Thank you for helping to make Rights to Realities 2016 a Success!
Pregnant Workers Fired Over a Glass of Water in Pennsylvania
Did you know that a pregnant woman in Pennsylvania can be fired for asking for a stool or water bottle at work?
Women make up about half of the workforce, and working women are the primary or sole breadwinners in 40% of American families. Yet women continue to face unique obstacles in the workplace that compromise their ability to provide for their families. One of these obstacles is pregnancy discrimination. Here in Pennsylvania, some employers are still refusing to grant an employee’s reasonable request for a temporary, minor accommodation related to their pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition. Read more here.
Legislating Medicine: More than 1,000 provisions already introduced in 2016
So far this year, legislators in 45 states had introduced 1022 provisions related to sexual and reproductive health, according to a new report from the Guttmacher Institute. Of the 411 abortion restrictions that have been introduced so far this year, 17 have passed at least one chamber and 21 have been enacted in five states.
ACTION ALERT: PA HOUSE to Vote on HB 1948
On Monday, April 11th, the Pennsylvania House plans to vote on HB 1948, the double-abortion ban we’ve been telling you about since they fast-tracked it to the House floor last week.
We also urge you to pick up the phone and call your representative. Simply tell them you would like them to vote no on HB 1948.
Contraception at the Supreme Court Today: What You Need to Know
Oral arguments in Zubik v. Burwell, a case about contraception and the Affordable Care Act, just got underway this morning at the Supreme Court of the United States.
The petitioners are non-profit organizations that not only object, on religious grounds, to offering their employees insurance plans that provide contraception coverage, but they also object to complying with the simple opt-out mechanism built into the law to accommodate religious objectors. In other words, they are claiming that the act of filing the form to opt-out of the contraception mandate violates their religious freedom under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Read more here.
Advocates are Calling for "One Fair Wage." So What is it?
The minimum wage in Pennsylvania is $7.25 per hour, the lowest permitted by federal law. Since minimum wage employees working full-time and year-round in Pennsylvania earn just $14,500 per year, a single parent with two children working full-time still falls $4,000 below the federal poverty line.
Recently, we told you five reasons we need to raise the minimum wage in Pennsylvania, and why it’s a woman’s issue. Last week, Governor Wolf called for the Pennsylvania Legislature to stop blocking minimum-wage bills when he signed an executive order to raise the pay of certain state employees to $10.15 per hour. But advocates are not just calling to raise the hourly rate; they are calling for one fair wage. Read more here.
Q&A with an Abortion Provider in Pennsylvania: What Should People Know About Your Job?
Thursday, March 10th is Abortion Provider Appreciation Day.
To celebrate, I called up a provider that I recently had the pleasure of spending time with on the steps of the Supreme Court at the big Rally for Abortion Access. Amanda Kifferly is the Director of Patient Advocacy for the Women’s Centers, an affiliated group of independent providers who specialize in abortion care, with two Centers in our area. Read more here.
Yes, Minimum Wage is a Woman's Issue
On March 7th, Pennsylvania Governor Wolf signed an executive order ensuring a minimum wage of $10.15 an hour for all employees under his jurisdiction and employees of Pennsylvania state government contractors.
In response, the Pennsylvania Campaign for Women’s Health, a coalition of more than 50 organizations calling for common-sense policy solutions to real problems faced by real families, issued a statement that underscored the need to raise the wage for all minimum-wage earners in Pennsylvania and emphasized the fact that in Pennsylvania, the minimum wage disproportionately affects women. Read more here.
In Memory of Deborah Pollack Maliver
The Women’s Law Project mourns the untimely loss of Deborah Pollack Maliver, a Pittsburgh lawyer who was a strong feminist and steadfast supporter of the Women’s Law Project.
Debbie was both a skilled physician and a brilliant attorney. In 1978, she graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of North Carolina in Greensboro. Four years later, she got her M.D. degree from Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Debbie completed her internship and residency at the prestigious New York Hospital/Cornell Medical Center and Memorial Sloan-Kettering, and became board certified in internal medicine. Read more here.
Abortion Access at the Supreme Court
For years now, anti-choice lawmakers have been trying to force clinics across the country to close their doors, and mislead the public by claiming–against all medical evidence–that more restrictions on abortion access protects women’s health.
Between 2011 and 2014, states enacted 231 restrictions on abortion. This blitz is the result of a carefully coordinated attack anti-choice activists call the incremental strategy, because of how individual restrictions incrementally, and cumulatively, combine to devastating effect.
