WBAI-FM Upcoming Program
Joy of Resistance

Mon, Dec 6, 2021 9:00 PM

CRIMINALIZATION OF PREGNANCY / LATEST E.R.A. ACTION

Tonight's program features three of our current frontline fighters for women's rights and news from the battle lines on which they are fighting:  Lynn Paltrow, Founder and Executive Director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women, speaking on The Criminalization of Pregnancy. Then, Kamala Lopez, Founder and Director of Equal Means Equal joined by women's rights attorney Wendy Murphy, who, in 2020, brought suit against the Biden Administration for its failure to instruct the U.S. Archivist to publish the ERA, thereby making it law. Kamala and Wendy will announce a new direct action for ERA passage.

SEGMENT 1

The Criminalization of Pregnancy with Lynn Paltrow, Founder and Executive Director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women (NAPW) on why the trend of punishing women for bad outcomes in their pregnancies is growing, with currently two women in prison, one for a miscarriage the other for a still-birth. Most of the women prosecuted have been poor, women of color, and/or immigrants, but it is likely that these prosecutions will soon grow exponentially in the abortion-hostile climate we are entering as a result of a likely evisceration of Roe v Wade by the Supreme Court.

SEGMENT 2

In the second half of the show, we'll speak with two of the women leading the struggle to get the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) which would guarantee full legal equality to women--finally written into the U.S. constitution. They are Kamala Lopez, founder and Executive Director of Equal Means Equal, which is now upping the ante against the Biden Administration for refusing to publish the ERA into the Constitution although it HAS attained the 38 necessary state ratifications, by going to where President Joe Biden and Attorney General Merrick Garland attend Church and standing vigil in the spirit of the Suffrage vigils of over 100 years ago on which banners displayed the message: "Mr. President, how long must women wait for equality?".

In this segment, we'll also speak with Wendy Murphy, an acclaimed women's civil rights lawyer, who took the Biden Administration to Court for not publishing the ERA and making it official, although President Biden has had and has the power to do so. We'll also hear directly from this acclaimed women's rights attorney, why having an ERA would make it easier for her to win women's human rights cases by giving women a "floor" that would support all of their legal rights claims.

LYNN PALTROW BIO

Lynn M. Paltrow, J.D., is the Founder and Executive Director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women ("NAPW"). She has worked on numerous cases challenging restrictions on the right to choose abortion as well cases opposing the prosecution and punishment of pregnant women seeking to continue their pregnancies to term. She's been a senior staff attorney at the ACLU's Reproductive Freedom Project, as Director of Special Litigation at the Center for Reproductive Law and Policy, and Vice President for Public Affairs for Planned Parenthood of New York City. She conceived of and filed the first affirmative federal civil rights challenge to a hospital policy of searching pregnant women for evidence of drug use and turning that information over to the police. In the case of Ferguson et. al., v. City of Charleston et. al., the United States Supreme Court agreed that such a policy violates the 4th amendment's protections against unreasonable searches and seizures.

THE CRIMINALIZATION OF PREGNANCY AND THE RECENT ORAL ARGUMENTS ON ABORTION AT THE SUPREME COURT

In the oral aruments over viability and continued legal abortion that took place on Dec. 1, Supreme Court Judge Clarence Thomas twice mentioned a "South Carolina woman who took cocaine while pregnant"--and asked whether this would have been more consequential had it been post or pre-viability. The statement seemed to take for granted that this was a crime--which may have been the point of mentioning it, as racist tropes such as this image, are often used as right wing talking points as an excuse to criminalize women who take drugs and become pregnant--and there are actually women serving jail time right now for this "crime" a part of the policing of the bodies of pregnant women.

NATIONAL ADVOCATES FOR PREGNANT WOMEN

Established in 2001, National Advocates for Pregnant Women (NAPW) works to secure the human and civil rights, health and welfare of all people and provide or help with their legal defense, focusing particularly on pregnant and parenting women, and those who are most likely to be targeted for state control and punishment — low income women, women of color, and drug-using women.

WOMEN CURRENTLY IN JAIL FOR BAD PREGNANCY OUTCOMES!

On October 5, Brittney Poolaw, a 20-year-old Chinese Immigrant, was convicted of manslaughter in the first degree for experiencing a miscarriage at 17 weeks and sentenced to 4 years in state prison. NAPW filed an amicus brief in her defense

Adora Perez, a California Woman Serving an 11-Year Sentence for Manslaughter after experiencing a stillbirth (manslaughter of a fetus is a charge that does not even exist in California law!) NAPW filed an amicus brief in her defense.

NAPW wins cases that free women from prisons and jails, keeps families together, and protects pregnant women from wrongful child welfare interventions, forced medical interventions and treatments, and other forms of state control based on pregnancy.

Cecilia Nowell in an article in The Cut, entitled: "She Used Drugs While Pregnant. Should She Be in Prison? After having a stillbirth, Adora Perez was charged with murder." Her case could have serious implications for the future of reproductive freedom, especially if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade next year.

