Suzanne’s Story: Why We Need to Pass the RPA

I am a married woman, a grad student at UW, and a proud supporter of women’s health care. This is my story, and this is our last chance to pass the RPA this year to ensure that women like me maintain the freedom and privacy to make our own pregnancy decisions.

Four months after I got married, the unbelievable happened. My IUD failed. My husband and I had the perfect 5-year plan for having children once we established our careers, but here I was pregnant–our perfect plans perfectly uprooted.

We had done everything we were supposed to, and we weren’t ready for a family yet. We decided the best decision for ourselves and our future was to end the pregnancy.

I was lucky. Thanks to Washington State’s current insurance plans that cover abortion, my insurance covered most of the expenses as well as the after care. It was a relief that we could move on with our careers and our future plans for our family. Back of woman in field

But women like me may not be so lucky if the state legislature does not pass the Reproductive Parity Act this year. Without the RPA, the 200,000 women who gain health insurance just a few months from now under the new health reform law may be left without the choices I had.

Our state legislature needs to pass the RPA now as they enter special session. Senators Rodney Tom and Steve Litzow keep saying they haven’t passed it yet because “it’s a procedural matter.”

But this isn’t procedural. This is my life.

Please take action now to tell Senators Tom, Litzow and the rest of our elected leaders that it’s on them to protect women’s health and lives.

Women like me want to be able to make the best decision for ourselves and our families. Our future plans and pregnancy decisions shouldn’t be made because of our insurance plans.

Please take action so others have the same privacy to make their own medical decisions the way we did. This is the last chance you will have this year to ask our elected leaders to stand up for families whose health care depends on this bill passing.

I care so much about this bill because I saw what a difference it made to have my abortion covered. Together, let’s stand up for all Washington women so they, too, can do what it takes to protect their health and their family.

Sincerely,

Suzanne R., Planned Parenthood supporter, Seattle resident


Come work for us!

Want to spend your summer working for Planned Parenthood?

VES quote AnnelieNow is your chance! If you think access to birth control, cancer screenings, abortion, and other reproductive health care are important, you can join us to make a real difference — and get paid!

Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest is hiring a Voter Engagement Specialists in Alaska (Anchorage and Fairbanks) Idaho (Treasure Valley, Moscow, and Pocatello) and Washington (Snohomish County, Pierce County, East King County, South King County, Clark County, Spokane County, and Yakima County).

The Voter Engagement Specialist will engage in a 12-week organizing bootcamp program from June 10th to August 30th. Specialists will learn real-life on the ground skills and community organizing tactics that lead to social change. Idaho and Alaska VES will be send on a trip to Seattle for training.

Some of the skills you will learn include:

  • Door-to-door public education
  • Engaging supporters through phone calls and activism
  • Outreach at community events

If you want to spend your summer learning valuable skills while working for the leading women’s health organization, please click here to apply by May 11th.

We look forward to seeing you this summer!

Qualifications: 

  • Excellent customer service skills
  • Prior community organizing experience is a plus, but is not necessary and can be substituted with an ability to work hard and learn quickly
  • Commitment and desire to educate and mobilize Washingtonians around women’s health and rights issues
  • Comfortable calling and speaking to strangers on behalf of Planned Parenthood
  • Team player and good independent worker
  • Well-organized and self-motivated
  • Computer skills including word-processing, data entry and online organizing through social networks like Facebook
  • Live in or have proficiency in the assigned geographic area
  • Access to reliable transportation is a necessity due to the nature of the work, and there will be instances that require moderate amounts of walking 

Commitment:

Voter Engagement Specialists will ideally live in the communities where they will be working.  Must be able to work at least fifteen hours per week, including some nights and most weekends. Gas/travel reimbursement will be provided for transportation when traveling outside of the nearest Planned Parenthood office.

The VES Program begin on June 10th and goes through August 30th. To apply, please email a letter of interest, current resume, and three references to ppaction (at) ppvotesnw (dot) org no later than Friday, May 10th.

This is a temporary part-time position (15 hours per week)

PPVOTESNW promotes diversity and is an Equal Opportunity Employer.


Congrats Rabbi Yohanna Kinberg on winning the Silver Wings Award!

Headshot of Rabbi Yohanna Kinberg

The Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest Silver Wings Award is presented annually to one outstanding clergy person who has made exceptional contributions and support to the mission of reproductive justice and the work of Planned Parenthood in the Northwest.  The 2013 Silver Wings Award recipient is Rabbi Yohanna Kinberg of Temple B’nai Torah in Bellevue.

