The Los Gatos – Saratoga branch of the AAUW is active at both the national and local level in advocating for public policy change. The items below are a sample of current issues.
Womens Reproductive Health – 2018 Update
by Claire Noonan, Los Altos-Mountain View AAUW
In 2018, a major obstacle to women’s reproductive health issues came when a second conservative supreme court justice was confirmed in October. Since self-determination of one’s reproductive health decisions is a high public policy priority for AAUW members, it is up to members to act to guarantee equality, individual rights, and social justice for all.
The election provided further hindrances. Alabama enacted a version of the “personhood clause” to its constitution. West Virginia dropped Medicaid funding to clinics that terminate pregnancies and assigned 3-10 years of jail for performing or receiving abortion services. However, the criminalization of reproductive health rights only happens if Roe v Wade is overturned.
On November 7 the Trump administration attacked Affordable Care Act insurers, citing that procedures (already implemented by ACA) are not adequately enforced. The procedures specify that any reproductive services must be displayed separate from other services on forms subsidized by tax payer dollars.
In addition, the administration proposed to let some employers deny contraceptive coverage in their plans for employees.
In June 2018, Iowa’s governor signed off on a measure that prohibits termination of a pregnancy when the heartbeat of the fetus is detected. The law is now in the courts.
In July 2018, SCOTUS decided against California’s FACT Act and for the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA), saying the CA law targeted the speaker rather than free speech. Prior to that decision medical clinics had signs saying other options are available and where. Unlicensed facilities had to have literature telling how to find licensed medical reproductive services.
On the positive side, a March 2018 study determined that, unlike the 34 states that only allow a physician to perform pregnancy termination, clinicians like mid-wives, nurse practitioners, and physician’s assistants can perform the services just as well.
70% of November voters don’t want to overturn Roe v Wade, and the House of Representatives has flipped, including more than 100 seats to women, mostly liberal or progressive on women’s health issues, who agree that fixing problems with ACA is a major focus.
The article below is the first of a series of articles on public policy issues that the state Public Policy Committee is sending to you. Each article will be on a different topic. The articles are for you to use in your newsletters to provide public policy information to your members.
The AAUW CA Public Policy Committee
Another Opportunity to Use Your Voice – VOTE
We are again approaching a major election on November 6, 2018. This is a critical opportunity to support candidates and ballot issues that impact women, girls and their families.
To ensure appropriate access by eligible voters, the website of the Secretary of State’s office (SOS.CA.Gov) outlines the rights and responsibilities of the voter. This site provides information on registration and pre-registration. You can register by mail or online. The SOS website, HighSchool.SOS.Ca.gov offers a civic engagement portal for teens.
The deadline to register to vote in the Nov 6 Election is Oct 22, 2018.
More information for all voters, including new voters, is available at 1-800 345-8683. Elections Division staff are available also at (916) 657-2166 or the website, SOS.ca.gov .
The best path forward to equity and progress for women, girls and their families is through the ballot box— register and vote!
“The ballot is stronger than the bullet.” – Abraham Lincoln
AAUW Policy on Immigration Issues
Recently, immigration issues, particularly the separation of children from the their parents have received a lot of attention. The California AAUW has asked the National AAUW for guidance on these issues. Please review this letter to AAUW members.
AAUW National Public Policy
Refer to the national AAUW site for more information on AAUW public policy activities, including research reports and information on how you can impact public policy. The top priorities for the AAUW during the 2017-2019 period are:
- To support a strong system of public education that promotes gender fairness, equity, and diversity.
- To achieve economic self-sufficiency for all women.
- To guarantee equality, individual rights, and social justice for a diverse society
To download a copy of the AAUW public policy brochure, please click here.
Student Debt Crises for Women
While student debt has recently become an issue that has reached the attention of the public, student debt among women has reached even larger proportions. The national AAUW research study deeper-in-debt can be read here.
Gender Pay Gap
The national AAUW has sponsored several reports concerning Gender Pay Gap. Refer to the national AAUW website page: AAUW Issues: Gender Pay Gap. The November 17 Grapevine contains an article Highlighting Gender Pay Gap that provides additional information and a call to action.
Local Public Policy in Santa Clara County
Strong Start Program
The Santa Clara County Inter-Branch council and all of the Santa Clara County branches of AAUW support Strong Start. This program was initiated by the Santa Clara County Office of Education. Its mission is to ensure that all children in Santa Clara County, age 0 to 8, have access to high quality early care and education opportunities.
The following articles from Claire Noonan (member of Interbranch Council and representative to the Strong Start program) describes recent activities of the Strong Start Program.
For more information, refer to the Strong Start website.