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Supreme Court Turns Back Women’s Lives 50 Years

June 24, 2022

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Ask Sen. Schumer to Bring H.J.Res 17/S.J.Res 1 Up For A Vote

September 24, 2022

Contact Sen. Charles Schumer

  • Schumer has the power to bring H.J. Res. 17/S.J.Res. 1 to the Senate Floor for a vote before the November election. He must hear from us.
  • Groups working on this effort have written a template letter which is posted on Maryland NOW’s website. It is also posted below. This letter fully explains the situation and directs the Senator to hold this vote NOW.
  • Contact Schumer’s Office
  • You may write your own message in the senator’s comment box in the above link, or copy and paste the letter on Maryland NOW’s site into the Comment box.

_____________________________________________________________

Leader Charles Schumer
Majority Leader
United States Senate
Washington, DC

Dear Leader Schumer,

We write to urge you to schedule a vote on S.J. Res 1, the bill to remove the time limit from the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). As you are aware, the resolution is cosponsored by more than the majority of the United States Senate, including the entire Democratic Caucus and Senators Murkowski and Collins. The House of Representatives voted to pass its companion bill, H.J. Res 17, on March 17, 2021, with bipartisan support. The fate of the ERA now lies in the hands of this Chamber.

With Virginia becoming the 38th state to ratify the ERA on January 27, 2020, all requirements for it to become the 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution have been satisfied. However, the Archivist has yet to publish the ERA as part of the Constitution, citing the expiration of the time limit placed in the Amendment’s preamble. This, to us, is an unacceptable way to decide what should be in our supreme governing document.

The Senate has the opportunity to bring the country’s foundational governing document into the 21st century. On January 27, 2022, President Biden called on Congress to pass legislation affirming the ERA’s validity, which was the two-year anniversary of Virginia’s ratification of the ERA, and the date the ERA went into effect. The Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel’s released a memo confirming that Congress can act to remove the time limit as well as any ambiguity around the validity of the Equal Rights Amendment’s status as the 28th Amendment to the Constitution.

The simple principle of constitutional equality on the basis of sex is overwhelmingly popular with the American public. A poll conducted by Pew Research Center in the spring of 2020 found 78% support for the ERA being added to the Constitution. A separate poll by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research in January of 2020 similarly found that three quarters of Americans support the ERA and, importantly, that 90% of Democrats and 60% of Republicans were in favor.

In addition to being popular, decisions made by the Supreme Court this term underscore the ERA’s modern relevance and potential significance. The ERA would serve as a new tool – for Congress, for federal agencies, and in the courts – to advance equality in the fields of workforce and pay, pregnancy discrimination, sexual harassment and violence, reproductive rights, and protections for LGBTQ+ individuals.

Recognition of the ERA as the 28th Amendment to the Constitution will confirm the rightful place of sex equality in all aspects of life and is fundamental to achieving equality in America. It has been nearly 100 years since this fight began to enshrine, into the Constitution, that equality of rights cannot be denied or abridged on account of sex. We urge the Senate to bring SJ Res 1/HJ Res 17 to the Senate floor for a vote and move our democracy forward.

Sincerely,

Maryland NOW PAC’s 2018-2022 Accomplishments

September 23, 2022

If you gave the PAC a donation or supported us in any way, here’s where your resources have gone:

