Protect a Woman's Right to Birth Control
August 6th, 2008
Dear Friends of Justice,
We continue to hold the congregations of Knoxville in our hearts and prayers. UUA.org has extensive coverage on UU responses to the shootings. A Relief Fund has been set up to bring ministry, spiritual care, and practical financial assistance to those affected by the tragedy.
Also, a reminder that the August 29th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina is approaching, and there is still ongoing need in the Gulf Coast. Greater New Orleans UUs are now hosting the New Orleans Rebirth Volunteer Center (formerly the UUSC/UUA Gulf Coast Volunteer Program). See their website for more information.
In This Issue:
- ACTION: Protect a Woman's Right to Birth Control
- SUCCESS: Improved Data Collection for Hate Crime Statistics in the Department of Education
- Immigration: E-Verify and Midwest Summit
- Save the Date: Labor in the Pulpits
- NEWS: Environmental Justice Legislation in the Senate
- T-shirts: Stand on the Side of Love
- Upcoming Dates and Deadlines
In faith and for justice,
Grace, Lisa, Adam, Alex, Kat and Rob
(1) ACTION: Protect a Woman's Right to Birth Control
The Bush Administration has drafted a set of regulations that would define abortion as "any of the various procedures -- including the prescription and administration of any drug or the performance of any procedure or any other action -- that results in the termination of the life of a human being in utero between conception and natural birth, whether before or after implantation." The regulation would allow healthcare employees to refuse to treat any individual receiving any services that would violate the employee's moral beliefs, which may include filling birth control prescriptions.
Tell Secretary Leavitt of the Department of Health and Human Services that you will not stand for a policy that may prevent thousands of women from obtaining the health care they need!
(2) SUCCESS: Improved Data Collection for Hate Crime Statistics in the Department of Education
Last week the House and Senate approved the Higher Education Opportunity Act, which reauthorizes and updates the Higher Education Act (HEA). The HEA included a provision requiring the Department of Education to collect campus hate crime categories identical to the categories that have been collected by the FBI since 1991. The categories will help to make data collection by the FBI and Department of Education consistent and reduce discrepancies. Using the same categories will provide a much more accurate picture of campus safety and thus enable a more informed and effective response to hate violence.
(3) Immigration: E-Verify and Midwest Summit
The federal government is planning to require 200,000 federal contractors to use the Basic Pilot/E-Verify program to verify all of their newly-hired employees and some of their existing employees. The E-Verify program requires employers to checks workers' records to verify their documentation, and has substantial rates of database error and employer abuse and discrimination. The proposed expansion will affect about 4 million employees, but some anti-immigrant legislators have championed making E-Verify mandatory for all employers in the country. This application of the program could bolster support for taking E-Verify nationwide. Mandating the use of a flawed verification system without implementing other badly needed reforms to the unjust and inhumane immigration system means more suffering for working families who are already struggling.
The Department of Homeland Security is accepting comments from the public (yes, you!) on the proposed rule via mail, fax, and web until Monday, August 11th. Check out the National Immigration Law Center's page on Why & How to Submit Comments for model comments and links to DHS's online submission form.
Live in the Midwest? Passionate about immigration reform, or wanting to learn more? The Midwest Interfaith Immigration Summit is a two-day conference sponsored by the UUA and other faith groups, scheduled for September 10th & 11th in Columbus, Ohio. The Summit will provide faith-based leaders and advocates in the Midwest region the tools they need to work toward educating and mobilizing their communities in support of fair and humane immigration reform. The Summit will also include interactive workshops, strategic break-out sessions by faith and by state, as well as a prayer vigil for immigrants.
Tuition is $95, but only until August 15th, so register now! For more information about the Summit, contact Lisa Swanson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(4) Save the Date: Labor in the Pulpits
Many UU congregations now host Labor in the Pulpit Labor Day Services. This program, started by Interfaith Worker Justice, of which the UUA is a member, has resources, suggestions, and contacts of Interfaith Worker Justice Committees across the country that can participate in your service. Please consider asking your congregation to bring labor to your pulpit on August 31st or September 7th. See http://www.iwj.org/outreach/labor_day.html. The UUA also has a new excellent resource There is Power in Union: A Unitarian Universalist Guide to Worker Justice to help with your program.
(5) NEWS: Environmental Justice Legislation in the Senate
Last Thursday morning, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works passed two environmental justice bills, introduced by Congresswoman Hilda Solis (D-CA), that help protect minority and low-income communities from being disproportionately burdened by environmental problems. They are (quoted from Solis' office):
S.642/H.R. 1103 - Environmental Justice Act of 2007 - This legislation requires the implementation of the Clinton Executive Order on environmental justice, and strengthens federal efforts to address environmental justice problems. It also requires agencies to implement environmental justice recommendations from the Government Accountability Office and EPA's Inspector General. Senator Durbin is the lead author of the Senate bill - Rep. Solis authored the House version.
S.2549/H.R. 5132 - Environmental Justice Renewal Act - This legislation requires federal agencies to implement plans to identify and then reduce or eliminate environmental justice threats, and to expand their efforts to gather information about environmental justice problems and help develop solutions to such serious issues. Senator Clinton is the lead author of the Senate bill - Rep. Solis authored the House version.
While further action is probably unlikely this year, the introducation and committee approval of these bills bodes well for their chances in the 111th Congress (2009-2010).
We would like to thank Congresswoman Solis for being a champion on this important, under-recognized justice issue. And also to pass on the information, for those of you who live in the Los Angeles area, that Rep. Solis will be holding an event on August 21, 2008 from 10am - Noon at the East Los Angeles Skills Center titled "Greening Our Capitol, Greening Our Communities: Affordable, Effective Green Investments." The briefing will give information on ways to incorporate effective, affordable green strategies.
(6) T-shirts: Stand on the Side of Love
Stand on the Side of Love T-shirts are still available. Wear them to rallies; wear them to vigils; wear them while buying groceries; show the world that you stand with equality, inclusivity and love. Show the world that you Stand on the Side of Love! Both adult and youth sizes available for $15 and $10 respectively.
(7) Upcoming Dates and Deadlines
August 7 - Sept. 4: Senate Congressional Recess
August 11 - Sept. 5: House Congressional Recess
August 29: Anniversary of Katrina
September 1: Labor Day
Washington Office: 202.393.2255
Legislative Assistant for Women's Issues
UU Women's Federation Clara Barton Intern
Legislative Assistant for International Issues
Legislative Assistant for Economic & Racial Justice
Program Associate for Peacemaking
Mary Bonner Memorial Intern