Rabbi Kinberg is one of Planned Parenthood’s ‘go-to’ people.  Whenever we need a diverse voice to be on a panel, to offer testimony, to write a letter to the editor, or anything else, we know we can call on Yohanna and she will always jump to our aid.  She is one of the people PPVotesNW relies on time and time again.  Recently, she was asked to testify at both the House and Senate hearing on the Reproductive Parity Act.  Though she sat ready to speak at the House hearing, time did not permit her to do so. However, she spoke eloquently and passionately at the Senate hearing, explaining the Jewish tradition of honoring women and allowing them to make their own reproductive choices.

Rabbi Kinberg and her husband, Rabbi Seth Goldstein, rabbi at Temple Hatfiloh in Olympia, both worked tirelessly on the campaign for marriage equality and the passage of Referendum 74 in Washington.  They were among the most active supporters within the Jewish community and larger faith community.  Yohanna is an outstanding example of what clergy support for Planned Parenthood looks like.

She is one of a kind – and someone we all call a “she-ro” for our cause.


Senators Tom and Litzow Need to Stop Playing Games with Women’s Health

For Immediate Release                               

April 16, 2013

Statement from Elaine Rose

Senators Tom and Litzow Need to Stop Playing Games with Women’s Health

“We are incredibly disappointed with Senators Rodney Tom and Steve Litzow. All session long, they’ve been saying they support the Reproductive Parity Act. Yet, today they had the chance to do the right thing for Washington women, and instead, they chose to play games with women’s health. Women are not a political bargaining chip. Senators Tom and Litzow need to stop hiding behind procedural doublespeak — the fate of Washington women’s ability to make their own pregnancy decisions is in their hands.

“Senators Tom and Litzow cannot have it both ways.  They can’t say they support the Reproductive Parity Act and yet vote against bringing it forward for a vote.  They need to do what it takes to bring the RPA forward now. It is urgent that the RPA passes this year to protect women’s freedom and privacy to make the best pregnancy decisions once health care reform is implemented. Washington women are counting on them to do the right thing.”

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 Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest (PPVNW) is an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization educating Alaskans, Idahoans, Washingtonians and policy-makers about reproductive health issues. PPVNW lobbies and educates to advance Planned Parenthood’s mission and also engages in limited electoral activities.


BREAKING: SB 49 Does Not Pass this Session

For Immediate Release                            

April 15, 2013

Contact: Sara Kiesler, Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest

Alaskan Politicians Don’t Get to Play Doctor with Women’s Health Care

Juneau—Women’s health advocates and Alaskans celebrated the news today that Senate Bill 49 did not pass out of the House before the end of session. The Senate approved the bill by a vote of 14-6 on April 9.

“This is not only a win for low-income women who will continue to maintain fair and equal access to all of their legal pregnancy options, it is also a win for Alaskans who care about government spending,” said Elaine Rose, CEO of Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest, the advocacy and political arm of Planned Parenthood in Alaska, Idaho and Washington. “The state Supreme Court has already ruled twice before that this government overreach into low-income women’s equal access to abortion is unconstitutional. If the Alaska legislature had passed this unconstitutional and unnecessary bill, it likely would have cost the state of Alaska at least $1 million in court costs; money that would be better spent fixing the real problems facing Alaska.”

Alaskan women and men stood up time and time again throughout the legislative session including at all 10 of the legislative hearings held on the subject in both the Senate and the House. Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest mobilized  over 2,500  contacts into legislative offices  via phone or email in opposition to Senate Bill 49 , and nearly 40 people came to hearings or called in to  testify in opposition to the measure, speaking out for women’s freedom and privacy to make their own medical decisions.

“The people of Alaska spoke loud and clear—no politician should be making medical decisions for women,” said Jennifer Allen, Director of Public Policy for Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest. “We are extremely proud of the women and men who made their voices heard in overwhelming opposition to this bill all across Alaska.”

 

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Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest (PPVNW) is an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization educating Alaskans, Idahoans, Washingtonians and policy-makers about reproductive health issues. PPVNW lobbies and educates to advance Planned Parenthood’s mission and also engages in limited electoral activities.


Washington Calls on Its Senate: Pass the Reproductive Parity Act now

There is a national drumbeat calling on the Washington State Senate to pass HB 1044, known as the Reproductive Parity Act. The New York Times, Salon and Jezebel are among the major publications that covered the Senate Health Care Committee yesterday.

Why? Because this bill would ensure that women — not politicians, nor bosses — make their own private medical decisions. At a time when states like North Dakota and Arkansas are passing the most restrictive laws attacking safe and legal abortion in the country, Washington State could do the right thing for women and ensure that insurance coverage for all of a woman’s pregnancy options remains the same as health care reform moves forward.

