We joyfully raise the rainbow flag in June in celebration of Gay Pride Month. But that is not all we need to raise. Today especially, we must continue to raise our voices in protest against the many forms of outrageous hurt and oppression that are inflicted on LGBTQ people daily.
As someone who has made her life’s work providing and fighting for needed reproductive health services for women, a battle that continues without letup today, I am outraged that LGBTQ people continue to be so seriously demeaned and discriminated against, not “only” in everyday life but by the medical profession itself, a profession supposedly committed to “healing” and “doing no harm.”Finding an LGBTQ-friendly doctor should not be a stressful experience – but too often it still is. National Public Radio recently reported results of a poll that found that 18 percent of all LGBTQ people in the US don’t go to physicians for fear of discrimination. That’s almost one-fifth of the LGBTQ population, itself seriously undercounted.In contrast, Choices has, from its earliest days, welcomed people of all sexual orientations and gender identities. We conduct education and training sessions for our staff in culturally competent care, sensitivity and awareness of the particular issues that LGBTQ people face. At the same time, our health care providers are highly skilled professionals in gynecology, Behavioral Health, Pre-Natal care, sexually transmitted infections, and more. All this is especially important in the current situation of political hostility and damaging policies directed toward so many.At Choices, we say, “Our Specialty is You” and we mean it – Our Specialty is You AS YOU ARE and AS YOU WANT TO BE. Our mission is to assist you to live your life to the fullest, with the best health care possible. We pride outselves in being a Safe Haven for LGBTQ people and commit ourselves to continuing this course.
Merle Hoffman, Founder, President & CEO
Choices Women’s Medical Center
Where did the Rainbow Flag come from?
The rainbow is considered to be the most widely recognized LGBTQ symbol in the world. Gilbert Baker, a gay activist and artist, designed the first rainbow flag in 1978 for a Gay Freedom Pride Parade in San Francisco, and it was immediately taken up by activists. It was originally eight colors but was soon changed to six because it was easier to create. Baker told the Museum of Modern Art in an interview: “It was necessary to have the Rainbow Flag because up until that we had the pink triangle from the Nazis – it was the symbol that they would use [to denote gay people]. It came from such a horrible place of murder and holocaust and Hitler. We needed something beautiful, something from us. The rainbow is so perfect because it really fits our diversity in terms of race, gender, ages, all of those things.”
Women’s Action Group – Forest Hills Hosts Clinic Escort Training
On May 18, the Women’s Action Group – Forest Hills hosted a Choices Clinic Escort Training at their monthly meeting. Choices Clinic Escort Director Mary Lou Greenberg explained that the program was developed with NOW-NYC when Choices moved to Jamaica, Queens and its patients were besieged by anti-abortion protestors every Saturday morning. Volunteer escorts are now recruited from all over NYC to greet patients on the sidewalk and walk with them to Choices’ entrance, shielding them from harassment. Volunteer Escort Leader Tracie White used videos to show what happens Saturday mornings and how volunteer escorts are essential to patients’ wellbeing and ability to get to their appointments.
The Women’s Action Group (WAG) was formed shortly after the election of the 45th POTUS to both elect more progressives and “to support a woman’s right to affordable, local and comprehensive healthcare.” As part of their work, they hosted this education and training session for members who are interested in becoming part of the Volunteer Escort Team. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to host a similar session at your home or office.
Historical Happenings in June – and What They Mean Today
June 10, 1963 – Equal Pay Act enacted. Its stated purpose: “To prohibit discrimination on account of sex in the payment of wages by employers engaged in commerce or in the production of goods for commerce.” Where we are today: The gender pay gap continues. Year-round working women make on average approximately 80% what men do.
June 21, 1997 – The WNBA (Women’s National Basketball Association) played its first game. Today: A high and exciting level of play draws enthusiastic fans – but still too few to ensure the consistent crowds that draw financial support as the NBA does. Women’s salaries are much less than men’s – and women pros are forced to play overseas in the off-season to make enough to live on. So get your tickets to home games now and help build the support they need.
June 23, 1972 – Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 became law. Considered one of the most important legislation initiatives passed for women and girls since women won the vote in 1920, it guarantees equal access and equal opportunity for female and male students. For many years it has also been cited as the basis for addressing sexual harassment and assault of female students on campuses by creating “an environment so hostile that women’s access to education is jeopardized, violating their civil rights.” Today, Title IX is under attack by the Trump administration.
Abortion Update – U.S. and Ireland
Attacks in the U.S.
Ever since the U.S. Supreme Court made abortion legal in 1973, this fundamental right of women has been under attack. Politicians are now trying to ban abortion at various stages of pregnancy, despite the fact that the 1973 ruling legalized abortion through the second trimester, or 24 weeks, and even later for certain health reasons. (New York is one of the few states that has NO restrictions to 24 weeks.)
Iowa lawmakers recently passed an outrageous ban on abortion after about 6 weeks of pregnancy, the time when the first tiny indication of a fetal heatbeat can be detected on an ultrasound. Six weeks is often before many woman even know they’re pregnant. It is not even close to the time when a fetus has developed in the woman’s womb to the point of being able to live outside her body and be born.
There is no rationale for this other than the usual, REAL reason for outlawing or limiting abortion: to make women live a Handmaid’s Tale of forced motherhood. The law is currently being challenged in court, and at some point it could reach the Supreme Court in a challenge to Roe. Read more about other restrictions on abortion by clicking here.
Not to be outdone by anti-woman laws in the states, the Trump/Pence regime recently reinstated a vicious policy from the administration of President Ronald Reagan in 1988. It withholds federal funds from any facility or program that even mentions the word “abortion.” Federal funds are already denied for any abortion services. Now healthcare providers cannot even refer patients to other providers who offer abortion care. This domestic gag rule, if allowed to stand, will severely harm women and providers who depend on Federal funding for family planning programs.
We call on everyone who supports reproductive freedom to loudly proclaim in words and actions:
Not the Church, Not the State – Women Must Decide Their Fate!
In Ireland: A Victory!
Voters in Ireland recently overturned the country’s ban on all abortions that had been part of Ireland’s Constitution since 1983. The old law stated that the life of a pregnant woman was equal to that of an “unborn child.” Women who wanted or needed abortions had to travel to England when they could. Now, this will mean that abortion is legal throughout the country and that providers can offer it. In 2012, the law killed Savita Halappanavar, a dentist born in India and living in Ireland, who was admitted to a hospital while having a miscarriage. Doctors agreed that the fetus would not survive but because it still had a heartbeat, they refused to give her an abortion. (And, note, that is where “heartbeat laws” can lead – see our article.) By the time the fetal heartbeat had stopped, Dr. Halappanavar had septicemia infection. She died from it. Her cruel and outrageous death, murder-by-law, was an impetus for demonstrations and activism against the law. Read more about her story featured in On the Issues Magazine by clicking here. Additional story featured in the New York Times on May 27th, 2018 here.
Demonstration in Ireland protesting the Murder of Savita Halappanavar.