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A Report on Pennsylvania’s Community Conversations on Women’s Health

CC-Report-TruncatedThroughout 2017, the Pennsylvania Campaign for Women’s Health organized and hosted 12 public conversations in 10 cities and towns across the Commonwealth, so we could do what too many Pennsylvania lawmakers will not: Listen to women.

The conversations focused on a wide range of issues affecting the health and economic well-being of Pennsylvania women and their families. Four of the dozen conversations focused exclusively on the circumstances and needs of Latinx Pennsylvanians, a rising segment of our population who disproportionately experience poverty, face multiple kinds of intersecting discrimination, and have to navigate additional obstacles to accessing healthcare, like the language barrier. (Latinx is a gender-inclusive term for Latinos and Latinas.)

“I want my voice heard. I want the issues important to me and other women to be a priority,” said Safronia Perry of Carlisle. “That’s why I participated in these community conversations, and that’s why other women did, too. We’re united in working together to protect our health care and strengthen our families, and we’re raising our voices to ensure we’re heard.”

We compiled our findings into the first report of its kind, “A Report on Pennsylvania’s Community Conversations on Women’s Health.” We unveiled the report at the state Capitol in January, at an event that featured participants in the conversations speaking directly to lawmakers and media. You can view video of the event here.

Recently at the Keystone Progress Summit, we presented our findings and connected them with proposed legislative solutions. We highlighted the voices of women from across Pennsylvania who say they don’t feel represented by elected officials. They are angry that it is so difficult—and expensive—to access affordable, quality healthcare in Pennsylvania.

They are tired of being treated poorly in exam rooms, where they describe an atmosphere of stigma and discrimination. They are tired of lawmakers who tout “the dignity of work” and “family values” while refusing to raise Pennsylvania’s minimum wage of $7.25 to a livable wage, pass basic workplace protections for pregnant workers, or even ensure infants can continue to drink mother’s milk after a new mother returns to work by passing basic workplace protections.

The Pennsylvania Campaign for Women’s Health recently unveiled our 2018 legislative priorities.

We selected these priorities based on the current status of women’s health and economic security in Pennsylvania, an expert legal analysis of legal loopholes and blind spots in state anti-discrimination laws, and listening to women tell us what they need to become healthy and raise families in economic security. Many of the bills we support have been introduced by lawmakers in the bipartisan Women’s Health Caucus of the Pennsylvania Legislature.

Thank you to all of our partners in the Pennsylvania Campaign for Women’s Health and organizers across the state who worked on the Community Conversations throughout 2017.

If you are the member of an organization interested in joining the Pennsylvania Campaign for Women’s Health, or want to explore partnering with the Campaign to host a Community Conversation on Women’s Health in your area, please contact pa4womenshealth@gmail.com.

To follow our coverage of these issues and our progress, follow the Campaign on Facebook.

 

Pennsylvania Campaign for Women’s Health Issues Final Report Spotlighting Problems, Urging Action on Issues Related to Health Care, Equal Pay, Workplace Accommodations

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (Jan. 23, 2018) — The Pennsylvania Campaign for Women’s Health today unveiled a report detailing its findings from a series of statewide public conversations held last year in Allegheny, Berks, Bucks, Cumberland, Delaware, Erie, Lancaster and Lehigh counties.

The conversations focused on a wide range of issues affecting the health and economic well-being of Pennsylvania women and their families, as well as legislative solutions that will help the commonwealth improve its continually abysmal rankings in key indicators of women’s health and economic security.

The Pennsylvania Campaign for Women’s Health unveiled its report, “A Report on Pennsylvania’s Community Conversations on Women’s Health,” during a Capitol news conference with support from a bipartisan group of legislators, key stakeholders and community partners. At the event, women from Allentown, Bucks County, Carlisle, Lancaster and Reading shared their stories.

“I want my voice heard. I want the issues important to me and other women to be a priority,” said Safronia Perry or Carlisle. “That’s why I participated in these community conversations, and that’s why other women did, too. We’re united in working together to protect our health care and strengthen our families, and we’re raising our voices to ensure we’re heard.”

A common refrain at all of these conversations was that Pennsylvania women consistently feel that their voices are not being heard, both in Harrisburg and Washington, D.C., but also among their local governments. Indeed, in Harrisburg, the state General Assembly spent most of 2017 focused not on the wide range of policy proposals that would dramatically improve the material condition of Pennsylvania women and their families, but rather on a blatantly unconstitutional measure to restrict legal access to abortion.

