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Gender Justice Advocate Appointed
The Michigan Chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW) is pleased to announce the appointment of Jen Salamone to the position of LGBTQ Task Force Chair. Ms. Salamone has a M.S.Ed in Counseling and a B.S. in Psychology. She is a Student Affairs Professional with a passion for teaching and art as activism. Currently Ms. Salamone lives in Flint and is the Program Manager for the Ellen Bommarito LGBTQ Center at the University of Michigan-Flint. She also has experience as a Project Coordinator for the Women's Educational Center at the University of Michigan-Flint. (download press release)
Read the Most Recent NOW Newsletter
Michigan Chapter of the National Organization of Women Recognizes Women of Flint
The Michigan Chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW) held our annual conference on April 9th at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. At the conference five amazing women from Flint were recognized for their work to bring public attention to the poisoning of the Flint water supply. Bishop Bernadel Jefferson, Melissa Mays, Nayyirah Shariff, Claire McClinton, and LeeAnne Walters (not present) were given the Michigan NOW Activist of the Year award.
Michigan NOW and Michigan NOW
Equal Pay Day in the Capitol Rotunda
National Equal Pay Day, Tuesday, April 8
Michigan Equal Pay Day, Tuesday, April 29
Equal Pay Day marks how far into the year a woman must work, on average, to earn as much as a man earned the previous year! Read more...
Come to the rally to commemorate Michigan Equal Pay Day on Tuesday, April 29 at noon in the Michigan Capitol Rotunda. Read more...
The Michigan Equal Pay Coalition, including Michigan NOW, will call on lawmakers to pass legislation to ensure that Michigan's women are paid the same as their male counterparts for comparable work. Read more...
Everyone is also invited to attend a Pay Equity Briefing at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, April 29 across the street from the Capitol. Space is limited and registration is required. Read more...
Right To Life’s proposed initiated law called the “Abortion Insurance Opt-Out Act” to ban health insurance coverage for most abortions passed both houses of the Legislature on December 11, 2013 without any hearings. It is now PA 182 of 2013.
The House vote was 62 – 47 and the Senate vote was 27 – 11. All Republicans voted to approve the law joined by Democratic State Senator Tupac Hunter (Detroit), Democratic State Representatives Terry Brown (Pigeon), Charles Brunner (Bay City), and Independent State Representative John Olumba (Detroit).
Because it was a voter-initiated law under Article II, Section 9 of the Michigan Constitution, it was not subject to the Governor’s veto. Republican Governor Rick Snyder had vetoed a similar bill passed by the Legislature one year ago. The initiated law did not receive enough legislators’ votes for immediate effect so it will become law 90 days after the end of the legislative session, around the middle of March 2014.
Referendum to Repeal — Article II, Section 9 of the Michigan Constitution also gives voters the right to subject newly enacted legislation to a referendum vote. 161,305 valid voter signatures must be gathered on conforming petitions within 90 days following the final adjournment of the legislative session at which the law was enacted (mid-March 2014). If the Board of State Canvassers certifies sufficient referendum signatures, the implementation of the law would be suspended pending the placement of the law on the next general election ballot for the consideration of the state's voters on November 4, 2014. A majority vote determines whether the law goes into effect.
The number of signatures gathered on the referendum petition needs to be significantly greater than the minimum number required as invalid signatures are eliminated through a Board of State Canvassers’ verification process which involves a random sample of the submitted signatures. Likely over 200,000 signatures would assure sufficient valid signatures.
Given the recent experience with voter repeal of the Emergency Manager Law and the legislature’s subsequent immediate passage of a similar replacement law, a referendum is no guarantee that repealing the ban on abortion coverage in health insurance would be permanent. The current legislature could pass a similar replacement bill shortly after the repeal vote.
Constitutional Amendment — Another more permanent option is an amendment to the Michigan Constitution to assure the right to privacy, reproductive freedom and/or women’s equality. An initiative to amend the State Constitution would require 322,609 valid signatures by July 7, 2014 to go on the November 2014 ballot.
