About Me

My photo
The National Women's Political Caucus of Washington State is a grassroots, multi-partisan, volunteer-run, membership organization dedicated to increasing women's participation in the political process and getting more feminist women elected and appointed in Washington State. The NWPC is a national organization that was founded in 1971 and has chapters in 20+ states.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

How Will This Year’s Legislative Session Impact the Women of Washington State?

The 2011 Washington State Legislative Session Has Begun
How Will This Year’s Legislative Session Impact the Women of Washington State?

Posted By: Antoinette Bonsignore

This past Sunday, January 9th, the Caucus held its annual meeting.  We were honored to have Janet Chung, Legal & Legislative Counsel for Legal Voice, as our distinguished guest speaker.  She delivered an eye-opening presentation outlining the 2011 legislative agenda and its potential impact on women.  The most pressing issue affecting our state is the impact of the severe budget deficit on vulnerable constituencies and programs, such as domestic violence victims and at-risk youth.  The $4.6 billion deficit facing the Legislature for the next two years will have inevitable consequences for the most vulnerable in Washington State. 

Legal Voice is pushing full steam ahead with an ambitious legislative and legal advocacy agenda.  Some of the issues Legal Voice will be addressing include:

·         Reproductive Rights: Legal Voice will be joining forces with NARAL, Planned Parenthood, NOW, NAPAWF, and others to enact legislation to warn women about the deceptive practice of so called Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPC) or Limited Service Pregnancy Centers.  The NWPC-WA has endorsed the CPC legislation as well.  Legal Voice hopes the legislation will protect women by requiring CPCs to provide accurate information about who they are and what services they provide and more importantly, what services they will not provide to pregnant women.  This legislative initiative would require CPCs to: (1) disclose that they do not provide service or referrals for abortion or birth control, and do not provide medical care for pregnant women; (2) protect the privacy of health care information they collect; and (3) require that they provide pregnancy test results immediately. 

·         Violence against Women: Legal Voice wants to enact specific guidelines for when permanent protection orders for domestic violence victims can be modified or terminated.  Another issue likely to crop up is legislation that would protect rape victims from being questioned by their rapists in court proceedings when these defendants choose to act as their own attorneys in criminal proceedings.

·         LGBT Rights: Extending the same protections provided to married couples and procedures for determining parentage through the Uniform Parentage Act to domestic partners.

·         Surrogacy Protections: Ensuring that proposed legislation that would legalize paid surrogacy would provide surrogates with legal protections from civil actions infringing on a surrogate’s personal freedoms and lifestyle choices during pregnancy.

·         Economic Justice: Cut backs on benefits for needy families and unemployment insurance will be critical issues facing Washington families for the next two years.  Legal Voice will continue working to protect broader “good cause” reasons to leave a job that will give workers access to unemployment insurance benefits and in this session, to expand benefits for dependents.  These efforts will be challenging with the current budget deficit looming over the legislative agenda.  Reforming Washington foreclosure laws, to require mediation between lenders and borrowers is another urgent issue that will have a critical impact on Washington women.

Some of the major victories that Legal Voice spearheaded this past year:

  • A federal court ruled that gender stereotyping is a form of gender discrimination.  Subjecting pregnant women and motherhood to type-casting and adverse treatment at work simply because of pregnancy or status as a mother constitutes illegal gender discrimination. 

  • The Washington Board of Pharmacy decided against changing the rule requiring all pharmacies to dispense medication on site, without discrimination and without delay.  This is a major victory for the right of any woman to have her birth control and emergency contraception dispensed without judgment and without critical delay.  The litigation initiated by two pharmacists challenging the rule, that had been stayed pending the Board’s decision, will now proceed to trial. 

  • Legislation was enacted prohibiting the heinous policy of shackling of pregnant women and women in labor that are incarcerated in Washington State.

Tell us what you think about the challenges facing Washington women in the new legislative session.  

No comments:

Post a Comment