You’ve probably got Election Day – November 6th – circled on your calendar. But you might not have another important date on your calendar: October 9th.
That’s the deadline to register to vote in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
, and it’s pretty important, too!
Now’s the time to check if you’re registered – and make sure your friends do the same!
If you’re not registered to vote, find out if you’re eligible to vote and how to register on Votes PA.
If you’re not sure if you’re already registered, you can also find that out on Votes PA.
And you’ve probably been seeing a lot about Voter ID in the news or through social media. Here’s the deal: on Tuesday
, the Commonwealth Court ruled that no voter should be turned away from the polls because she or he lacks photo identification.
Poll workers may ask you for a photo ID on November 6th, but you do not need to have one in order to vote, and no one lacking ID will be asked to use a provisional ballot.[Note: This is just a temporary fix until after this November’s election. We’ll keep you updated on any future developments.]
Following a series of pre-launch screenings in Nevada and California, we’re excited to announce that documentary filmmaker Dorothy Fadiman will kick off a five-state, fall 2012 Choice at Risk
film-screening tour with a gathering on Sept. 27th in Philadelphia
sponsored by Pennsylvanians for Choice
The tour, facilitated by the Unitarian Universalist Association
which is just beginning a four-year, denomination-wide engagement with issues of reproductive justice, will then move across Pennsylvania. Each event features film and discussion to help raise awareness and inspire activism and will include selections from Fadiman’s Oscar-nominated, Emmy-winning PBS documentary series From the Back Alleys to the Supreme Court & Beyond.
In Philadelphia, the gathering is designed to challenge escalating restrictions on reproductive rights and celebrates the collegial working relationship of pro-choice and faith-based communities. Reverend Dr. Beverly Dale co-founder of PA Clergy for Choice and Pennsylvania Religious Coalition for Reproductive Justice will join Fadiman and members of the pro-choice coalition in Pennsylvania called Pennsylvanians for Choice
including: Philadelphia Women's Center
, WOMEN’S WAY
, Pennsylvania Clergy for Choice, the Pennsylvania Religious Coalition for Reproductive Justice
, Mishkan Shalom
, National Council of Jewish Women-Pennsylvania, Planned Parenthood Southeastern Pennsylvania
, Cherry Hill Women's Center
, Women's Medical Fund
, Faith Aloud
, and Medical Students for Choice
. The event will also feature resource tables from the organizations.
Thursday, September 27th from 7-9pmThe First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia
2125 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103
Other Pennsylvania tour stops include:
Friday, September 28th from 7-9pm
The Unitarian Society of Germantown
6511 Lincoln Drive, Philadelphia, PA 19119
Wednesday, October 3rd from 7-9pmUnitarian Church of Harrisburg
1280 Clover Lane, Harrisburg, PA 17113
Friday, October 5th from 7-9pmFirst Unitarian Church of Pittsburgh
605 Morewood Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15213
Sunday, October 7th in the afternoon
East Suburban Unitarian Universalist Church, PA
4326 Sardis Rd., Murrysville, PA 15668
Follow the tour via WHE at: www.facebook.com/wevehadenough
After the Pennsylvania tour concludes, Fadiman will continue to Ohio where she will hold an event at one of the biggest Unitarian Universalist Churches in the state. You can find out more information about the nationwide tour by visiting http://www.choiceatrisk.org/events.shtml
and about her work at www.Concentric.org
With the 2012 Summer Olympics in full swing, athletes are competing and apparently having lots of sex. And we aren’t kidding. Preparations for this international event in London included supplying the athletes with approximately 100,000 condoms
. This number has become the norm since the 2000 Sydney games where 70,000 Olympian designated condoms ran out.
Just before the games began, officials at the Olympics made final preparations to ensure that all athletes have the option of safe sex during their 2-week stay in London.
We wanted to use this as a moment to talk about the many other forms of contraception. Most people know about condoms and the birth control pill. From there, the options are vast but a bit murky. Do you know what Ortho Evra
is? How about the Birth Control Sponge
? Do you know the steps to getting an IUD
Which birth control method is right for you? Contraception can be tailored to your lifestyle. Several organizations have information available on the numerous options out there including Planned Parenthood’s nifty tool, My Method
. My Method
lets you know which birth control method may work best for you. Simply answer a few questions about your lifestyle and you will get suggestions and detailed information on each method.
