New Hampshire’s fetal personhood bill is expected to become the latest example of what those who have been following New Hampshire’s reproductive rights policies already know: Governor Sununu consistently steps on women’s bodies to rise in his own political career.
We’re fast approaching Seacoast Outright’s third annual Portsmouth Pride event — and this year our notoriously fun crew is on a serious mission: Paint the Town Rainbow! Hopefully you have already seen the rainbow save the date posters for our Saturday, June 24 event popping up all over town — and that’s just the beginning. The closer we get to the fourth Saturday in June, the more rainbow we hope our city will become.
It was easy to tell myself I wasn’t doing work that supported the NRA. Until a man walked into a club in Orlando and killed 49 people, injuring over 50 others. Once again, dozens of innocent people were dead. Our nation mourned. Vigils were held. Arguments raged. Who is culpable for letting this happen again?
I was. And I didn’t act alone.
“A lot of people think that the United States is the best place in the world to have a baby, and that’s just not true. It’s the most dangerous place in the developed world to have a baby.” This statement by artist and birth justice advocate Michelle Hartney may sound like an exaggeration, but it’s hard to argue with the statistics. Hartney is part of a growing movement fighting for women’s right to choose when it comes to their maternal health care.
Political power is everything. But nearly 25 years after “The Year of the Woman,” U.S. women have just 20 percent representation in the Senate and 19.3 percent in the House.
Here in New Hampshire, we gained headlines in 2013 with phrases like “… In New Hampshire, Women Rule!” when we became the first state in history to send an all-female delegation to Washington. But here at home, New Hampshire women make up just about a third of our state’s legislative representatives (33 percent in the House and 37.5 percent in the Senate). When we look at mayors, an even smaller percentage, just 16.7 percent, are women. Nationally, New Hampshire ranks fifth out of 50 states in political gender equality. So relatively speaking, New Hampshire women aren’t nearly as underrepresented as women are in the rest of the country. But is that really the best we can do?
“My sister was lucky when her husband tried to kill her 18 months ago. As crazy as that sounds, it’s true. That attack against her life gave her the courage to finally call for help and escape nearly two decades of abuse. Hearing this story devastated us, her loving family who had suspected for decades but hoped it was just our imagination, but it also made us whole again by allowing us back into her life.
Before escaping through a window, she tried to calm her kids, my 11-year-old niece and screaming, crying 6-year-old nephew, who had just witnessed his father strangling his mother. “Who knew your own dad could turn out to be a bad guy?” he asked. As she waited outside in the freezing cold Grafton, NH night, hiding in the dark in her pajamas, for the one and half hours it took the police to arrive after she called for help, safety seemed so far away.
You’re probably familiar with the brain’s two most well-known trauma responses: “fight” and “flight.” But there’s a third reaction to trauma that often goes unmentioned, although it’s an overwhelmingly common response, especially in cases of sexual assault and rape: the “freeze” response.
Would you be surprised to learn that over 90 percent of survivors of sexual assault respond by freezing? I heard this statistic at a recent Neoteric Dance Collaborative event at The Music Hall called One Billion Rising. The event, part of a global movement to end violence against women, was a fundraiser for Haven, a local organization focused on preventing sexual abuse and providing support for those impacted by domestic and sexual violence. During the show, ballet dancer Lissa Curtis shared her story of freezing in response to a sexual assault, and said “this happens with more than 90 percent of women.”
Last week, the New Hampshire House voted on 10 laws that impact women’s health and access to safe and legal reproductive health care. Earlier this month, the Supreme Court heard arguments on the most significant abortion-related case of the past two decades, in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. And in the past year, candidates vying for the highest office in the country have weighed in with their thoughts on women’s health in general and abortion in particular.
So, this begs the question: when equal access to reproductive health care is being discussed, who gets to frame the conversation?
According to UNCHR’s 2015 Mid-Year Trends Report, “the global refugee total, which a year ago was 19.5 million, had as of mid-2015 passed the 20 million threshold (20.2 million) for the first time since 1992. Asylum applications meanwhile were up 78 per cent (993,600) over the same period in 2014. And the numbers of internally displaced people jumped by around 2 million to an estimated 34 million.
Indications from the first half of the year suggest 2015 is on track to see worldwide forced displacement exceeding 60 million for the first time. In a global context, that means that one person in every 122 has been forced to flee their home.” (Source: UNHCR)
How do you even wrap your brain around such a crisis?