In short, while trying to figure out how to criminalize abortion in the United States, anti-choice activists have focused on making the procedure inaccessible, especially for low-income earners and women of color. Read more here.
5 Reasons to Raise the Minimum Wage in PA
On February 10th advocates once again called for Pennsylvania to raise the minimum wage at yet another rally at the Capitol in Harrisburg. There’s plenty of evidence that it would be good for both the economy and workers—especially female workers—to raise the minimum wage in Pennsylvania.
The minimum wage in Pennsylvania is currently $7.25 per hour, the lowest allowed by federal law. The subminimum wage in Pennsylvania, that is, the base pay for tipped workers, is $2.83 per hour.
This week, the Keystone Research Center released a new policy brief underscoring the economic benefit of raising the wage in Pennsylvania. The report’s authors estimate a minimum wage increase will increase state tax revenues by $121.5 million and generate another $104 million in savings in reduced Medicaid spending. Read more here.
PA Rep. Donna Bullock: I Want to Believe We Can Achieve Equal Pay in Pennsylvania
The newly rebooted version of 90s cult classic television series The X-Files is a throwback in more ways than one. Actress Gillian Anderson, who plays agent Dana Scully, recently revealed that she was offered only half the paycheck offered to David Duchovny, the actor who plays her character’s partner. Read more here.
10 Facts About Abortion in Pennsylvania at #Roe43January 22 marked the 43rd anniversary of Roe v. Wade.
Pennsylvania plays no small part in the story of the right to choose in the United States.Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the case that set the current standard by which courts judge the constitutionality of abortion restrictions, evolved from a challenge to Pennsylvania law (the defendant Casey is former Pennsylvania governor Robert P. Casey, father of current U.S. Senator Bob Casey). In the 1992 Casey ruling, the Supreme Court affirmed the core ofRoe, but changed the constitutional standard to permit states to pass additional regulations on abortion. Read more here.
Preventing the Next Kermit Gosnell
In response to the exponential rise of abortion restrictions and subsequent mass closure of healthcare facilities providing reproductive healthcare for poor and working-class women,abortion is going to the Supreme Court.
In Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole, the justices will review two provisions of HB2, the Texas law that forced more than half the clinics in the state to close. In doing so, they will answer the question reproductive rights advocates have been asking for the last several years: If the Constitution protects the right to abortion, how can our courts uphold laws that close down safe abortion providers and thereby deny many women access to care? Read more here.
New Report: The Exponential rise of Abortion Restrictions
If you follow reproductive health policy at all, you have likely heard about the barrage of abortion restrictions implemented in recent years as part of the current anti-choice strategy called the “state strategy,” or the “the incremental strategy.”
The anti-choice incremental strategy goes like this: anti-choice bill factories draft a wide variety of state-level bills that, cumulatively, are designed to force abortion clinics to close so that poor and working-class women, who disproportionately experience unplanned pregnancies, can’t access safe and medically supervised abortion care. Read more here.
WLP Supports New Anti-Abortion Clinic Violence and Harrassent Bill
Modeled on federal legislation, new bill protects doctors, staff and patients
PENNSYLVANIA – Anti-abortion extremists have long used acts of violence such as arson and mass shootings in a severely misguided campaign to “stop abortion.”
Recently, it has been getting worse.
Last November, three people were murdered and nine more injured when a man went on a shooting rampage at the Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs. The attack happened amid a sharp increase in threats and violence against abortion providers in the wake of a debunked video propaganda campaign. Read more here.
PA Abortion Providers Speak Out About Upcoming SCOTUS Abortion Case
Abortion providers in Pennsylvania, where women suffered under Gosnell’s hand, have a particular responsibility to speak out against these schemes.
PENNSYLVANIA — Soon, the Supreme Court of the United States will hear the most important case regarding reproductive rights in more than twenty years. In Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole, the justices will review two provisions of HB2, a Texas law designed to shut down clinics that provide safe, legal abortion services under the guise of improving women’s health. In doing so, they will answer the question reproductive rights advocates have been asking for the last several years: If the Constitution protects the right to abortion, how can our courts uphold laws that close down safe abortion providers and thereby deny many women access to care? Read more here.
WLP on the DOJ's First-Ever Guidance on Gender Bias in Law Enforcement
On any given day of the week, we read news articles that showcase how police bias against women, whether conscious or implicit, undermines law enforcement’s response to allegations of sexual and domestic violence.
