A sunny NARAL July

If you’ve been wondering what’s been happening in the NARAL Pro-Choice South Dakota world this summer, the simple answer is: we’ve been celebrating!

Early in the month, the whole NARAL South Dakota team headed west for a weekend in Rapid City.

The weekend began with a fiesta in Whitewood, hosted by our lovely Board Member Elizabeth Moll. “Sangria, Salsa, and Standing up for Choice” was a great success – mouthwatering kabobs, refreshing sangria, the now famed margarita cupcakes and the company were well worth the drive to Whitewood. The fiesta was a great way to celebrate the reproductive choice movement and those we are fortunate enough to work with in the fight!

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DSC_1292While the team was in Rapid, we also celebrated Pride at the festival sponsored by the Black Hills Center for Equality. There was a great showing of vendors and attendees. The staff proudly sported “NOH8” tattoos, along with many of the festival goers. It was great to be see such an upbeat crowd of people taking pride in equality and all kinds of love.

DSC_0013DSC_0025After the Pride Festival, the League of Young Leaders (LoYL) hosted a happy hour and painting session – and some more celebration of equality.

DSC_0034Be you, for you. We love that!

In July we also celebrated the many triumphs and contributions of our former executive director, Alisha Sedor. While Alisha’s last day with the affiliate was at the end of July, we know that her legacy at the affiliate will carry on in the strength of the fight for reproductive rights in South Dakota.

DSC_0169DSC_0156We have been SO fortune to have a line of strong, fearless leaders who have championed our fight for women’s reproductive rights in South Dakota. Alisha’s departure served as reminder for how important it is to celebrate the strong women we have the good fortune of working with at NARAL Pro-Choice South Dakota.

Here’s to August!

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A playlist for celebrating Sen. Wendy Davis & the end of DOMA

Today brings the kind of news headlines that make a progressive heart happy. Historical rulings and an unwavering demonstration in Texas have made the nation buzz with hope.

So as you soak up all the emotion of this day – perhaps after shedding some tears of joy (goodness knows there were some from us) – we have created a playlist with songs to keep you in the feel-good mood that this day deserves.

First, some songs in honor of the amazing, inspiring Texas Senator Wendy Davis who stood and spoke against SB 5 – a bill that would have effectively close most of the clinics in Texas – for over ten hours yesterday. Obviously, she deserves some mad respect.

Because she was going to be on her feet – continuously – all day, Sen. Davis wore bright pink running sneakers for the filibuster. The shoes quickly became a symbol for her stand against the bill and her fight for women. Indeed, her sneaks (boots) were made for standing (walking) – and that’s just what she did.

Granted, we can’t be fully excited that the media jumped at the chance to focus on the Senator’s appearance above all else, but I digress.

While it appeared for awhile last night that the Texas Senate might have snuck in a vote at the last moment, this morning it was clear that Sen. Davis’ epic filibuster had succeeded in halting the passage of the anti-choice SB 5. She triumphed in protecting choice in Texas – at least until the next session.

An overwhelming crowd of pro-choice supporters in the Capitol building cheered and stayed late into the night to support the efforts of the filibuster. It was heartwarming to see those in the pro-choice movement refuse to back down.

Next we are dedicating songs to the historical Supreme Court decision that we’ve been waiting for. This morning, the Supreme Court ruled the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional, paving the way for marriage equality in the states. The Court also refused to take up Proposition 8 – allowing gay marriage to be legal again in California. Can you feel the love, or what?

DOMA was ruled unconstitutional by a 5-4 vote, with Justice Kennedy writing the majority opinion. You could say that Justice Kennedy is the best thing that (ever) happened to us (today).

The Supreme Court definitely made progress for the nation, taking a big step toward recognizing that it’s all the same love – and marriage is a right of every citizen.

Is it disappointing that marriage equality – equal rights – are still up for debate in this century? Yes.

Is it heartbreaking that Sen. Davis had to forgo food, drink, and even merely sitting, as a final defense against a terrible bill aimed at taking basic bodily autonomy from women? Yes.

But progress is progress. And we will take it and celebrate it.