The bill has the votes in the Senate to pass; now it is up to our elected leaders to do the right thing and bring the bill to the floor for a vote.

Please take action right now to ask the Washington State Senate to bring the RPA to the floor!


Thank You, Moscow City Council!

Yesterday, the Moscow City Council voted to protect individuals seeking housing or employment regardelss of gender identity or sexual orientation. With this move to extend equal rights to everyone, Moscow joins Boise and Sandpoint in protecting its citizens.

Most major national businesses already recognize this kind of policy is smart for attracting the best workers from across the country, and now our great city can contribute to the economic health of Idaho and provide for their families without fear of being “outed.”

Now, let’s hope our State Legislature is hearing the drumbeat from cities across Idaho that it is time after seven long years to finally approve the amendment to the Idaho Human Rights Act and recruit the best workers for the job statewide. Add The Words, Idaho!

Read more about the April 1st Moscow City Council vote to protect LGBT individuals from housing and employment discrimination on The Lewiston Tribune and Boise Weekly.


25 Washington State Senators Demand a Vote on the Reproductive Parity Act

Today during the Senate Health Care committee hearing, Reproductive Parity Act prime sponsor Sen. Steve Hobbs presented a letter to the committee including a majority of Washington State Senator signatures (25) demanding a vote on the RPA (HB 1044).

Here are their exact words:

 

 


Why Washington women need the Reproductive Parity Act (HB 1044) now

The Associated Press ran a great story over the weekend that was picked up nationally, including by USA Today. This story further demonstrates the need for the Reproductive Parity Act. With 21 states banning abortion coverage, we need to protect the freedom and privacy Washington women have today to make their own medical decisions. Those decisions should not be up to a woman’s insurance plan or her boss.

An excerpt from the story:

OLYMPIA, WASH. — In 1970, Washington became the first – and remains the only – state in the country to legalize elective abortions by a popular vote.

A generation later, and 40 years removed from the landmark United States Supreme Court Roe v. Wade ruling that extended abortion access nationwide, Washington is once again poised to stand out.

With 21 states having adopted bans or severe restrictions on insurance companies from paying for abortions, Washington is alone in seriously considering legislation mandating the opposite.

The Reproductive Parity Act, as supporters call it, would require insurers in Washington state who cover maternity care – which all insurers must do – to also pay for abortions.

The bill passed the state House earlier this month by a vote of 53-43, though it faces an uncertain future in the Senate. A similar bill in the New York state Assembly has been introduced each session for over a decade but has never received a public hearing.

“This is a core value for Washingtonians,” said Melanie Smith, a lobbyist for NARAL Pro-Choice Washington. “We should protect it while we still have it and not leave access to basic health care up to an insurance company.”

The proximate cause of Washington state’s measure is the federal Affordable Care Act. Thanks to language placed in it to assuage anti-abortion congressional Democrats, insurers selling their plans on the state exchanges taking effect next year will have to segregate the premiums they collect for abortion coverage.

In addition to that built-in disincentive to insuring abortion, the law also invites states to enact stricter rules of their own. Thus far, 16 states have followed suit, barring or restricting insurance companies on their exchanges from covering the procedure. Three of those states are joining the five that have barred or limited all insurers from covering abortions since the early 1980′s.

Supporters of Washington state’s proposed abortion insurance mandate are careful to stress that it wouldn’t lead to a dramatic uptick in abortions or require carriers with a religious bent to cover the procedure. They also note that a pair of federal plans that will be sold on all 50 state exchanges will be barred from covering elective abortions.

“It’s not expanding abortion coverage,” said Democratic Rep. Eileen Cody of West Seattle, the bill’s primary sponsor. “It’s ensuring the rights of women to get what they’re paying for now and to continue their freedom of choice.”

 

 


Meet Alyson in Fairbanks!

Alyson Currey, a new Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest organizer in Juneau, will be heading to Fairbanks on April 5th, 6th and 7th for the “A Woman’s Affair” event. This event is a big women-focused event that includes a diverse range of activities, from wine tasting to financial counseling to health and nutrition tips.

Those interested in meeting Alyson should sign up to the event. We can connect you with a *free ticket* if you are interested in tabling for Planned Parenthood at the event! Tabling for Planned Parenthood just means passing out health information and talking to supporters.

Click here for more information about the “A Woman’s Affair Event“.

WHAT:

Meet Alyson at the “A Woman’s Affair” event

WHEN:

Fri., April 5 - 6pm to 9pm (Wine tasting + food for a fee)
Sat., April 6 - 10am to 5pm ($5 entry)
Sun., April 7 - 11am to 5pm ($5 entry)

WHERE:

Carlson Center, Fairbanks, Alaska