On Thursday, May 23rd, over 75 activists, legislators and interested community members joined together at Teatotaller in Somersworth, NH for “Tri-City Repro Justice for All” — an education and action event that brought together a coalition of partners including: Somersworth Democrats, Feminist Oasis, Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund, Joan G. Lovering Health Center, #Fight4HER NH of Population Connection Action and Equality Health Center.
TCRJ4A Coalition will be sending out an email every quarter with recommendations for actions across categories of: Time, Talk and Treasure. You can participate in our inaugural recommendations by visiting: bit.ly/523action
Below are notes from this event (many thanks to Daniel Pontoh of ACLU-NH for taking these notes!)
Emmett Soldati – chair somersworth dems (fastest growing and LGBTQest dem town committee)
Crystal Paradis – VP of Somersworth Dems, founder of feminist oasis
Crystal Paradis: We have a panel of experts for information and tangible actions we can take tonight. All are here to support reproductive justice. Important to talk about language. Repro Justice is used to recognize the historical marginalization that has happened. It’s not just white cis women. Please keep in mind gender inclusive language. People have been fighting for these rights for generations. Lot of organizers, in particular black women and people in the South have been fighting for this for many years. A certain type of activism isn’t more or less important than other types of activism. All of it is important and necessary.
Sabrina Dunlap – VP of Policy for Planned Parenthood Northern New England (PPNNE)
Lisa Leach – ED of Joan G Lovering Health Center
Amy McCall – NH Organizer for FIght4HER which is part of population connection action fund
Sabrina Dunlap: PPNNE covers ME, VT, and NH. Sabrina is focused on NH. PPNNA has 5 health centers in NH with 45,000 total patients, 14k from NH. 13% ID as LGBTQ, 13% ID as male-a growing demographic, and 67% of patients are low income. PPNNE is judgement-free and gender-affirming. Health Centers welcome ANYONE who walks through their doors. Services: Abortion, Family planning and counseling, STD testing and treatment, Flu shots, and Whole range of services.
Amy McCall: HER – acronym for health empowerment and rights. Work with all people (not just those who identify as “her”). Amy McCall’s role is to work with new and experienced advocates to organize around repro rights, spread awareness, and grow the movement.
Campaign of Population Connection Action Fund based in DC. Has been going on for a year and half. Also in 8 other states across the country. Campaign started when DT became president. On the third day of his administration, he signed into law an expansion of the Global Gag Rule — a presidential policy that strips funding from international healthcare organizations that are non governmental in developing nations that provide reproductive health care and whole health care. Trump expanded law to include long term birth control and IUDs.
Global gag rule – makes a law that says these organizations cannot so much as say the word abortion to their patients without losing all of their US funding. US has been the largest funder of these programs globally. One option is to continue providing health care to patients. Sometimes these places are the only health providers for many miles. Other option is for the orgs to defy the gag rule and that causes the US to take away their funding which is harmful to orgs and the people they serve. Example- Family Health Options of Kenya: largest provider in southern Kenya, since global gag rule they’ve closed 6 clinics.
In response to this Sen. Shaheen wrote HER Act. If passed would repeal the Global Gag Rule and reinstate funding that’s been taken away and change the law to make it so presidents would need congressional approval to reinstate the gag rule.
Lisa Leach: Joan G Lovering Health Center is an independent abortion care provider in Greenland. JGLHC provides care for all sexual and reproductive health, and does a lot of STI counseling, testing, treatment and low cost contraception. Works on a sliding scale for folks who don’t have insurance. Provides services to all genders. If Title X gag rule applied to US providers, it would be a $70k hit for the JGLHC. Their budget would be decimated. They could choose not to accept the funding and try to survive but that would not be possible.
Crystal Paradis: Dalia from Equality Health Center couldn’t make it but wanted Crystal to share positive info and news: NH has an abortion clinic on Main Street in the capitol of our state. That’s a very positive thing compared to other states she’s talked to. EHC is oldest abortion clinic in NH (now in its 45th year). NH still has repro choice and also choice in providers (with 3 providers in NH) From Dalia’s perspective it should not be about exceptions like rape and incest granted to those who want an abortion — it should be about providing choice to anyone who does not want to be pregnant.