The Center for Reproductive Rights reported in 2009:
. . . the constitutions of Alaska, California, Florida and Montana, unlike the federal constitution, have explicit provisions that protect the right of privacy. Supreme Courts in each of those states have relied on those privacy provisions to strike down restrictions on abortion that would be allowed under the federal constitution. In other states, courts have interpreted other state constitutional provisions—such as Equal Rights Amendments in New Mexico and Connecticut and a privileges and immunities clause in Arizona—to extend greater protection to women seeking abortions than the protection afforded by U.S. Supreme Court decisions.
The Secretary of State’s Bureau of Elections has published Initiative and Referendum Petitions that explains the process.
What It Will Take — Either a referendum to repeal the new law or an initiative to amend the Constitution will require an enormous amount of effort and money. Thousands of volunteers will be needed to gather signatures and other administrative support functions. Paid circulators may need to be employed. Then we would need sufficient energy, volunteers, and funding to actually win the ballot proposal in November 2014.
And we need to replace all the anti-choice legislators so this doesn’t happen again. All House and Senate seats are up for election in November.
Right To Life’s proposed initiated law to ban insurance coverage for most abortions is now in legislators’ hands. They have 40 session days to approve it, come up with an alternative, or do nothing – in which case the proposed law will go on the November 2014 ballot. Polling indicates that most voters, including a plurality of Republican voters, do not approve of banning abortion coverage in all health insurance. We think sending the proposed law to the voters is our best hope for defeating this attempt to deny access to abortions in Michigan.
Because the proposed law may be voted on at any time, your House and Senate members need to hear from you immediately. Find your House member here. Find your Senator here. Tell them to take no action on the proposed initiated law that would ban abortion coverage in health insurance and Let Voters Decide.
Michigan NOW has sent all legislators a letter on December 4. It is urgent that you communicate with your Representative and Senator.
On May 22, 2013, the Michigan Board of State Canvassers approved as to form an initiated law petition titled “No Taxes for Abortion Insurance” that would prohibit abortion coverage in health insurance policies except by a separately-purchased insurance policy/rider.
Sponsors of this petition, Right To Life Michigan, have 180 days to collect 258,000 valid voter signatures. The first thing we need to do is urge voters not to sign the petition by educating them that this petition takes away health care coverage that most women currently have. Over 70 percent of insurance policies cover abortion services currently. The proposed law would take that away and put women’s health at risk. If this law is enacted, a standard health care insurance policy would only be allowed to cover abortions to avert the woman’s death, to complete a miscarriage, or for an ectopic pregnancy.
All other reason for an abortion (rape, incest, threat to the woman’s health or future fertility, fetal anomalies, economic hardship, etc.) would have to be covered by a separately-purchased insurance rider — or paid for out-of-pocket. Although early abortion is relatively inexpensive for most women, later abortions when fetal anomalies are discovered or a pregnant woman’s health becomes compromised can cost over $10,000.
Once petitions are gathered and submitted to the Board of State Canvassers, Board staff will take a sample of them to verify sufficient valid signatures have been obtained. When this process is completed, the law will be presented to the legislature. It has 40 session days to take one of three actions:
The legislature approved this same law buried in the Blue Cross Blue Shield reform bill last legislative session. The Governor vetoed the bill because it interfered with insurance companies’ rights and did not contain sufficient abortion coverage in the standard policy for rape, incest, and the health of the woman.
Few women anticipate needing abortion services but in fact, one out of three women will have an abortion in her lifetime according to the Guttmacher Institute. Abortion is one of the most common medical procedures a woman experiences.
Right To Life of Michigan is using deceptive language to imply that taxpayers will fund abortions unless this initiated law is adopted. Using taxpayer funds directly for abortions in Michigan is banned under an earlier law initiated by RTLM. But RTLM believes that because the federal government will provide subsidies for many people to buy health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, it is taxpayer support for abortion. One could argue that use of taxpayer money to build roads and bridges subsidizes abortion because the roads and bridges are used to drive to a women’s health clinic for an abortion! The ACA contains a special provision allowing the states to opt-out of abortion as a covered benefit and so RTLM is using the option to block abortion coverage except by a separate rider.
Right To Life Michigan petition circulators are approaching voters for their signature right now. RTLM wants this law in place soon to prevent abortion coverage in the new health insurance exchange beginning January 1, 2014.
Since the current Michigan Legislature is majority anti-choice, the best tactic is to discourage voters from signing the petition. Decline to sign the petition and urge everyone you know about the dangers of this petition drive to women’s health care in Michigan.
