Planned Parenthood Holds Powerful Rally in West Chester, PA

Over 100 Supporters of Women’s Health Say “We Are Watching, and We Vote!”

— by Audrey Ann Ross and Sari Stevens

Planned Parenthood held a rally today in West Chester, Pennsylvania, as part of the Women are Watching bus tour, which is crisscrossing the country to educate voters about what’s at stake for women’s health in November and mobilize them to get out the vote.

Gathering at the Historic Chester County Courthouse, more than 100 voters sent a clear message to candidates and politicians like Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, and Dan Truitt, who oppose policies that protect women’s health — women are watching and they vote.  This year, women will decide the outcome of elections across Pennsylvania and the country, and are watching very closely to ensure that they elect candidates who will protect access to women’s health care.

More after the jump.


1st and 3rd photo: courtesy of John Morgan, 2nd photo courtesy of Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

Ten Things Every American Jew Should Know about Paul Ryan


The truth about Rep. Ryan’s role model Ayn Rand

(NJDC) Below are ten documented things that every American Jew should know about Republican vice presidential candidate Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI).

  1. Ryan twice authored regressive budgets that drew concern — and even ire — from many in the Jewish community because of the deep cuts they made to vital social safety net programs that would strand the poor, many in the middle class, seniors, children, and other groups who depend on government assistance. Organizations that panned his budget included the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, B’nai B’rith, and the National Council of Jewish Women, among others.
  2. Ryan wants to end Medicare as we know it by turning it into a voucher program — which would dramatically increase the burden on seniors by leaving them to pick up the tab.
  3. Ryan wants to replace Medicaid with block grants which would severely impact millions of Americans — including seniors, the disabled, and the poor — who desperately need the basic guarantees offered by Medicaid.
  4. Ryan has called Social Security a “Ponzi scheme and advanced a plan to turn it into a privatized program. Under Ryan’s vision, future retirement benefits would be pegged to the risky ups and downs of the stock market instead of providing guaranteed assistance to those who paid into Social Security and earned it.
  5. Ryan has little — if any — foreign policy or national security experience, yet pushed for cuts to the foreign aid budget that are strongly opposed by the pro-Israel community. Also indicative of his inexperience, Ryan had the chutzpah to accuse America’s top generals of lying — for which he later apologized.
  6. Ryan — like the rest of the House Republican caucus — has voted at least six times against measures to strengthen Iran sanctions during the 112th Congress simply because those measures were advanced by Democrats.
  7. Ryan is as anti-choice as they come. He is a proud supporter of so-called “personhood” efforts and even floated the idea of allowing states to criminalize abortions and the women who receive them. Ryan voted to defund Planned Parenthood four times and is opposed to the President’s contraception compromise.
  8. Ryan voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which protects equal pay for women.
  9. Ryan is a staunch opponent of equal rights for gays and lesbians — including marriage equality and military service.
  10. Ryan wants to eliminate millions of dollars in funding for federal Pell Grants that allow low income students to attend college.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s selection of Ryan to serve as his vice presidential candidate is the clearest indication yet that Romney does not reflect the values of most American Jews. This alarming partnership between Romney and Ryan will further reinforce the reasons why such a significant majority of American Jews will be voting to reelect President Barack Obama this November.

Jewish Legislator Silenced Defending Religious Freedom & Choice


After these remarks, House Republicans censored Rep. Lisa Brown (D-MI) for using the word “vagina,” and barred her from the subsequent debate on education. Brown said at a press conference: “If I can’t say the word vagina, why are we legislating vaginas? What language should I use?”

According to Benjy Sarlin:

A second lawmaker, Rep. Barb Byrum (D), was also gaveled down after introducing a bill that would require men to prove that their life was in danger before they were allowed to receive a vasectomy.

“I was ignored by the majority floor leader and not allowed to speak on my amendment, which would have held the same standards for men and women when it comes to legal, voluntary procedures in reproductive health, and now I am being silenced for standing up for women,” Byrum said, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Satire: Customer Service

Ring.

