Disappointed Doesn’t Cut It Anymore: A Mother’s Rebuttal of President Obama’s Plan B Politics

Dec 9, 2011 by

Kate StewartThe MOMocrats welcome this guest post, written by Kate Stewart. Cross-posted with permission from Amplify.

Disappointed doesn’t cut it anymore.

Disappointed, angry, dismayed — these are only some of the emotions I am feeling this afternoon after hearing President Obama’s poor excuse for restricting access to Plan B One Step.

I am also scared.

Scared about the health of my daughters.  As the mother of two daughters, just like President Obama, I try to use “common sense” as much as possible. But, also like President Obama, I am not a doctor; I am not a scientist. I use my own judgment when it comes to things I am confident I can handle — a case of the sniffles, a little cold.

But, I also understand that it is my responsibility as a parent to know when I don’t know all the answers and it’s time to turn to experts. And that, apparently, is where the President and I disagree.

When my daughter’s pediatrician gives me medical advice, I listen. Carefully. American Academy of Pediatrics and the Society of Adolescent Health and Medicine make recommendations about my daughters’ health, that matters to me. A lot. And I believe it should.

Today, President Obama has made the irresponsible – and nearly incomprehensible — decision to support HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’ move to block the FDA from expanding access to Plan B One-Step emergency contraception. Whether the President’s decision was motivated by well-intentioned ignorance or political cowardice is beside the point. Either way, this move will adversely impact millions of women, particularly young women, across the country.

President Obama has decided to ignore scientific research and medical advice and has sacrificed the health of young women. And I want to know why. Why, Mr. President? Why would you reject years of research and the best scientific thinking the medical community has to offer? Why, for the first time in U.S. history, did your administration intervene to overrule the FDA’s ability to make decision about medical science?

On Monday, I was optimistic. The FDA was expected to expand the availability of Plan B One-Step, a form of back-up birth control that can prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex or if something goes wrong with regular contraception. Indeed, the FDA tried to do just that: make Plan B One-Step available to all women — without age restrictions and without needing a prescription. If either of my daughters ever needs back-up birth control, I hope I will be among the first to know and I would help them in whatever way I could. But, life is not always as we want it to be, and therefore, it is essential that young people have the access to the information and services they need to ensure their health and safety. I thought we were headed in this direction on Monday. But, my optimism suddenly turned to dismay.

Yesterday, in a shocking move, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius took the unprecedented step of overruling the FDA and blocking its decision to expand access to emergency contraception. I held out a brief hope that President Obama would intervene and allow the FDA to do its job unhampered by politics, but those hopes were soon dashed as well. Today, President Obama came out in support of Secretary Sebelius’ action – and, in doing so, decided to play politics with the lives and health of young women.

To say I was shocked when listening to the President is an understatement. It’s not just that I disagree with his position, it’s that his reasoning is so hollow and unsubstantiated. This Harvard-educated legal scholar who has signed presidential directives about the importance of science-based policy suddenly sounded eerily like Rep. Michelle Bachman. He framed his reasoning “as the father of two daughters,” when my own two daughters most needed him to be acting like the President of the United States. He invoked the specter of 11 year-olds buying Plan B next to “bubble gum and batteries,” as if 11 year-olds wander into CVS to buy $50 medications every afternoon. In the end, he felt that these concerns should overweigh the best advice of every major medical organization, years of research, and the recommendations of the FDA itself. How is this different than Rep. Bachman condemning HPV vaccines because of unscientific misinformation from a woman in the grocery store?

I understand that President Obama is uncomfortable with the idea that young teens may need emergency contraception. That worries me too. Rather than deny them access to a fully safe medication that could help prevent unintended pregnancy, perhaps we should be doubling down on comprehensive sex education — and expanding access to contraception in the first place — so that fewer of our daughters ever need Plan B at all. But, for those who do, we still have a responsibility to make sure that any woman who needs emergency contraception has access to it when they need it.

As I write this my daughters are at school and I am figuring out how to get them a quick dinner before heading off to a school holiday party this evening. Of all the other things, on my to do list today as a working mom, I really did not believe I would be writing about my shock and disappointment in President Obama and, yes, my fear for my daughters’ future.

Was this part of a back-room deal, trading away the rights of all our daughters for some inside-the-beltway political ploy? Mr. President, why? I still want to know. I need something more than your current, cowardly excuses.

Mr. President, many of us were stunned by your remarks today. We need a better explanation for why you decided to sacrifice my daughters’ safety and well-being.

I hope you will join me in expressing your outrage and demanding that President Obama reverse this decision. CLICK HERE TO TAKE ACTION.

