29 March 2011


Contact: Lani Blechman
Civil Liberties and Public Policy, Hampshire College
413-559-6834, lblechman AT hampshire.edu
Reproductive Justice Conference Celebrates 30thAnniversary
With activists around the country focused on recent attacks on reproductive rights, more than 1,000 community activists, students and national and international leaders will gather next month to build new strategies for reproductive justice and social change.
From Abortion Rights to Social Justice: Building the Movement for Reproductive Freedom, to be held April 8-10, is sponsored by the Civil Liberties and Public Policy (http://clpp.hampshire.edu) and Population and Development (http://popdev.hampshire.edu) programs. The conference is held at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts.
The 30th anniversary conference reflects the significant growth of CLPP and PopDev over the past three decades. The conference will be nearly 30 times bigger than the first, with more than 60 sponsors and a diverse, inclusive range of speakers and activists from different generations, the U.S. and abroad. “There’s so much energy and vibration on the campus,” says Leticia Contreras who is a 2011 student conference coordinator. “With activists, artists and social justice participants of all forms of the spectrum—people who really want to change the world in so many different ways. You feel this energy instantaneously.”
In the face of an emboldened right-wing assault on abortion and reproductive rights, the conference focuses on broadening the fight for reproductive rights and the health of our families by drawing connections between many social justice issues. “Although the Right has been encouraged by legislative gains, we have always been bold,” said CLPP Director, Mia Kim Sullivan. “And our movement is now so deep and strong, we have a new capacity to meet these political and cultural battles, on our own terms.” 
Over 180 speakers and 70 conference workshops will highlight successful examples of activism and how struggles for reproductive and sexual rights are intricately linked to movements for economic, social and environmental justice and peace. Topics of workshops and strategic action sessions include abortion access in the U.S. and internationally, alternatives to the prison industrial complex, climate justice, the recent democratic uprisings in the Middle East, resilient community food systems, disability justice and reproductive justice, and organizing in state, campus and spiritual communities.
 “We have over a thousand activists from all over the country here, and also international activists,” said PopDev Director Betsy Hartmann. “It’s a space for creative political thinking, for thinking about the future of our movements, for crossing movements, for bridging differences and exploring those differences in a safe space. It’s also a place where people can speak out about their experiences with abortion and feel safe about it.”
The three-day conference kicks off Friday afternoon, April 8th, at Franklin Patterson Hall, Hampshire College. For a full list of conference speakers and workshops, please visithttp://clpp.hampshire.edu/projects/conference/2011/overview.  Friday workshops will run from 4 to 6 p.m., and will be followed by Breaking Silences: An Abortion Speak-Out. Workshops continue on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6:45 p.m. and on Sunday from 9 a.m. to noon.
To mark the 30th anniversary and launch our fourth decade of activism, the conference includes a celebration ofcollective leadership and strength, honoring CLPP and PopDev founders and supporters, on Saturday, April 9, at 7p.m.
The conference closes on Sunday, with a plenary session around the theme of revolution, re-building community, re-imagining national priorities, and "waging peace” in cross-movement organizing.  Speakers include local, national and international activists, among them Anders Wyatt Zanichowsky, a Hampshire alum who has been organizing with Genderqueer Madison and on the frontlines of labor rights in Wisconsin; Loretta Ross, the national coordinator of SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective; and Sylvia "Guy" Claudio Estrada, co-founder of Likhaan, which advocates for women's health issues in the Philippines. 
The activism that CLPP and PopDev has fostered over the last 30 years—and will continue to inspire into the future—reverberates in different movements in the U.S. and all over the globe.  On April 8-10, celebrate this collective work, find new ways for collaboration, and be part of building the movement for reproductive freedom.
Student conference co-coordinators are available for interviews: contact Leticia Contreras or Emily Ryan at 413-559-6834 or clpp AT hampshire.edu.  Conference speakers are also available for interviews upon request. International speakers include reproductive and sexual rights advocates working in the Czech Republic, India, Kenya, the Netherlands and the Philippines.

Planned Parenthood

              In late February a bill was presented which would eliminate all federal funding going to the organization known as Planned Parenthood.  Planned Parenthood has been supplying citizens with reproductive health services for nearly 100 years. Free contraceptives, pap smears, breast exams, counseling, and birth control only represent a fraction of things which Planned Parenthood has to offer.  This bill will eliminate each one of these programs throwing the millions of Americans without even further under the bus.
Eliminating all funding to Planned Parenthood is a farce, although people will have you believe that it’s an economic decision. This is nothing but an attack on a women’s right to an abortion. During this now lengthy debate of the funding, many people have quoted that they do not want their tax dollars to be put towards funding abortions. Fun fact, the Hyde Amendment, which was passed 3 years after Roe V Wade eliminated federally funded money to go to abortion unless in a case of rape or incest. Currently 0.001% of a penny per person goes to fund abortion each year.
The rest of the money given to the organization goes to something that is completely necessary; sex is something that every person, organism in existence can relate to. We came from sex, eventually we will have sexual urges, and the one organization that is there to help us when we have questions, concerns, health needs, problems is one that is expendable? Last year we spent billions of dollars bailing out banks, and insurances agencies, planned parenthood is falling it does not need more money, we need planned parenthood.

03 March 2011

Military Funeral Protest Ruled Constitutional

On Wednesday February 23 the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Anti-Homosexual protests taking place at military funerals. The court voted 8-1, in support of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas. The Westboro Church is known for their belief that the deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan are God's punishment for America's view on homosexuality. Rev. Fred Phelps and some member of his family and congregation picketed the funeral of Albert Snyder's son,who died in the Iraq war. They carried signs which proclaimed "Thank God for dead soldiers" "God hates the USA" "Thank God for 9/11".
The Supreme Court upheld a previous verdict by the court of appeals which ruled against the Snyder family revoking a 5 million dollar settlement from a previous court case. Chief Justice Roberts wrote the majority opinion stating that ruling against the church would be ruling against our 1st amendment rights. MSNBC quoted Roberts saying "Speech is powerful. It can stir people to action, move them to tears of both joy and sorrow, and — as it did here — inflict great pain. On the facts before us, we cannot react to that pain by punishing the speaker,". Justice Alito wrote the descending opinion stating "Our profound national commitment to free and open debate is not a license for the vicious verbal assault that occurred in this case,". 48 states and 42 U.S. senators sided with Alito and the Snyder family. Margie Phelps, daughter of the Reverend and lawyer who argued the case had this to say about the courts decision and the public outcry "The wrath of God is pouring onto this land. Rather than trying to shut us up, use your platforms to tell this nation to mourn for your sins."