Event: Carol Tracy to Receive Nancy P. Morrill Award

On May 17, the Bucks County Women’s Advocacy Coalition will honor WLP Executive Director Carol E. Tracy with the Nancy P. Morrill Award for outstanding legal work advancing women’s rights. The Nancy P. Morrill Award is named after the founder of the Bucks County Women’s Advocacy Coalition, and is awarded to an exemplary advocate and
organization that embodies and champions the vision and mission of our Coalition.

“This year, the Board of the BCWAC voted to give this award to the Women’s Law Project and you for your leadership, integrity, collaboration, courage, and advocacy to promote gender equity and economic security for women in Pennsylvania. You and your
extraordinary and dedicated staff, are a trusted resource for our advocacy at the grassroots. Daily you truly make a difference in the lives of women and girls, raise the level of awareness of need in Pennsylvania, and connect organizations across the state through the Pennsylvania Campaign for Women’s Health.”

Carol will deliver a keynote address at the BCWAC’s annual “Call to Action” meeting at the James-Lorah Memorial Home in Doylestown, Pennsylvania.

The Bucks County Women’s Advocacy Coalition envisions a socially just and respectful society invested in a common good to achieve the full potential of individuals, families, and the community. They educate and advocate on behalf of women to promote systemic change to achieve gender equity and economic security for all.

We are proud to partner with BCWAC in the Pennsylvania Campaign for Women’s Health, a collaboration of more than 55 local, state and national organizations calling for evidence-based policies to improve women’s health and economic security.

Details:

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

4:00 p.m.— 6:00 p.m

James-Lorah Memorial Home

132 North Main Street Doylestown, PA 18901

Please note: Free parking is available in the Bucks County Parking Garage located on Broad Street, with additional entrances on Union and Doyle Streets.

We will cover highlights of the event on twitter @WomensLawProj. Check out more public events with the Women’s Law Project here.

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

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

We are a non-profit organization. Please consider supporting equal rights for women and girls by making a one-time donation or scheduling a monthly contribution.

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130+ Pennsylvanians get “Nevertheless, She Persisted” Tattoos to support the WLP  

 

This week, at least 138 men and women from across Pennsylvania traveled to Integrity Tattoo parlor in Montgomery County to express support for women’s equality, and the work of the WLP, by having the phrase “Nevertheless, She Persisted” permanently etched into their skin.

Inspired by Senator Elizabeth Warren, “Nevertheless, She Persisted” has become a popular motto for feminists ever since Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell used this phrase to describe why he silenced Warren as she quoted a letter written by Coretta Scott King while objecting to the confirmation of Senator Jeff Sessions as U.S. Attorney General.

“She was warned, she was given an explanation,” McConnell said slowly, pointer finger aloft, “Nevertheless, she persisted.”

Angela Bruecks dreamed up the tattoo-themed fundraiser after reading an article about a group of British women who got the tattoo to express solidarity with American women after a man who has bragged about sexual assault was elected to be President of the United States.

“I couldn’t stand sitting back anymore doing nothing while all these horrible things were happening across our country, especially to women of color and immigrant mothers and families,” recalls Bruecks. “So, I stopped by [Integrity Tattoo,] the parlor where I had gotten two tattoos previously, and asked if they would like to host a fundraiser.”

WLP Director of Development Jenn Nix sporting her new “Nevertheless, She Persisted” tattoo.

Bruecks chose to donate proceeds toward supporting the work of the Women’s Law Project after being inspired seeing Executive Director Carol Tracy speak at the Women’s March on Philadelphia back in January.

“I never in a million years thought it would spread like wildfire but I am so thrilled and humbled by the women (and men) who showed up that Sunday and persevered in the rain and the long wait to show their support,” says Bruecks. The event raised thousands of dollars that will go directly to support legal advocacy for women and girls in Pennsylvania.

The Women’s Law Project sincerely thanks Kiel Ferrari, owner of Integrity Tattoo, Ashley Ferrari, events coordinator at Integrity Tattoo, Angela Bruecks, all of the tattoo artists, and everyone who came out on Sunday.

