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Archive for February, 2011

First Amendment Solutions Sunday – Prochoice Activism

Posted in Editorials on February 6th, 2011

If you have been following the news lately, you may have noticed a series of attacks on women’s reproductive rights. Rather than post a letter to Congress I’m writing this week – which I still encourage you to do, I’m going to list some other First Amendment Solutions you can employ to fight these attempts to restrict access to health care.

-The Republicans in Congress are sponsoring HR 3 which would make it illegal for private insurance companies to cover abortions. The “forcible rape” language has been dropped, no doubt in part due to the activism of thousands of feminists on twitter who used the #DearJohn hash tag to spread awareness of the issue. This is a victory to be savored, considering that the Republicans had no reason to do it as they had enough votes for it to pass the House and they knew it would never pass the Senate. They did it because the American public was a lot more feminist than they had expected, and didn’t want to look bad. Obviously they are saving face – but the fact that the public is on our side is heartening. #DearJohn is still going strong because although it’s no longer redefining rape, the bill is still unacceptable. If you have a twitter account, join the conversation. You can also send an email to congress opposing the bill here.

-An anti-choice group has made a series of videos they say depicts Planned Parenthood breaking the law. The full story is here, but there’s no reason to believe this is any different from the dishonest tactics used against ACORN or Shirley Sherrod. For a thorough response to the first “unedited” video, I recommend this post by Katie73. Amanda Marcotte is brilliant as usual here and here in response to the second video. There are ten more to go and while I wish we could have a real conversation about women’s health and how to better prevent unplanned pregnancies instead, it seems we have more mean-spirited conservatives dressing up like pimps to sit through first. On first hearing of this scandal, I made a donation to the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, and I encourage everyone to do the same. You can also use their website to find you local Planned Parenthood clinic. If you have some free time, call and see what volunteer opportunities are available. I have been a clinic escort, and it was a very worthwhile and rewarding experience.

-I’ve saved the worst for last. While HR 3 would limit a woman’s ability to pay for an abortion through private insurance, HR 358, the “Protect Life Act” could kill her. The bill would free hospitals of their legal obligation to treat pregnant women in emergency situations if the fetus would be harmed or killed or to provide an emergency abortion if the woman’s life was in danger. If your congressperson supports this bill, then I think a phone call, email or letter is in order. However, more than that, we should build on the momentum and success from what happened last week with HR 3. It wasn’t just tweets to John Boehner that took the language our of the bill, it was public outrage. So tell your friends and family about HR 358. Some are using #DearJohn to tweet about it, or think up a new hash tag. Post it on facebook. Don’t let these people hide behind the moniker of “pro life.” Denying women life saving care is anything but.

Fun Fridays – Cosmetics Review #4

Posted in Green Product Reviews on February 4th, 2011

Ever since I read “Not Just A Pretty Face: The Ugly Side of the Beauty Industry” by Stacy Malkin, I’ve slowly started to change the way I purchase and use cosmetics. I frequently consult the Skin Deep Database at The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. I don’t have any hard and fast rules, but I try to purchase products that are at least one of the following: fragrance free, have organic ingredients and/or do not contain phthalates or parabens.

I will be reviewing some of the brands of natural cosmetics that I use regularly. To see all of the posts in this series, click here.

Kiss My Face

I decided to try Kiss My Face Moisture Shave because I knew that other shaving creams were loaded with the synthetic chemicals I’m trying to banish from my grooming routine. I was skeptical that it would lather as nice as other shaving products, but it does. You do have to rub a slight amount more, however the difference is negligible.


My dermatologist recommended Vanicream Lite Lotion when I told her I was switching to fragrance free products, and also trying to avoid parabens and phthalates. I like it a lot, it feels like a very light lotion you would use on your hands or body. It’s not heavy at all, is absorbed by your skin quickly, and has no discernible scent. I think it compares well with Yes to Cucumbers.

A final note: It is possible to start small with using healthier cosmetics. Neutrogena makes an oil free fragrance free daily moisturizer I like almost as much as Yes to Cucumbers, and many national brands of products like deodorant and laundry detergent are also available fragrance free. Once you get going, it’s not too difficult to do a little research and read product labels so you can make an informed decision for what you put on your body.

Congressman Gary Ackerman Responds on Crisis Pregnancy Centers

Posted in Editorials on February 1st, 2011

I mailed this letter to Congressman Ackerman on January 3, 2011. I received a response via email on January 25, 2011.

Thank you for contacting me to express your support for the Stop Deceptive Advertising for Women’s Services Act, H.R. 5652. Like you, I firmly believe in a woman’s right to access sound and medically accurate information when making reproductive-health decisions.

If enacted, the Stop Deceptive Advertising for Women’s Services Act would direct the Federal Trade Commission to promulgate and enforce rules that prohibit crisis-pregnancy centers from deceptively advertising abortion services and providing inaccurate information about the physical and psychological risks and repercussions of abortion. This legislation seeks to prevent crisis-pregnancy centers from using misinformation and deceit as tools of persuasion.

My own view is that a woman has the right to make the choice to have an abortion privately, with the advice from objective medical professionals, her family, and her religious and personal advisors. It is critical that women have the most accurate information during this difficult decision-making process. I’m troubled by reports that certain crisis-pregnancy centers falsely advertise abortion services and provide untruthful information about reproductive health-care with the intention of manipulation. Should this legislation reach the floor during the 112th Congress, you can count on my support.

I appreciate your interest in this extremely sensitive issue. I hope that you will continue to share your views and concerns with me.


Member of Congress