Go ahead and try it out. Even if you are happy with your current method, it is a great tool to see what all your options. This is also a great time to re-evaluate your method since insurance companies are beginning to provide coverage for contraceptives with no co-pay as one of the preventive health services covered under the Affordable Care Act
As always, be sure to remember oral and hormonal contraceptives protect against pregnancy but not sexually transmitted diseases. Since condoms protect against both
pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, we are grateful that our Olympians are well stocked with rubbers.
Photo credit: http://www.votespa.com
I'll admit it. Even though Pennsylvania's Voter ID Law was passed over 4 months ago, I did not know very much about it. I knew it was controversial and that it only really affected a few people. In fact, originally state officials claimed it hardly effected anyone at all, with 99% of voters having valid Pennsylvania IDs (they later changed this number to 91%). I really had not taken the time to research what this new law meant.
Since I began participating in a voter registration project, signing up people to vote and collecting pledges to vote, I have been asked about the Voter ID law by several people, prompting me to learn as much about it as possible.
It is a good thing I did. Other than being able to talk to others about the law, I found out that I, myself, do not even have proper identification to vote in the upcoming presidential election. I am not the only one affected: over 758,000 Pennsylvania registered voters are without a PennDOT-issued driver's license or non-driver id. Without these acceptable forms of id, 9% of voters may not be able to vote.
So, what sort of identification do you need to be able to vote this November?
Acceptable Forms of ID
- Photo IDs issued by the U.S. Federal Government or the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
- PennDOT-issued Driver’s License or Non-driver’s License photo ID (IDs are valid for voting purposes 12 months past expiration date)
Make sure all ID's meet the following standards:
- U.S. military ID- active duty and retired military (a military ID must designate an expiration date or designate that the expiration date is indefinite). Military dependents’ ID must contain an expiration date
"(1) your photo ID is current and includes an expiration date. Driver’s licenses and PennDOT non-driver photo IDs can be expired by one year or less. Military IDs can say expiration date is indefinite.
(2) AND the name on your photo ID closely matches your name in the voter registry."
Want to know what you have to do? VotesPA will show you the steps to take to have the correct form of id at the polls. The PennDOT website also has great info on how to get your ID.
Today is National HIV Testing Day
. Tomorrow, June 28th, we expect the Supreme Court’s decision on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act
(ACA). And next week, on July 4th, as a country, we celebrate our independence.
Yet, for many of us, our independence is stifled by the attacks on reproductive health or by rising health care costs or a lack of health insurance coverage - either being underinsured or uninsured.
Despite the negative focus on the individual mandate, etc., the ACA
, also known as the health care law, has tremendous benefits. It will give Americans the independence they need to care for themselves and their families. It will bring us closer to eliminating the need to decide whether to put food on the table or purchase a prescription or receive a much needed medical test or exam.
In the ACA
, there is a menu of preventive health services with no-co pay including HIV testing! This means, should the health care law withstand the legal challenge, no one will have an excuse not to get an HIV test.
However, as we await a decision, if you have the means to obtain an HIV test, today is the perfect day to schedule an appointment or take advantage of a free testing event since it’s National HIV Testing Day
. And there are many providers who offer low-cost testing throughout Pennsylvania.
also prevents insurance companies from denying coverage or discriminating against individuals based on a pre-existing condition. This is an important clause for anyone living with HIV/AIDS or another chronic disease.
After everything is said and done, the health care law is a step in the right direction and we hope it will survive the scrutiny by the Supreme Court. Read more about what’s included in the health care law at: www.healthcare.gov
and be sure to spread the word. It will truly help Americans live long, healthy lives.
In recent conversations with my mother and a friend’s grandmother, I was reminded of the immense struggle that previous generations went through in the early part of the 20th century to achieve women’s healthcare rights and access to family planning services. It struck me how easily my generation has been able to forget that rights to women’s reproductive healthcare including access to birth control and legal abortion have not always been a right. These rights were demanded by and fought for by our mothers, grandmothers, great-grandmothers, and aunts. They are responsible for helping all women obtain the right to important health services and ultimately the right to choose what to do with their own body.
