As Supreme Court Session Starts, Broad Coalition Demands “No Abortion Bans: Not Now, Not Ever!”

Chicago NOW’s President, Gina Rozman-Wendle, MC-ed a press conference organized by Chicago for Abortion Rights on September 27.  CFAR specifically picked this date, the day the Supreme Court kicked off its fall term, to rally the troops for an upcoming march in defense of abortion access that will take place on October 2 at Daley Plaza. The speakers at the conference represented a wide coalition of reproductive rights activists who delivered the message “No Abortion Bans: Not Now, Not Ever.”  Below is the text of Gina’s opening statement that kicked off the press conference.

Good afternoon, everyone.  I am Gina Rozman-Wendle, President of the Chicago Chapter of the National Organization for Women, and representative of Chicago for Abortion Rights.  My pronouns are she/her. Thank you all so much for coming today.

 

I am proud to represent Chicago NOW, an organization that has been fighting alongside members of this coalition since 1967 to make abortion safe and legal.  But as glad as I am to see this amazing coalition here today, I honestly wish we weren’t here right now.  I am angry that we are facing the concrete possibility that, in the immediate future, birthing people could have fewer reproductive rights than we did when I was born thirty-five years ago.

 

We are here today, on the first day of the Supreme Court’s new term, to firmly tell the court to uphold Roe v. Wade. Extreme factions of this country are attacking our basic rights: the right to control our bodies, our right to vote, to make a living, and to have equal access to health care.  These are rights we all supposedly have, but, based on color, sex, age, and socioeconomic status, often can’t exercise in reality.  Extremists march with signs that say “my body, my choice” when it comes to Covid vaccine mandates, but take no issue with laws that dictate our choice whether or not to bear a child, a choice that Ruth Bader Ginsberg once described as “central to a [person’s] life, to [their] well-being and dignity… When the government controls that decision for [people], they treat us as less than fully adult humans responsible for our own choices.

 

With every hard-earned civil rights victory, there’s been an immediate response that counters our societal progression to justice.  Ever since the Court first decided Roe v. Wade, extremists have chipped away at the right to reproductive autonomy, and the Court has let them do it.  The Court has upheld medically unsound, discriminatory laws that are prophetically only imposed on abortions, not other medical procedures.  Meanwhile, anti-choicers who’ve been plotting against reproductive rights for years have already won a huge victory – anti-abortion judges in all levels of our judiciary, all the way up to the Supreme Court.  We’re here today to tell those who think they won – those who seek to push us back into the Dark Ages – WE CANNOT GO BACK.  WE WON’T GO BACK.

 

Today, we demand that the Court respect the views of the overwhelming majority of Americans who support the right to abortion, and the nearly one-quarter of Americans who will have an abortion by age 45. The Supreme Court has already ignored the will of the people by choosing to hear arguments around the super-restrictive Mississippi Gestational Age Act on December 1st, and by refusing to stay the bounty-hunter Texas abortion ban, SB8. These unconstitutional laws don’t just affect citizens of those states – they are extreme attacks on everyone’s health and human rights that especially impact women, people of color, people of low incomes, and other marginalized groups.

 

If not stopped, these laws will spread. A Florida legislator recently introduced a six-week abortion ban so Florida can join Texas in putting bounties on the head of people exercising their fundamental rights. These radical laws show that anti-abortion zealots will stop at nothing, and will use any disingenuous argument or tactic at their disposal, to forcefully impose their will on others.  We have seen this right here in Chicago, supposedly a safe haven for reproductive rights – a blue city in a blue state. But, next to me here, are pictures of physical attacks on Chicago reproductive care clinics that happened just last month.  These attacks are part of a long-existing, but recently escalating pattern of harassment and lethal violence against abortion providers and staff in this country.