“For too long, the voices of Pennsylvania women have been marginalized and largely ignored in the halls of power,” said Lindsey Mauldin, Deputy Director of Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates and chair of the Community Conversations project. “Now that these women have been heard, we hope this report emboldens and encourages elected leaders to enact policies important to women’s health and economic security.”

Health care was a major concern in these conversations. Women across Pennsylvania are deeply concerned about the rising costs of health care and especially ongoing threats to access to reproductive health care, without which economic freedom for women is not possible.

Strengthening legal protections for pregnant women and new mothers also is critical to ensuring that all Pennsylvanians have the ability to fully participate in the workplace. The Workplace Accommodations for Pregnant Workers Act, and its companion, the Workplace Accommodations for Nursing Mothers Act, both have repeatedly failed to find traction in the General Assembly, despite the best efforts of bipartisan legislators in the Women’s Health Caucus.

These bills would provide much needed protections for women in the workplace. Under current law, a pregnant woman can be fired for reasons as trivial as asking for an extra glass of water. New mothers, many of whom have to return to work as quickly as two weeks after giving birth due to inadequate parental leave policies, are frequently unable to breastfeed as long as they would like because employers are not required to provide basic, reasonable accommodations that would enable them to express milk in a private, sanitary setting.

The gender pay gap was another issue that arose frequently during the conversations. In each location where the events were held, women’s average earnings lagged behind those of men. One simple legislative solution to this issue would be for Pennsylvania to raise its minimum wage from its current rate of $7.25, the lowest allowed by federal law.

Raising the minimum wage would bring a more dignified life to many women who may not earn enough now to pay for basic living expenses, child care or schooling. Increased wages also would make it easier for women to access the education they need to further their careers and find jobs with family-sustaining wages.

Three of the sessions focused on issues facing Pennsylvania’s rising Latinx population, which faces linguistic, cultural and immigration status-related barriers to accessing health care and economic opportunity that their white peers do not.

The United States will be a majority-minority nation by 2044, and Pennsylvania’s immigrant population is composed mostly of women and children. Now is the time to address these systemic issues that will affect the health, well-being and economic security of a growing segment of the population in years to come.

Whether it is through the #MeToo movement, continued global Women’s Marches or local community conversations, women everywhere are demanding that their elected leaders hear their voices and act accordingly. The suite of proposed legislation supported by the Pennsylvania Campaign for Women’s Health, highlighted as part of these community conversations, represents a series of critical first steps toward protecting the health and well-being of women and strengthening families.

The conversations were an initiative of the Pennsylvania Campaign for Women’s Health.

The conversations, which gave women and others a voice to talk about issues that directly affect their health and lives, were held in 10 communities, including Allentown, Bucks County, Carlisle, Delaware County, Erie, Hershey, Lancaster, Millvale, Pittsburgh and Reading. The theme of each conversation focused on the foremost concerns of the community.

Founded in 2013, the campaign comprises more than 60 local, state and national organizations calling for evidence-based policies to support and protect equal access to affordable reproductive health care, including abortion, personal safety, and workplace equality.

Specifically, the campaign supports legislation to address pregnancy discrimination, close gaps in the state’s equal pay law, provide workplace accommodations for nursing workers, protect patients and doctors from harassment, and prohibit legislatively coercing doctors to lie to patients.

For more information, follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pa4womenshealth or visit www.pa4womenshealth.org.

Pennsylvania Campaign for Women’s Health to Present Final Report on “Community Conversations on Women’s Health”

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Pennsylvania Campaign for Women’s Health to Present Final Report from Statewide Series of Public Conversations about Women’s Health

 

HARRISBURG, Pa. (Jan. 18, 2018) — The Pennsylvania Campaign for Women’s Health, along with a bipartisan group of legislators, key stakeholders and community partners, will present the findings from its series of statewide public conversations that convened discussions around a broad range of women’s health issues last year.

The final report, which will be unveiled during a Capitol news conference at noon Tuesday, Jan. 23 in Room B-31 of the Main Rotunda in Harrisburg, comes as some legislators continue their push to limit reproductive rights and access to basic health care and advance policies that affect women’s economic health and security.