  • We donated $1,000 to the Virginia NOW PAC for their ERA ratification effort in 2019; Virginia became the 38th state to ratify the amendment on January 27, 2020. 
  • We sponsored a volunteer to go to Virginia to work in a targeted district race as part of Virginia NOW’s campaign to ratify the ERA in the Virginia legislature.
  • In the 2020 General Election cycle, we voted to ask Maryland NOW to give $3,000 to Fair Fight, used in the state of Georgia to help elect two Democratic Senators and flip the U.S. Senate for Democrats, which they did.
  • We put Maryland NOW PAC’s records on the computer reporting system (CRIS) maintained by the Maryland State Board of Elections, Campaign Finance Division. (Considering that in 2015, the PAC didn’t even have a checking account, this bears mentioning.)
  • We developed a candidate survey distribution system using the Survey Monkey software so we could send out and review questionnaires from more candidates, and allow our PAC members to work more efficiently in evaluating candidates. For this cycle, we also vastly improved our survey questions to be able to review candidate positions on specific legislation and issue work on things like pre-release centers, supporting “tip” workers in the $15 minimum wage debate, or getting a Constitutional Amendment on Abortion on the ballot. 
  • We have also supported the Emerge program in Maryland, helping them inspire women to run for office through skill-building training so they can be successful. We targeted their list of graduates asking them to fill out our PAC questionnaire so we could consider endorsing them.
  • For the Maryland Primary election in June (cue drumroll) we were able to give $7,500 to women candidates – many running for office for the first time. Our efforts paid off – Please consider a donation now to help support candidates running in the November Elections!  

 

What Can You Do On Decision Day?

June 24, 2022

Maryland’s  Abortion Rights Coalition is planning three community gatherings in our state at locations in Frederick, Baltimore, and Annapolis. Another gathering might be planned for Silver Spring. These will take place between 5 -7 pm and will be a chance for women to gather to talk about what this will mean to them and their families. Please check back to this site for more information which we will post as it becomes available.

Three gatherings are scheduled for our state at this time

Here are the locations presently confirmed:

  • Frederick County Courthouse; 100 W Patrick St, Frederick, MD 21701
  • The People’s Park; 44 Calvert St, Annapolis, MD 21401
  • US District Courthouse; 101 W Lombard St, Baltimore, MD 21201 

POINTS OF CONTACT:

Coalition and community groups will have materials for their proposed next steps, and local activists will be able to lead the groups in chats. We will post contacts for each location as soon as they are confirmed.

We urge members and friends to go to the location that is most convenient for them.

Urvashi Vaid Stood for All of Us

June 14, 2022

Urvashi Vaid was a champion of many social issues, and as her obituary in the Washington Post observed, she connected the dots on issues of gender, class, race, and sexuality long before the idea of intersectionality was a “thing.” Those of us in Maryland and the Washington DC area may have first heard of her when she served as the executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force here in Washington from 1989 to1992.

She devoted much of her energy to AIDS funding and research and was known as the sort of person you always want leading your cause – able to see what was happening and what was needed. Her book, “Virtual Equality: The Mainstreaming of Gay and Lesbian Liberation” (1995), pointing out that the gay rights movement should be working for fundamental change, not mere tolerance.

It’s hard to imagine, reading tributes that have been published since her death on May 14, that one person could have accomplished everything she did. Many have written about how her activism and example changed their lives.

She was a graduate of Vassar College, earning her bachelor’s degree in 1979, and  earned her law degree from Northeastern University in 1983, She worked as an attorney at the ACLU. wrote, taught, and spoke out at marches and conferences. She is survived by her wife, Kate Clinton on Manhattan, two sisters, and extended family.

We are richer that she was one of our early leaders, and poorer now that she is gone.

Elections Have Consequences

May 15, 2022

Thirty Years of Abortion History in Maryland

In 1992, Maryland voters approved – by a 2-1 margin – a ballot question on abortion in our state. It read:

“Revises Maryland’s abortion law to prohibit state interference with woman’s abortion decision before fetus is viable, or, under certain conditions, at any time and to provide certain exceptions to the requirement that a physician notify an unmarried minor’s parent or guardian prior to minor’s abortion; repeals pre-abortion information requirements about abortion alternatives; repeals some, and clarifies other, provisions related to abortion referral; requires that abortions be performed by licensed physicians; provides good-faith immunity under certain conditions to physicians performing abortions; authorizes State to adopt abortion regulations; repeals certain penalty and disciplinary provisions related to the performance of abortions.”

