Dear Readers, I sent a shorter version of this letter to The Boston Globe.
The message from the highest court and Congress is alarmingly clear: YOU DON’T MATTER, and you no longer have reproductive freedom in the United States unless your state gives it to you. Women can no longer determine whether or when child bearing is right for them, and although the court has not made a final decision, it has become a political institution like Congress. It has warped the balance of power, and is no longer the check and balance for America. In a CBS/YouGov poll conducted after the Supreme Court leak, 64% of respondents said they wanted Roe v. Wade kept as is, while 36% said they wanted the Supreme Court to overturn it.
What now? If THEY will not represent most Americans, we’ll have to do it ourselves!
We need a majority of pro-choice women and men in leadership in city councils, statehouses, Congress and the courts. Let’s focus attention on critical elections in the US Senate: Val Demings of Florida; Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire; Mark Kelly of Arizona; and Raphael Warnock of Georgia and other worthy candidates. We can help with financial contributions, post carding, phone calling, and door knocking (depending on health restrictions). Others are ensuring Massachusetts remains a reproductive freedom state that welcomes women from unfriendly states.
The important thing is that we act to protect our freedom. Damn the inevitable! Action equals empowerment and potentially creates a different outcome. We can do this!
It is our time AGAIN! We are being asked to protect the next generation's reproductive rights. I’m tired of hearing people say that the Supreme Court will probably overturn or severely limit Roe v. Wade. Are we just going to sit by and let this happen? We need to follow the lead of Columbia and Argentina and Mexico. We need to fight this injustice in the streets of America!!!!!!!
This Saturday, April 9th at 2pm, Boston Common in the Free Speech Area across from Massachusetts State House
I am going. Please join me! RSVP + Share
NOW is the time to stand up, together, as if our lives depend upon it!
NOW is the time to hold nothing back. NOW is the time to rouse thousands and soon millions in struggle so that we can look every woman and girl in the eye with the promise in word and deed that they will have a future as full human beings.
I know. I'm tired too! But the power-mongers continue to try to keep us down.
See you there, Elizabeth
Reproductive Rights are officially under attack again! We need to get involved!
International Women’s Day
Riseup4AbortionRights.Org sponsored the International Women’s Day rally and march at Harvard Square on March 8th. A group of fifty college students and seasoned protestors gathered to oppose the Supreme Court’s recent rulings on abortion rights and the entire flock of congressional Republicans who voted against the Women’s Health Protection Act in 2021/2022.
The seasoned protesters called out the women and men who fought this fight 50 years ago, as they are now tired and reduced to writing letters and sending money. I wanted to shout back: “We won 50 years ago with Roe and 30 years ago with Casey and we marched again in Washington DC with our daughters in 2004. We cannot believe this is happening again!” But I was there to see the next generation in action.
The young protesters described the threat to abortion rights as sexist, racist and fascist. They didn’t hold back: “Every 68 seconds a woman is raped in the US. Pornography is a $15 billion dollar business that denigrates and demoralizes women. Every year hundreds of thousands of women and victims are forced into sex trafficking. That is the life that powerful men tolerate for women and girls. In the name of humanity we refuse to accept this environment of gender-based violence.”
Most people reading this essay do not have to deal with threatening acts like these in our daily lives, and many of us live in a state where access to abortion is protected, regardless of the actions of the Supreme Court or Congress. These demonstrators are mobilizing against attacks aimed mainly at young and low-income victims and reproductive rights.
Three weeks ago, Columbia became the latest country in Latin America to legalize or decriminalize abortion medical procedures, following Argentina, Uruguay, Cuba, Guyana, and Mexico. The lawsuit filed in Columbia focused on low-income women who could not afford illegal abortions in that country or in a neighboring country.
The United States is moving in the opposite direction. The Supreme Court is considering a case this term that would either reverse Roe v. Wade or reduce safe legal abortions to 15 weeks. Most women know that they are pregnant by 15 weeks, but low-income women usually need time to find a clinic, a date when they are free from work, possibly need childcare, etc.