Gender discrimination in law enforcement can take many forms, including the outright refusal to properly process rape complaints or send rape kits to the lab for timely DNA testing, and a failure to conduct a full and adequate investigation. Interviews can warp into interrogations. This type of systemic failure has been repeatedly exposed in police departments across the country including New Orleans, Washington, DC andPhiladelphia.
Join Us to Fight for Paid Family Leave!
The United States is the ONLY developed country in the world that does not provide paid leave to employees. As a consequence, women are forced to leave jobs due to pregnancy, mothers are forced to return to work shortly after giving birth, mothers and fathers are denied time to bond with their newborn, and employees constantly face the impossible choice of taking care of a sick family member or losing a job. Lack of paid leave contributes to the wage gap and has consequences for women’s and children’s health. Check out this video and join us in the fight for paid leave.
State of the States: Abortion Access in 2015
The headline-grabbing attacks on abortion access and reproductive rights in the latter half of 2015—while outrageous—are a continuation of years of extreme hostility in state legislatures. It is the result of a well-coordinated, well-financed political network intent on dismantling our constitutional right to abortion, even if it means restricting access to preventative care, too.
A new report published by the Center for Reproductive Rights, 2015 State of the States: Fighting Back by Pushing Forward, provides a snapshot of where we’re at as we head into the new year. Read more here.
Carol E. Tracy Honored by the American Society of Criminology
Tracy accepts the President’s Award for Distinguished Contributions to Justice on 25thAnniversary of Leading the Women’s Law Project
Final Day: 25 Reasons to Give $25 to the Women's Law Project
Friday, November 20th, marked Carol Tracy’s 25th anniversary as Executive Director of the Women’s Law Project. In case you missed it, we celebrated last week by posting 25 reasons to be grateful for Carol and the WLP. You can still celebrate with us by supporting this important work. Contributing to the Women’s Law Project is an investment in a better future for women and giirls. You can read the full 25 Reasons to Give $25 to WLP here.
Action Alert: Help Prevent Domestic Violence Homicides in Pennsylvania
We need you to take one minute to help hold domestic abusers accountable.
Strangulation is the single most accurate predictor of a future domestic violence homicide. In fact, one widely accepted study indicates that strangulation domestic-violence victims are 800% more likely to be killed by their intimate partner during a future assault.
Last year, 141 Pennsylvanians were killed by domestic violence. Read full post here.
Philadelphia Establishes Office to Investigate Wage Theft
Wage theft–the illegal refusal to pay, or the underpayment, of wages due—often happens in hidden, incremental ways that add up to big numbers. It can take many forms, including asking employees to work off the clock, paying workers less than minimum wage, or misclassifying employees to avoid paying benefits or overtime.
A startling report on wage theft in Pennsylvania recently published by the Social Justice Lawyering Clinic at the Stephen and Sandra Sheller Center for Social Justice at Temple University Beasley School of Law revealed widespread wage theft throughout Pennsylvania. By the end of this week, 400,000 Pennsylvanians will have been illegally deprived of between $19 million and $32 million due to wage theft. Read full article here.
WLP at the PA Governor's Residence to Discuss Campus Rape Crisis
The documentary The Hunting Ground explores the crisis of sexual assault on campus while profiling the transformation of students as they evolve from victims to survivors to empowered activists. The film is also a chilling indictment of the widespread failure of college administrators to adequately respond to allegations of rape on campus.
It is not an easy film for college administrators to watch. But yesterday, representatives of 33 Pennsylvania colleges and universities sat together and watched The Hunting Groundin a special screening and panel presentation at the Governor’s Residence, hosted by Pennsylvania Commission for Women, the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape (PCAR) and Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education. Read more here and see The Hunting Ground trailer.
New PA Bill Attacks Birth Control & Cancer Screenings for Women
We all know by now that a favorite tactic of anti-choice advocates is to unload a torrent of misinformation into the public discourse, and then hope to get what Katha Pollitt calls “the muddled middle” to wonder how much of their accusations could actually be true.
While a reasonable person should, ideally, be able to assume that a serious politician won’t spew false information that can be easily fact-checked, the sad fact of the matter is a reasonable person can make no such assumption. Two recent high-profile examples of this chicanery are presidential candidate Carly Fiorina’s bizarre assertions about the content of the debunked Planned Parenthood sting videos during a recent debate, and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz pointing to a “misleading and ethically wrong” chart that he apparently didn’t know was created by an anti-abortion group, causing him to fumble his attempt at a gotcha moment while grilling Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards. Read more here.