Kate Stewart will be joining Advocates for Youth as Executive Vice President for Communications and Public Affairs beginning in January 2012. She is a public opinion research and communications specialist who has worked with a wide-range of advocacy and non-profit organizations on communications, policy, and public affairs. Most recently, she was a partner in the research and strategic communications firm, Belden Russonello & Stewart, LLC, where she created communications and public relations strategies for clients on civil liberties, public education, reproductive health, and reproductive justice. Kate has also been an adjunct professor at American University, where she taught public communication research and served on the Governing Council of the American Association for Public Opinion Research. Kate has been a member of Advocates’ Board of Directors, mostly recently serving as Board Chair. Kate received a B.A. with high honors in history from Haverford College and her M.S. in survey methodology from the University of Maryland.

Disclosure:  I am a member of the Board of Directors of Advocates for Youth.  -Glennia

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APEC Summit on Women & the Economy

Sep 19, 2011 by

Hillary Clinton APEC

Recently, I was privileged to be able to attend a part of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Women & the Economy Summit in San Francisco. The conference brought together women leaders, government officials, diplomats, and corporate innovators to discuss actions to improve the lives of women in the Asia-Pacific region, and by doing so, the world’s economy. Recognizing that women are a vast, largely untapped resource for change and growth, the group spent a week in San Francisco working on plans for change.  This was one of several meetings around the Pacific Rim leading up to the APEC Summit in Hawaii in November that President Obama will attend.

The Conference Keynote was delivered by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Secretary Clinton has inspired a generation of women to enter political life to try to dismantle the political barriers that keep women from fully participating in economic growth.  Her speech was a call to action, for all nations to tap the power, creativity, and drive of women to help elevate all people, across all regions.

Although characterized by some in the media as a “call for equal rights,” Clinton’s vision was much broader than that.  In her speech, she stated,

Now there will be a temptation on the part of those observing or covering this summit, perhaps on the part of those of us attending it as well, to say that our purpose is chiefly to advance the rights of women, to achieve justice and equality on women’s behalf. And that is, of course, a noble cause to be sure and one that is very close to my heart. But at the risk of being somewhat provocative at the outset, I believe our goal is even bolder, one that extends beyond women to all humankind. The big challenge we face in these early years of 21st century is how to grow our economies and ensure shared prosperity for all nations and all people. We want to give every one of our citizens, men and women alike, young and old alike, greater opportunity to find work, to save and spend money, to pursue happiness ultimately to live up to their own God-given potentials.

Secretary Clinton went on to give specific examples and data illustrating the issues that Summit attendees hoped to offer specific, concrete actions to resolve.  She went on to note that her husband is fond of saying that “we don’t have a person to waste” in this effort, and she added, “We certainly don’t have a gender to waste.”

The full text and video of Secretary Clinton’s speech can be found at the US State Department’s website.

After the speech, the high-level diplomats and delegates from all the APEC countries convened in a closed-door session to work out the details that would become the San Francisco Declaration. The key elements of the Declaration that are required for economic empowerment of women are:

  • Access to capital;
  • Access to markets;
  • Building capacity and skills; and
  • Promoting women in leadership positions.

All twenty-one nations represented at the Summit unanimously adopted the declaration.

APEC Delegates
I was not able to stay very long at the Summit, but I was able to attend one Plenary Session moderated by Tina Brown of The Daily Beast and Newsweek.  Also on the panel were Ilene Lang, President & CEO of Catalyst, a research and advisory firm that specializes in promoting women in business; Blanca Trevino, CEO of Softtek, a global Information Technololgy firm based in Mexico; Romi Haan, CEO of Haan Corporation, an appliance and beauty products company in South Korea; Susan Fleishman, Executive Vice President of Commincations for Warner Brothers Entertainment; and Cherie Blair, wife of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and founder of the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women.

APEC Women Leadership Panel

The Plenary Session was called “Women at the Top: How Diverse Leadership Benefits Everyone.” It featured a candid discussion among these high-powered women of issues surrounding workplace diversity, being a woman leader in male-dominated industries, and work-life balance for women. The panel enthusiastically endorsed nurturing a work-life balance to promote creativity and productivity in the workplace. Romi Haan noted that she didn’t want workers who were just successful on the job, but “successful in life” as well.  On the need for work-life balance and the issue of childrearing, Blanca Trevino commented, “Someone can always fill in for you at a meeting, but no other mom can fill in for you to help your daughter get ready for her first date.”

Cherie Blair’s foundation is leading the way in impoverished nations in encouraging women-owned businesses and entrepreneurship.  Their approach is to offer women in developing nations the tools needed to start and maintain their own businesses through “confidence, capacity and capital”.  One of the innovations her foundation has initiated is a Skype-based mentoring program for women in developing nations to be paired with successful women around the globe, so they are not limited to the resources available locally.

The week-long Summit featured a number of other plenary sessions and workshops with equally impressive leaders in discussions on how to solve some of the most pressing problems and opportunities of our time.  The message of the Summit was that in a time of global economic crisis and concern, women may be the key to unlocking a new era of prosperity. The underlying message was “when women are successful, the world benefits.”

–Glennia

Photos by Glennia Campbell.  All Rights Reserved.

