Join us in Pittsburgh for a Screening of TRAPPED

We are proud to join with our friends Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania, New Voices Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh Pro-Choice Escorts to bring the groundbreaking documentary TRAPPED (2016) to Pittsburgh for a screening at the Melwood Theatre this Thursday, May 26.

 An urgent, vital examination of Southern abortion clinics – New York Times

Since 2010, hundreds of laws that strategically over-regulate healthcare facilities that provide abortion care have been passed by state legislatures, including in Pennsylvania. While lawmakers attempt to justify each individual regulation as an effort to “protect women,” in reality, these restrictions are designed to work cumulatively, incrementally building obstacles that target low-income women and women of color.

Many abortion providers have been forced to shut their doors due to these restrictions. The providers that remain must navigate increasingly complex and prohibitively costly obstacles in order to comply with each new restriction. TRAPPED follows some of these clinic workers and lawyers who are fighting to keep abortion safe and legal for millions of American women.

Trapped will be screened at the Melwood Theatre (477 Melwood Avenue Pittsburgh) on Thursday, May 26, at 6:30PM. Tickets are $10, and can be reserved here.

Sign up for WLP’s Action Alerts here. Stay up to date on issues and policy by subscribing to our blog, following us on twitter and liking us on Facebook

The Women’s Law Project is the only public interest law center in Pennsylvania devoted to advancing the rights of women and girls.

 

 

 

 

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On Millennial Anti-Rape Activists & the “Campus Effect”

Women’s Law Project Executive Director Carol E. Tracy is in The Guardian discussing the new wave of anti-rape activists. Specifically, Tracy applauds the profound progress millennial advocates are making in eradicating rape stigma, a deeply rooted cultural construct that all too often prevents survivors from seeking justice and healing.

Survivor Tucker Reed, left, closes her eyes in 2013 as she listens to Ari Mostov tearfully reveal details of her sexual assault. Photograph: Don Bartletti/LA Times via Getty Images

Survivor Tucker Reed, left, closes her eyes in 2013 as she listens to Ari Mostov tearfully reveal details of her sexual assault. Photograph: Don Bartletti/LA Times via Getty Images

Tracy referred to campus activists, led by groups such as Know Your IX and End Rape on Campus, as “the most significant thing to happen to women’s rights in a generation” and credited them with inspiring older women to speak out.

From the piece:

Barely a week goes by without survivors talking openly about their experiences on social media or news outlets. Despite a lack of official statistics, experts are quick to recognize an unprecedented and accelerating trend.

“It’s having a huge effect. It’s epic, like an explosion,” said Carol Tracy, executive director of the Women’s Law Project, a leading advocacy group based in Philadelphia.

The grassroots movement cuts across age, race and class but primarily appears driven by millennials – those aged 20 to 35.

“Over the last five years we are seeing a movement where women are breaking the shackles of shame, showing their faces and using their names, making it quite clear that they are not to blame for someone else’s actions against them,” Tracy said.

Read the rest of the article here.

Sign up for WLP’s Action Alerts here. Stay up to date on issues and policy by subscribing to our blog, following us on twitter and liking us on Facebook

The Women’s Law Project is the only public interest law center in Pennsylvania devoted to advancing the rights of women and girls.

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Good news: PA Moves Bill to Protect DV Survivors

Money can be one of the biggest obstacles standing between a domestic violence victim and freedom from abuse.

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, a significant proportion of women who return to an abusive relationship cite financial concerns as a major factor. Financial concerns can take many forms, from explicit financial abuse—forcing dependence by forbidding a partner to work, for example—to bullying a partner into believing they are incapable of handling finances on their own.

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Next, HB1051 needs to be voted on in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.

Sometimes, there simply isn’t enough money to leave the house and start over alone.

Today, Pennsylvania lawmakers moved a bill that, if passed, would at least alleviate some of the financial strain on people who rent their homes and need to leave an abusive relationship.

House Bill 1051, sponsored by Rep. Madeleine Dean, would amend Pennsylvania’s Landlord and Tenant Act to provide statutory protections for a tenant who is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking and needs to change the locks to their doors, or to prematurely terminate their lease for safety reasons. This legislation would give tenants who are victims of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking the ability to put an end to their lease obligations, without penalty, or have their locks changed—at the tenant’s expense—if they decide to stay in the home.