The Supreme Court has the power to stop giving credence to these abortion bans and the host of medically unsound state laws that have preceded them.  This broad coalition of women’s and reproductive rights advocates demands that the Court have the courage to stand up to the violent throngs that seek to force us back to a time where women would die in botched, unsafe abortion procedures. If Roe is overturned and Congress does not do the right thing in passing the Women’s Health Protection Act to make clear that abortion is a fundamental right all across this land, we know that the rich and powerful will publically celebrate – but they will still be able to access abortions in private. The ones who will suffer most are the very young, people of color, and people of limited means. People who are systemically oppressed by the ones in power – their lives are on the line.    That’s why, here in Illinois, we must also repeal the dangerous and onerous Parental Notification of Abortion Act. We must respect the bodily autonomy of young people and support their right to make their own decisions about their futures.   I encourage you all to contact your federal and state legislators and demand that they support the WHPA and support repealing PNA here in Illinois.

Those who oppose reproductive rights are often the same hateful forces who repeatedly attack the rights of LGBTQ people, the rights of young people, Black and Brown people, immigrants and refugees. If the Supreme Court upholds the draconian Texas and Mississippi laws and others of their like, they will embolden extremist forces of hate to expand their attacks on civil rights beyond fundamental reproductive rights.  Already, zealots are out there saying that if we can overturn Roe, we can surely overturn the seminal Court cases that legalized same sex marriage.  Only at our collective peril do we ignore the attacks on the right to abortion.

 

Today’s speakers represent a wide swath of activists, many on the front lines of assuring that abortion access continues in Texas, and everywhere else.  We are also proud to have representatives from unions representing thousands across Chicago and Illinois, and students whose futures are on the line.  Our hard-earned civil rights come from the hard work of the organized and mobilized people who fought for those rights – people like our speakers here today. The past has showed us that we cannot rely on any one politician or elected body to protect us – not even the Supreme Court, a body that is supposed to be neutral and divorced from politics, but that has become polarized and nakedly political.  We must rely on the collective power of the people to hold these institutions to task. Therefore, we ask you to mobilize and join the protests that will be occurring around the nation on Saturday, October 2. Here in Chicago, the united Rally for Reproductive Justice and March to Defend Abortion Access will be at 11:30 am Saturday at Daley Plaza. We urgently encourage everyone to attend and declare in one voice “no abortion bans – not now. Not ever.”

 

Chicago NOW Statement on COVID-19’s Impact on Women and Girls

Domestic Violence
Reproductive Rights
Equal Pay
Racial Justice
What can you do?

Dear Chicago NOW Community,

In the last month, COVID-19 has transformed our world as we know it. Here in Chicago, we are lucky to have proactive leaders who are working around the clock to mitigate the havoc the pandemic is wreaking on our society. To those of you who are essential workers on the front line of this battle—our healthcare workers, grocery store employees, delivery people and everyone else putting their lives on the line—we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

Below are just a few examples of how COVID-19 is disproportionately impacting women in the most vulnerable parts of our community—and a few ways you can take action (even while sheltering in place) to help.

Tupã Domestic Violence
Shelter-in-place orders can make women in abusive relationships feel trapped. As Vickie Smith, executive director of the Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence explains, “There’s more time for people to be together, creating the opportunity for volatile tempers to fly. But there are also fewer opportunities for victims to reach out for help.” Illinois’s domestic violence shelters are adapting to the pandemic by offering violence prevention services in different forms to comply with required social distancing. Rather than housing those fleeing from abusers in shelters, service providers are housing them in hotels and motels; and the Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence was able to obtain an order of protection for a client via a telephonic hearing.

Additionally, the Illinois Department of Human Services just announced it will launch a $1.2 million plan to increase the capacity of its statewide network of services for survivors during the pandemic, expanding the role of the Illinois Domestic Violence Hotline by creating a one-stop access point for counseling and shelter needs. Survivors can call 1-877-TO END DV (1-877-863-6338 voice or 1-877-863-6339 TTY) and be connected to shelter through existing domestic violence prevention and intervention shelter services or to emergency shelter through available hotels and motels.

Aurogra online no prescription and overnight Reproductive Rights
A growing number of states are taking advantage of the pandemic by seeking to ban abortion, classifying it as an unnecessary medical procedure. A federal appeals court just ruled that Texas can temporarily prohibit abortions after its governor signed an executive order halting all procedures that were not “immediately medically necessary” to save a life. Lawmakers in Alabama, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Ohio and Oklahoma are also claiming that abortion is not medically necessary and that banning it will help conserve medical resources needed to fight COVID-19.