On International Women’s Day, we wore green scarves, which have become a common symbol of women’s rights, as we marched along Mass Ave and shouted chants. These were new to me:
Not the Church, Not the State
Women must Decide Their fate!
Abortion on Demand, This is Why:
Women Hold Up Half the Sky!
Abortion on Demand!
And Without Apology!
Into the Street!
Abortion Stays Legal!
MARK YOUR CALENDARS
SATURDAY APRIL 9TH AT 2:00PM IN COPLEY SQ, BOSTON, WILL BE THE NEXT MARCH AND RALLY.
Thanks for reading. Let me know in comments if you’re interested in marching in the streets for the next generation!
Aren’t We All Pro-Life?
“We are all pro-life, only that some of us are in favor of allowing women to live a life in which their dignity is respected, and they can exercise their rights fully.”
This essay has been on my mind for awhile. It's a relief to send it to you. If you want to talk about it, please contact me or leave a comment. It's been a pleasure to work with Women's eNews. They are an award-winning nonprofit (501c3) news service covering issues of particular concern to women and providing women’s perspectives on public policy. One of the editors called my essay a clarion call for a new meme of sorts: We can be both, not either / or.
Please read "Aren't We All Pro-Life?" at https://womensenews.org/2022/03/arent-we-all-pro-life/
Leave a comment so I know you're out there.
The EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT
“Section 1: Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.
Section 2: The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
Section 3: This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.”
It’s been awhile. Alice Paul wrote the Equal Rights Amendment and introduced it to Congress in 1923. Alice was a member of the National Women’s Party and a women’s rights activist with 3 law degrees!
Section 1 of the Amendment may be the most important 24 words in our lifetime.
Section 2 empowers Congress to make laws to enforce the amendment.
Section 3 activates the amendment 2 years after ratification.
The 38th and last state(3/4 of the states) to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment was Virginia on January 27, 2020. Thursday, January 27, 2022 is the 2 year anniversary for the ratification!
Major women’s groups are celebrating January 27th in Washington, D.C. tomorrow, recognizing that a few issues must be resolved to finalize the Amendment.
Article 5 of the Constitution requires two events for an amendment to become part of the Constitution:
The issues holding up the 28th Amendment to the Constitution:
In anticipation of success, the ERA Project at Columbia School of Law has published an updated US Constitution which includes the Equal Rights Amendment. You can purchase a copy here: www.mprint.pub.
You can follow the festivities tomorrow by registering.
9am news conference: You can register here: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_h9ft1TbuSryA4SJ-VjMo6A
12 Noon ET events:
More info: http://www.eracoalition.org/jan27
To watch on Facebook: https://fb.me/e/Zmhd6vJW
To watch on YouTube: https://youtu.be/hILLB85xZPY
Register here: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZ0ld-irrDMoGt0WStMHkd9NxSnbTo60F2q3
Have a great day, Elizabeth
On Friday, I learned that a colleague at work, Jackie, might get tickets to the Barbra Streisand Concert at Madison Square Garden for Monday evening! It was 1994. Bucket lists were not yet in vogue, but if they were, this concert would be at the top of mine. I became a devoted fan at 18, when Barbra starred in Funny Girl. I watched every Streisand movie, and her specials on TV. On Saturday, as I took my daughter to get a haircut, my then-husband received Jackie's call and said I was busy on Monday and could not go to a concert in New York City. You can imagine the discussion that took place when I arrived home.
It was true. I was busy on Monday, but a person can do more than one thing a day. My daughter, Meg, and I planned to walk to Crane Beach on Monday. Crane is a four-mile sandy beach, with acres of hiking dunes and pine forests. She was in middle school, and we had been looking forward to this five-mile trek to the annual Crane Beach picnic for a while. I also had to be at work on Tuesday morning.