Polling suggests that most people support the preventive care that Planned Parenthood
provides. However, many lawmakers in America think that Planned Parenthood only provides abortion services, that it is simply a clinic for the poor and irresponsible to go to for help. In reality, Planned Parenthood provides thousands of women the basic healthcare they require to lead healthy and fulfilling lives. In Pennsylvania, over 95% of PP’s services are preventive, meaning that they perform everything from pap smears and breast examinations to screenings for cervical cancer to family planning services. Most importantly, Planned Parenthood offers a safe environment where high-quality care is provided at an affordable price.
Over the past year and a half there has been an increase in the political debates and media coverage surrounding women’s reproductive healthcare, with hot button issues like abortion and birth control as the main focus. While abortion has always been a controversial issue that elicits major public response, the increasing political debates about birth control seems to have taken center stage
. Perhaps one of the most significant achievements in women’s reproductive health in the last thirty years is contraceptive coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Birth control is also symbolic of a woman’s freedom and ability to have control over her own life. However, rather than be recognized as solely a woman’s health issue, attacks on birth control have also been framed as an issue of religious freedom. In truth, these debates are centered around restricting access to contraception, thereby undermining and infringing upon our freedoms and rights as women.
The “War on Women
” threatens to infringe and even take away our reproductive health rights; it is a war with a political agenda that illustrates how little policy makers and political leaders understand or care about women’s health
and the needs of women everywhere. In light of the 39th anniversary of Roe V. Wade’s earlier this year, the numerous attacks on birth control, the impending Supreme Court’s decision on ACA and Pennsylvania’s new “Whole Woman’s Health Funding Priorities Act
,” there is no time like the present for our generation to come together and become more involved in protecting our rights and our bodies. If we don’t fight to keep the reproductive health coverage the generations before us fought for, it can and will be taken away.
State Representative Daryl Metcalfe
(R-Butler) introduced the "Whole Woman’s Health Funding Priorities Act"
on Wednesday that essentially threatens to punish health care providers that offer abortion services by redirecting funds to providers that do not.
The name alone is indicative of the misleading nature of the bill. Choc full of fuzzy words like “priority” and “women’s health”, at first glance, the bill appears vaguely pro-women. Don’t be fooled. Like many of its’ predecessors, the true nature of this bill is politically and, not to mention, religiously motivated. This fact became frighteningly clear at Metcalfe’s press conference
held Wednesday, which was replete with religious propaganda, including direct passages from the bible courtesy of Senator Kathy Rapp (R-Warren/Forest/McKean). With all of their efforts to dress this bill in sheep’s clothing prior to the conference, they didn’t seem to have an issue letting the wolf out of its cage once the cameras got rolling.
Persistent claims that the proposed bill does not take funds away from family planning and women’s health all together are true if you ignore the large percentage of Pennsylvanians that do not have access to health insurance or a choice about where they go for reproductive health care. What the bill does do is redirect funds from clinics, like Planned Parenthood
, who provide over 44,000 Pennsylvania women and men annually, many of whom are uninsured, with breast cancer screenings, STD testing and treatment, pap smears, maternity care and other medical services unrelated to abortion.
For many women, Planned Parenthood is the only clinic in an otherwise healthcare wasteland. A large percentage of Planned Parenthood patients live in low-income, rural and medically underserved areas where there generally aren't other reputable providers of the same types of services. Planned Parenthood clinics receive a substantial percentage of their money through state and federal government funding streams, including Medicaid and Titles V, X and XX and so by default this bill would negatively affect these services far more than it would abortion services since NONE of these funds can legally go to abortion.
What is worse, though Metcalfe and his posse made it clear that Planned Parenthood is indeed the primary target of the bill, they have failed to speak frankly about the wide array of other health clinics and even hospitals that would lose precious funding with the passage of this bill. So, while it’s easy for legislators to claim that they are not making cuts to family planning, it is clear that this bill seeks to disempower women who need these services most while simultaneously servicing bible-based politics.
I haven’t always had health problems. Growing up I was generally fine and it wasn’t until my late teens I developed chronic and debilitating head pain. The condition continued, and continues, to worsen over time. These were no regular headaches or even migraines, but something much more rare. Thus began several years of being referred to countless specialists, all ordering different diagnostic testing to determine what I had and how to treat it. Thankfully I had health insurance—first under my parents’ coverage and after college I had a great job that covered me.