The community conversations, which gave women and others a voice to talk about issues that directly affect their health and lives, were held in 10 communities, including Allentown, Bucks County, Carlisle, Delaware County, Erie, Hershey, Lancaster, Millvale, Pittsburgh and Reading. The theme of each conversation focused on the foremost concerns of the community.

WHAT:  Final report detailing the findings from 10 community conversations held statewide to examine women’s health issues.

WHO:  Pennsylvania Campaign for Women’s Health, key stakeholders, community partners and bipartisan legislators.

WHEN:         12 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 23

WHERE:         Room B-31 of the Main Capitol, Harrisburg

(Located in the basement directly under the Main Rotunda.)

Community Conversations on Pregnancy, Parenthood, and Women’s Health was a direct response to several factors that, combined, spell disaster for Pennsylvania families: Pennsylvania’s abysmal track record on key indicators of women’s health; a state legislature obsessed with restricting access to reproductive health care while actively neglecting policy proposals that would improve women’s health and economic security; the legislature’s refusal to hear testimony from constituents on issues that directly affect their health and lives; and a regressive federal agenda fixated on restricting access to affordable health care.

The conversations are an initiative of the Pennsylvania Campaign for Women’s Health. Founded in 2013, the campaign comprises more than 55 local, state and national organizations calling for evidence-based policies to support and protect equal access to affordable reproductive health care, including abortion, personal safety, and workplace equality. Specifically, the campaign supports legislation to address pregnancy discrimination, close gaps in the state’s equal pay law, provide workplace accommodations for nursing workers, protect patients and doctors from harassment, and prohibit legislatively coercing doctors to lie to patients.

To learn more about the Pennsylvania Campaign for Women’s Health, like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/PA4WomensHealth or visit www.pa4womenshealth.prg.

 

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10/9! Community Conversation on Women’s Health in Lancaster, Pennsylvania

Lancaster, Pa. –The Pennsylvania Campaign for Women’s Health will host the fourth of a series of FREE statewide public conversationson a broad range ofwomen’s healthissues in Lancaster County next week.

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Community Conversations on Pregnancy, Parenthood, and Women’s Health is a direct response to several factors that, combined, spell disaster for Pennsylvania families: Pennsylvania’s abysmal track record on key indicators of women’s health; a state Legislature obsessed with restricting access to reproductive healthcare while actively neglecting policy proposals that would improve women’s health and economic security;the Legislature’s refusal to hear testimony from constituents on issues that directly affect their health and lives; and, a regressive federal agenda fixated on restricting access to affordable healthcare.

The Community Conversation – Lancaster County will take place at 6:30 p.m. Monday, October 9 at Tellus 360, second floor lounge,24 E King St.

The Lancaster event, which will be hosted by the PA Campaign for Women’s Health in collaboration with Planned Parenthood and Keystone Progress, focuses on challenges that the City of Lancaster faces: lack of affordable health care, nondiscrimination orders that change township to township, a lack of representation from women, immigrants, and people of color in local elected offices.

Register to attend: bit.ly/LancasterConversation

Additional Conversations will follow, each with a main theme reflecting the foremost concerns of the community, at locations all over the state.

The Community Conversations are an initiative of the Pennsylvania Campaign for Women’s Health. Founded in 2013, the PA Campaign for Health is a collaboration of more than 55 local, state and national organizations calling for evidence-based policies to support and protect equal access to affordable reproductive healthcare including abortion, personal safety, and workplace equality. Specifically, the Campaign supports legislation to address pregnancy discrimination, close gaps in the state’s equal pay law, provide workplace accommodations for nursing workers, protect patients and doctors from harassment, and prohibit legislatively coercing doctors to lie to patients.

At the Community Conversations, locals will share theirexperiences, and the challenges they face trying tolead healthy lives and deciding if, when, and how to raise a family in Pennsylvania.

Local lawmakers and media are invited to attend in person to listen and learn, or follow along online on FB atLancaster Stands Upand #PA4WomensHealth #Lancaster.

To learn more about the Pennsylvania Campaign for Women’s Health, like us at www.facebook.com/PA4WomensHealth and www.pa4womenshealth.prg.

