the people of the United States and you have a constitutional duty to follow the will of the people.

    We, the  people of the United States, have stated time and time again that we want the next President to choose the replacement of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

    If Mr Trump is reelected (God help us), he will have plenty of time to request her confirmation. However, if he loses, it should be President Biden who makes the choice.

    Don’t be a hypocrite: when President Obama nominated Merrick Garland on March 16, 2016, Mitch McConnell declared any appointment by the sitting President to be null and void.

    He clearly stated that the next Supreme Court justice should be chosen by the next President to be elected later that year.

    What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

    Your blatant power play to stack the court in record time and is a reflection of your lack of any moral fiber.

    You should be ashamed to vote for her confirmation.

    Your vote will be remembered.


  • Hearings on the confirmation of Amy Comet Barrett

    The hearings on the confirmation of Amy Comet Barrett commence on Monday.

    See this NYTimes Article for my information

    If you have not already done so (and even if you have), please write to your Senators and tell them to STOP THIS HEARING until the inauguration.

    We drafted a template for your use. Please visit the Reproductive Justice page.

    See also Tiny Actions on the DA website and if you need to find your Senators contact info, click here.

  • Trump & His Allies Attack Women's Access In Countries Throughout the World

    Not only is Trump taking away our rights in the United States, but he's suppressing access to heathcare and reproductive rights around the world.

    From a great article in Mother Jones:

    “Over the past three years, President Trump has decimated funding to family planning groups across sub-Saharan Africa, leaving many fighting to survive. More quietly, he has also planted far-right ideologues as the heads of federal agencies crafting international policy on the rights of women and bolstered the work of nongovernmental organizations seeking to make abortion illegal worldwide.”

    This is not “fake news”. Read the article and fight for our rights!

  • Senator Casey Responds to Letter Campaign

    As part of the “contact your senator” campaign posted on the DA GWC website, I wrote to my two Pennsylvania U.S. Senators, one Republican (Pat Toomey) and one Democrat (U.S. Senator Bob Casey).

    Democratic Senator Casey’s office very quickly sent a response. Senator Toomey's office has yet to respond.

    Please do your part. Please contact your Senator. Please tell them to do all they can to stop the confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett.



    Read more

  • published where we are today in Reproductive Justice 2020-10-08 11:09:17 -0400

  • published DAUK WC & GWC Activist Lunch in Reproductive Justice 2020-10-08 11:01:44 -0400

    DAUK WC & GWC Activist Lunch: Reproductive Justice & ERA

    The DA UK WC along with the DA GWC held an activist lunch over zoom on October 8, 2020.

    Here is Salli Swartz’ presentation concerning Reproductive Rights: Roe v Wade and Where we are Today.

    It’s a short history of Roe with an update on the views of Judge Amy Coney Barrett. To read the Where We Are Today presentation, click here

    Please remember to write and/or call your Senators to oppose a vote on her confirmation to the Supreme court until after we have a new (blue) President.

    Read more

  • published A love letter to Ruth, and a call to action in News 2020-09-20 05:33:47 -0400

    A love letter to Ruth, and a call to action

    It is with a heavy heart and teary eyes that I write of the passing of the foremost American lawyer,supporter and guiding light for women’s rights, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

    There is not a woman in the United States, regardless of her politics, whose life, career and security has not been defended and supported by the work of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

    We are all in her debt, young and old, Democrat or Republican.

    Justice Ginsburg's life is a story of perseverance, brilliance and dedication. The indignities she endured as woman lawyer are still present in our fight for equality today, despite her heroic, continued and consistent fight against such indignities and inequalities

    And, we are still fighting for equal pay, equal rights and family paid leave. We are still fighting for paid maternity leave. We are still fighting for equal health care and reproductive equal rights and justice. In short, we are and still must, fight for equality.

