Rosh Chodesh Av: Compassion Over Anger

Residents of a Gaza Neighborhood

Residents of a Gaza Neighborhood

The Jewish calendar sets aside three weeks each summer to mourn for the loss of the Temple in Jerusalem. It is hard to believe that we who are so far from the sacrifices and offerings can sustain a sense of bereavement for so long.

Anyone who has suffered the loss of a loved one knows that intensity of grief may dissipate, but the empty space left behind is never completely filled. That is a human truth, not unique to Jews.

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Six Weeks Left to Enroll for Health Coverage

— by Katy Otto

This week, the federal government released new comprehensive statewide and national data on how many Americans have enrolled in new, more affordable health coverage through the Affordable Care Act’s Marketplaces.

The data shows that nearly 3.3 million people had chosen health plans through state-run exchanges as well as the federal exchange by February 1 — a 53% increase over the number enrolled a month earlier.

Many of these individuals are already receiving coverage as of January 1. Those who enroll by March 15 will receive their coverage starting April 1.

Open enrollment ends on March 31. Anyone who hasn’t enrolled by then, may have to wait until 2015 for health insurance and may be subject to a penalty.

During a Monday meeting in her Philadelphia office, the regional director of the Department of Health and Human Services, Joanne Grossi, told local organizations working on enrollment that the area had achieved the second-highest percentage in the federal marketplace, after Miami. This ranking was among cities in the 36 states that allowed the federal government to run their insurance exchange. Some larger cities, including New York and Los Angeles, are in states that created their own insurance marketplaces.

More than half of the enrollees (55 percent) are women and nearly 1 in 3 enrollees in January were younger than 35.

Planned Parenthood Southeastern Pennsylvania’s CEO, Dayle Steinberg, said, “These numbers are not surprising, given the law’s protections and benefits for women.

“That’s why Planned Parenthood Southeastern Pennsylvania is working to ensure that our patients and the communities we serve understand what they are eligible to receive.”

Manan Trivedi Fundraiser Hosted by Marjorie Margolies

— by Bonnie Squires

Former Congresswoman Marjorie Margolies hosted a fundraiser for Democratic Congressional candidate Dr. Manan Trivedi, with Kate Michelman, former president of NARAL, as the keynote speaker. Michelman recounted her own personal story of trauma and humiliation back in the late 1960s, before Roe v Wade, when she had to appear before a board of male gynecologists and then receive a letter of permission from her estranged husband in order to receive a therapeutic abortion.

Even though Trivedi’s district no longer includes Lower Merion, he is still a favorite of Democratic supporters there.

Photo by Bonnie Squires: Dr. Manan Trivedi, talks to Dayle Steinberg, head of PA NARAL; host Marjorie Margolies; and Kate Michelman at a reception in his honor.

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.

Obama Blocks Anti-Settlement UN Security Council Resolution

— Jason Attermann

Recently, Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg explicitly stated the Obama Administration’s steadfast opposition to the United Nations Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements. At a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing, Steinberg testified that the United States has actively worked to prevent a vote on the resolution, and will “continue to employ the tools that we have to make sure that continues to not happen.” He also said:

We have made very clear to a lot of countries … that we think this is counterproductive. I’m disappointed, frankly, that we haven’t had more success, but it has been in our engagement at the highest levels.

Steinberg also took the opportunity to stress the Obama Administration’s “unwavering support for Israel’s security,” amidst the changes occurring in the region:

We continue to believe that the best path to the long-term security of Israel and the stability of the region is the committed pursuit of comprehensive peace. … As the recent Quartet statement of the United Nations, Russia, the European Union, and the United States made clear, at a moment of upheaval across the region, serious negotiations toward peace remain essential. …We are committed to ensuring that political changes on Israel’s borders do not create new dangers for Israel or the region.  By working for orderly transitions, we believe we can help ensure Israel’s long-term security just as we can support governments that are more responsive to their people.