Today, the Urban Affairs Committee in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives voted this bill out of Committee. Next, for HB 1051 to have a chance to become law, the House needs to vote on the bill.

HB 1051 is an initiative of the Pennsylvania Agenda for Women’s Health, a bold, pro-choice legislative package of bills sponsored and supported by the Women’s Health Caucus of the Pennsylvania Legislature. The bill is supported by the Pennsylvania Campaign for Women’s Health, a collaboration of more than 50 local, state and national organizations calling for evidence-based policy solutions to real problems faced by real families in a state that unfortunately has become known for anti-science, ideologically driven attacks on families, sometimes in the name of “women’s health.”

In 2015, 146 Pennsylvanians lost their lives to domestic violence. The victims included 68 women and 45 men. The youngest victim killed was 18 and the oldest was 95.

Stay tuned for more updates as we continue to watch this important legislation.

Sign up for WLP’s Action Alerts here. Stay up to date on issues and policy by subscribing to our blog, following us on twitter and liking us on Facebook

The Women’s Law Project is the only public interest law center in Pennsylvania devoted to advancing the rights of women and girls.

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Thank You for Attending Our 2016 Rights to Realities Party

The Pittsburgh office of the Women’s Law Project, the only public interest legal organization devoted to advancing the rights of women and girls, opened in 2002 in order to directly serve and support the women and girls of Western Pennsylvania.

The annual spring Rights to Realities event in Pittsburgh is always a great party with a festive spirit that defies the deeply serious business of the organization’s work, and this year was no exception.

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Senior Staff Attorney Sue Frietsche of WLP’s Western Pennsylvania office began the evening’s presentation

This year’s party was themed Voices for Justice, and honored Pittsburgh’s own Cathy Raphael, an advocate, writer and artist whose inspirational vision, humor and kindness have buoyed countless women’s rights and progressive causes. It is not an exaggeration to say that without Raphael’s vision and generosity, we would not have been able to do the work necessary to keep abortion providers of Pennsylvania open in the face of ongoing legislative attempts to force them to close.

Former state representative Erin Molchany returned as guest auctioneer for our live action portion of the evening. Women’s Law Project board member Ellen Doyle and WLP’s Tara Murtha presented the winner of the 2016 “Say What” contest. After tallying online votes and ballots cast at the party, we announced that the clear winner of this dubious distinction of most ridiculous, offensive thing said about women in the last year is Phyllis Schlafly, a lawyer, author and editor who has dedicated her career to fighting feminist progress.

WLP was thrilled to present Pittsburgh's own Cathy Raphael with the 2016 Myra Bradwell Award for her contributions to equality.

WLP was thrilled to present Pittsburgh’s own Cathy Raphael with the 2016 Myra Bradwell Award for her contributions to equality.

As noted in our announcement, the Women’s Law Project will send Schlafly an official certificate, letting her know she has joined the ranks of previous winner Susan Patton (also known as the “Princeton mom”) and Mike Huckabee.

The Women’s Law Project is a non-profit organization; we provide legal services at no cost to our clients. Our work includes extensive enforcement of Title IX’s prohibition of sex discrimination in federally funded educational programs and activities; representation of sexual assault and sexual harassment survivors; the development of the Pennsylvania Agenda for Women’s Health to promote stronger legal protections for pregnant women, nursing mothers, and employees of small businesses; and the creative application of laws prohibiting sex discrimination to advance LGBT rights.

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Rep. Dan Frankel, co-chair of the Women’s Health Caucus of the Pennsylvania Legislature, with honoree Cathy Raphael at Rights to Realities

Our legal representation of abortion providers in Pennsylvania mostly takes place behind-the-scenes, but we are a critical component of protecting and promoting reproductive rights and freedom for women and girls in Pennsylvania.

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Lachelle Binion, Development & Program Coordinator for WLP’s Western PA office, and friend celebrating a tremendous evening

The current attacks on women’s reproductive rights, the state-level “incremental strategy,” is expensive by design.