Hello, Romneytron 2012 Customer Service. “Believe in America.” How may I help you?

Hi, I just voted for the Romneytron 2012 but I am not sure its empathy circuit is acting right.

What do you mean?

It is saying all sorts of strange things like: “I like to fire people who provide services to me” and “I’m not concerned about the very poor.” It even strapped its dog to the roof of the car for a twelve-hour road trip and shows no sign of remorse.

More after the jump.

It sounds like it is stuck in “Tea Party mode”. Have you tried resetting it?

That’s what I thought. I called earlier when the Romneytron locked up the nomination and your colleague Eric Fehrnstrom said “It’s almost like an Etch-A-Sketch. You can kind of shake it up and restart all over again.”


Did that help?

Not really. It turns out the Romneytron assaulted a student who he suspected of being gay, forced him to the ground and clipped his hair with a pair of scissors. And now he shows no regret for having committed a hate crime.

I don’t know what you customers want. You said the Romneytron 2001 was too French. You said the Romneytron 2002 was too pro-Choice. You said the Romneytron 2008 wasn’t conservative enough. There is no way to satisfy you people.

What ever happened to “The customer is always right?” I just want a leader who cares about my problems and will take my side.

Click.

I love being able to hang up on people.

PA Senator Responds to Corbett’s “Don’t Watch” Comment

The following piece is reprinted by permission from Daylin Leach's State Senate site:

Gov.  Tom Corbett said he would sign a proposed law to make women getting a  state-paid abortion watch a fetal ultrasound but said: “I don’t know how  you make anybody watch it, OK? Because you just have to close your  eyes. … But as long as it’s "on exterior, not interior,” he will approve  it.

By Peter L. DeCoursey
Bureau Chief
Capitolwire

HARRISBURG  (May 15) – The new Quinnipiac Poll says Pennsylvanians disapprove of a  proposal 48-42 percent to show a fetal ultrasound to women getting  state-paid abortions, but an unexpected demographic led that opposition:  men.

Women are tied on the idea, 45-45 in the new Quinnipiac Polling Institute survey, but men oppose it 51-39.

Voters with a college degree opposed it 57-35, while those without a degree are essentially tied, 45 percent for it, 44 against.

The poll surveyed 1,256 registered voters and its results carry an error margin of plus or minus 2.8 percentage points.

Gov.  Tom Corbett said Tuesday he continued to support the bill, and would  sign it “as long as it’s not obtrusive,” and the ultrasound is done  externally, over the belly, not intrusively in the vagina.

“But as  long as it’s on exterior, not interior,” he will approve it, Corbett  said. The bill awaiting House action, from Rep. Kathy Rapp, R-Warren, is  silent about whether the mandated ultrasound would be external or  trans-vaginal. A bill signed by Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell requires the  mandated ultrasound to be external.

Corbett was then asked if he  considered forcing women to watch it “obtrusive?” He said: “I don’t know  how you make anybody watch it, OK? Because you just have to close your  eyes” to avoid seeing it.

Sen. Daylin Leach, D-Montgomery,  responded: “I'm going to assume he meant ‘intrusive’ instead of  ‘obtrusive.’ And while I'm not a woman, I would imagine that any woman  would find a tube inserted into her vagina against her will to be  ‘intrusive.’ This, coupled with his admonition to women to just ‘close  your eyes,’ shows a breathtaking, almost inhuman, insensitivity. I mean,  oh my God.”

Reminded that Corbett said he would only sign a bill  that mandated an “exterior, not interior” ultrasound, Leach responded:  “Well, I'm also told he said he'd sign the Rapp bill, which, if you read  it, is ‘interior.’ If he now says he veto Rapp, then that's different.  But we can't let him get away with looking slightly less crazy while  signing a fully crazy bill.”

Medical groups have said that  interior ultrasounds are needed during the early term when many  abortions are performed, to see the fetus, and asked that the Rapp bill  be clarified so that like the Virginia law, it is limited to exterior  ultrasounds.