To arrange an interview or request more information, contact Rafael Diaz of Keystone Progress at rafael@keystoneprogress.org or 717-799-9106 or Leslie Hall of Planned Parenthood at lhall@ppkeystone.org or 717-234-2479, ext. 9428.

Media Advisory: Third Community Conversation about Women’s Health is Thurs., July 20 in Millvale, PA

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Millvale, PA – The Pennsylvania Campaign for Women’s Health will host the third event in a series of statewide public conversations around a broad range of women’s health issues on July 20th in Millvale, PA.

Community Conversations on Women’s Health is a direct response to several factors that, combined, spell disaster for Pennsylvania families: Pennsylvania’s abysmal track record on key indicators of women’s health; a state Legislature obsessed with restricting access to reproductive healthcare while actively neglecting policy proposals that would improve women’s health and economic security; the Legislature’s refusal to hear testimony from constituents on issues that directly affect their health and lives; and, a regressive federal agenda fixated on restricting access to affordable healthcare.

The Community Conversation – Millvale will take place on July 20th from 6:00pm to 8:00pm at the Millvale Community Center (416 Lincoln Avenue, Millvale, PA 15209).

When women succeed, so do families and whole communities.  This is the primary theme of the Millvale event, which will be hosted by the Pennsylvania Campaign for Women’s Health in collaboration with Pittsburg United.  Community residents from Millvale, Etna, and Sharpsburg will have the opportunity to learn from medical, legal, and policy experts; access local resources; and most importantly share their experiences and stories including the challenges they face trying to lead healthy lives and deciding if, when, and how to raise a family in Pennsylvania.

Register to attend here.

Additional Conversations will follow, each with a main theme reflecting the foremost concerns of the community, at locations all over the state. Visit www.pa4womenshealth.org for more information about upcoming Community Conversations.

The Community Conversations are an initiative of the Pennsylvania Campaign for Women’s Health. Founded in 2013, the Pennsylvania Campaign for Health is a collaboration of more than 55 local, state and national organizations calling for evidence-based policies to support and protect equal access to affordable reproductive healthcare including abortion, personal safety, and workplace equality. Specifically, the Campaign supports legislation to address pregnancy discrimination, close gaps in the state’s equal pay law, provide workplace accommodations for nursing workers, protect patients and doctors from harassment, and prohibit legislatively coercing doctors to lie to patients.

Media are invited to attend in person to listen and learn, or follow along online at @WomensLawPGH and @PPAdvocatesPA or using #PA4WomensHealth #Millvale.

To learn more about the Pennsylvania Campaign for Women’s Health, like us at www.facebook.com/PA4WomensHealth and www.pa4womenshealth.prg.

For more information or to arrange an interview, contact Susan Frietsche of Women’s Law Project at sfrietsche@womenslawproject.org and 412-281-2892, or Jessica Semler of Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania at jsemler@ppwp.org or 412-779-5704.

Media Advisory: Next Community Conversation about Women’s Health is Wednesday, July 19 in Carlisle, PA

PA-Campaign-blue-logoCarlisle, PA — A statewide series of public conversations about a broad range of women’s health issues continues this coming week with an event hosted in the expansive gymnasium at YWCA Carlisle located at 301 G Street, Carlisle, 17013. Light refreshments will be served and childcare will be available. 

Women’s Health: A Community Conversation will take place Thursday, July 19th at 6:00 PM at YWCA Carlisle. Dr. Chavone Momon-Nelson, with Carlisle Obstetrics and Gynecology, will facilitate the discussion.  Residents of Cumberland County and the Capital Region are invited to attend this free event and share their thoughts, feelings, concerns and opinions about the status of women’s health care in the Commonwealth.  Preventive care, maternity coverage, and contraceptive care are the primary themes of the evening, co-hosted by YWCA Carlisle, Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates, AAUW Chapter of Carlisle and Cumberland Valley Rising. Register to attend here.

Community Conversations on Women’s Health is a direct response to several factors that, combined, spell disaster for Pennsylvania families: Pennsylvania’s abysmal track record on key indicators of women’s health; a state Legislature poised to restrict access to reproductive healthcare while actively neglecting policy proposals that would improve women’s health and economic security; refusal to hear testimony from constituents on issues that directly affect their health and lives; and, a regressive federal agenda fixated on restricting access to affordable healthcare.