    I cannot speak about her passing and how  tragic it is in  so many ways without quoting our beloved President Obama who said most eloquently:

    “Over a long career on both sides of the bench -- as a relentless litigator and an incisive jurist -- Justice Ginsburg helped us see that discrimination on the basis of sex isn't about an abstract ideal of equality; that it doesn't only harm women; that it has real consequences for all of us. It's about who we are -- and who we can be,"

    He added:

    "Ruth Bader Ginsburg fought to the end, through her cancer, with unwavering faith in our democracy and its ideals. That's how we remember her. But she also left instructions for how she wanted her legacy to be honored. Four and a half years ago, when Republicans refused to hold a hearing or an up-or-down vote on Merrick Garland, they invented the principle that the Senate shouldn't fill an open seat on the Supreme Court before a new president was sworn in.

    A basic principle of the law -- and of everyday fairness -- is that we apply rules with consistency, and not based on what's convenient or advantageous in the moment."

    And from the Chief Justice Roberts himself:

    "Our Nation has lost a jurist of historic stature. We at the Supreme Court have lost a cherished colleague. Today we mourn, but with confidence that future generations will remember Ruth Bader Ginsburg as we knew her -- a tireless and resolute champion of justice."

    Justice Ginsburg spoke often about the discrimination she faced herself when she graduated from law school in 1959 and could not find a clerkship. I have been present for many of her speeches and have met her personally at the Supreme Court.

    She was amused by the swag that appeared praising her work, including a "You Can't have the Truth, Without Ruth».

    What can and should we do without her presence? Where can we find hope to carry us through these dark days?

    "It makes absolute sense that Justice Ginsburg has become an idol for younger generations," Justice Elena Kagan said at an event at the New York Bar Association in 2014. "Her impact on America and American law has been extraordinary."

    "As a litigator and then as a judge, she changed the face of American anti-discrimination law," Kagan said. "She can take credit for making the law of this country work for women and in doing so she made possible my own career."

    Let us remember with lucidity  her dying wish:  

                "My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed."

    Justice Ginsburg, even after her fifth diagnosis of cancer, was working on a book with one of her former clerks, Amanda Tyler, based on her life on gender equality  (to be published in 2021).

    In our fight for gender equality and specifically for the ERA, let us remember all she did for us, American women, and carry on her fight for equality. We will never forget you, Ruth, and we will carry on your fight starting with the politic fight now created by Mitch McDonnell to erase all you have done by trying to force through your replacement.

    Ruth may have left this world, but she left it with fighting words and her legacy as a determined femninist. We owe it to Ruth to continue the fight.

  • donated via 2020-07-21 12:46:13 -0400

    Join Susan Rice and

    Support Democrats Abroad's Global Campaign to

    "Reach the World" 

    Susan Rice official photo.jpg

    Over 9 million Americans live outside of the United States. Democrats Abroad is working to ensure that as many as possible vote in November, and that Democrats win up and down the ballot. 

    We are phoning members, running social media ads, and mailing potential voters in order to win in November.

    And our Get Out the Vote campaigns work. In 2016, the number of Americans abroad who voted was 50% higher than in 2012 and in 2018, the number of voters tripled compared to 2014.

    We CAN make the difference, but we need YOUR help. Please make a donation today to fund our Global Get Out the Vote campaign.

    Donations are made to Democrats Abroad (Democratic Party Committee Abroad) and not to any candidate for Federal Office.

    Donations to Democrats Abroad are not tax-deductible.


  • donated via 2020-07-09 04:32:09 -0400



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    Candice Kerestan, International Chair - Democrats Abroad

    Donate to Democrats Abroad today and help us register Americans all over the world for the crucial 2022 elections, reach out on issues that concern you, and build a brighter future for our country and the world. With your help, we will make the difference. We MADE the difference in 2020! And in Georgia in 2021! And we will continue to fight for Democratic victories and for issues that our members care about!

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  • donated on ActBlue 2020-02-05 12:22:50 -0500

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International business lawyer practicing in France since 1979 specialied in international transactions and arbitration. Pro bono work in East and West Africa advising Governments on the negotiation of long term natural resource contracts, women's rights a