The poll showed voters opposed trans-vaginal  ultrasounds 64-23. Men opposed it 67-18 and women, 61-28. It also showed  voters favored abortion to be legal in all or most cases, 54-37.

Tim  Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac Polling Institute, said  they were not sure why men opposed the bill more than women.

I'm proud and pleased that Daylin is in the State Senate. I'm considering moving 2 miles so he can be MY  state senator. It gives me hope that there are a few (Daylin is one of 3  I can think of offhand) people in the PA Senate who are thoughtful,  conscientious and sane. Hopefully the Pennsylvania electorate will elect  more of them. I feel ashamed that I pay taxes to support a  gubernatorial administration that supports these ultrasounds, as well as  the new Voter ID law.

Ten Things Every American Jew Should Know About Mitt Romney


Pro-life mailer sent by Romney campaign to Iowa voters


Ron Paul (R-TX) & Mitt Romney (R-MA) laugh during break at debate Jan. 23. Photo: Chris O’Meara (AP)

(NJDC) Below are ten documented things every American Jew should know about former Massachusetts governor and presidential candidate Mitt Romney; follow the links to view supporting materials.

  1. Romney emphasized recently that he would defund Planned Parenthood, and that his would “be a pro-life presidency.”
  2. Questions linger surrounding the Iran-tainted assets of Romney’s charity, even as President Obama places unprecedented pressure on Iran.
  3. With each passing month, Romney has disagreed more and more with the scientific consensus regarding global climate change.
  4. Romney vehemently opposed the President’s contraception compromise, which will ensure that women’s preventive services are widely available while addressing religious liberty concerns. This compromise was praised by groups ranging from the Catholic Health Association to the Orthodox Union.
  5. During nationally-televised debates, Romney has engaged in outright lies surrounding the President’s record on Israel, and he uses Israel as a partisan wedge issue whenever possible.
  6. While 76% of Jews support gay marriage and even more support gay rights, Romney doesn’t just oppose gay marriage — he has chosen to engage in gay-baiting rhetoric in front of conservative crowds.
  7. Romney told CNN, “yes, I would vote for” the anti-Israel Ron Paul for president if Paul were to become the GOP nominee.
  8. Romney’s flip-flops are legendary; for example, he supported key elements of the Affordable Care Act — including the individual mandate — but he now promises to dismantle it.
  9. Romney is no moderate, at least not now. By his own description, he’s “severely conservative.”
  10. As the front page of The Washington Post has recently noted, Romney has formed a “strategic partnership” with the anti-Israel Ron Paul.

Nazi References in Choice Debate Unacceptable

(NJDC) Anti-choice activists and pundits have a long and clear record of invoking the Holocaust to protest a woman’s right to choose. Lately, many of those same forces have been attacking the mandate for health insurance companies to provide no-cost contraception to women contained in the Affordable Care Act. As their rhetoric continues to get nastier, at least one member of the anti-choice side has opted to invoke the Holocaust to protest women’s access to contraception.

According to NARL Pro-Choice America’s Blog For Choice, conservative pundit Eric Metaxas invoked Nazi Germany during a debate on MSNBC’s “Jansing & Co.” Apparently:

Metaxas called contraception and women’s health “side issues”-and then likened the no-cost birth-control rule to the rise of Nazi Germany in the 1930s:

In [my] book, you read about what happened to an amazingly great country, called Germany. I’m half German. Uh, in the early ’30s, little things were happening where the state was bullying the churches. No one spoke up. In the beginning, it always starts really, really small. We need to understand as America, as Americans, if we do not see this as a bright line in the sand, if you’re not a Catholic, if you use contraception, doesn’t matter. Because eventually, this kind of government overreach will affect you. If we don’t speak up, we’re gonna be in trouble.

As we have said repeatedly, invoking the Holocaust to make a political point is never acceptable. Doing so devalues the significance of the Holocaust and disrespects the memories of those who perished. We demand that those seeking to restrict a woman’s right to choose — including Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum — cease using such insensitive language immediately.