The Alliance and the Road Ahead
There are only five state-based legal non-profits in the country that focus on advancing women’s and LGBT rights, and the Women’s Law Project is one of them. The other four organizations are Legal Voice (Washington state), Gender Justice (Upper Midwest),Southwest Women’s Law Center (New Mexico), and California Women’s Law Center.
The fight for our rights has always been on the ground and in the states, though thecoordinated campaign of state-level legislative attacks on abortion access that has dominated the landscape, and headlines, in the last few years has made that reality abundantly clear. Read more here.
New Report: Politics in the Exam Room, a Growing Threat
The most insidious way American politicians attempt to influence the behavior of private citizens is by quietly passing laws that legislate doctor-patient communications, going so far as to force doctors to lie to patients.
With the proliferation of laws intruding into the exam room, you can’t be sure your doctor is giving you medically accurate advice. It’s a growing problem.
Across the country, politicians have been passing laws and regulations that either coerce doctors to mislead their patients or alternatively, gag them from having truthful conversations about their patient’s health. Read more here.
Scenes from PA's Hearing on Pregnant & Nursing Worker Discrimination
Doctors Shouldn’t Be Forced to Lie to Patients
Across the country, politicians have been quietly passing laws and regulations that either coerce doctors to mislead their patients—and in some cases, outright lie—or alternatively, gag them from having truthful conversations about their patient’s health. Politicians have even used legislation to coerce doctors into performing medically-unnecessary procedures—such as is the case with bills that mandate transvaginal ultrasounds before performing an abortion. Read more here.
Op-Ed: On Pope Francis, Economic Justice & Reproductive Rights
Pope Francis has come to the United States to preach about economic justice amid an unprecedented attack on reproductive rights.
Anti-choice advocates no longer simply try to criminalize abortion. Now, most legislative attacks are part of a strategy that relies on steadily implementing incremental restrictions with the goal of reserving safe and legal abortion as a luxury of the rich.
Women’s Law Project Executive Director Carol Tracy and Kate Michelman, co-chair of WomenVote PA, wrote about this connection on the even of Pope Francis’ historic visit to Philadelphia.
Good News in Horrific "Rape Bait" Case
A panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit issued a unanimous decision in favor of the female plaintiff who was raped as an eighth grader by a male student in an Alabama middle school in the case Hill v. Madison County School Board.
The young woman can now proceed to trial with her claim that Sparkman Middle School’s response to her reports of sexual harassment led to her being violently raped in a bathroom by a male student with a known history of violence and sexual misconduct. Read more about the Rape Bait Case here.
Victory! Pittsburgh Passes Earned Paid Sick Days
In staying true to its goal of being the “Most Livable City,” Pittsburgh passed the Paid Sick Days Act this afternoon, providing approximately 50,000 Pittsburgh workers the ability to earn paid sick days.
The victory in Pittsburgh comes on the heels of a similar ordinance passed in Philadelphia.
Women’s Law Project is proud to have been part of the unified effort to pass earned paid sick day legislation in both cities. Specifically, we were sure to inform lawmakers the ways that a lack of access to paid sick leave disproportionately affects women, who are often both primary breadwinners and caretakers of their families. Read more here.
WLP Executive Director Carol Tracy Addresses Failed Planned Parenthood Sting
Women’s Law Project Executive Director Carol E. Tracy recently spoke out about the misleadingly edited videos published by the ironically named fake organization “Center for Medical Progress” on The Rick Smith Show. Amid a whirlwind of media about the videos, Smith asked Tracy to provide an overview of the situation. Read more here.
WLP Managing Attorney Terry L. Fromson Honored as Trailblazer
WLP Files Amicus Brief in Pittsburgh Buffer Zone 3rd Circuit Appeal
After federal courts repeatedly upheld Pittsburgh’s 15-foot clinic buffer zone ordinance, opponents of legal abortion are still fighting to knock it down. The fight in Pittsburgh is an important one, with implications for the safety of patients and providers across the country. Read full story. See amicus brief.