Sabrina Dunlap: We’ve been thinking and talking about the situation in NH since Justice Kennedy retired not too long ago. Lots of states have trigger laws, to roll back to pre-Roe bans, etc. NH doesn’t have trigger laws or “old bans”. NH doesn’t have a lot of restrictions. We do have parental restrictions and Medicaid does not cover abortion. But if Roe were overturned today, nothing would change in NH.
Roe was a 7-2 decision in 1973 but has been so eroded over the years. We think of it as a symbol for Repro Rights but what Roe is now is not what it was in 1973. I don’t think that Roe should be our standard — lots of people have been left out of Roe.
NH has lots of government despite Libertarian streak like the Executive Council. They approve all state contracts over $10k and approve nominees for various positions, etc. They approve state contracts related to family planning funding. NH gets federal and state funding for family planning. NH has a huge house, 400 reps. Right now pro-repro rights majority in NH house and NH senate.
Political and health care reality is not always aligned. Lots of energy out there because of what’s going on in the rest of the country. For PPNNE they are always thinking about what’s best for access for their patients.
Crystal Paradis: Quick follow up on not codifying Roe. Why don’t we want more laws on the books here in NH? What should we be pushing for?
Sabrina Dunlap: It’s not that we don’t want more laws. It’s the Roe framework I want to move away from. Roe framework invites limitations and excludes people. ex) medicaid not covering abortion is a huge problem and PPNNE is working on that. Under Roe, the right to abortion exists in name only. More laws on books may seem to be good and symbolic but we want to make sure everyone in the state has action to what they need and allowing Medicaid to be used for abortion is something we should fight for.
Crystal Paradis: Is there another state that is about to do something bad that we should do something about? What’s the most important thing nationally we should care about?
Lisa Leach: Recently had a couple of clinics in ME, and ME just passed a law so that midwives can perform abortions. That’s good because lots of places are limited in who can actually provide abortions.
Amy McCall: The way I see it nationally is 1) we have to stay aware. This can be exhausting and depressing and we should take care of ourselves but we need to come back to it. For too long some of us did too much resting and things got away from us. 2) we have to take action. Everything matters as Crystal was saying. There are different ways to be active like having convos with others, joining rally or protest, getting involved in community, getting a job in the field or advocacy. We need everybody who believes in this to be doing it. Those who want to take these rights away are not in the majority. We have to link arms and find a way to stay involved and active whatever that means for all of us.
Sabrina Dunlap: I echo what Amy said. We need to stay aware. Elected officials state and federal, need to know that people care about this and believe it’s really important.
Crystal Paradis: Have about another hour left. Each panelist will list a resource, person to follow, and an action.
Follow: Renee Bracy Sherman at Abortion Stories: https://twitter.com/RBraceySherman
Action: Really important to thank legislators when they do good work. One action we’ll ask everyone to do is thank Sen. Shaheen for fighting for repro justice legislation at the federal level.
Follow: Sister Song on social media: https://twitter.com/SisterSong_WOC
Action: PPNH Action fund. Get on email list and volunteer with us. People who are willing and able to share stories please do share because they are so powerful.
Follow her on twitter: https://twitter.com/amyjomccall
Follow: Fight4HER NH & Population Connection Action Fund https://twitter.com/Fight4HERNH
Follow: https://twitter.com/popconnect – They have lots of stuff from other orgs and give updates on Global Gag Rule
Action: FIght4HER organizing summer activist institute. 13 week program from organizers with decades of experience training on skills to use on any type of social justice change. This institute focused on repro rights. Text fight nh to 58226 (?)
Resources: National Abortion Federation at https://prochoice.org/ and Abortion Care Network https://www.abortioncarenetwork.org/
Follow: https://twitter.com/NatAbortionFed and https://twitter.com/abortioncare
Action: We should be talking to everyone from our dog catchers to our presidents. Talk to folks running for any type of position who represent us about the importance of repro rights and what you want.
Emmett Soldati: Lots of actions need to be taken throughout state and country. If you want to take action tonight, we are asking that you participate every quarter in 3 different ways (Time, Talk, and Treasure). Time – volunteer your time, Talk – use your platform on social media and the personal connections you have with other people to advance the narrative on repro justice, and Treasure – donate. Tri-city Repro Justice for All will send email every quarter to ask folks to give one of their “T’s” every quarter.