As the Senate prepared to vote on the Blunt Amendment, a coalition of over 50 women’s organizations held a press conference to announce an unprecedented drive to mobilize women voters on the ground and online around Health and Economic Rights—HERvotes—in 2012. Speakers emphasized the power of women voters as a force for change, as well as their collective outrage over the politicization of vital aspects of women’s health care, such as birth control and breast cancer services.
“This is a day in and day out fight. Women are not going to be silenced,” said Feminist Majority President Eleanor Smeal. “Women are not a political wedge issue, and we are determined to ensure that women have access to quality health care; to protect the gains women have made in the workplace, health care, education and basic individual rights and to continue moving forward an equality agenda,”
“Women’s rights are under attack, with reproductive rights in the center of the bullseye,” said Byllye Avery, a founder of Raising Women’s Voices and the National Black Women’s Health Imperative, who outlined the women’s health issues at risk in these elections and noted that the Affordable Care Act will end discriminatory health care practices against women.
National Council of Negro Women Executive Director Avis Jones-DeWeever highlighted economic perils for women and children, and saying that women will stand up for jobs, equal pay and equal opportunities: “Women will not be silent. We will not be bamboozled. We will not be complacent.”
Sarah Audelo of Advocates for Youth made it clear that young women are part of this fight: “The right to basic preventive health care, such as contraception. The right to decide if and when to have a child. The right to vote and have our voices heard. These are rights our mothers and grandmothers fought for and won. These are rights I never thought my generation would have to fight for . . . . We will reward those who support and respect our rights, and hold accountable those who do not.”
HERvotes announced that the 51 organizations are working together to mobilize voters and to sound the alarm that women’s gains are at risk. For example, Lisa Maatz described a $1.5 million campaign being launched by the American Association of University Women to turn out women’s votes, particularly Millennial women. Maatz exclaimed: “There is a palpable buzz . . . women are mad. We are fed up. We don’t want you to touch our birth control. We’re tired of being told what we can do with our bodies. We’ll be canvassing, advertising, social media campaigns, and reaching women where they live.”
National Women’s Political Caucus President Linda Young, responding to a reporter’s question about the historic likelihood of women to vote more Democratic than Republican, said “Women will vote for those candidates who support our issues and who are not trying to take away our rights.”
HERvotes leaders outlined multiple online drives that will reach over 20 million women. For example, there will be a massive online campaign by MomsRising, which reaches over 3 million women through email, Twitter, Facebook and other means.
“Women are tired of the politicization of birth control, the politicization of breast cancer, and abortion bills that really are just about humiliating women . . . The more they attack women’s ability to get along day by day… they are losing our votes,” said Terry O’Neill, president of NOW, urging women to go to www.HERvotes.us to find out about the issues at stake. “People are waking up.”
The 51 organizations of HERvotes will be on the ground and online, educating voters about the 12 advances for women that are at risk in 2102, as well as potential gains. To read about the 12 Advances at Risk in 2012 and see the list of coalition members, go towww.HERvotes.us