Many of our members frequently write letters to the editor or commentary articles, and many regularly communicate with local, state and national representatives. Whether they do it as individuals or as members of Women's Voices, our members are speaking out, and their voices are being heard. Here are some other events our members have attended, and efforts undertaken by the whole group:
Supporting "Occupy St. Louis" - October 2011
Members of Women's Voices joined hundreds of other St. Louisans in the Occupy St. Louis rally and march at Kiener Plaza on Friday, Oct. 14. The afternoon was marked by speeches, chants, a drum line, and a march as organizers brought together a wide variety of individuals and groups to call attention to the disparities and inequities in our social fabric.
Celebration in Hyde Park - July 2011
Several members of Women's Voices participated in a celebration to mark the conclusion of the Rebuild Foundation's art and architecture efforts in the Hyde Park neighborhood at the end of July. The event featured a display of some of the photos taken by children enrolled in the Urban Expressions program. Many of the photos are featured in a photo gallery hosted on our website during the program.
Tour of the Griot Museum - July 2011
About a dozen WV members and friends spent several hours touring the Griot Museum in north St. Louis on Thursday, July 7.
The Griot, formerly known as the Blackworld History Wax Museum, features life-size models of prominent African Americans who have a Missouri connection. It also contains a reproduction of an authentic slave cabin, and an actual-size model of a ship cabin that was used to transport Africans to America during the slave trade. Many other artifacts, clippings and objects made for an afternoon of introspection and reflection for all of us.
Members Join Rallies to Protect Services - June and July, 2011
Members of Women's Voices are advocates for quality, affordable health care for all. We have decried cuts to Medicaid, joined Missouri Health Care For All, worked to assure passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and have arranged presentations explaining the new law. Some of us have testified before legislative committees, written letters, and spoken at rallies.
On Friday, June 17 some of our members answered the call to let our senators know that we oppose balancing the budget and reducing our deficit by making cuts to essential government services, Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security. While representatives from the American Federation of Government Employees, Missouri Jobs with Justice, Paraquad, Missouri Budget Project, Metropolitan Congregations United, GRO-Grass Roots Organizing, Missouri Health Care for All, and Missouri Pro-Vote met with Senator Claire McCaskill, we rallied outside her office and heard speakers tell how Medicaid and Medicare have improved their lives.
On Thursday, July 7th we joined these groups once again and rallied outside Senator Roy Blunt's office. Senator Blunt was in Washington but 3 representatives from the protestors met with two members of his staff. They accepted the following petition which was also given to Senator McCaskill:
"We urge you to stand strong and protect Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security and the federal workers who deliver our essential services. A cut to our federal budget and workforce is a cut to Missouri. We have sacrificed enough. Now, we urge you to raise revenues. It's time for the rich and big corporations to pay their fair share. We do not accept that there have to be spending caps, cuts to essential services or balanced budget amendments."
On Friday, July 29th several of our members again joined with others and delivered the same message at Representative Todd Akin's St. Charles office.
As members of the health care advocacy committee develop plans for the coming year, we will call on all WV members to help in this important effort. As Rabbi Susan Talve (Women's Voices member) declared at the McCaskill rally, we must ALL speak out and make our voices heard on this important issue.
St. Louis Pride Parade - June 26, 2011
This marked the seventh year that Women's Voices participated in the St. Louis Pride Parade! As always, it was hot. As always, it was humid. And as always, the march down Grand Blvd. was fun, silly, and a great way to show our support for the GLBT community in our town. Nearly two dozen members and friends participated in this event and helped us carry our banner and signs in the parade. We were all pleased to be a part of this colorful, rainbow experience.
WV Members Address Misconceptions About the Affordable Care Act - February, 2011
On February 16, 2011, approximately 70 supporters of the Patient Protection And Affordable Care Act attended an "Obamacare Hearing for Missouri Citizens" hosted by Ed Martin. Martin is a candidate for senator in Missouri. The posting on Facebook announced that this hearing was open to the public, and, in addition, asked for attendees to come with their "stories". Among the attendees were members from Women's Voices: Mary Clemons; Nancy Cooksey; Bunnie Gronborg; Susan Hayman, Rea Kleeman, Amy Smoucha, Stacey Sickler and Mary Ann Tipton.
