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National NOW Times >> Spring 2002 >> Article

NOW Acts

by Stefanie Richards, Chapter Development Specialist

Even in stressful post-Sept. 11 times, NOW chapters across the country found the energy and dedication to continue taking action on the issues they've been working on for years.

Virginia NOW Exposes State Funding of Crisis Pregnancy Centers

In October 2000, Virginia NOW filed an objection in federal court to the allocation of $170,000 in public funds to 18 so-called "Crisis Pregnancy Centers," the outreach arms of politically-motivated anti-abortion rights organizations that use scare tactics and false information to persuade women, including teenagers, to continue their pregnancies. Mark Earley, the GOP candidate for governor in the most recent Virginia governor's race, allocated the funds as Attorney General. At least three of the designated fund recipients in Virginia advertise as Christian or evangelical ministries.

Arlington NOW protests in front of local Republican headquarters. From left to right: Barbara Haley, Vanessa Salinas, Helen Colosimo Loretta Ullrich, a Virginia Tech student active with Virginia NOW, posed as a client to visit a Crisis Pregnancy Center in a small office building in Christianburg, Va. Ullrich states, "The counselor was less interested in my potential pregnancy than in knowing whether I considered myself to be a Christian and if the terrorist events of September 11 had made me think about the 'sanctity of life."

After a year of analyzing and planning, Virginia NOW held a successful statewide action on Oct. 6 to protest state funding of these pseudo-women's clinics. The Virginia Women's Network, Feminist Majority, and National Council of Jewish Women endorsed the protest. Arlington, Centreville, Charlottesville, Richmond, and Tidewater NOW chapters protested through downpours and chilly winds in coordinated efforts across the state to demand funding for women's health in Virginia.

Tidewater:
Tidewater NOW stood outside the Crisis Pregnancy Center in Virginia Beach with signs that read, "No Medical Staff Here!", "No Sonograms Here!", "Mark Earley Misdirected My Money," "Protect Our Daughters From Fake Clinics!" and "No More Deception About Conception!"

Motorists expressed their support with honks and thumbs-up and Tidewater NOW President Connie Hannah was interviewed on the local 5 o'clock news.

Richmond:
Protestors lined the streets outside the Cary Street Pregnancy Center with signs and NOW rounds and passed out flyers that informed the public of the truth behind the pregnancy center. Carefully stationed beside the stoplight in front of the center, the protestors were viewed by passing motorists who yelled and honked their support. Representatives of a neighborhood group working to keep the center out of the neighborhood visited the protest to take pictures to deliver to the Richmond City Council.

University of Virginia:
Charlottesville was the site of the U.Va. protest where community members showed their support not only vocally but through donations to the local abortion assistance fund.

Arlington:
On a heavily trafficked street in front of the Republican headquarters, Arlington NOW demanded "No Funding for Fake Clinics!" The protest was concluded with a meeting attended by the Chair of the Arlington Republican party.

Minnesota NOW Educates on Date Rape

Minnesota NOW raised awareness about date rape drugs at an action at a local bar.On Sept. 28 Minnesota NOW partnered with Program for Aid to Victims of Sexual Assault to raise awareness in the community about the presence of "date rape" drugs. The chapter wallpapered the local bar that hosted the event with "Sex Without Consent Is Rape" posters and had the bar staff wearing "I Love Consensual Sex" t-shirts. The crowd was stickered with "I Love Consensual Sex" stickers and a table displayed NOW materials.

Two bands donated the entertainment and the crowd roared on from 8 p.m. until 1 a.m. The local paper, the Duluth News Tribune, covered the event on the front page in an article including information on date rape drugs.

Chris Mitchell, VP of Minnesota NOW (left), along with Amanda and Beth from Program for Aid to Victims of Sexual Assault, wear their

Chris Mitchell of Minnesota NOW stated, "Our goal is to educate people about the signs/symptoms of substance related rape. The use of Rohypnol and GHB is growing at an alarming rate nationwide, and we are seeing an increase in the incidence in our own community."

Promise Keepers Demonstration in Kansas City, Mo.

Kemper Arena in Kansas City was the site of a Promise Keepers' conference in Missouri Sept. 21-22 this year. Dozens of NOW members from Missouri, Kansas and Illinois participated in a demonstration against the Promise Keepers’ agenda for male domination and oppression of women. Lisa Harrison, president of the East Jackson County NOW chapter in Missouri, organized the demonstration.

A large crowd turned out for an action at the site of a Promise Keepers conference in Kansas City, Missouri. NOW activists came from Missouri, Kansas and Illinois.

The Promise Keepers is a male-only religious group ostensibly working to help men become better husbands and fathers. However, research into the writings of the leaders of the group reveals a political agenda that includes eliminating the civil rights of women, lesbians and gays and tearing down the wall of separation between church and state.

Several Promise Keepers attendees asked the protesters why NOW objects to them. Knowing that the Promise Keepers’ propaganda holds the group out as purely religious, spokespersons for the NOW group stressed that its aim was to expose the Promise Keepers’ leadership’s extremist political agenda.

Fayetteville NOW Rallies Against Violence at Courthouse Steps

Shalamar Franceshi's co-workers stood on the steps of the Cumberland County Courthouse on the afternoon of Friday Jan. 18 and pleaded with government officials to end the kind of violence that took the life of their friend.

Fayetteville police say Damian Franceshi slit his estranged wife's throat and stabbed her repeatedly Sunday afternoon outside a local restaurant. Damian had been harassing Shalamar at her job for several months, according to her co-workers. He had also been charged with raping her twice and holding her and her child hostage on Dec. 13, 2001. He reportedly murdered Shalamar while he was out of jail on bond. Authorities are still searching for Damian.

Outraged by her death, members of Fayetteville NOW rallied at the courthouse steps. National NOW Board member Roberta Waddle and other activists also hope to draw attention to the thousands of other women survivors and victims of domestic violence. Waddle said, "We are outraged that another woman was murdered and saddened that another mother will not be here to raise her child." Twenty-four purple balloons were passed out at the rally to represent each year of Shalamar's life.

An average of four women are killed by boyfriends or husbands each day in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. On Friday afternoon, Waddle led the crowd in a chant: "Stop the violence! Stop the murders!"

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