by Cindy Hanford, 
Chapter/State Development Staff


In January, NOW chapters across the country commemorated the 25th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision which legalized abortion. Chapter vigils, pickets and educational programs emphasized that new laws which limit access to abortion are undermining Roe v. Wade. (See story about women's clinic bombing.)

In addition, chapters organized and raised funds so that people from all over the country could attend the Women of Color and Allies Summit. As this National NOW Times goes to press, chapters are planning Women-Friendly Workplace actions as part of Women's History Month (March).

Greater Boston NOW Honors Women's Reproductive Struggles

Greater Boston NOW (Mass.) sponsored a multimedia exhibit focusing on themes of abortion, contraception, fertility and reproductive freedom. "REPROspective: Expressions of Choice" featured original photographs, sculptures and other works of art, narratives by local artists and activists, historical memorabilia and a political chronology detailing women's struggle to gain reproductive choices. The exhibit's artwork displayed the range of issues women confront when trying to conceive or deciding to terminate a pregnancy.

The event was open to the public from Dec. 22 to Jan. 24, coinciding with the anniversaries of both Roe v. Wade and the Brookline clinic murders (Dec. 30, 1994).

Opening ceremonies raised money for NOW and included a forum entitled "25 Years and Counting: Next Steps in the Struggle for Reproductive Freedom." Chapter President Toni Troop; Eileen McDonagh, author of Breaking the Abortion Deadlock; Judy Norsigian, founder of the Boston Women's Health Book Collective (publishers of Our Bodies, Ourselves); and student organizer Elena Tate spoke about strategies to expand and secure women's access to reproductive health care.

The informational display panels of the exhibit are available for use throughout the year. Contact Greater Boston NOW at 617-232-1017 for details on bringing this exhibit to your chapter.

Raleigh NOW Marches for Roe v. Wade Anniversary

Raleigh NC NOW commerated the Roe v Wade anniversaryRaleigh (N.C.) NOW chapter members marched to the state Capitol to commemorate the anniversary of Roe v. Wade.  Speakers at the rally included state Sen. Brad Miller (pictured, left), a stalwart abortion rights supporter.  Photo courtesy of Kathe Rauch.

Raleigh (N.C.) NOW's annual Roe v. Wade march and rally drew over 100 abortion rights supporters to the state capitol grounds and received significant media coverage.

In addition to chapter activists Kathe Rauch, Kristi Reeves and N.C. NOW President Robin Davis, speakers included North Carolina Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Deborah Ross; state Senators Brad Miller and Eric Reeves; Patti Hammond from N.C. State University's student-run rape education group; and Mandy Carter, field director for the National Black Lesbian and Gay Leadership Forum and a member of Durham NOW. Singer Naomi Glasscock provided music.

Raleigh NOW members also gathered signatures for North Carolina NOW's annual two-page newspaper signature ad which lists names of supporters of the Roe v. Wade decision and calls for the availability of safe, legal abortion to all women. Contributions for the ad help to pay for N.C. NOW's lobbyist.

Arizona NOW Chapters Rally Against Violence

Arizona NOW protest against police ineffectiveness in responding to domestic violenceA protest against police ineffectiveness in responding to domestic violence drew members from three Arizona chapters.  Vicilee Jacobs (third from left), a survivor of domestic violence, spoke at the action.  Also pictured are Lori Stormer and Kay Olson, East Valley NOW co-coordinators (center).  Photo courtesy of Lori Stormer.

Representatives from three Arizona NOW chapters protested against alleged ill-treatment of police families who have experienced domestic violence at the hands of Phoenix police officers. Members of East Valley NOW, Sun Cities Area NOW and Phoenix/Scottsdale NOW rallied and held signs outside the police station and city hall, demanding the accountability of Phoenix police.

Oscar Tihlman, president of the Arizona NAACP, spoke of the effects of police brutality on people of color. Folk singer Alix Dobkin sang about the effects of domestic violence on women. Vicilee Jacobs, a survivor of domestic violence, bravely spoke about twenty years of abuse from her officer ex-husband and the neglect and poor treatment her case received from the police department.

Lori Stormer, East Valley chapter co-coordinator and former NOW intern, spoke of NOW's work to pass the Violence Against Women Act in 1994 and our lobbying efforts to introduce a new Violence Against Women Act this year. As a result of the rally, a police chief agreed to meet with chapter leadership to discuss how the police department can better serve battered women, especially partners of police officers.

Milwaukee NOW Clarifies "Feminism"

Milwaukee NOW held a press conference to launch a campaign designed to create a more posiive public opinion of feminism and encourage more women and men to label themselves feminists. Activities have focused on developing fliers, bumper stickers, pins and t-shirts with dictionary definitions of feminism printed on them. Fund-raising efforts are underway to collect $3000 in order to run advertisements on the sides of Milwaukee city buses.

Called the "F-Word Campaign," the project includes writing articles for newspapers about feminism and conducting surveys to gauge public opinion about feminism before and after the campaign. The Madison NOW chapter and Wisconsin State NOW are also developing similar campaigns.

Charlotte NOW Takes On Promise Keepers

The Charlotte (N.C.) chapter was recently revitalized by a surge of activism to address the misogyny of the right-wing, fundamentalist Promise Keepers. When new chapter President Cindy Thomson heard that Promise Keepers' leader Bill McCartney was coming to Charlotte to speak at a local church and to address a clergy conference of 6,000 ministers, she quickly organized a program to educate the public about the Promise Keepers' conservative political agenda. Held at the same time as McCartney's church gathering, the program drew over 75 people wanting to know more about the Promise Keepers. NOW's video about the Promise Keepers was shown.

As in national media markets, NOW emerged as the leading voice criticizing the Promise Keepers and bringing to light their political agenda, their message that women should be subservient to husbands and the racist and homophobic roots of their movement.

Marin County NOW Activist Honored

On Jan. 14, Marin County (Calif.) NOW activist Debra Koho was honored by the Marin County Human Rights Commission as one of five honorees chosen for her humanitarian efforts. A former chapter president, Koho earned the Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Award. For her tireless efforts on behalf of feminist and civil rights causes, she was recognized by Congressperson Lynn Woolsey, state Senator John Burton and Assemblymember Kerry Mazzoni. Koho donated her $1000 prize to Marin County NOW and to the Spectrum Center for Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Concerns youth group project.

Thanks for information provided by Toni Troop and Holly Vietzke of Greater Boston NOW, Kathe Rauch and Robin Davis of Raleigh NOW, Lori Stormer of East Valley NOW, Jennifer Olenchek of Wisconsin NOW, Cindy Thomson of Charlotte NOW, and Rachel Allen of Marin County NOW.

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