Writing at the intersection of motherhood, feminism and my Latinidad

12 April 2011

URGENT: Call your IL State Representative on Wednesday!

HB 1958 - The Anti-Shackling of Pregnant Prisoners bill's amendment number 2 will be voted upon and we need this amendment to pass in order for the bill to continue to move forward.
Call state representatives and urge them to vote YES on HB 1958. http://www.ilga.gov/house/ Capitol switchboard 217-782-2000.

In 2000, Illinois became the first state in the nation to ban shackling pregnant women during labor, in legislation that passed unanimously. Corrections officials are violating the ban. Women charged with nonviolent crimes have been placed in leg irons, with their hands cuffed to chain belts, when brought to the hospital. They have been shackled by one wrist and the opposite ankle to their hospital beds, impeding labor. HB 1958 clarifies and strengthens the law to protect the lives and health of mothers and infants.
  • 81% of women in Illinois prisons are mothers.
  • 6% to 10% of women prisoners are pregnant while incarcerated.
  • About 67% of women prisoners in Illinois are convicted of nonviolent drug offenses, property crimes such as retail theft or forgery, and prostitution.
No pregnant women have escaped in the ten years since Illinois banned the use of shackles on pregnant women in labor, according to sworn testimony from the Superintendent of the Cook County Jail’s women’s division and information from state corrections officials.

House Bill 1958 fixes gaps in the 1999 legislation banning the shackling of women in labor. Amendment 2 reflects major compromises to balance the safety of pregnant women with correctional security needs.

1. It removes the changes to the Unified Code of Corrections. Advocates will work with the Illinois Department of Corrections in the coming year to address recent violations of the 1999 act and to extend the ban on belly chains and leg irons to women in pregnancy-related medical distress and pre-term labor.

2. It allows sheriffs to handcuff pregnant women in front during transport, unless the woman is in labor or pregnancy-related medical distress. This is a compromise to prevent the use of belly chains and leg irons on pregnant women while allowing sheriff departments with small staffs to use cuffs when transporting a group of pretrial detainees to court hearings.

3. It removes the reference to the Tort Immunity Act. The section referenced is:
Neither a local public entity nor a public employee is liable for injury proximately caused by the failure of the employee to furnish or obtain medical care for a prisoner in his custody; but this Section shall not apply where the employee, acting within the scope of his employment, knows from his observation of conditions that the prisoner is in need of immediate medical care and, through willful and wanton conduct, fails to take reasonable action to summon medical care. Nothing in this Section requires the periodic inspection of prisoners.

Its inclusion or exclusion should not change how the Act applies – inmates still may not sue for denial of medical care unless wanton and willful – and it prevents the redundant reference which the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association found objectionable.

4. A simple annual reporting requirement remains in place to track instances of restraints used under the extraordinary circumstances exception. This is vitally important for transparency. It will provide the necessary information to determine whether the new framework is effective and to point the way for any future fine-tuning.

5. At the urging of the Illinois Sheriffs Association, a simple provision mandating training of correctional staff on the law has been added.

The proposed legislation:
  • Protects the mother and fetus from chain belts and leg irons throughout pregnancy.
  • Provides clear definitions to guide corrections officials.
  • Provides exceptions for imminent risk of escape or harm, and for psychiatric restraints when medically necessary.
  • Provides a simple reporting requirement for government transparency.
  • Prevents trauma, violations of privacy and HIPPA violations by having officers posted outside the delivery room unless medical staff request their presence.
  • Benefits from the lessons learned by ten other states and the U.S. Marshals in banning the use of shackles on pregnant prisoners.
Nationwide, lawmakers are taking a stand against this dangerous practice. Eleven states and the federal marshals have recently banned shackling and nine more states have legislation pending at present.

Thanks to CLAIM for being a leader on this issue!

Call state representatives and urge them to vote YES on HB 1958. http://www.ilga.gov/house/ Capitol switchboard 217-782-2000.

08 April 2011

The war on women in DC and in Illinois

Another temporary spending bill has passed in the US Congress. While Planned Parenthood escaped the chopping block, the women of DC were sacrificed by Congress. If you are pissed off, please donate to the DC Abortion Fund as they will be busy! The DC Abortion Fund has no paid staff. They are all volunteers, so please give what you can. If you can't give, send lots of stamina to the volunteer board members!

Here in Illinois, we have our own issues to contend with. Here's the latest update from Planned Parenthood Illinois Action:

The Illinois General Assembly’s deadline to pass bills out of their chamber of origin is Friday, April 15. Therefore, we anticipate a great deal of activity in the next few days. There is no time to wait! Calls need to go in to state legislators’ offices starting on Monday.