Abortion rights groups like Planned Parenthood and the Center for Reproductive Rights are taking every legal option they have to keep clinics open to provide abortion services during this time. Another method of fighting back against anti-choice lawmakers who are trying to restrict abortion access during the pandemic: advocate for greater access to the abortion pill.

Equal Pay
The pandemic has further exposed the brutal economic reality of low-paid women workers who are on the front line of the crisis. Home health aides, grocery store workers, and childcare workers are predominately women at high risk of viral exposure—but so many lack the basic protections of a decent wage, paid sick and family leave, and employer-sponsored healthcare. These women are in fear of losing their jobs due to the economic impact of the pandemic while also living with the lost earnings of the gender wage gap. If these lost wages were available to women now, they could help put food on the table, pay for medication and other healthcare expenses, and cover rent to avoid eviction.

Women of color are a large percentage of the workers filling these jobs and face the largest wage gap losses of all because they experience both a gender and racial wage gap. As stated by the National Women’s Law Center, “[t]he unfolding impacts of COVID-19 reveal just how many communities of women, and the families that depend on their earnings, are bearing the brunt of the longstanding gaps and underinvestment in our workplace laws, economic and social infrastructure, and policy choices that failed to center the needs of women, people of color, and families with low and moderate incomes.”

Racial Justice
Recently released data from the Illinois Department of Health shows a “pandemic within the pandemic”: African Americans are significantly overrepresented in infection rates in Illinois, making up 14.6% of the state population but 28% of confirmed COVID-19 cases. Whites comprise 76.9% of the state population but only 39% of cases; and Latinos comprise 17.4% of the state population and 7% of cases.

Why the disproportionate impact? Lower-wage essential workers are more often women of color who are forced to put their lives on the line during this crisis to keep their families afloat. Furthermore, women of color in underserved areas of the city are already more likely to be battling chronic and undertreated health conditions, such as diabetes or hypertension, and have limited access to healthier and affordable food options in their neighborhoods. To battle these concerns, Chicago could look to cities like Milwaukee, who declared racism a public health issue last summer, in order to address the impact that decades of race-based inequality has had on underserved communities.

Reporting racial breakdown of COVID-19 victims is only the first step in combating the disproportionate impact on Chicagoans of color. This week, Mayor Lightfoot declared a “public health red alarm,” announcing immediate actions her administration is taking to address the high levels of COVID-19 among African Americans—including requiring healthcare providers to collect demographic information for each COVID-19 patient treated, increasing bus service to the south and west sides to enable social distancing, and increasing surveillance of grocery and convenience stores on the south and west sides to enforce social distancing requirements.

So what can you do?
First things first: STAY HOME!

If you want to take concrete action:

Finally, spread the word! Share this information with your friends and family, keep an eye out for further donation and volunteer opportunities from us and other organizations, and write or call your alderman and other local and state government officials—and help us make our city a better place for all women and girls.

We miss you, members. Look for further updates from us soon.

In solidarity,
Chicago NOW

Ending Racism in Chicago NOW: A Critical Race Theory Community Education Workshop

When: Wednesday February 20, 2019 6pm
Location: We Work 20 West Kinzie Chicago, IL 60610

Space is limited please register in advance!

In honor of Black History Month, we here at the Chicago Chapter of the National Organization of Women (CNOW) are actively working to take a stance on racial justice in our city. It is very important that we are able to process difficult conversations as a way to move forward towards equity. We cordially invite you to join us for our second annual racial justice education event as we continue our commitment to embrace intersectionality as it relates to activism in Chicago. This is an evening of stories, diversity education activities, and small group discussions that validate the lived experiences of those most impacted by racism in Chicago. We will be utilizing a critical race theory framework to provide practical tools to combat racism.