The Community Conversations are an initiative of the Pennsylvania Campaign for Women’s Health. Founded in 2013, the PA Campaign for Health is a collaboration of more than 55 local, state and national organizations calling for evidence-based policies to support and protect equal access to affordable reproductive healthcare including abortion, personal safety, and workplace equality. Specifically, the Campaign supports legislation to address pregnancy discrimination, close gaps in the state’s equal pay law, provide workplace accommodations for nursing workers, protect patients and doctors from harassment, and prohibit legislatively coercing doctors to lie to patients.  At the Community Conversations, locals will share their experiences, and the challenges they face trying to lead healthy lives and deciding if, when, and how to raise a family in Pennsylvania.

Local lawmakers and media are invited to attend in person to listen and learn, or follow along online at @PPAdvocatesPA  and #PA4WomensHealth #Carlisle.

To learn more about the Pennsylvania Campaign for Women’s Health, like us at www.facebook.com/PA4WomensHealth and www.pa4womenshealth.prg.

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For more information or to arrange an interview, contact Lindsey Mauldin of Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania at Lindsey.mauildin@pppamail.org and 717-321-5409, or Robin Scaer of YWCA Carlisle at RScaer@ywcacarlisle.org and 717-243-3818.

 

Under a Regressive Federal Agenda, State Protections are More Important Than Ever

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Fighting for state and local protections is more important than ever, given the regressive federal agenda. In these times, we have to think globally, and resist locally.

When the phrase “women’s health” is uttered in the halls of the Capitol in Harrisburg, it is often simply code for yet another abortion ban. Currently, Pennsylvania lawmakers are trying to pass Senate Bill 3, one of the most severe abortion restrictions in the country.

Meanwhile, women’s health and economic security in Pennsylvania ranks among the worst in the country.

Pennsylvania has 1,237 pages of abortion-related regulations, and yet in Philadelphia, pregnancy-related mortality has more than doubled from the 1980s to the 2000s. Across the state and across the country, black women are at least three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than white women due to a constellation of factors.

Like the PA Campaign for Women’s Health on Facebook

Working women in Pennsylvania lack basic protections. Our equal pay law is so broken that experts estimate that without corrective policy intervention, Pennsylvania women will not earn equal pay until 2072. Pennsylvania lawmakers in the Women’s Health Caucus are working on bills to close the loopholes. Meanwhile, Pennsylvania lawmakers not in the Women’s Health Caucus are trying to fool Pennsylvanians by floating a fake fix.

In Pennsylvania, some pregnant workers are still fired for asking for a glass of water at work.

Women working at small businesses have less protection against sexual harassment than employees of bigger companies. As reports of targeted harassment of abortion providers are rising, right-wing groups are trying to knock down buffer zone in Pittsburgh.

The Pennsylvania Campaign for Women’s Health was founded to advocate for solutions to these problems. The Campaign is a growing collaboration of more than 55 local, state and national organizations working together to improve women’s health and economic security in Pennsylvania by calling for evidence-based policies that promote equal access to reproductive healthcare and workplace equality.

To be sure, we have pro-choice, pro-evidence champions for women’s health in the state Legislature, and we will do everything in our power to preserve and protect the rights we have already have while forging ahead closer to legal equality for women, despite the opposition.

Keep up with our progress easily by liking the Pennsylvania Campaign for Women’s Health on Facebook, where we’ll post updates on our progress and calls to action.

Religious Support for the PA Agenda for Women’s Health

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

Our faith-based group, the Unitarian Universalist Pennsylvania Legislative Advocacy Network, is proud to have been one of two faith-based groups invited to the May 11 press conference in Harrisburg where the Pennsylvania Agenda for Women’s Health was presented to the General Assembly.

As Unitarian Universalists we support the inherent worth and dignity of every person. And we understand that women in Pennsylvania do not always have access to healthy conditions or fairness in the workplace. Therefore, the package of more than 13 bills contained in this agenda are critical for both promoting healthy families and contributing to Pennsylvania’s overall economic strength.

We feel it is vital that liberal religious voices support the bipartisan effort behind the PA Agenda for Women’s Health so that our legislators can continue moving Pennsylvania forward.

LIZ PERKINS
Squirrel Hill

The writer is co-chair, Reproductive Justice Team, Unitarian Universalist Pennsylvania Legislative Advocacy Network.