Dear Chapter Leaders,
We are asking you to take action on the following:
1. Support demonstrations for reproductive rights taking place around the country this Saturday.
Activists are organizing a Walk for Choice in 75 cities around the country (!!), which will take place Saturday, February 26. If your city is listed, please go to the appropriate links for more information. Note: This is not being organized from the NOW Action Center, and we are not able to provide additional information beyond what is listed online.
Also taking place that day is a Rally for Women's Health in New York City. For more information about that event, go to www.nownyc.org.
2. Call your Senators (or, even better -- schedule in-district visits this week) and urge them to support federal spending that includes women.
The House continuing resolution, H.R. 1, which is supposed to temporarily keep the government operating, is an all-out assault on women's rights. Your action is needed to let the Senate know why it's so important to fund the following programs that are critical for women and girls (thanks to the National Women's Law Center for providing this information):
- Title X family planning
Title X family planning funds provide critical cancer screenings, STI screenings and contraceptive counseling and access to millions of women each year. H.R. 1 zeros out this program, which will result in a public health nightmare.
- WIC program - women's and children's nutrition funding
H.R. 1 cuts $747 million from the Special Supplemental Program for Women, Infants and Children -- this will clear out the grocery carts of pregnant women and children who depend on the food, counseling and supports offered by this program.
- Prenatal care
The statistics are stark: women who don't receive prenatal care are two to three times more likely to die in childbirth, and their babies are six times more likely to die in infancy. Yet H.R. 1 cuts $50 million from the Title V Maternal and Child Health Block Grant, which serves more than 2 million women and 27 million children each year.
- Job training programs
Women need more jobs, not less. Cutting over $2 billion from job training programs, as H.R. 1 does, will prevent women from gaining the skills they need to qualify for employment in growth industries and escape low-wage, low-skill, low-security jobs without opportunity for advancement.
- Programs to help students pay for college
H.R. 1 cuts funding for Pell Grants and eliminates the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant program. Without these programs, college will be out of reach for millions of low-income women.
- Funding for Social Security Offices
H.R. 1 cuts hundreds of millions of dollars from the Social Security Administration's budget, just when it needs more staff to handle the baby boomers' retirement years, and cuts funding for a range of services for the elderly. Women are a majority of Social Security and Medicare recipients and more than two-thirds of the elderly poor, so they will be disproportionately harmed by these cuts.
This House spending measure is not about "shared sacrifice." It increases military funding and enshrines tax breaks for the wealthiest, while imposing the greatest burden on those who can least bear it -- predominantly women. Tell your senators to reject that deal!
For more information and talking points on these issues and others that deeply impact women and girls, please refer to this fact sheet from our allies at the National Women's Law Center. You'll also find a more in-depth comparison of H.R. 1 with President Obama's budget at http://www.nwlc.org/resource/president-obama%E2%80%99s-fiscal-year-2012-budget-and-hr-1-continuing-resolution-tale-two-visions.
All senators need to hear from you, regardless of their political affiliation. You can find contact information for your district offices here.
Finally, if you haven't already, send a message to the Senate through NOW's recent action alert.
Thank you for all you do for women!
Terry O'Neill, President
National Organization for Women