The hearing began with statements from Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder (by telephone); St. Louis Tea Party leader Bill Hennessy, and Phyllis Schlafly. Dr. Rea Kleeman, who practiced medicine for over 50 years, challenged Mrs. Schlafly, who had claimed that the solution to health care issues in this country would be solved by "detaching health care from government" and having only health savings accounts so we can "pay for the minor stuff" out of pocket. Rea Kleeman stated that her experience in her medical practice proved that health care savings accounts don't work.
During the break Bunnie Gronborg asked Bill Hennessy about his statement in reference to the Affordable Care Act that "whether or not it's a good idea is not the point; it's against the law." Bunnie pointed out that 12 federal judges have refused to hear the case against the ACA, two have ruled for it and two against and that it will be up to The Supreme Court to make a final ruling.
The panel members left but the audience was invited to make statements. Nancy Cooksey announced that she is a nurse, has read the bill, and finds much to like in it. Women facing mastectomy can (with the ACA) obtain items they will need before they have their surgery rather than waiting until the surgery is completed. In response to Ed Martin's assertion that we can't afford Medicare, Mary Clemons spoke up and said that she has paid for her Medicare coverage since 1965 and that the Medicare insurer spends premiums on patient care, not on CEO bonuses.
And Bunnie says, "I thought of our mentor, Melanie Shouse, who lost her battle with cancer in January of 2010. She carried her powerful verbal banner of truth to every event, no matter how sick she was, speaking for all of us. Now, together, we are picking up the banner from our fallen hero, and we are carrying the defense of quality, affordable health care for all Americans to all who are willing to hear the truth."
Testimony at Senate Hearing on Resolution 27 - January 2011
With very little notice, Women's Voices members Amy Smoucha (St. Louis Jobs With Justice health care organizer) and Stacey Sickler (Missouri Health Care for All), recruited 60 people from across the state to attend a Senate hearing in Jefferson City to oppose Senate Resolution 27 calling on Attorney General Koster to sue the federal government to repeal the Patient Protection Affordable Care Act. Seven members of Women's Voices responded.
Twenty members of our coalition testified at the hearing concerning the benefits of the Affordable Care Act as compared with the current situation. Some of the stories:
Under the new law, no lifetime maximums. A grandmother told about her granddaughter fighting cancer and approaching - at the age of 4 - her life time maximum.
Under the new law, children under 26 can be insured on their parent's policies. A young woman told of dropping out of college when she was diagnosed with cancer in the palate of her mouth. Because she was no longer a full time student she was dropped from her parent's policy.
Under the new law you can't be denied insurance for pre-existing conditions. An active, healthy woman blind since the age of 8 who ran a successful business could not buy insurance at any cost.
Under the new law we will be able to buy individual policies under an exchange. A man in his 30s testified about being laid off, becoming uninsured, and staying home to care for his child. He contracted shingles, went untreated and now suffers from serious complications.
Four members of Women's Voices testified during the hearing.
Bunnie Gronborg told about the benefits of the new law allowing purchase of insurance with pre-existing conditions. With easily controlled hypertension and a sister who is a breast cancer survivor, she could only purchase a policy with a $15,000 deductible that excludes many conditions.
Barbara Richter told how under the new law the rates for women will be no higher than for men. Small businesses, which frequently employ more women than men, will be able to receive subsidies for insuring their employees and have lower premiums than they currently have.
Rea Kleeman testified that the new law will make it possible for families currently with no insurance to be covered.
Mary Clemons related how the new law would reduce Medicare and Medicaid fraud, and provide transparency regarding ownership of nursing homes and conflicts of interest between doctors, medical equipment and drug companies.
Following the hearing Attorney General Koster graciously met with us, and we urged him to reject any call to join in a law suit opposing the Affordable Care Act. We presented him copies of our written testimonies.