To wit, an abortion ban recently introduced in Pennsylvania is the kind experts are calling the “most dangerous,” and part of “the national movement to intimidate and harass physicians.” It contains a method ban provision that is currently being blocked in at least two states because in addition to being morally repugnant, it is likely unconstitutional. But that doesn’t stop Pennsylvania lawmakers from trying to pass it into law, because challenging these laws takes time, effort, expertise and money.

So if you attended our party to support our work, we thank you, on behalf of the women and girls of Pennsylvania. If you did not attend, please consider supporting out work through a one-time or reoccurring donation.

Sign up for WLP’s Action Alerts here. Stay up to date on issues and policy by subscribing to our blog, following us on twitter and liking us on Facebook

The Women’s Law Project is the only public interest law center in Pennsylvania devoted to advancing the rights of women and girls.

 

Text: Tara Murtha

Photos: Mark Simpson

 

 

 

 

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Announcing the 2016 “Say What” Winner … Phyllis Schlafly!

 

The Women’s Law Project is pleased to announce the winner of our third annual “Say What” contest—wherein readers and party attendees vote for the most ridiculous, most offensive statement said about women by a public person in the previous year—is Phyllis Schlafly.

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Behold the winning entry:

 “Women like to marry a man who makes more than she does so then she can take time off and work fewer hours when she has something she’d rather do like have a kid and look after her children. So the pay gap, really, is something that women like.”                     -Phyllis Schlafly, Huffington Post

It’s always amusing when a professional woman—Schlafly is a lawyer with a master’s degree from Harvard and has authored or edited 20 books–extolls the virtues of women marrying men for economic stability in order to justify workplace discrimination. But that does not mean choosing a winner this year was an easy task; Schlafly’s statement was up against similarly tone-deaf competition.

With this distinction, Schlafly joins the ranks of Susan Patton (who you may remember as “Princeton mom”) and Mike Huckabee (who you may choose to try not to remember altogether).

The winner was announced last weekend at Rights to Realities, our annual spring party in Pittsburgh hosted by our Western Pennsylvania office. Now, as promised, the Women’s Law Project will send Schlafly a certificate to ensure she knows that she won this dubious honor.

Sign up for WLP’s Action Alerts here. Stay up to date on issues and policy by subscribing to our blog, following us on twitter and liking us on Facebook

The Women’s Law Project is the only public interest law center in Pennsylvania devoted to advancing the rights of women and girls.

 

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Pregnant Workers Fired Over a Glass of Water in Pennsylvania

Did you know that a pregnant woman in Pennsylvania can be fired for asking for a stool or water bottle at work?

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Women make up about half of the workforce, and working women are the primary or sole breadwinners in 40% of American families. Yet women continue to face unique obstacles in the workplace that compromise their ability to provide for their families. One of these obstacles is pregnancy discrimination. Here in Pennsylvania, some employers are still refusing to grant an employee’s reasonable request for a temporary, minor accommodation related to their pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition.

Women should not be forced to choose between listening to their doctor, or their employer.

The good news is that Pennsylvania lawmakers have an opportunity to help pregnant workers. The Pennsylvania Pregnant Workers Fairness Act would require some employers to make reasonable accommodations related to pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions. By 2016, it is beyond obvious that pregnant workers should not have to choose between maintaining a healthy pregnancy and earning a paycheck.

Last year, Women’s Law Project staff attorney Amal Bass, and other experts, testified at a public hearing about this issue, so we know Pennsylvania lawmakers are aware of both the problem and the fact that Pennsylvania is lagging behind other states in protecting pregnant workers.

WLP attorney Amal Bass testified in support of legislation that would clarify the obligations of employers and rights of pregnant and nursing workers in Pennsylvania

WLP attorney Amal Bass testified in support of legislation that would clarify the obligations of employers and rights of pregnant and nursing workers in Pennsylvania

Yet, this bill has stalled in the Labor and Industry Committee of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives due to insufficient support from our representatives… including many lawmakers who otherwise claim to care about pregnant women.

In fact, less than 5% of the lawmakers who supported the bizarre double abortion ban recently introduced in Pennsylvania support enabling pregnant workers to ask for an extra glass of water, or chair to lean on, while at work.

That’s an interesting disconnect.