Due to popular demand, Integrity Tattoo is extending the special offer of $50 “Nevertheless, She Persisted” tattoos with some proceeds donated to the Women’s Law Project through the end of May.

Visit Integrity Tattoo or call 610-792-4433 to set up an appointment. If you get one, email a photo to tmurtha@womenslawproject.org, or tweet it to us at @WomensLawProj.

Do you have a creative fundraiser idea? Contact WLP Development Director Jennifer Nix at jnix@womenslawproject.org to discuss ideas.

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

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

We are a non-profit organization. Please consider supporting equal rights for women and girls by making a one-time donation or scheduling a monthly contribution.

 

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Notorious 9: These PA Politicians Voted Against Women, Seniors & the Disabled in PA

These nine Pennsylvania Congressmen voted for the AHCA.

The U.S. House passed a healthcare bill that essentially installs a financial penalty for being raped and having children by allowing states to deny coverage for pre-existing conditions including rape, postpartum depression, cesarean sections, and surviving domestic violence.

Women, older adults, people with disabilities and low-income people are all targeted by the plan that Pennsyvlania Senator Bob Casey called “a scheme to cut taxes for millionaires and big corporations” masquerading as a healthcare policy.

More lowlights:

It targets women who rely on Planned Parenthood for preventative healthcare. It “defunds” Planned Parenthood by banning the organization from receiving Medicaid reimbursements for providing low-cost preventative healthcare. Over half of Planned Parenthood’s 650 health centers are in rural or medically underserved areas with health professional shortages.

Guaranteed protections for people with pre-existing conditions are gone. Insurance companies could be allowed to charge people with preexisting conditions much higher premiums than allowed under the ACA. Here is a list of 50 health issues that count as “pre-existing conditions.”

Millions will lose coverage altogether. The CBO analysis of the initial bill estimates 24 million people will lose coverage. The Congressional Budget Office was not able to complete and release an analysis of the revised bill before yesterday’s vote.

There’s an age tax. A 64 year-old with an income of $26,000 a year could rise from $1,700 currently to more than $14,000, according to the same initial CBO estimate.

It targets people children with disabilities. “Under a little-noticed provision of the health care bill, states would no longer have to consider schools eligible Medicaid providers, meaning they would not be entitled to reimbursements.”

Medical professionals and patient advocacy groups strongly oppose it. The bill is opposed by the American Hospital Association, the Federation of American Hospitals, America’s Essential Hospitals, Families USA, the National Physician’s Alliance, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the AARP, the American Diabetes Association, the March of Dimes, the National Association of Rare Disorders, the Save Medicaid in Schools Coalition, SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the American Heart Association, American Lung Association, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, National MS Society, the American Psychiatric Association, American Osteopathic Association, American Academy of Family Physicians, American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists oppose the American Health Care Action.

The AHCA passed the U.S. House 217-213.

Pennsylvania could be one of the “biggest losers” if the bill is implemented. No Democrats voted for it. Four Pennsylvania Republicans listened to constituents and voted against it: Congressmen Costello, Meehan, Fitzpatrick and Dent.

These nine Pennsylvania Congressmen voted for the AHCA:

Congressman Keith Rothfus PA-12

Email: https://rothfus.house.gov/email-keith

Twitter: @KeithRothfus

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/keithrothfus/?fref=nf

DC Phone: (202) 225-2065

 

Congressman Mike Kelly PA-3

Email: https://kelly.house.gov/contact-me/email-me

Twitter: @MikeKellyPA

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MikeKellyPA/

DC Phone: (202) 225-5406

 

Congressman Scott Perry PA-4

Email: https://perry.house.gov/forms/writeyourrep/

Twitter: @RepScottPerry

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/repscottperry

DC Phone: 202-225-5836

 

Congressman Glenn Thompson PA-5

Email: https://thompson.house.gov/contact-me/email-me

Twitter: ‪@CongressmanGT

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CongressmanGT/

DC Phone: (202) 225-5121

 

 Congressman Bill Shuster PA-9

Email: https://shuster.house.gov/contact-form/

Twitter: ‪@RepBillShuster

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Rep.Shuster/

DC Phone: 202-225-2431

 