For Your Information (FYI): This is a trigger warning that learning about racial injustices may bring about a great deal of anxiety or anger. As participants of this workshop it is understood that we all come to the discussion at various levels as it relates to one’s participation or exposure to racial justice advocacy and educational content. Please be respectful to one another as we all have different experiences and perspectives and here at Chicago NOW our goal is to provide a “safe space” for further reflection and dialogue in a healthy manner. As a result, some of us may be experiencing discomfort and a great deal of cognitive dissonance which is a normal part of the transformational learning process. If this is the case please feel free to follow up with someone from the CNOW leadership team to debrief after your participation in the workshop.

Register Now

We look forward to the opportunity for connection and healing that we have for this New Year. In the meantime, here are couple ways you can continue to be an active participant in your personal journey to move towards racial justice.

Keep the conversation going!

Ask questions, share your story, and listen to the stories of others. While doing so be respectful of the time and experiences of people of color.

Read racial justice educational literature suggestions

The South Side: A Portrait of Chicago and American Segregation by Natalie Y. Moore; Unapologetic a Black, Queer, and Feminist Mandate for Radical Movements by Charlene A. Carruthers; Ain’t I a Woman Black Women & Feminism by Bell Hooks; Post Racial or Most Racial? Race and Politics in The Obama Era by Michael Tesler (Chicago Studies in American Politics published by the University of Chicago Press); Critical Race Theory: The Key Writings That Formed the Movement by Kimberlee Crenshaw; Who’s Afraid of Critical Race Theory by Derrick A. Bell; and/or Whiteness as Property by Cheryl L. Harris

*CNOW may be hosting a neighborhood book club in a community near you please stay tuned for more information “To Be Announced”

Determine where your local alderman stands on racial equity

Take a look at your city council member’s previous sponsorship history on key racial justice policies by utilizing the tools developed by our friends at “The Center for Racial and Gender Equity” (CRGE) in order to determine if your current alderman is eligible for re-election from a racial equity perspective. Download the Scorecard.

Support Business led by People of Color

Join us in solidarity at Chicago NOW as we celebrate African American history Month by helping to support the work of Sista Afya which is a community based social enterprise that works to support black women’s mental wellness in the Chicago area. More information about the organization can be found here: https://www.sistaafya.com/

Any questions regarding the upcoming racial justice educational event please contact: Krystle Everett at: info@chicagonow.org

Chicago NOW President on WTTW’s Chicago Tonight

Chicago NOW President on WTTW’s Chicago Tonight

On Monday, January 28, 2019 , Chicago NOW President Paloma Delgadillo spoke on WTTW – Chicago PBS regarding the recent Gillette commercial and subsequent controversy about men’s rights and feminism. In intersectional feminism, we call on our allies to use their voices to speak to the harmful behaviors that may be exhibited in their own community. Calling on men to do better is not the same as oppression, but instead a necessary and positive action that must be taken in order to fight against misogyny.

This discussion was also a sobering reminder that sexism is still alive and well. Though it may not always be apparent, it is still obvious in the behaviors we view as normal and in society’s inability to hold men (and all people) accountable for their actions. We have made great strides in the last few decades, but we must keep pushing for what we believe in. The fight for women’s rights can be won, but only if we keep voting, speaking out, and living every day in accordance with our feminist values.

Another Successful Women Who Dared Event

Kina Collins and Kim Foxx Accept their Women Who Dared Award

Chicago NOW’s annual Women Who Dared fundraising event took place last week and was a resounding success! This year, CNOW honored Cook County States Attorney Kim Foxx and the Chairwoman for the Illinois Council on Women and Girls Kina Collins.

Kina and Kim gave inspirational addresses, and the event was an empowering display of what women can do when we come together.

A huge thank you to our sponsors:

Silver: Alma and David Delgadillo

Bronze: Joel Kowsky, Jessica Scheller, Sue Straus

To our silent auction donors: Bella Voce, Hazel, Building Blocks Toy Store, Chicago Wolves, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Court Theatre, Lookingglass Theatre Company, Lettuce Entertain You Restaurants, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, L&A Healing Studio, Women and Children First and Chicago A Cappella. Thank you so much for your generous donations!

Thank you to all that attended!

Stay tuned for information on our next events: March to the Polls on October 13th, and Hug Your Body & Embrace Your Vote on Monday Oct 29.