Monday, October 31, 2011

The Ties That Bind: Our Health, Our Families, Our Future

Members of First Pittsburgh NOW (National Organization for Women), South Hills NOW and East End NOW joined with the Pennsylvania Health Access Network in Wilkinsburg last week to send a message to Sen. Pat Toomey to "Keep Pennsylvania Covered."   This YouTube video shows the quilt squares they made and tells why each person wants Senator Tommey to keep the "Super Committee's" hands off of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

As PHAN says on their website about the quilt,

"...a new Congressional 'Super Committee' is charged with reducing the nation's deficit by $1.5 trillion. While some on the committee favor a balanced, responsible approach that includes both revenue increases and spending reductions, others, like our own Senator Pat Toomey, are looking at a cuts-only, 'slash and burn' approach that could jeopardized the health and well being of thousands of senior, kids and people with disabilities here in PA who rely on Medicare and Medicaid [as well as Social Security] to maintain their health and dignity...

The Super Committee must vote on its plan by Nov. 23rd, before sending it on to Congress for a vote in late December."
That's why we need to act now, before the Super Committee votes. You too can tell Senator Toomey at his website to leave our health care and Social Security alone.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Loving Your Body Throughout Life

Today, October 19, 2011, the National Organization for Women Foundation, NOW members, college and high school students, and many other men and women around the country celebrate the 14th annual Love Your Body Day. The National NOW Foundation created Love Your Body Day 14 years ago to have women of all sizes, colors, ages, and abilities to come together to celebrate and promote a positive body image.  Whether you are a size 2, 12, 22, a S, M, L, or XXL; whether you are white or a person of color; whether you are 4 or 44 or 84 years old; and whether you walk or roll, be proud of who you are and be healthy.

My mother, Martha B. Tosti, died three weeks ago.  Over her 84 year life span she had many looks – all different and all beautiful.  When she was young, she was thin and wore her hair in curls.  As a young mother, she decided that “fussing” with her hair was too much of a hassle and for over 50 years wore her hair in a short “pixie" style haircut.  At times she weighed as little as 100 pounds (or less) and at others she weighed over 200 pounds.  She also developed/acquired, like many women, several different disabilities as she aged. 
Her body changed throughout these 84 years, yet she remained a woman who could be and was celebrated for who she was.  Celebrated as a person rather than a body type that, through the use society’s unrealistic ideals of women’s bodies, might have been hailed at times and excoriated at others.  She stood up for her kids.  She made sure there was food on the table and nice clothes on everyone’s back.  When money was tight, she figured out how to stretch the dimes to make ends meet.  She intervened for her kids.  And when things were not going in a way she thought they should be, she would – often in quite colorful language – let you know what she thought.  She was a feisty woman who had her faults and her strengths.  Her body took her through all of this until the very end.  And we loved her regardless of her size, shape, clothing, or haircut.
That’s partially what Love Your Body Day is all about.  Body image is all about believing in yourself regardless of what you look like.  Because each and every woman is – as the 2011 Love Your Body poster says – “a masterpiece.” My mother enjoyed looking “good” but looking “good” was not so much a societal definition as a self-definition.  As it should be for everyone.    

PS. The Pennsylvania NOW Education Fund will have an exhibit table at the Pennsylvania Conference for Women on Tuesday, October 25, 2011 at the Philadelphia Convention Center.  We will be located at booth number 242 in the Exhibit Hall.  If you are coming to this conference, please drop by.  We will have copies of the current and many of the past Love Your Body Day Campaign posters at the table.

- Joanne Tosti-Vasey, President, Pennsylvania NOW Education Fund

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Action Alert: TRAP Bill Vote Expected TODAY!