So what can we do? Lawmakers need to hear how crucial this legislation is to constituents and their families, so please call your representative and urge them to support HB 1176 by co-sponsoring the bill or voting it out of Committee. Call today and leave a Mother’s Day message, call tomorrow, or send an email simply urging them to express support for pregnant workers in Pennsylvania by supporting HB 1176.

Find your Representative and his or her phone number here, or easily send an email to your lawmaker through our Action Alert system.

And Happy Mother’s Day!

Sign up for WLP’s Action Alerts here. Stay up to date on issues and policy by subscribing to our blog, following us on twitter and liking us on Facebook

The Women’s Law Project is the only public interest law center in Pennsylvania devoted to advancing the rights of women and girls.

 

 

Text: Tara Murtha

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May 6: Join us at Our “Rights to Realities” Party in Pittsburgh

In 2002, the Women’s Law Project opened an office in Pittsburgh so we could more directly serve and support the women of Western Pennsylvania.  We are proud of all the work we’ve been able to accomplish in the region over the past fourteen years.

We hope that you can help sustain our work by coming to our party on Friday, May 6 at 5:30 p.m. at the Fairmont Pittsburgh’s Grand Ballroom. Register for the party here.

2016 RTR LOGO

Our theme this year is “Voices for Justice,” and we will be honoring Cathy Raphael, a lifelong advocate for women’s rights who currently serves on the board of the Ms. Foundation, with the Myra Bradwell Award. Ms. Raphael has also served on the board of the Women’s Law Project, the Women Donors Network, the Society for Contemporary Craft, and the Funding Exchange. She is one of the founding mothers of the Women and Girls Foundation of SWPA. She is also a metalsmith, a storyteller and a fantasy fiction writer. We couldn’t be more proud to honor her spirit and generosity, which has enabled so many progressive causes to move forward in Pennsylvania, and beyond.

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Please join the Women’s Law Project as we bestow our highest honor, the Myra Bradwell Award, to Pittsburgh’s own Cathy Raphael.

We call our annual party “Rights to Realities” because that is what we do—we strive to transform rights into realities for women and girls of Pennsylvania through high-impact litigation, legislative initiatives and policy advocacy.

You can see this process in action in our recent work. This spring, we represented Pennsylvania abortion providers as “friends of the court” in a case before the Supreme Court of the United States. We have been working diligently to help prevent discrimination against pregnant workers by educating constituents, lawmakers and the business community about the need to clarify the rights of pregnant women in the workplace. We have worked to improve laws protecting children from sexual assault and harassment in schools. While abortion providers are under attack—both literally and figuratively, through legislation such as the bizarre double-abortion ban recently introduced in Pennsylvania—we work to keep healthcare facilities that offer abortion care open, and to protect doctors and patients from harassment.

Because the Women’s Law Project is a non-profit organization and we do not charge clients for our legal services, we need your support in order to help sustain our work.

We have been working incredibly hard this year to promote and protect women’s health and economic security, and we do it all on private foundation grants and donations from individual supporters like you.

At Rights to Realities, guests can look forward to several fantastic silent and live-auction items, live jazz music, delicious food and drinks, and of course the opportunity to mingle and celebrate with over 200 fellow women’s rights supporters.

We’ll also announce the much-anticipated “winner” of our annual “Say What?” contest.

For our “Say What?” contest, we collect unbelievably sexist things said about women—by real people, in public—and you vote for the worst. If you have been paying attention to the news this year, there are some doozies.

Here is an example of a recent nomination:

“Women like to marry a man who makes more than she does so then she can take time off and work fewer hours when she has something she’d rather do like have a kid and look after her children. So the pay gap, really, is something that women like.” –Phyllis Schlafly, Huffington Post

Click here to vote. We will announce the winner at the party, and then send him or her a little something to let them know what the good people of Pennsylvania think of their views of women.

To register for the party, click here. Thank you to our generous sponsors. If you are interested in sponsoring Rights to Realities, please contact Lachelle Binion at lbinion@womenslawproject.org. 

Sign up for WLP’s Action Alerts here. Stay up to date on issues and policy by subscribing to our blog, following us on twitter and liking us on Facebook

The Women’s Law Project is the only public interest law center in Pennsylvania devoted to advancing the rights of women and girls.

 

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