I didn’t have Jackie’s phone number and started to panic. I contacted coworkers anxiously until I located it. She wasn't surprised to hear from me and was holding my ticket. Jackie was driving the concert-goers to New York on Monday, leaving work at noon. They had a reservation at a Times Square hotel. I said I'd meet them there.
My heart began to pound faster when I called the Boston / NYC shuttle to secure a seat on Monday’s 4:30 p.m. flight, plenty of time for the concert.
Sitting on the beach Monday morning overlooking Ipswich Bay, surrounded by children and parents, I could only think of the evening show. How would I get through the next four hours of dinner menu chatter and children screaming with glee. Meg was twelve years old and settled in with her best friend's mother while I took a school bus ride home. After checking in on my younger daughter at our family daycare, I carefully folded my black, velvet, full-length one shoulder dress in my overnight bag. It was a perfect outfit for the evening. I bought it the previous year for Bill Clinton's inaugural ball. Butterflies fluttered in my stomach as I approached the airport. To my delight, an old friend I had connected with during the inauguration was on the plane.
New York City was a flurry of lights and sounds. The evening began when six women from the Massachusetts State Comptroller's Office arrived at Madison Square Garden. There was no time for a sit-down dinner; we stood at Roy Rogers across the street and ate burgers. Not your typical clientele in our gowns and bling.
We had relatively good seats for the last minute purchase, but I still rented binoculars. The crowd filled the garden with a loud hum. Barbra stepped on stage in a stunning cream-colored princess gown. In her first set, she sang my favorites "Don't Rain on My Parade" and "People." During a soulful version of "He Touched Me," one of the musicians played in the wrong key. Barbra was mortified and stopped singing. She actually told us to "talk among yourselves while I'm attending to this." The audience laughed and we chatted with the people behind us from Chicago.
Barbra introduced her final song of the evening with: “My idea of a perfect world is where we all appreciate each other’s differences: short/tall, Democrat/Republican, Black/White, gay/straight. A world in which we are all equal, but definitely not the same.” (It was 1994.) Then she sang “Somewhere.”
After the spectacular concert, I bought an 18" x 22" photo of Barbra leaning against a post in a tailored jacket and trousers with that shy smile. Her black sandals reminded me of my grandmother. It's still hanging in my office. I told my work friends I was going to meet Barbra in her dressing room. They chuckled, "Yeah, sure," and left. As I made my way backstage, Barbra said, "You must be Polly (my stage name). Would you like something to drink?" And the evening began again.
We talked about how she began to sing publicly, and about her shyness on stage. Her manager poked his head into her dressing room and said, “That last song was broadcast live on the Times Square Big Screen!” We both cheered. I told Barbra I'd been singing Karaoke and in church choirs for years.
When we arrived at her suite, the party was in full gear. Barbra made her way around the room and introduced me to Celine Dion, Michael Douglas, Hillary Clinton and others. I kept pinching myself. An hour later, she pulled me outside and we went to a Karaoke club. We sang and sang. If you're Barbra Streisand, you don't have to wait until your turn. When we sang "Second Hand Rose," skating across the stage seemed natural. Barbra's parting song was "Bye Bye Birdie," and her limo dropped me at the hotel.
When the alarm went off at 5:00 a.m., I wondered if it had happened.
Do you have an adventure you want to share? Leave a comment so I'll know you're out there.
Nob Hill Theft
Denis returned from getting the luggage from the car, like a man who had seen a ghost. “What happened?” I asked. “Someone broke the window in the car. Glass is everywhere.” My husband Denis and I had flown to San Francisco. My brother Sean was scheduled to undergo surgery in the middle of the pandemic. I don’t remember taking a breath on the plane.
We picked Sean up in Berkeley. Friends were caring for him there. He was severely depressed and fragile. We parked the car on Pine Street in front of Sean’s apartment building on Nob Hill, and let him settle in. The apartment was disheveled after months of illness.