Fair Pay for Pennsylvania Women Requires a Fair Minimum Wage
Minimum wage workers in Pennsylvania—mostly women—cannot support themselves and their families on earnings of just $7.25 per hour, or the tipped minimum cash wage of $2.83 per hour. Raise the Wage PA and the PA Campaign for Women’s Health support proposed legislation that would raise Pennsylvania’s minimum wage to at least $10.10 per hour, raise the tipped minimum wage to at least 70 percent of the minimum wage, index these wages to keep up with inflation, and increase penalties for employers who fail to pay workers the wages they are due. Increasing the minimum wage and tipped minimum wage are key steps toward fair pay for women in Pennsylvania. See full fact sheet here.
This morning’s Supreme Court ruling declaring same-sex marriage bans unconstitutional marks a victory for love. I can hear the chants outside my window, see it on the faces of my co-workers and feel it in my bones.
When Pennsylvania became the 19th state where same-sex couples could legally marry last year, the federal judge that overturned our state ban wrote that “we are a better people than what these laws represent, and it is time to discard them into the ash heap of history.” Read more here.
HB 1112 Amended: Victory for Female Athletes in PA!
We recently warned you about House Bill 1112, and asked you to take action on behalf of female athletes in Pennsylvania. We’re happy to report that your voices were heard, and the problem has been resolved.
WLP Announces the Campaign for Women's Health
Women’s Law Project is proud to announce founding membership in the Campaign for Women’s Health, a new statewide coalition formed to change the conversation about women’s health care in Pennsylvania.
For years now in Harrisburg, the phrase ‘women’s health’ has been code for restricting access to safe and legal abortion for poor and working women. The result of substituting sound public health policy for buzzword politics is clear: Pennsylvania consistently ranks abysmally low for women’s health and economic security across all indicators. Read more here. Also check out our Legislative Action page.
Report: Why We Need to Raise the Minimum Wage in PA
By Tara Murtha, WLP Staff
As the Pennsylvania Legislature considers bills to raise Pennsylvania’s minimum wage to $10.10, a new report breaks down the big-picture and local benefits of hiking the minimum wage.
Currently, minimum wage in Pennsylvania is $7.25, the lowest amount allowed by federal law since 2009.
Read more here.
What Young v. UPS Means for Pregnancy Discrimination in PA
The Supreme Court of the United States issued an opinion yesterday in the landmark pregnancy discrimination case Peggy Young v. United Parcel Service. At issue is whether or not the company violated the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) of 1978.
In short, the news is good for women. The Supreme Court pushed the case back to a lower court, giving Peggy Young another chance to prove that the company discriminated against her. "We think it's a big win for Peggy Young,” said Samuel Bagenstos, Young's lawyer at the Supreme Court. “We think it's a big win for pregnant workers around the country.” Read more...
Judge Upholds Pittsburgh Buffer Zone
By Tara Murtha
A federal judge has upheld the constitutionality of a 15-foot buffer zone ordinance that protects health care facilities in Pittsburgh. The decision is the first federal ruling on the constitutionality of a clinic buffer zone sinceMcCullen v. Coakley, the Supreme Court case decided last June. Read more...
King v. Burwell: What’s at stake for women in PA?
On March 4th, the Supreme Court of the United States heard oral arguments in King v. Burwell, the latest attempt to gut the Affordable Care Act.
King v. Burwell is a lawsuit brought by Virginia residents who ultimately hope to strip premium tax credits, also called a subsidy, from people who buy their health insurance through one of the 37 states with federally run exchanges.
WLP Attorneys: Penn Professors Are Wrong
by Tara Murtha, WLP Staff
Women’s Law Project Executive Director Carol E. Tracy, Managing Attorney Terry L. Fromson and Staff Attorney Amal Bass, lawyers with extensive experience working with Title IX, the civil law that prohibits discrimination in educational institutions that receive federal funding, have written an open letter responding to University of Pennsylvania professors’ criticism of their school’s new system for adjudicating sexual assault complaints.
WLP Files Title IX Complaints Against PA State System Universities
On April 17th, the Women’s Law Project filed complaints with the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) of the U.S. Department of Education against nine members of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PSSHE),ask ing OCR to address the historical and ongoing failure of these universities to provide equal athletic opportunity to their female students. The nine universities are Bloomsburg, Cheyney, Clarion, Indiana, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield, Millersville, and Shippensburg.
Fifteen national and state-based women’s rights legal organizations are marking the 50th Anniversary of the Equal Pay Act of 1963 with the launch of the Equal Pay Today! Campaign. Read more about the Equal Pay Today! Campaign and what you can do.
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