Congressman Tom Marino PA-10

Email: https://marino.house.gov/contact/email

Twitter: @RepTomMarino‪

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CongressmanMarino/

DC Phone: 202-225-3731

 

 Congressman Lou Barletta PA-11

Email: https://barletta.house.gov/contact/email-me

Twitter: ‪@RepLouBarletta

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CongressmanLouBarletta/

DC phone: (202) 225-6511

 

Congressman Lloyd Smucker PA-16

Email: https://smucker.house.gov/contact

Twitter: @RepSmucker

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RepSmucker

DC phone: 202-225-2411

 

Congressman Tim Murphy PA-18

Email: https://murphy.house.gov/contact-me/

Twitter: @RepTimMurphy

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/reptimmurphy

Phone: (202) 225-2301

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

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

We are a non-profit organization. Please consider supporting equal rights for women and girls by making a one-time donation or scheduling a monthly contribution.

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Carol Tracy Honored with Prestigious Sandra Day O’Connor Award 

The Sandra Day O’Connor Award recognizes legal excellence & pioneering work advancing the rights of women & girls

We are proud to announce that the Philadelphia Bar Association will honor Women’s Law Project Executive Director Carol E. Tracy with the prestigious Sandra Day O’Connor Award. The Sandra Day O’Connor Award is annually presented to a female attorney who has demonstrated superior legal talent, achieved significant legal accomplishments, and has furthered the advancement of women in both the profession and the community.

Carol E. Tracy is the recipient of the 2017 Sandra Day O’Connor Award

“For the past 30 years, Carol has been a champion for equality as it relates to advancing the rights of women and girls,” says Philadelphia Bar Association Chancellor Deborah R. Gross. “Her advocacy in support of, and longtime commitment to, civil rights and to legal aid have benefited our legal community and improved the lives of countless women and their families across the country.  She has mentored many women lawyers and served as a role model for women lawyers seeking to promote equality and improve our system of justice. She truly is a deserving recipient of this recognition and I applaud her accomplishments and her leadership.”

While Carol’s legal work is wide-ranging and has deep roots in Philadelphia, she has risen to national prominence in particular for her expertise and accomplishments defending reproductive rights and improving police and legal responses to sexual and domestic violence.

Since joining Women’s Law Project as Executive Director in 1990, Carol has led major legal victories on the national scale in women’s reproductive rights. Under Carol’s leadership, the Women’s Law Project served as co-counsel in the landmark reproductive rights case Planned Parenthood v. Casey at the Supreme Court of the United States. The Women’s Law Project has been representing abortion providers in Pennsylvania since 1974.

Before joining the WLP, Carol was director of the Mayor’s Commission for Women. A founding member Women Against Abuse, Carol helped open the first DV shelter in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. In 2003, she was appointed as co-chair of the newly created Domestic Violence Task Force.

With Carol at the helm, the Women’s Law Project led the effort to reform how the Philadelphia Police Department responds to sexual assault in the wake of a Philadelphia Inquirer investigative report that revealed systemic mishandling of rape cases. Through our work with the Philadelphia police, WLP attorneys recognized that the FBI’s woefully outdated definition of rape resulted in a serious undercounting of the crime of sexual assault in the United States. Carol subsequently testified before Congress as part of a ten-year campaign urging the FBI to update its decades-old definition of rape. This successful effort led to more accurate nationwide data on sexual violence.

Carol currently co-chairs Philadelphia’s Domestic Violence Law Enforcement Committee, which led to reform of the Philadelphia Police Department’s response to domestic violence. In 2014, a new DV shelter was named “Carol’s Place” in her honor. She earned her law degree from the Temple University Beasley School of Law, and teaches at University of Pennsylvania.

The Women’s Law Project is a proud state-based organization with a significant track record of national impact. We leverage high-impact litigation, policy advocacy and community education to defend and advance the legal status of women and girls.

The Philadelphia Bar Association will present Carol Tracy with the Sandra Day O’Connor Award at noon on June 2 at the Hyatt at the Bellevue on Broad Street in Philadelphia.

To request an interview with Carol Tracy, contact Tara Murtha at tmurtha@womenslawproject.org, or 215-928-5762.