“Your purse is gone.” I stared at him. My purse is gone. Okay. Everything in the purse can be replaced: iPhone, pepper spray, passport. The purse itself, bought from the Marimekko store in downtown Copenhagen, not so simple. My appointment book and writing notebook, impossible. Fortunately, my wallet was in my back pocket, it’s usual place. I will have an ID to leave on the jet plane to go home. No one was hurt.
Denis cringed, “Your carry-on bag with the china is also gone.”
My carry-on bag. “The family china is gone?” I doubled over and tried to scream, but nothing came out. I entered another room, trying not to upset my brother. How could this happen? We’re in a good neighborhood, people on the sidewalks, the car was locked and only for an hour. It would be parked in a commercial garage during our stay. How will I tell my daughter?
After consulting with numerous moving companies, even at $3,000, none would guarantee the safety of the china from Massachusetts to the west coast. I was delivering the china to my daughter one small suitcase at a time. I took a long walk up and down the streets on Nob Hill, imagining how upset my daughter would be, or maybe how distressed I was. Then I began to think how surprised the thief would be when he opened the suitcase. What would a street thief do with a suitcase full of John Maddock-Royal Vitreous china from England? Serve himself afternoon tea or perhaps give his mother china for Christmas? A smile appeared, and I knew it would be okay to return to the apartment.
No one was hurt.
Do you have a theft story that turned out ok? Leave me a comment so I know you're out there. Thanks, Elizabeth
Two by Two
The evening sun highlighted the crowd on the lawn between the Custom House Maritime Museum and the Merrimac River as she sprinted toward our standing ovation. Senator Elizabeth Warren visited Newburyport, Massachusetts in August 2021 to update constituents on legislative actions in Washington.
After a quick briefing on the impacts of the stimulus law and infrastructure bills, the senator moved into questions. A lottery was used to select attendees with questions. If you had an issue, you received a numbered ticket, like at a carnival. Mine was 842150.
Most questions for Senator Warren were on infrastructure bills, climate change, and the Senate filibuster, which required sixty votes to pass legislation. The woman before me requested hope on the voting rights issue. My question was about ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), and the voting rights discussion would be an awesome lead in. The next number pulled was 842150. Mine!
I said I would like to expand on the equality conversation. She nodded. I was careful to be objective, since Senator Warren had not yet sponsored Senate Joint Resolution 1, the bill to remove the deadline to ratify the ERA. We have enough states that ratified (3/4) but the deadline passed in 1982. Congress can easily rectify this delay by removing the deadline. The House voted to remove the deadline in 2020 after Virginia ratified the ERA, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked the Senate from voting on the bill.
Five senators have sponsored the bill: two democrats, one independent, and two republicans. What strategy would you recommend for encouraging the other Democrats to sponsor the ERA? Warren responded, “You’re probably wondering why your senator hasn’t sponsored the bill.” I nodded.
“If a bill is controversial, there’s a practice not to load it up with democratic sponsors, because partisan news outlets will brandish it as a democratic bill.” Then a smile appeared as if she were going to share a secret. “It’s called two by two, or Noah’s Ark.” Puzzled faces were everywhere. “Each democrat works with a republican who will also sponsor the bill, and they do so together.”
This explains the two democrats and two republicans who have already sponsored the bill. It also tells us when sixty votes are attained, the number necessary to prevent a filibuster!
This answer was so unexpected by me and others I talked with. It’s a whole new way to approaching the ERA. My question now is, “What republican are you working with, Senator Warren?” Of course, I was seated when it came to me. I will call her office and ask.
In 1972, Alice Paul, author of the Equal Rights Amendment, said, “I never doubted that equal rights was the right direction. Most reforms, most problems are complicated. But to me there is nothing complicated about ordinary equality.”
I wonder what Alice, who died in 1977, would say about equality in 2021.
If you have a friend or relative in a red state, please ask them to contact their senator about sponsoring the Equal Rights Amendment.
Thanks for reading. Please share your thoughts by clicking Comments below.
Today I'm sharing the story of Anna's and my trip to Greece. It's about our wondrous adventures in Athens and Mykonos and an abundance of courage along the way. Enjoy!
