Are men and women paid equally for equal work in NH?

The New Hampshire Women’s Initiative hits the streets to find out what people know and think about pay equality in the Granite State.

N.H. lessons in ‘world’s worst women’s studies class’

This year’s political focus on women’s issues isn’t just some overblown hype fueled by a few rogue Akins and Mourdocks, says Margie Omero.

Writing in Huffington Post, the Democratic pollster and president of Momentum Analysis says she sorted through binders full of Republican candidates and found a pattern.

Republican leaders around the country apparently took the world’s worst women’s studies class, she writes. Her syllabus for the Remedial Women’s Studies class includes a couple of lessons from our own New Hampshire legislature:

Legal Seminar 2: Domestic Violence. In New Hampshire, Republican legislators fought to gut protections for domestic violence victims, by requiring police to personally witness the crime (as opposed to evidence of a crime) before making an arrest without a warrant. Law enforcement opposed, but politicians pressed on. (The final bill, sponsored by Dan Itse, died in committee.)

Everyone Gets an F in Rape: And when the New Hampshire legislature tried to scrub the phrase “mentally defective” from the state’s sexual assault law, Republican State Representative Ken Kreis objected, noting a recent victim in the news “had her entire life to get used to being called ‘defective.’”

'Women are Watching' bus tour kicks off Saturday

Women Are Watching Buss Tour, Planned Parenthood

This Saturday, Concord will be the first stop for the Planned Parenthood Women are Watching battleground state bus tour. The 10:00 a.m. rally in front of the State House will kick off an 11-state, 17-day tour that is part of Planned Parenthood’s biggest-ever campaign effort.

Speakers at the Concord stop will include Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, Executive Council candidate Colin Van Ostern and Sandra Fluke, who was demonized by Rush Limbaugh after speaking out in favor of mandating insurance coverage for contraception.

Jennifer Frizzell, Planned Parenthood senior advisor, says recent actions by the state legislature and executive council make it clear that the Granite State’s “longstanding traditions of promoting women’s health and respecting reproductive privacy without government interference are at stake in the upcoming elections.”

Planned Parenthood is undertaking the unprecedented campaign, they explain, because so much is at stake for women’s health in this election and because women will decide the outcome.

Bettencourt Closes Barn Door After Horse Has Bolted

State House Majority Leader D.J. Bettencourt responds to WMUR Granite State Poll on public opinion regarding New Hampshire legislature:

There is nearly a 20% gender gap in support for Republican candidates over Democrats. While the two genders offset each other, leadership should avoid those issues that would turn away women voters over the coming months.

A Day of Action to Protect Women’s Health

Reactions to passage of House Bill 1546, which would grant employers with a “religious objection” the right to exclude birth control and contraceptive services from employee medical insurance coverage. The vote was 196-150, more than enough opposition votes to sustain a gubernatorial veto should the Senate concur.

I never thought that in 2012 the New Hampshire Legislature would be debating the use of contraceptives. This issue is settled for Granite Staters.
— House Democratic Leader Terie Norelli

Allowing employers to decide what’s best for women’s reproductive health is outrageous. Who can imagine going to a job interview and having to ask a prospective employer whether or not they allow female employees access to contraception? 
Laura Thibault, NARAL Pro-Choice NH

My Republicans colleagues are using the banner of religious freedom as a way to mask their blatant attacks on women’s health rights. 
— Rep. Chris Serlin, Constitutional Review Committee

This is more extreme than any similar proposal anywhere in the country. It turns back the clock on a dozen years of bipartisan support for a law that guarantees women have access to contraception, and all at the taxpayers’ expense. 
— Jackie Cilley, Democratic gubernatorial candidate

Speaker O’Brien’s Tea Party legislature has ignored the needs of New Hampshire women who simply ask for access to basic health care. This unbelievable assault on women has to stop.
— Maggie Hassan, Democratic gubernatorial candidate

h/t: Granite State Progress

Legislators Return to Concord with a Vengeance

After taking last week off, legislators return to Concord this week with a vengeance. The House will meet in session on Wednesday and Thursday beginning at 9:00 a.m. Scores of bills are on the docket that would dismantle decades of established rights for workers and women. Bills to put Granite Staters back to work are conspicuously absent. Here’s a sampling.

HB 1677: Right to Work remix 
HB 1645: Allows employer-led decertification of public unions 
HB 1206: Requires public employees split cost increases under expired contract 
HB 1237: Establishes legislative oversight committee for collective bargaining

What you can do: Protect NH Families Citizen Lobby Days 
Wednesday, March 7, 2012: 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. 
Thursday, March 8, 2012: 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. 
Coffee and check in starts at 8:30 a.m. 
America Votes, 4 Park Street, Room 302, Concord.

HB 1546: Allows employers to exclude birth control from drug coverage 
HB 1659: Requires providing anti-abortion materials to women receiving abortion 
HB 1679: Bans third trimester abortions 
HCR 41: Urges Congress to void federal Planned Parenthood grant

What you can do: NARAL Day of Action to Protect Women’s Health 
Wednesday, March 7, 2012 
8:00 a.m. - 9:00 a.m. - Visibility (inside State House) 
9:00 a.m. - 11:45 a.m. - Lobbying and Visibility (inside State House) 
11:45 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. - Visibility (outside State House) 
12:00 noon - Press Conference (Legislative Office Building) 

HB 1297: Prohibits state from creating health insurance exchange 
HB 1526: Decriminalizes possession of less than one-half ounce of marijuana 
HB 1146: Requires public school students to stand during the Pledge of Allegiance

"This Is a Health Issue, a Secular Issue & a Privacy Issue"

In a powerful op-ed, Democratic state Rep. Cynthia Chase recalls “a truly awful time” before a woman had a right to control her sexuality and her reproductive life.

I am old enough to remember what it was like for women when contraception was illegal….

I remember when back alley abortions were performed in secret on kitchen tables with no anesthetic….

I remember the Sophia Little Home … where “disgraced” young women were sent to await the birth of their babies….

I remember being about 9 or 10 years old and hearing of people being jailed for telling woman about contraception.

Allowing women to control their reproductive life, Chase reminds us, led to their “full participation in American society.” That equality is now threatened, she charges, by the Catholic Church and right wing ideologues who have declared war on contraception and on the women of New Hampshire.

The audacity of such a move is exceeded only by the silence of women whose lives will be significantly changed should legislation such as House Bill 1653 become law.

This is not a religious issue, no matter what the oracles in Concord may claim. This is a health issue, a secular issue and a privacy issue.

The NH GOP Assault on Women’s Health (cont.)

This week, the five Republicans on the state Executive Council voted 3-2 to reject a $1.8 million, two-year contract with Planned Parenthood to provide women’s health services. Councilor Dan St. Hilaire, the deciding vote, cited the fact that the organization provides abortions as the reason he voted against the contract.

Last year in New Hampshire, Planned Parenthood saw more than 15,000 patients and provided:

  • 6,112 breast exams
  • 5,548 cervical cancer screenings
  • 18,858 tests for sexually transmitted infections
  • 13,242 contraceptive care consultations

No taxpayer funds are used for abortions, which make up just 3% of Planned Parenthood’s services and are covered either by health insurance or patient payment.

Federal courts in Texas and Missouri have ruled that it is unconstitutional to deny funding to health care providers because they perform abortions. Planned Parenthood his investigating the possibility of filing a lawsuit against the state.

Update: A federal court has ruled that Indiana cannot cut off Planned Parenthood funding solely because the organization also provides abortions.

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