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

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

We are a non-profit organization. Please consider supporting equal rights for women and girls by making a one-time donation or scheduling a monthly contribution.

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“We Go In, We Ask Questions.”

While we frequently field requests for information about improving police response to sexual assault, Canadian reporters and advocates have been especially interested in our work since February, when The Globe and Mail published “Unfounded,” a 20-month investigation into how Canadian police handle—and mishandle—rape cases.

The investigation revealed that one of every five sexual-assault allegations in Canada is dismissed as baseless and thus unfounded. The CBC just published a new report about efforts to address “unfounded” cases.

Today, the Waterloo Regional Police Task Force on sexual assault are meeting for the first time. Police and a group of more than 20 community members are going to review the 27% of sexual assault cases in the region that were deemed “unfounded.”

The Morning Edition with Craig Norris host Craig Norris spoke with Carol about our work, the Philadelphia model, and how advocates can help Canadian police improve their response to rape cases.

Listen to the 7-minute interview here, or read the transcription:

How does the Philadelphia case review model work?

It’s actually very simple. We’re a very large jurisdiction so we have about 6,000 cases coming in to the Special Victims Unit. For a three-day period a group of us, of advocates, review about 400 of those cases. We look at all unfounded rapes, and we look at any cases that have a non-UCR category, such a third-party report or medical investigation. We then look at a cross-section of open cases.

WLP’s Terry Fromson (left) and Carol Tracy talking to Philadelphia Police Commissioner John Timoney about re-opened rape case files in 2002.

Why do you think it was so successful? Why do you think other people adopted this as a model?

It was a very bold move on the part of the late John Timoney, who was the police commissioner at the time. He realized, this is what he said to me, that the community had lost trust in him.

I think this is the precursor to what we call community policing today, where police leadership in many places understand that the community has to trust you and you have to trust the community. That’s what this model is about. It’s a tool. I repeatedly say it’s not the only thing needed—you need to have appropriate supervision and you need internal accountability, but you also need outside eyes in an area like rape and sexual assault [because these crimes] have just been permeated with bias against rape victims.

How did the Women’s Law Project become involved?

We’re a women’s rights organization, we work on a broad range of issues from reproductive rights, to violence against women, and gender discrimination. The Philadelphia Inquirer called us, the newspaper that did a report similar to [the recent expose “Unfounded” published by the The Globe and Mail].

We led the reform effort along with our rape crisis center, Women Organized Against Rape, and child advocacy groups [the Support Center for Child Advocates and the Philadelphia Children’s Alliance].

Was there a feeling that your organization were there to be critical of police?

The police were subjected to a significant amount of public scrutiny, both by Philadelphia City Council, because we asked them to hold hearings, and news coverage. They did their own internal review, they put in a completely new supervisory and administrative structure in the police department. The police commissioner said to me, “When you are reviewing these cases, [if] you can’t reach a resolution, you come to me about that.” So the process we engaged in, we say it wasn’t ‘a gotcha,’ it was about systems improvement.

They aired their dirty laundry, they put in a number of important measures to improve themselves internally, and our job moving forward was to make the process better. We are clearly not police, we don’t go in and try to re-investigate cases.

We go in, we ask questions. We look to see that the cases have been properly coded, we make sure all the witnesses have been interviewed, we look to see that all of the evidence has been collected, we look to see if there’s an interview instead of an interrogation [of the victim].

We look for indications of the victim-blaming that has been so commonplace in police practice, and throughout society quite frankly. That’s our role in this. Clearly it started in a more confrontational way, at least in our testimony before City Council and in initial meetings with the police commissioner, but once we sat around that table we all agreed we would become partners. And it’s worked that way.

Has the case review model changed how sexual assault cases are investigated [in Philadelphia]?

We’ve certainly seen a significant improvement in the case files over the years. Also, during this period of time, the whole body of trauma theory has developed, and the police just recently had a major training on trauma-informed investigations of sex crimes, so I think there’s been an increase in knowledge about the impact of trauma on victim behavior. There’s clearly been much greater attention paid to this, and the investigations have improved. They’re simply not, quite frankly, as sloppy as when we first looked at them.

Has that led to more women coming forward?