Reform Movement to Komen on Defunding of Planned Parenthood


Though the Komen Foundation announced that it would award no new contracts to Planned Parenthood clinics, Brinker denied that Komen was actually “defunding” Planned Parenthood, a technical point based on the fact that a few grants have yet to expire.

This afternoon, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, and Rabbi Marla Feldman, Executive Director of the Women of Reform Judaism, sent a letter to Ambassador Nancy Brinker, the founder and CEO of Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

We urge you to use your leadership in Komen for the Cure to reinstate funding to PPFA for breast cancer screening, to reconsider the standard by which the organization makes funding decisions, and to continue to fight for the health and lives of women everywhere.

The full text of the letter follows the jump.

Dear Ambassador Brinker,

On behalf of the Union for Reform Judaism whose 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, the Central Conference of American Rabbis, with membership of more than 1800 Reform rabbis, and the Women of Reform Judaism, which represents more than 65,000 women in nearly 500 women’s groups in North America and around the world, we write to express our disappointment in Susan G. Komen for the Cure’s decision to halt its longstanding partnership with Planned Parenthood Federation of America, thereby withholding funds to fight breast cancer where they are most needed.

Komen for the Cure has helped hundreds of thousands of women in the fight against breast cancer, and has educated millions, bringing the once taboo and closeted subject of breast cancer into the public domain. Indeed, the global impact that you and Komen for the Cure have had was precisely why we were so pleased to bestow upon you the Eisendrath Bearer of Light Award at our recent Biennial convention. And this is why we are so deeply disappointed by Komen’s decision to cease funding mammograms provided by PPFA in the face of a politically-motivated investigation unrelated to PPFA’s breast cancer screenings for vulnerable women.

At the same December Biennial, the Women of Reform Judaism honored PPFA President Cecile Richards and applauded PPFA’s work to advance women’s health. It is painful for us now to see politics and partisanship interfere with and undermine efforts to support women who lack the resources they need for preventive medical services like mammograms. Each year Planned Parenthood’s network of more than 800 clinics nationwide provides nearly 830,000 breast exams. PPFA has stated that, over the past five years, 170,000 of the centers’ 4 million breast exams conducted were a direct result of Komen grants. Halting Komen grant money to PPFA is contrary to your organization’s mission and interests, directly and unfairly threatening the health and safety of women.

Upon accepting the Eisendrath Bearer of Light Award, you told the story of two women, one Palestinian and one Israeli, marching together to combat breast cancer in the first Race for the Cure in Israel. You explained with admiration that, in the course of the walk, they were able to forget the political climate that divided them and they bonded instead over the common cause of women’s health. We now urge Komen to follow their example by rejecting efforts to sow division among women’s health advocates and providers and refusing to sacrifice the lives of women on the altar of political ideology.

We understand that this funding decision comes from a new standard employed by Komen for the Cure that defunds organizations under government investigation. While we understand the desire to have an objective policy in place, this particular standard is misguided, threatening more than just grants to PPFA. We believe there are less partisan ways to accomplish your goals. For example, a standard that is linked to investigations carried out by law enforcement is more likely to be free of partisanship. The standard that Komen has established allows Komen’s funding decisions to be dictated by the political whims, partisanship and pet issues of individual members of Congress, who persuade their committees to launch an investigation.  This new standard may appear to extricate Komen from politicization, yet in reality it leaves the group open to even greater politicization.

We urge you to use your leadership in Komen for the Cure to reinstate funding to PPFA for breast cancer screening, to reconsider the standard by which the organization makes funding decisions, and to continue to fight for the health and lives of women everywhere.

We look forward to your prompt reply.

