This week, Texas lawmakers passed a law that will force all but five of the state’s abortion clinics to close, severely restricting women’s reproductive freedom and ability to exercise their constitutional rights. Despite the protests of thousands of women nationwide and a heroic filibuster by Wendy Davis, the Texas legislature is going through with this unnecessary law and will undo years of progress in the fight for gender equality.
Also, George Zimmerman was found not guilty in the murder of Trayvon Martin. Although it seems that the jury made the right decision legally (the prosecution was not able to prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt), the country does not believe that justice has been served. No matter how you feel about this verdict, the case raises some serious questions about racial equality and the fairness of Florida law. Would Zimmerman have reacted differently if Trayvon were white? Would the jury have been so sympathetic towards Zimmerman is he were black? How can we be sure that our racial biases are not affecting our justice system?
If you’re like me, you’re probably frustrated that in 2013 we are still battling the same issues that our grandparents dealt with. Despite the enormous progress that has been made, our lives are still in many ways determined by our race and gender. Women are still fighting for their right to reproductive autonomy and a young black boy in a hoodie is still mistaken for a criminal. When will racial and gender inequality FINALLY be problems of the past? Despite these frustrating developments, I found two great videos this week that helped restore my hope for the future. Today’s world may still be divided by race and gender, but I believe that the next generation will have a different outlook.
“I’m rising on the floor today to humbly give voice to thousands of Texans who are being ignored”
In reality, Wendy Davis did much more than that – she stood up for women all across the country and proved that we will not sit idly by while state legislatures take away our constitutional rights. Wendy Davis is a democratic senator who spoke for 10 hours and 45 minutes on Monday to prevent the Texas state legislature from passing SB 537, a bill that would severely restrict abortion access. Her filibuster successfully prevented the legislature from approving the bill before their midnight deadline.
SB 537, if successful, would have severe consequences for women’s reproductive freedom. According to Pro-Choice Texas, this bill would ban all abortions after 20-weeks of pregnancy, one of the strictest restrictions in the country. Also, it would require that every abortion care facility comply with the standards of an “ambulatory surgical center”, an expensive requirement that would force all but five abortion clinics in the state of Texas to close. That means that some Texans would have to drive hundreds of miles to get to their nearest provider, a ridiculous and unnecessary burden.
The reproductive rights debate is making headlines again – this time the conflict is over the availability of Plan B and whether minors should be able to purchase this drug over the counter. Once again, women’s health is being overshadowed by political motivation and agendas in this conversation. Luckily, Judge Edward R. Korman of New York stood up for women’s health by rejecting the Obama administration’s attempts to undermine a ruling that would make Plan B readily available for all ages without a prescription.
Plan B, also referred to as ‘the morning after pill’, is a medication intended to to prevent pregnancy after having unprotected sex. When taken within three days, Plan B is 98% effective at preventing a pregnancy from taking place. The effectiveness of the drug diminishes rapidly over the course of those three days, so it is recommended that you take it within the first 24 hours for maximum protection. Since it is so imperative that this drug be taken quickly, requiring women to have a prescription is diminishing its effectiveness and putting women at risk of unplanned pregnancy. By requiring minors to see their doctor, we restricting the age group that needs this medicine the most.
This week I had the awesome opportunity to hear Gloria Steinem speak at the Spring Gathering for Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania. This annual event brought together 500 people spanning four generations to celebrate the work and achievements of Planned Parenthood in the region. It was incredible to see the National Constitution Center full of women and men who are passionate about reproductive rights and Planned Parenthood’s mission. This group included Michelle Sanger, great-granddaughter of Margaret Sanger and Patricia Carbine, one of the founding editors of Ms. Magazine.
Gloria Steinem is a personal inspiration of mine and a role model for every young woman. If your not familiar with her story, Gloria Steinem is a journalist and political activist who became a leading spokesperson for the women’s liberation movement through her coverage of women’s rights issues. She was the founding editor and publisher of Ms. Magazine, a groundbreaking feminist publication that is still popular today. Along with other feminist leaders, she founded the National Women’s Political Caucus in hopes of expanding women’s involvement in politics. Gloria’s activism played an important role in popularizing the second wave of feminism and she has been a force in promoting reproductive rights for American women ever since.