The police commissioner, within two years of this beginning, announced there had been a 20% increase [in reports].  I think when we first looked at this there were around 4,000 cases, and they are up to 6,000 now. I hope that it means that more sexual assault victims are willing to report to the police, that they [believe they] will be treated appropriately.

Finally, the Waterloo Regional police are launching their task force tomorrow. What advice do you have for them?

They have to trust the community they serve.

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

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

We are a non-profit organization. Please consider supporting equal rights for women and girls by making a one-time donation or scheduling a monthly contribution.

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Monday AM: Carol Tracy Discusses Police Response to Sexual Assault on CBC  

Listen live!

At 7:40AM Monday morning, Women’s Law Project Executive Director Carol Tracy will be interviewed live on Canadian radio program The Morning Edition with Craig Norris.

Carol will be sharing insight from our experience working with the Philadelphia Police Department to reform police response to sexual assault, including the innovative annual advocate-led review of sex crime files that is now celebrated as a best practice.

While we frequently field requests for information about improving police response to sexual assault, Canadian reporters and advocates have been especially interested in our work since February, when The Globe and Mail published “Unfounded,” a 20-month investigation into how Canadian police handle—and mishandle—rape cases.

The investigation revealed that one of every five sexual-assault allegations in Canada is dismissed as baseless and thus unfounded. The CBC just published a new report about efforts to address “unfounded” cases.

Listen to the interview Monday morning live at the link.

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

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

We are a non-profit organization. Please consider supporting equal rights for women and girls by making a one-time donation or scheduling a monthly contribution.

Posted in Police Reform | Tagged , , ,

PA Witholding Some Funds from “Crisis Pregnancy Centers” Amid Audit & Lawsuit

The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services will withhold certain payments to Real Alternatives, a chain of so-called crisis pregnancy centers based in Pennsylvania. The decision is the latest development in what has become an ongoing battle between Pennsylvania authorities and the organization, which receives millions of taxpayer dollars.

Last September, Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale initiated a routine audit of Real Alternatives after the Department of Human Services, which issues the funding, could not account for how all of the grant money is spent.

Real Alternatives currently has a $30.2 million five-year DHS grant, which expires June 30, 2017.

From a press release announcing the audit: A recent DHS audit revealed that Real Alternatives deducts a three percent fee from reimbursements to its service providers. Real Alternatives refused to provide information to allow DHS auditors to review reimbursements from the three percent fee or to provide any details on how the funds from the fee are used.

In March, Real Alternatives sued the Auditor General for auditing them.

“I am not alleging that the money is being used for illegal activities, but as Pennsylvania’s chief fiscal watchdog I demand to know how and where our tax money is being spent,” DePasquale said in a statement responding to the lawsuit. “Thirty million is a lot of tax dollars, I want to ensure 100 percent of those funds are providing services to pregnant women and their families in Pennsylvania as the grant agreement requires.”

Now, Pennsylvania DHS has decided to withhold some of the grant funds in response to the organization’s “continuing refusal” to allow public review of how it uses 3 percent of its $30.2 million state grant.

“I applaud the decision by the Department of Human Services to refuse to pay 3 percent of the grant which is equal to the amount which Real Alternatives has continually blocked from review by both my department and DHS,” DePasquale said. “I believe DHS is well within its right to withhold payment of this 3 percent ‘program development and advancement fee’ that Real Alternatives withholds from its providers at least until such time this group comes clean and opens up their books for review.”

Pennsylvania has been using state funds to finance crisis pregnancy centers for two decades. We are also one of a handful of states that divert Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds—safety-net funds for low-income families in need—to fund crisis pregnancy centers.

Meanwhile, while the state struggles to assess how Real Alternatives is spending its grant money, the Pennsylvania Legislature is preparing to vote on Senate Bill 300. SB300 is a bill that would effectively defund Planned Parenthood by withholding reimbursements for low-income Pennsylvanians who rely on Planned Parenthood for family planning and related preventative care services.

The defunding bill, Senate Bill 300, was just scheduled for a vote in the Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday, April 26.

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

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

We are a non-profit organization. Please consider supporting equal rights for women and girls by making a one-time donation or scheduling a monthly contribution.

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