As life always changes, my partner and I ended up moving to a new city so he could attend graduate school. Even before moving, I started looking for jobs. And I knew getting new health insurance would be a top priority. I enrolled with COBRA to continue my benefits from my last job, but it was very expensive and through a regional carrier who didn’t even have providers in my new state. So while looking for a job and sending in dozens of cover letters, I was also trying to be a good consumer and compared all sorts of different health insurance plans to find the best one for me.
I decided on a plan offered by Aetna, filled out all the paperwork, and waited for a response. In a letter mailed to me a few weeks later, Aetna stated that considering my pre-existing condition, they wouldn’t let me purchase insurance from them. Disheartened but hopeful I tried for my second choice—Independence Blue Cross. Their letter wasn’t as bad, stating they would let me buy insurance, but nothing related to the pre-existing condition, so basically nothing ‘above the neck’, would be covered for the first year. That wasn’t too helpful since my condition was a major reason why I wanted health insurance.
Thankfully I was offered a job shortly thereafter that offered health insurance coverage starting immediately. But this experience left me extremely nervous. What if the economy takes a turn for the worse and I lose my job? This is why I was so happy when the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was passed and stipulated that starting in 2014, I cannot be denied individual health insurance because of my condition. But this week, with the fate of the ACA in the hands of the Supreme Court, I am nervous all over again. I just hope the Justices do the right thing and uphold this critical law that will help me and so many others.
Dear Virginia, (CC: outraged left wing media)
Your little legislature was wrong. There is a state more demeaning to women than you. Up here across the Mason Dixon line, we’ve managed to come up with a forced ultrasound bill
more cruel and medically unnecessary than yours! (It was tough, I’ll be honest)
If our bill becomes law, women will have to wait at least 24 hours after their ultrasound before an abortion, no matter how far away they live from the provider. And here in Pennsylvania, 113 of the 203 elected state Representatives have signed on to our ultrasound bill. That’s more than your twelve by a long shot!
Our bill FORCES the doctor to turn the ultrasound screen towards the woman’s face. Don’t worry – we avoided constitutional meddling by “allowing her” to look away. I heard you only give ‘the opportunity’ to view the ultrasound image. LAME!
LOVE the “free ultrasound providers” bit! We did that, too, so now we can funnel women to those so-called “crisis pregnancy centers” where they can be fed state-funded, unregulated misinformation. We don’t even require that ultrasound providers have any training!
Oh and you’ll love the part about the printouts – listen to this. We’re going to make the woman take TWO prints with her – one for her scrapbook, and the other one SHE has to bring to the doctor performing the abortion (if she hasn’t been shamed out of it at this point! LOL).
And come on now, only civil penalties? Our bill includes civil and
criminal penalties for doctors and patients who dare defy our legislating of medicine.
Nice try, Virginia. But you’ve got nothin’ on Pennsylvania.
Your partner in crime,
Virtue, Liberty and Independence (Unless you’re a woman)___________________________________________________________________________________ You’ve probably heard about the Virginia ultrasound bill recently, but did you realize Pennsylvania has a bill pending that’s even worse? The Pennsylvania House of Representatives is poised to take up HB 1077, the disingenuously titled “Women’s Right to Know Act”. Are you ready to stop the cruel, demeaning attacks on women in Pennsylvania? Sign the petition and urge your representative to vote NO on HB 1077 and stop this demeaning and unnecessary bill from becoming law in Pennsylvania.
By Shana Mihovics
Somewhere along the way we lost our recognition of the color grey. Yet, it's there. Whether life begins at conception, or whether it is when there is a sign of purpose, or consciousness or at birth, these are complex questions on which there is no universal agreement. No one's situation is the same. No one's options are ever the same. Life isn't fair and circumstances are not always equal. 13,000 women become pregnant every year due to rape or incest. One woman dies every seven minutes around the world due to an unsafe abortion. Those facts are black and white.
Here at Planned Parenthood, we try to help women have as much black and white in their lives as possible in a proactive, positive way. We educate, we support, and we offer services to help them plan their lives and their choices.
But there's always going to be grey in life. Thank you Roe vs. Wade for the compassion and logic that Roe vs. Wade made possible. Not wanting to acknowledge grey won't ever get rid of the color.
Shana is an intern at Planned Parenthood Advocates of PA.