Song List: Respect – Aretha Franklin I Won’t Back Down – Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers These Boots Are Made for Walkin’ – Nancy Sinatra Every Little Thing She Does is Magic – The Police Don’t Stop – Fleetwood Mac I Will Wait – Mumford and Sons You are the Best Thing – Ray LaMontagne Same Love – Macklemore Can you Feel the Love Tonight? – Elton John You Don’t Own Me – Leslie Gore

Emergency contraception odds shift in women’s favor

Just last week we were shaking our heads in frustration and wondering what the deal was with the government, the courts and emergency contraception.

We wrote a whole post about how disappointed and confused we were that restrictions continued on emergency contraceptive access.

We even created a set of graphics to display the “games” we saw being played with emergency contraceptives – and how women were clearly set up to constantly lose.

ImageImageImageImageImageImageBut this week, (we think partially in response to our clever graphics, of course) the Obama administration decided to stop blocking the over-the-counter sale of emergency contraceptives to women and girls. This means that the Food and Drug Administration will comply with Judge Edward Korman’s ruling that emergency contraceptives be accessible without a prescription and without age restrictions or proof of age.

Plan B One Step will now be available over-the-counter without age restrictions, and its generic counterparts are likely to apply for the same approval. Two-pill forms of emergency contraceptives will still fall under restrictions, due to concerns that young girls might struggle to understand dosage directions.

The access rules to emergency contraceptives haven’t necessarily simplified, then, but we are hopeful that now women and girls are more likely to succeed in obtaining emergency contraceptives when they need them.

**In South Dakota all of this could make no difference if your pharmacist refuses to distribute emergency contraception, which they can do under current state law.

For help dealing with this, look for a copy of our recently updated Emergency Contraception Pamphlet for information on which pharmacies do carry emergency contraception in the state. Or request one by emailing us at jenny@prochoicesd.org.

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Bro-Choice = Pro-Choice

The “Bro-Choice” campaign created by Choice USA is ending their celebration of a “Week of Visibility” to call attention to Sexual Assault Awareness month, as the project expands to include conversations on rape culture and sexual assault prevention.

But we wanted to take a moment and go back to the original goal of Bro-Choice, which is “disrupting the dominant narrative that reproductive justice is a ‘women’s issue.’”

The Bro-Choice project lifts up the work that young men are doing for reproductive justice – and we were just thinking today about how fortunate we are to have pro-choice men who consistently support our work in South Dakota.

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At the center of the fight for reproductive justice ourselves, NARAL Pro-Choice South Dakota knows that our movement is dominated mostly by ladies – because it is the rights of the female body that are in question. But there are men who fight alongside the strong women of this movement, and it’s refreshing to see them trust women and advocate for female bodily autonomy in this state.

Bro-choice men know that reproductive oppression affects them personally, along with the ones they love. Attacks on reproductive freedom restrict a family’s ability to make choices about their pregnancies – choices that expectant mothers AND fathers should make together. Family planning benefits the entire family unit – both parents and their children. Just because a woman herself carries a pregnancy, doesn’t mean that a man isn’t equally involved and invested in the process and product. What’s more, access to comprehensive sex education is beneficial to all genders and reproductive health clinics, which offer services such as STD testing and education, serve both women and men.

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When it often seems as though South Dakota is filled with men who want to legislate and regulate women’s bodies (especially in Pierre), it’s encouraging to know that there are men who acknowledge that only a woman herself can and should by in charge of her reproductive present and future.

If you’re a lady who knows a Bro-Choice man, be sure to give him a shout-out comment on this blog post or our Facebook page or Twitter.

If you’re a gentleman who is Bro-Choice, know that we are grateful to have you with us in the on-going fight for reproductive justice.

You can become a part of the Bro-Choice movement by signing the pledge to become part of the solution here: bit.ly/BroChoicePledge.

Also, feel free to tweet @naralsd why you are #BroChoice.

Keep up the good work, ladies AND GENTS.

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Marriage equality reaches the Supreme Court

NARAL Pro-Choice America and NARAL Pro-Choice South Dakota are proud to have an official position in support of marriage equality for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.

Yesterday, the Supreme Court heard almost two hours worth of oral arguments regarding the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a law that denies federal benefits to legally married same-sex couples. DOMA affects more than 1,000 federal laws and programs with rules whose application depends in part on a person’s marital status. DOMA defines marriage, under federal law, as “only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife.” The question is whether the law violates constitutional law via federalism or equal protection.