In almost every way, this ballot question codified Roe v. Wade in our state, the exception being that it specified parental notification requirements, which Roe did not. But, in addition to the fact that attempts to repeal this ballot measure, known as Question 6 have failed, we are one of the few states in the country where third-trimester abortions are legal. And, our legislature in 2022 actually expanded this law to fund training for certain health care professionals, lifting the requirement that only licensed physicians could perform abortions.

The Maryland House passed language for a constitutional amendment here which would have added this right to abortion care to our state constitution. The session ended before the Maryland Senate could take up the amendment. However, the Abortion Care Access Act passed both chambers comfortably, and Gov. Hogan’s veto of the measure was easily overridden.

So, no problem – right?

Actually, it would be incredibly important not to rest comfortably here with all this legislative support for abortion care access in our state.

The U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) approved in their preliminary internal process following their hearing of the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization the overturning of Roe v. Wade. A draft opinion written by Associate Justice Samuel Alito was recently leaked to the press confirming their intent to do this. The news sent shock waves throughout the country, although quite a few legal observers saw this coming with the conservative Supreme Court appointments by Trump rammed through the U.S. Senate. But usually, the elimination of a 50-year legal precedent of a right affecting half the U.S. population follows a more gradual process.

Not so, with this conservative Supreme Court majority. The Mississippi law at issue in Dobbs established a fetal viability standard of 15 weeks, which is medically impossible. Just upholding this law, and allowing a Texas law establishing viability of 8 weeks to stand would have most certainly started many states down that path. Almost weekly we read of other states that are passing similar restrictions.

Overturning Roe allows states to simply outlaw all abortions (the Dobbs law that the Court upholds in their decision allows no exception for rape or incest). Period. Thirteen states have what are known as “trigger laws” which provide that immediately upon the Court’s overturning of Roe abortion will be illegal in their state, and at least 10 states are currently in the process of passing similar laws.

Wrong!

If the U.S. House and Senate gain Republican majorities in 2022, both will most certainly pass laws outlawing abortion nationwide. This law would most certainly be vetoed by President Biden. But in two years, with the White House again up for grabs, if the Republicans can take over the Executive Branch of our government and repeat their Legislative Branch wins, Maryland’s law will disappear along with any other state laws that allow for abortion anywhere in the U.S. If you think this can’t happen, please don’t be too sure.

We are in a period in our history where representation of the population in the U.S. Senate, as well as the U.S. House, is wildly out of proportion. For example, California has a population of 39 million people. Wyoming has a population of 500,000. Both states each have two U.S. Senators. But consider this: California’s population totals the same number as we find in 22 other states. So California’s 39 million people have two senators and 22 other states in the country with a total population of 38 million have a total of 44 senators.

Additionally, four of the members of the Supreme Court were appointed by the Electoral College. That is to say, neither George Bush nor Donald Trump became president by winning the popular vote but were in fact elected by the Electoral College. During Bush’s second term he elevated John Roberts to be Chief Justice, and appointed Samuel Alito. Trump only served one term, but appointed Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett who were confirmed by the Senate.

Representatives of the Electoral College reflect the same imbalance as in the above example of California whose populations voted for Al Gore and Hillary Clinton, but were outvoted in the Electoral College by states whose populations elected George Bush and Donald Trump.

So, it won’t matter if Maryland voters codified Roe v. Wade and support a woman’s right to her choice of abortion care. There are clearly many things wrong with our so-called “representative democracy” at this point, but all we – and those who share our views and values –  can do is vote.

The 2022 Election Cycle

Many political pundits and pollsters claim that a Republican take-over of Capitol Hill is likely. It’s also widely believed that the Supreme Court’s overturning Roe will not actually change very many voters from Republicans to Democrats. But what it will do, and what we have to do everything we can to bring about, is increase turnout. Given the Republicans’ relentless attack on voting rights across the country, that will not be even a little bit easy.

Stay tuned as if the reproductive health care of every person in the U.S. depended on it!  It will!