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MOMochat Goes Live!

Nov 17, 2010 by

Listen to internet radio with Momocrats on Blog Talk RadioClick the button above to hear the latest MOMochat, featuring Cynematic, Julie, and Meghan. Our special guest today is Linda from Celtic Diva's Blue Oasis, talking about Sarah Palin's new reality show from an Alaskan's point of view.

Subscribe now to our weekly podcast in iTunes, so you don't miss any of the MOMochatter!

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MOMocrats Get the (Skinny) Scoop on Women & Politics

Oct 19, 2010 by

Recently, the MOMocrats partnered with personal polling site The Skinny Scoop to develop an on-line poll to find out how politics and political discussions impact women’s lives.  We posted a ten-question non-partisan “Quiz” to find out: (1) What issues are important in how we will be voiting in the 2010 midterm elections; (2) How involved women are in politics, from voting to following the news; (3) How politics affects their personal relationships with partners and friends; and (4) Whether gender plays a role in how we vote.

Not surprisingly, the economy tops the list of issues that women are most concerned about this election cycle. At least one of the commenters felt that only being able to choose one topic was difficult, since some of the topics are inter-related and important to everyone.

Somewhat more surprising was the fact that 36% of women get their political news/info from social media sites, rather than traditional media outlets.  Candidates should probably be paying more attention to their Twitter and Facebook accounts than they probably are.  Of course, the best source for news online are the MOMocrats blog, Facebook, and Twitter, but I’m a little biased on that front.

Women who answered the quiz were an amazingly active group, with 65% stating that they had volunteered for a political candidate or party. We hope that activism spills out into the upcoming mid-term elections.
On the gender factor in deciding who to vote for, 50% of those polled say that, all things being equal, a political candidate being a woman is a positive.  A little less than half thought it was a “neutral” factor, and none thought it was a negative factor. On the topic of gender, 63% of women who answered think a woman will be President of the US by 2020. I’m still waiting to see who that woman will be.  Currently, Australia, Argentina, Costa Rica, Croatia, Finland, Germany, Iceland, India, Kyrgyzstan, Liberia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Switzerland,  and Trinidad & Tobago all have women presidents or prime ministers.  Sixty-nine women world-wide have led their countries, whereas according to 50-50 by 2020, in the US, only  31 women have ever served as governor of 23 states.  If you ask me, we may have come a long way, baby, but we’ve got a long way to go to get to parity in government.
What do you think about these topics? The Quiz is still open, so please go and register your opinions on these topics and more at Skinny Scoop.
~When not answering polls, MOMocrat Glennia can be found blogging at her family travel blog, The Silent I.
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Ted Kennedy’s Letter to President Obama: The Full Text

Sep 10, 2009 by

Last night, in his address to Congress, President Obama quote a letter he received from Senator Ted Kennedy, written a few months ago to be delivered upon his death.

May 12, 2009

Dear Mr. President,

I wanted to write a few final words to you to express my gratitude for your repeated personal kindnesses to me – and one last time, to salute your leadership in giving our country back its future and its truth.

On a personal level, you and Michelle reached out to Vicki, to our family and me in so many different ways. You helped to make these difficult months a happy time in my life.

You also made it a time of hope for me and for our country.

When I thought of all the years, all the battles, and all the memories of my long public life, I felt confident in these closing days that while I will not be there when it happens, you will be the President who at long last signs into law the health care reform that is the great unfinished business of our society. For me, this cause stretched across decades; it has been disappointed, but never finally defeated. It was the cause of my life. And in the past year, the prospect of victory sustained me-and the work of achieving it summoned my energy and determination.

There will be struggles – there always have been – and they are already underway again. But as we moved forward in these months, I learned that you will not yield to calls to retreat – that you will stay with the cause until it is won. I saw your conviction that the time is now and witnessed your unwavering commitment and understanding that health care is a decisive issue for our future prosperity. But you have also reminded all of us that it concerns more than material things; that what we face is above all a moral issue; that at stake are not just the details of policy, but fundamental principles of social justice and the character of our country.

And so because of your vision and resolve, I came to believe that soon, very soon, affordable health coverage will be available to all, in an America where the state of a family’s health will never again depend on the amount of a family’s wealth. And while I will not see the victory, I was able to look forward and know that we will – yes, we will – fulfill the promise of health care in America as a right and not a privilege.

In closing, let me say again how proud I was to be part of your campaign- and proud as well to play a part in the early months of a new era of high purpose and achievement. I entered public life with a young President who inspired a generation and the world. It gives me great hope that as I leave, another young President inspires another generation and once more on America’s behalf inspires the entire world.

So, I wrote this to thank you one last time as a friend- and to stand with you one last time for change and the America we can become.

At the Denver Convention where you were nominated, I said the dream lives on.

And I finished this letter with unshakable faith that the dream will be fulfilled for this generation, and preserved and enlarged for generations to come.

With deep respect and abiding affection,

[Ted]

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