This week the Supreme Court also heard arguments on Tuesday regarding a challenge to California’s Proposition 8, which bans gay marriage in the state.

Currently, same-sex marriage is legal only in nine states: Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Hew Hampshire, New York, Washington and Vermont (plus Washington D.C.). New Mexico and Rhode Island legally recognize out-of-state marriages of same-sex couples. Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, and Rhode Island allow civil union, while California, Oregon, Nevada and Wisconsin offer domestic partnerships.

The bad news is that marriage equality activists are unlikely to get the sweeping victory that they might have hoped for. The Supreme Court appears reluctant to declare a broad ruling that same-sex couples have the constitutional right to marry in the United States. In short, the court is moving forward cautiously rather than boldly supporting gay rights.

Considered a crucial swing vote on the issue, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy voiced concerns that DOMA is a violation of equal protection rights, and it also undermines states’ rights and federalism. This case ruling will ultimately determine if the federal government has the authority to regulate marriage.

Two of the justifications Congress cited for passing DOMA in 1996 include defending traditional notions of both morality and marriage. The Obama Administration has urged the court to find these two justifications unconstitutional.

If the court strikes down DOMA, then the federal government will have to recognize same-sex marriages in states where they are legal, but the states will still have the freedom to decide separately whether or not to allow gay marriage.

Rulings on both DOMA and Proposition 8 are expected by the end of June.

FB Campaign Highlights Weekend Woes

In the wake of the state Senate’s disappointing passage of House Bill 1237 yesterday, we have started a social media campaign to let the bill’s prime sponsor, Rep. Jon Hansen, know how much we pro-choice activists disagree with his intrusion into our personal lives and reproductive freedom.

The weekend is nearly here, so we know that the brains of women all across the state of South Dakota are about to shutdown, not to think another thought until business hours resume on Monday. But since Rep. Hansen pretends to care so much for women, and since he is clearly the legislative expert on women’s reproductive health, why not ask him to help you with the questions that you will be unable to answer for yourself this weekend?

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Thinking on the weekends is hard (near impossible!) for women. Rep. Hansen is here to help. You can find Rep. Hansen’s campaign page on Facebook here.

Ask away!

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HB 1237 moves to the Senate floor

This morning the Senate State Affairs Committee voted 6–3 to send HB 1237 to the Senate floor, with only the Sens. Frerichs, Tieszen, and Lucas voting against it.

Proponents of the bill testified that the extension to the 72-hour mandatory waiting period would allow women to comply with another requirement – that they must make a forced visit to a crisis pregnancy center before receiving care. The centers, according to proponents, can’t possibly be expected to have counselors available for women on the weekends and during holidays, so women must wait longer for services to be available to them. In essence, the concern from proponents is that CPCs are able to coarse women as comfortably and leisurely as possible. Never mind that a women may be in crisis and struggle on the weekends. Or during Christmas.

We are sorely disappointed that HB 1237 has been allowed to progress this far, and we will continue to advocate against it in the Senate.

HB 1237, Senate State Affairs, Do Pass

Olson (Russell) Yea Rave Yea Lucas Nay
Rhoden Yea Brown Yea Tieszen Nay
Frerichs Nay Lederman Yea Johnston Yea
Ayes 6 Nays 3 Excused 0 Absent 0

Rallies against HB 1237

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Yesterday at our Sioux Falls rally against House Bill 1237 pro-choice activists braved the cold weather for more than an hour to show their support for the women and families that stand to be affected by this offensive legislation.

If you haven’t heard yet, HB 1237 redefines the state’s 72-hour mandatory delay and two-trip requirement by applying it only to business days – weekends and holidays are excluded from counting toward the three-day waiting period. In practice, this could lead to a delay of weeks.

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An anti-choice counter rally formed on the other side of the street, but only with half the amount of supporters. Many people driving by honked their horns, gave us thumbs up or waved in support. We also talked to passerby who were supportive, some even picked up signs and joined us for a few minutes! One passerby, Valerie, told us that we could walk to a nearby business and have a hot cup of coffee on her. We were grateful for her generosity and encouragement.

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Then Emmett joined us with a great homemade sign.

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Meanwhile, across the state in Rapid City pro-choice activists were also gathering to show support for women.

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Activists across the state are standing up for women’s reproductive rights. We were proud to have so much participation in the rallies!

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