“Remember those Michigan lawmakers who were silenced for saying the word ‘vagina’? The bill those women legislators wanted to discuss has passed the Michigan House and is now headed to the full Michigan Senate. If it passes and is signed into law, it will become virtually impossible to find a clinic in Michigan that can meet state regulations for performing abortions.”
Click here: Tell your State Senator to reject HB-5711
The Republican-controlled Michigan Senate now has before it a draconian anti-abortion clinic bill designed to make the full range of reproductive health services, including abortion care, inaccessible for Michigan women. The bill passed the Michigan House in June and the Senate Judiciary Committee in July. Read about what the most potentially dangerous, expensive, and degrading provisions in HB 5711 would really do.
The Michigan NOW Political Action Committee and the Michigan NOW State Coordinating Council announce 95 endorsements for the November 6, 2012 general election. These include 23 additional candidates since the August 7 primary and two changes from Support to Endorse in the House 68th and 69th District races.
See the media release for the complete list of endorsed or supported candidates.
Silencing female legislators is misconduct in office and abuse of discretion.
Michigan NOW condemns the action of House Speaker Jase Bolger, Speaker Pro Tempore John Walsh, and Majority Floor Leader Jim Stamas to deny the right of Reps. Lisa Brown and Barb Byrum to speak on the House floor on Thursday, June 14. The women were silenced based on a trumped-up charge of “lack of decorum” during consideration of HB 5711, a bill which would close down most abortion clinics in Michigan with onerous and expensive over-regulation. See the complete media release.
Sign the petition to tell the Senate and the Governor to Reject the Bills at www.change.org/petitions/the-mi-state-senate-reject-the-attack-on-women-s-health
See our written testimony that we were not allowed to present orally to the House Health Policy Committee.
|Representative Marcia Hovey-Wright (left) with Michigan NOW President Bobbie Walton|
At its annual state conference on Saturday, April 21, the Michigan National Organization for Women honored State Representative Marcia Hovey-Wright of Muskegon with its Legislator of the Year Award.
“She has shown the dedication to service and leadership attributes in her first term as a state representative in Lansing as we predicted she would when we endorsed her candidacy in 2010,” said Bobbie Walton, president of Michigan NOW.
Rep. Hovey-Wright has advanced the status of women through initiating a Democratic Legislative Women’s Caucus whose first initiative was building support for Prevention First, a package of proposed legislation that would make obtaining birth control, Pap tests and other women’s health components easier for Michigan women to access. She has also led efforts to increase the number of women running for elected office.
Rep. Hovey-Wright has a long record of service to and leadership in her community. She is a psychotherapist and a licensed social worker who has spent her career helping families and children in the Muskegon area and in schools throughout Michigan. She was a president of the Muskegon-Ottawa County NOW chapter and was the Director of the local Planned Parenthood in the 1980s.
The National Organization for Women (NOW) is the largest organization of feminist activists in the United States. NOW has 500,000 contributing members and 550 chapters in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Since its founding in 1966, NOW’s goal has been to take action to bring about equality for all women.
Blocks most private insurance coverage
Bills reported to full Senate
By Mary Pollock, Legislative Vice President
Read Pollock’s latest report on the legislative session so far.
Videos on Overview of Michigan Legislature’s Anti-Choice Agenda
The Michigan Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice had a training session for choice advocates on Saturday, March 26, 2011. See and listen to Michigan NOW Legislative Vice President Mary Pollock’s overview of what the new anti-abortion super-majority in the Michigan Legislature is doing to ban or limit abortion and harass clinics.
Michigan NOW opposes an unenumerated anti-school bullying bill, SB 137, because it does not name the categories of students protected from bullying. If passed, such an unenumerated bill would allow school districts to pick and choose which students to protect. LGBTQ students especially need protection from bullying and some legislators do not want to include them in the scope of the legislation.
Birth Abortion Bill:
Michigan NOW opposes SB 160 and 161 that would ban a late-term abortion procedure abortion opponents call “partial birth abortion.”
Over-regulation of Abortion
Michigan NOW opposes SB 25, 54, and 55 that would overly regulate abortion providers and create criminal penalties for doctors performing abortions by requiring elaborate and expensive procedures for disposal of the products of the pregnancy. We put in a card opposing the legislation.