Prosecutors in many states are increasingly sending women to prison for failing to sufficiently protect their fetuses. Right now, those cases are largely restricted to punishing mothers who use illegal drugs, but reproductive-health advocates argue that they lay the groundwork for prosecuting parents (women) who jaywalk or drink wine or even have abortions. As Adora’s case continues to play out, the Kings County district attorney’s office maintains an interpretation of the law that could shape the future of not only stillbirth cases but the rights of all people who can and do become pregnant."

Other cases that have made the papers over the years are: Purvi Patel, and East Indian woman sentenced to 20 years for "feticide" (not even a crime in her state) but whose sentence was thrown out by an Appellate Court after she's served 3 years-- and Bei Bei Shuai, a Chinese immigrant, is currently serving an 11 year prison sentence for an attempted suicide when she was pregnant.

SEGMENT TWO

Kamala Lopez and Wendy Murphy on the latest action to confront the government on its inaction on the ERA!

KAMALA LOPEZ BIO

Actress, filmmaker, activist & President of Heroica  as well as Executive Director of Equal Means Equal, Kamala Lopez, launched the movement and documentary film Equal Means Equal, to educate Americans about the importance of equal rights under federal law for women and complete the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The film has been used by activists across the country. In 2009 Lopez began the ERA Education Project, creating multi-media PSA’s, video FAQ’s, social media campaigns, educational videos & sites, piloting curriculum and travelling around the country speaking to groups as well as students in colleges and high schools.

In 2016, the State of California awarded her the Latino Spirit Award for Achievement in Advocacy and Entertainment and the national civil rights group Equal Rights Advocates named her Champion of Justice. In 2019 show received the Yale Women Impact Award for Excellence. 

WENDY MURPHY BIO

Wendy Murphy teaches Sexual Violence and Law Reform at New England
Law|Boston, where she also co-directs the Women's and Children's
Advocacy Project (WCAP).

On January 7, 2020, W-CAP filed a federal lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts to ensure validation of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA)
in the aftermath of ratification by Virginia as the 38th and last state needed to
add the ERA as the 28th Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Wendy is an impact litigator whose work in state and federal courts has
changed the law to better protect the constitutional and civil rights of abused
women and children.

Her litigation on campus sexual assault, beginning in the early 1990s, includes groundbreaking victories against Harvard College in 2002, and Harvard Law School and
Princeton University in 2010, which cases helped to produce the well-known April 2011 Dear Colleague Letter. (Obama Admin).

She has worked for NBC, CBS, CNN and Fox News. She regularly provides legal analysis for network and cable news
programs. 

EQUAL MEANS EQUAL, a group dedicated to getting the Equal Rights Amendment that would guarantee equality for women has launched a new campaign, directed at President Biden and Merrick Garland. Their announcement reads: 

"Beginning on Sunday November 21st, then on every subsequent Sunday from 9:30am to 11:30am until year end, ERA Activists will stand outside President Biden’s houses of worship: both at St. Johhns Episcopal Church in Washington D.C. and the Brandywine Roman Catholic Church in Delaware. They will also stand outside of Attorney General Merrick Garlands Temple, Congregation Beth El, in Maryland." 

Here is the statemenet by Equal Means Equal to President Biden and AG Merrick Garland:

"With these protests we hope our leaders’ moral and spiritual conscience and courage may be awakened to the urgent need for full legal equality for women.

We also hope those amongst their congregants will become aware of this grave injustice and urgent call to action and use their personal leverage to convince the President and Attorney General to do the right thing and immediately publish ERA.?

SOME HISTORY OF THE ERA

Frst introduced in 1923 by Suffragist Alice Paul, U.S. women have been fighting for it for 98 years. Most other countries have similar laws in their constitutions.

The ERA reads: "Equality of rights Under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or  or by any state on account of sex." Thirty Eight states were needed to ratify it, for it to be added to the Constitution. On January 27, 2020, Virginia became the 38th state. This was during the Trump Administration and Trump's Attorney General William Barr issued a directive to the U.S. Archivist to NOT publish the ERA to the Constitution--which would have made it law. Unfortunately, when the Biden/Harris Administration took power they did not rescind the Barr memo. The Administration has also fought passage of the ERA in two separate lawsuits, taking identical positions to the Trump/Barr administration.

Statement by Equal Means Equal:

This past summer, women protested outside the Department of Justice, urging Attorney General Garland to unblock the ERA – to no response. Now we are taking our urgent message to the houses of worship of those who hold the fate of women’s equality in their hands. With these protests we hope our leaders’ moral and spiritual conscience and courage may be awakened to the urgent need for full legal equality for women.

We also hope those amongst their congregants will become aware of this grave injustice and urgent call to action and use their personal leverage to convince the President and Attorney General to do the right thing and immediately publish ERA.

There are different ways you can get involved:

Volunteer to stand outside of the churches and synagogue holding a sign or sponsor someone who will stand with a sign. To find out how to do either, learn more about the campaign and the ERA, go to equalmeansequal.org.

The program will also include the Feminist News Roundup and timely music.

 

 


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