The PA House is expected to vote on SB 732 TODAY! This is Pennsylvania's Targeted Regulations on Abortion Providers (TRAP) bill that will likely shut down many of the 22 stand-alone abortion / reproductive health clinics in Pennsylvania.
We've Had Enough!
Please call your representative this morning and tell him/her to vote NO on SB 732. You can locate your legislator’s contact info at
SB 732 passed out of the House Health Committee in the early summer after being amended to look exactly like HB 574 which had earlier passed the House. All of the Senate language from the original bill was stripped out, and the content of HB 574 was substituted. Therefore, SB 732 now applies to all surgical abortion procedures, even very early ones. It is not limited to abortions after nine weeks. SB 732/HB 574 would regulate Pennsylvania’s freestanding abortion providers as ambulatory surgical facilities (ASF), subject to both the ambulatory surgical facility regulations and the ambulatory gynecological surgery in hospitals and clinics regulations. Instead of preventing another atrocity like the Gosnell “house of horrors,”this bill will hurt women.
Senate Bill 732 (SB 732)
SB 732 would force free-standing abortion providers to be regulated as Ambulatory Surgical Facilities (ASF) which require burdensome and unnecessary structural and staffing changes.
SB 732 could cause a public health crisis by making abortion care in Pennsylvania inaccessible.
· ASF regulations could cause the cost of an abortion to rise significantly and could force providers to close their doors.
· Women need safe, reputable providers to trust when seeking an abortion.
More information about HB 574 and SB 732:
· These bills will increase the financial hurdles to abortion care for patients. Women will not be able to afford safe abortion care and may seek out a substandard illegal provider or be forced to delay their abortions while they try to raise money to pay for higher-cost procedures. The increased costs of complying with these bills will be passed along to patients. Many patients struggle to pay $350 for an early abortion procedure. With increased regulation and increased fees, the cost may double and therefore become inaccessible to many women.
· Poor women and rural women will have even less access to safe abortion care. Only 22% of PA counties have an abortion provider. The enactment of either bill would force some of these providers to close. Women who need abortions will then leave the state where Pennsylvania can no longer regulate their safety.
· Abortion providers are already well-regulated. Current law provides for required equipment and medical supplies, hospital transfer agreements for emergency services, equipment required for anesthesia, clinical staff licensing requirements, mandatory counseling and informed consent requirements, laboratory and pathology requirements, required blood tests specific to abortion care, extensive reporting requirements for each abortion, parental consent requirements, abortion facility requirements, and complications reporting. Women don’t need more regulations. They need accessible care and better enforcement of existing regulations.
More detail and talking points can be found in the pdf file from Pennsylvanians for Choice (PFC)which is located at our We've Had Enough website. PFC, fyi, is the statewide reproductive rights coalition working to ensure full reproductive justice and rights for women here in Pennsylvania.
Thanks for making the call. Again here’s the link to find your legislator’s contact info - Make that call today and tell your Representative to vote NO on SB 732.

Sunday, October 9, 2011


A Workshop Sponsored by Pennsylvania NOW

·       Learn cutting-edge messages that work in hateful times

·       Connect with like-minded progressives

·       Help develop our fight-back strategy around budget cuts

Saturday October 22nd

1 PM - 3 PM

First Floor Community Room
211 S. Allen St.
State College, PA 16801

(parking available in library lot)

Special presentation by the Pennsylvania Budget and
Policy Center on what’s ahead for 2012 in Harrisburg.

Please RSVP by Oct. 12th to Michele Hamilton: or (814) 235-5095

Debate in Harrisburg on School Vouchers - October 26, 2011

School Voucher Forum Harrisburg 10-26-11

Sunday, October 2, 2011

New Executive Committee Elected

Pennsylvania NOW elected their new Executive Committee yesterday (October 1, 2011) in Trevose, PA at our biennial convention. 

They are:
  • President: Julia Ramsey from Philadelphia NOW
  • Vice-President: Helene Ratner from Bucks County NOW
  • Treasurer: Pamela Macklin from East End NOW (Allegheny County)
  • Secretary: Betsy Parziale from Montgomery County NOW
  • At-Large Member: Michele Hamilton from Ni-Ta-Nee NOW (Centre County)
  • At-Large Member: Joanne Tosti-Vasey from Ni-Ta-Nee NOW (Centre County)
  • At-Large Member: Susan Woodland from NW PA NOW.

Congratulations everyone!

The new committee will take office on January 1, 2012.