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  • Politico: Money gap: Why don’t women give?

    July 22, 2014

    Democratic megadonor Barbara Lee is doing everything in her power to bring in more women. The founder of the Barbara Lee Political Office and the Barbara Lee Family Foundation has worked to elect women to public office since 1998. “The donors circles are very much an old boys’ club,” said Lee, who has helped elect 122 women in 30 states, including every sitting Democratic female senator and governor. “There are very few women who are able to write the big checks, and even fewer who invest specifically in women candidates. That’s why I’m doing everything I can to create a new girls’ network.”

  • Boston Magazine: Boston’s Most Powerful Thought Leaders

    May 1, 2014

    If America elects a woman to be its next president, she’ll have Lee to thank. Since 1999, Lee has been obsessed with engaging the next generation of female leaders in elective politics. You may have heard of some of her protégées—Elizabeth Warren, Wendy Davis, Martha Coakley. Lee has always been focused on building the long-term ladder to the political peak, and that work has kept growing. Her foundation’s research guidebook, Keys to Elected Office: The Essential Guide for Women, will be released in June.

  • WBUR: “Amid Presidential Hype, Hillary Clinton Speaks in Boston”

    April 24, 2014

  • MSNBC: Melissa Harris Perry: What Happens When Women Run

    January 26, 2014

    The MHP panel talks about Wendy Davis’ response to the attacks against her and the media’s attitudes towards women running for political office. (3:23) Laura Flanders: “Well that goes back to all the research the Barbara Lee Family Foundation has done, it shows exactly that”

  • The Hill: Martha Coakley, A Voice For Massachusetts

    January 21, 2014

    By Stephanie Schriock and Barbara Lee Women and families in Massachusetts, and across the country, deserve leaders who fight for – not against – them, effective leaders who get things done, who stand up for their values and amplify their voices.

THE FINE PRINT: Walk the Walk: Massachusetts Stands up for Women

AK headshot 1July 31, 2014

By Adrienne Kimmell

Yesterday, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick signed into law a bill that helps protect women from harassment as they go to and from reproductive health clinics, while still allowing for peaceful protests from people who think it’s their business what women are doing at the clinics (Reminder: it’s not their business. But that’s another post entirely).

For me, and so many other women, this isn’t just a pragmatic political statement. It is personal. I worked at Planned Parenthood for eight years, the first two and a half of which were in Massachusetts. I was “counseled” by these protestors about saving “my baby and my soul” every morning on my way into work. I was the perfect target – a young woman. Little did they know I was advocating for policies that made reproductive healthcare more accessible to more women and families. When they realized they saw me every day, they actually gave up on me – but it certainly could have gone in another direction.

At one point, the protesters were taking pictures of patients’ and employees’ license plates to later harass them. I was just lucky enough to take the subway to work. I wouldn’t exactly call that “counseling.”

Let’s not forget the reason we needed the buffer zone law in the first place: In the past 20 years, eight abortion clinic workers have been murdered in the United States— two of these in Massachusetts.

The Boston Globe does a good job outlining the details of the bill. The law grants police the authority to disperse demonstrations that impede clinic entrances and calls for a clearly marked, 25-foot radius where dispersed protestors will be banned for eight hours, or until the clinic is closed. The 25-foot-radius ban applies to protestors acting in a vulgar or threatening manner – seen to be a risk to public safety. This is a departure from the original law, which applied to all protestors.

Writing legislation that is a practical protection for women exercising their rights and protestors exercising theirs is a delicate dance. But so is a woman’s decision to make her own healthcare choices on her own terms.

While I worked for Planned Parenthood, I advocated for women’s reproductive rights nationwide through policy and legislation. I’ve never seen a bill related to reproductive health move through the daunting legislative process and get signed so quickly. It’s a testament to Attorney General Martha Coakley, Massachusetts voters, legislators, and our Governor’s commitment to doing right by women in our state. I wish other states would follow suit.

No one should have to face screaming, harassment, and threats on their way to work or a medical appointment. This law isn’t perfect, but it is a swift and effective step forward. For those women walking into the clinic for a medical appointment—and the women working to ensure their access to the care they deserve—it is a small step with significant impact.

Thanks, Massachusetts.

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