HB 786 Ultrasound Mandate


HB 786 would require that, prior to an abortion, providers must offer an ultrasound, ask the woman if she wants to view it, have the woman sign a form indicating what she chooses, wait one hour before the abortion, and then report the ultrasound data to the Illinois Department of Public Health. This legislation imposes the government on the doctor-patient relationship. No other medical procedure that involves ultrasound has a similar legal requirement. This legislation is not supported by medical or health care organizations. It is supported by anti-choice groups that want to make abortion more complicated and cumbersome to obtain.


Call state representatives and urge them to vote NO on HB 786. http://www.ilga.gov/house/ Capitol switchboard 217-782-2000.


HB 3156 Expansion of ASTC Regulations


HB 3156 would require any facility that performs 50 or more abortions to become a fully licensed Ambulatory Surgical Treatment Center (ASTC) which is like a mini-hospital. In Illinois, abortions have been safely performed for over 20 years under a regulatory structure established by the Illinois Department of Public Health. This new requirement would single out abortion for special heightened regulation while allowing many other surgery like liposuction, vasectomies, and oral surgery to be performed in physician offices or clinics rather than ASTC’s. HB 3156 would end up costing Planned Parenthood over $1 million to upgrade our facilities to become ASTC’s. HB 3156 is not supported by medical organizations. Rather, it is being promoted by anti-choice groups who want to make providing abortion care so expensive that it will become unavailable to most women.


Call state representatives and urge them to vote NO on HB 3156. http://www.ilga.gov/house/ Capitol switchboard 217-782-2000.



SB 1619 Comprehensive Sex Education


SB 1619 would raise the standards for sex education in Illinois. It requires sex ed to be medically accurate, age appropriate, and comprehensive (both abstinence and prevention). We need quality sex education in Illinois schools so that youth have the information they need to stay safe and healthy. SB 1619 is not an unfunded mandate. Schools have the choice whether or not to teach sex ed. If they decide to teach sex ed, they will have a choice among numerous curricula. Parents can review curricula and remove their children from a class if they don’t want them to participate.


Call state senator and urge them to vote YES on SB 1619. http://www.ilga.gov/senate/default.asp Capitol switchboard 217-782-2000.

02 April 2011

Equal Pay Day Rally

April 12th is Equal Pay Day, the day that marks how far into the new year a woman must work on average to earn as much as a man earned the previous year. To show support for equal pay, hundreds will gather in Daley Plaza at noon for an Equal Pay Day Rally, sponsored by Women Employed and fourteen other organizations and government agencies.

Despite many improvements in women's economic status over the past three decades, employment discrimination and unfairness in the workplace are still a fact of life for too many women. Regardless of education and experience, in nearly every occupation women are still paid less than men – only 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. On average, a woman could lose up to $1.2 million in income over a lifetime due to the wage gap.

The Equal Pay Day Rally will bring together activists and concerned citizens to protest this inequality. Lieutenant Governor Sheila Simon will speak, as well as prominent equal pay advocates Evelyn Murphy of The WAGE Project, and Doris Moy of the Illinois Department of Labor.

RSVP today! 

Download a PDF flyer and spread the word!

From Women Employed's press release

01 April 2011

Three great events coming up soon!

(1) The hilarious, whip smart and BFF of Viva la Feminista, Jennifer Pozner will be at Women and Children First on Sunday at 4:30 pm. Come hear Jennifer talk about her book Reality Bites Back. Considering that $nooki gets paid $32,000 to give a talk, come hear Jennifer for bus fare!

(2) She'll also be at NEIU on Monday at 4:15 pm.

(3) Thursday, April 7th the Working Women's History Project will will pay homage to the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire with an in-depth panel discussion and an original production.


6-8:30 pm "The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire at 100 and the Fight for Worker Safety and Justice Now"
6:00 - 7:00 Registration and Light Refreshments
7:00 - Program

Roosevelt University, 430 S Michigan, Congress Lounge 2nd Floor
Tickets held at door advance $25, at door $30, students free with ID

The play: "The Ninth Floor Door: Blocked Justice of the Triangle Fire" by Mary Bonnett. Performed by Mary Bonnett, Brigid Duffy*, Paul Odell, Andreah Santos, Alma Washington*, Ken Morris on guitar (*member of Actors' Equity)

The panel:
Moderator: Maribeth Anderson, Regional VP of ASSE
Louise Carr: OSHA Compliance Officer
Jo Ann E. Argersinger: author The Triangle Fire: A Brief History with Documents
Susan Hurley: Executive Director: Jobs with Justice
Q&A to follow

Co-Sponsors: Roosevelt University, Center for New Deal Studies, Roosevelt University SPEED, Chicago CLUW and the American Society of Safety Engineers.

Information: jackie@wwhpchicago.org or 773-667-4690