Sincerely,
s
Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
Rabbi Marla Feldman, Executive Director of the Women of Reform Judaism

Philadelphia Marriott Downtown to host over 900 Jewish teens December 25-29

Over 900 Jewish high school students from across North America will gather in Philadelphia December 25-29 for United Synagogue Youth’s annual international convention.  The convention, the largest annual gathering of Jewish young people, wraps up a year of events marking USY’s 60th anniversary, and will include an attempt – expected to be successful – to achieve the official world record for the most dreidels spun simultaneously in the same room; remarks by Gen. Norton Schwartz, Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force, the highest ranking Jewish member of the U.S. military; and student participation in community service work in Philadelphia.

 
United Synagogue’s organization for middle and high school students was established in 1951, and since then it has given Jewish teenagers the opportunity to come together to celebrate and learn about Judaism, develop a sense of Jewish identity, acquire leadership skills, and build lifelong friendships.  It has become one of the largest and most active Jewish youth groups in the world.

“Part of our objective is to teach the Jewish values of g’milut hasadim (performing acts of loving-kindness for others) and tikkun olam, which is, literally, repairing the world,” said Karen Stein, USY Convention Director.  “We make a positive impact on the surrounding community while teaching our youth the importance of helping others, regardless of faith or race.  It’s amazing how the positive energy generated by students’ experiences at Convention can have an impact for months afterward.  USYers return to their regions and chapters full of new ideas that give a real boost to the level of programming and involvement in USY.”

This year’s convention will feature volunteer opportunities for participants in community projects all over Philadelphia, including:

  • Stuffing stuffed animals for children in Israeli hospitals
  • Creating greetings to accompany Passover baskets to be sent to families in need
  • Learning to become a mitzvah clown for healing and laughter projects
  • Advocating for Israel
  • Engaging in sensitivity training on disabilities and Judaism
  • Collecting food for donation
  • Spending time with senior citizens
  • Supporting United Synagogue’s lone soldier program for non-Israeli soldiers serving in Israel’s armed forces
  • Collecting blankets for hospitalized children
  • Participating in the Israel Guide Dog Center program which trains seeing eye dogs
  • Bringing at-risk teenagers together in intercultural dialogue through the Camden Love/Hate program

As students come together to share in the traditions of Chanukah, they will endeavor to achieve the official world record for the most dreidels spun simultaneously in the same room.  The current record of 618 was set by Yeshiva University students last year.

“USY provides a positive forum for social, educational and religious programming for thousands of teens,” said Jules Gutin, USY Director.  “The annual USY International Convention allows hundreds of teenagers to come together with staff to share experiences and learn from each other in an environment that celebrates the best of Conservative Judaism – community, social action, learning, and, of course, fun.”

The students who attend also will enjoy:

  • Reunions with fellow summer program and camp participants
  • Celebration of a special musical tribute to USY’s 60th anniversary
  • Developing new friendships across the continent
  • Leadership training
  • Creative and inspiring prayer experiences
  • The election and installation of new international board officers
  • An address to students by Gen. Norton Schwartz, Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force, and the highest ranking Jewish member of the U.S. military

Sixty years after its founding, USY, and Kadima, its program for middle school students, continue to play a significant role in shaping the lives of young Conservative Jews and future Jewish leaders.  Tens of thousands of young people have been USY members, and USY alumni have risen to significant leadership roles, serving in the United States Congress, as CEOs of major corporations, and as presidents of influential Jewish organizations and prominent universities.

“USYers come to the International Convention because it is a tremendous opportunity to see old friends and make new ones from all across North America,” said Daniel (DJ) Kaplan of Orange, Ohio, 2011 USY International President.  “Convention is a great place to exchange ideas – there is a good chance that what works in one place can help another USY chapter’s program somewhere else.”

  • WHAT: USY International Convention
  • WHO: Over 900 Jewish high school students from across North America
  • WHEN: Sunday, December 25, 2011 through Thursday, December 29, 2011
  • WHERE: Philadelphia Marriott Downtown, 1201 Market Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

A program of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, United Synagogue Youth provides a social, religious and educational forum where high school students can explore and celebrate their Judaism, live Jewish lives in accordance with Jewish ethics and values, and become better members of the Jewish and greater communities in which they live, all in the context of the Conservative movement.