Wilderness House Literary Review 16/2
“I’m Not Going”
Anna and I landed at Athens International Airport in August 2015 for her college graduation trip to Greece. Like all mothers and daughters, there had been ups and downs in our relation-ship, but we wanted this trip together. We were celebrating Anna’s accomplishment. After collecting our bags, we made our way through a glassed- in airport walkway with huge geometric designs. People rolled carry-ons quickly in every direction, speaking international languages. Then Anna started criticizing me about something I had or hadn’t done. I stopped walking. I was not going to spend two weeks in Greece with this attitude! I turned to Anna and shouted, “Just treat me like a fucking stranger and we’ll be fine.” And kept walking.
Keep reading at www.whlreview.com/no-16.2/essay/ElizabethKilcoyne.pdf
Have you traveled in Greece or had other "Anna" experiences? Let us hear from you. Click "Comments" below. Thanks.
More Penalties for Working Women
More than 5.4 million women lost jobs during the pandemic compared to 4.4 million men. The pandemic was hardest on women working in low-paying, in-person jobs in the service industries, particularly child care, hospitality, customer service, waitressing, retail sales, housekeeping, and personal care providers. Women of color make up a high percentage of these professions. However, school schedules and a shortage of child care options keep many women from returning to work.
Nationwide, school openings are unpredictable. Some are opening at partial capacity, others are opening for limited hours and on specific days, and some schools remain closed. My 8 yr. old grandson attends school Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, 8:20 am to 11:50 am. The balance of his day is a virtual school with his mother, who is fortunate to be working virtually, managing his time, and answering his questions. What happens to the mom who must be "present at work" on the 7 am to 3 pm shift? If her children are not safely cared for, work is not an option for her.
The child care industry collapsed during the pandemic, and it's projected that 40% of child care programs will permanently close as a direct result of the pandemic. So, where is the recognition that a viable economy needs available child care at a reasonable price? Jessica Calarco, Associate Professor of Sociology at Indiana University, put it this way, “Other countries have social safety nets. The US has women.”
When the schools open fully, children under six need child care, and school-age children need after-school care. The average cost of full-time daycare in the US is $10,000 a year. At minimum wage, this is 33% of one person’s income. Paying one-third of your income for child care on a minimum wage job is unaffordable even if you can find a child care slot.
One more penalty for women and families is eliminating the federal portion of their unemployment benefits of $300/week. This reduction in benefits will impact twenty million people in mid-June. The most frequent justification for this change is that laid-off workers receive more money in benefits than they received when they were employed. Hmm, the average unemployment benefit (including the federal portion) is $650/week or $33,800/year. Whose benefits are too high? Women struggling financially after a full year of a life-threatening pandemic? Women and families without stable school schedules or daycare? These states are eliminating almost half of the weekly unemployment benefit: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, Georgia, Ohio, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Montana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming. Unemployed workers, half of whom are working women, in these states will lose $11 billion in federal benefits.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women held 50.04% of American jobs in December 2019 (excluding farm workers and self-employed). Thus, the time is now for child care benefits to be part of the economy's infrastructure, joining health insurance, sick, and vacation benefits.
The Biden Administration has taken the first step by recognizing the current child care failure resulting from the pandemic and proposed the American Rescue Plan that passed Congress in March 2021. There’s $40 billion in the legislation for the “acute, immediate child care crisis.” The economic recovery needs an investment in child care and a consensus that child care is part of the infrastructure of a thriving economy. More investment in child care for women and families allows women to return to work. Let’s refocus the discussion from suggesting that “people are lazy and don’t want to work” to “how can we provide needed child care support to get women back to work.”
The $300 weekly supplement from federal funding is scheduled to expire in September 2021. So let's call this reduction in unemployment benefits in mid-June what it is, just another Republican maneuver to obstruct the Biden administration no matter what the costs are at the expense of the American women who can least afford it.
Thanks for reading. If you feel strongly about this penalty, let me hear from you.