Fall 2005
The Quarterly E-Newsletter of ACCESS

Dear Friend,

Thank you for being part of ACCESS. We hope you enjoy our fall newsletter!!

Click here to make an on-line donation to ACCESS now!

Or send your donation to ACCESS, PO Box 3609, Oakland CA 94609...

- You're Invited to the ACCESS Open House
- California Says NO to Parental Notification
- Sepi's Adventures as an ACCESS Intern
- Parker Joins The Women's Policy Institute
- Making Choice a Reality... Life on the Hotline
- Three Ways to Support ACCESS Today!

ACCESS Holiday Open House
Tuesday, December 13th
Please join us for the annual ACCESS Open House! The Open House is a great opportunity to see our office, learn more about our programs, and meet our fabulous staff, interns and board members. As always, we'll have food, drinks, music and fun prizes to give away... don't miss it!

Tuesday, December 13th
3948 Webster St (at 40th Street)
Oakland CA 94609

A donation of $5 is requested at the door and includes entry in our drawing of fabulous prizes. Please RSVP by Friday 12/9. Apologies to all our friends who will be attending the re-scheduled American Public Health Association conference in Philadelphia... we'll see you next time!

California Rejects Proposition 73
Parental Notification Defeated... for Now
On Tuesday, November 8th, California voters rejected Proposition 73, along with all seven of the other initiatives on the special election ballot. Prop 73 would have amended the state constitution to require parental notification and a 48-hour waiting period for minors seeking abortions in California. It would have also re-defined abortion as "causing the death of an unborn child, a child conceived but not yet born" - language that could have had serious and far-reaching implications for reproductive rights, stem cell research, fetal homicide laws, and more.

ACCESS has worked very hard over the past few months to do our part in defeating this dangerous initiative. We spoke at events and house parties, wrote alerts and articles, hosted two phone banks, appeared on Spanish radio, and participated in election day voter mobilization. What many people do not know is that ACCESS was also part of a covert group of legal experts and providers planning the details of "the unthinkable" - how we would help teens understand the law and navigate the judicial bypass system were Prop 73 to have passed...

As we continue to breathe a BIG sigh of relief, we want to thank our interns, board members and staff, our fabulous allied organizations, especially Planned Parenthood, the ACLU and NARAL, and all of you for your efforts to defeat Proposition 73! Together, we helped people understand the real life consequences of parental notification laws, and the real life struggles that women of all ages already face when trying to obtain abortions in California. Our efforts truly made the difference in defeating this initiative!

Now we return to our everyday work and the mountain of other access issues that still remain to be addressed. Moving forward, there are several lessons to be learned. Although we did mount a successful campaign to defeat Proposition 73, the margin (52.6% opposed, 47.4% in favor) was not as large as one would hope in a state like California. In fact, Prop 73 was defeated by the smallest margin of any of the initiatives! Obviously, there is still much work and education to be done - beginning with our friends and allies.

Probably one of the greatest disappointments was the lack of formal support from organized labor, notably the Alliance for a Better California, who came out in force against Props 74-78, but declined to take a position on Proposition 73. (A look at their campaign materials or web page would make you think there wasn't even a prop number 73 on the ballot!) It seems that abortion and women's rights are still seen as controversial issues that can be compromised when the going gets rough. Clearly, we must continue to work within the progressive community as well as broader society to build support for women and our human right to make our own reproductive decisions.

And despite our victory in November, we know this fight is not over! The anti-abortion forces will be back, continuing to use the issue of parental notification as a tool to try and win further restrictions on abortion. As winemaker Don Sebastiani, a key supporter of Prop 73, told Santa Rosa's The Press Democrat on November 14th, "there will be more steps taken in the issue of protecting the unborn."

Meanwhile, ACCESS and our allies in the California Coalition for Reproductive Freedom continue to promote real solutions for protecting the health and rights of young people, including comprehensive sex education, access to confidential health care, and concrete tools to help parents talk to their kids about sensitive subjects like sex and pregnancy. For more information about CCRF or our successful family communication project, just visit the links below!

Adventures as an ACCESS Intern
by Sepi Aghdaee
Ive been a hotline intern at ACCESS for about 9 months now, and my time here has far surpassed my initial expectations. I have had the fortunate opportunity to help many women find information and services, figure out what form of birth control is right for them, or learn how to take public transportation to their appointments. Beyond the daily interactions I have with hotline callers, ACCESS has been generous in providing me with various opportunities to attend conferences and seminars related to reproductive health and rights. In the relatively short time I've been here, I have had the privilege to attend the California Coalition for Reproductive Freedoms annual advocacy day, the National Network of Abortion Funds membership conference and this year's SisterSong meeting, as well as Choice USAs Gloria Steinem Leadership Institute.

These gatherings have helped me make connections between the work we do everyday at ACCESS and the big picture of the national and international reproductive rights movement. At the National Network of Abortion Funds (NNAF) conference, I met various openhearted individuals whose hard work at community-based funds throughout this country make abortion a possibility for the women they work with. I was moved greatly by a speech by Loretta Ross, the National Coordinator and co-founder of SisterSong, and it was then that I really grasped how restrictions to curb access to abortion are inherently discriminatory against young women (as we saw with Prop 73 in CA), poor women, and women of color.

I attended workshops at the NNAF conference on a range of issues, such as religious views and reproductive freedom and the impact of the Hyde Amendment on womens lives. My favorite workshop was Cultural Competency and Reproductive Health: Intersection of Race, Class, and Gender. This workshop was reflective of what we attempt to achieve at ACCESS, in that it dealt with various ways that organizations could increase access to reproductive health care for women that face the most barriers. These barriers include language, ability to navigate health care coverage, poverty, and so on. In reality many organizations do not possess adequate resources for women of color. The workshop addressed this urgent need and provided concrete techniques to help providers remove some of these barriers and make their services more inclusive for those most in need.

One of the most unique experiences I have had in my life was at Choice USAs Gloria Steinem Leadership Institute (GSLI). This intense five-day seminar is geared towards newcomers to the reproductive freedom movement such as myself. There is a great emphasis on increasing the participants knowledge of reproductive rights, what it means to be a leader in the movement, and most important of all, providing the means for meeting other diverse young men and women who are passionate about choice. I could not have imagined a safer space in which issues such as female masturbation could be talked about over lunch! For me the issue of sexuality and its link to the way we each view reproductive health was opened up like never before. Topics like sexuality education, especially given the federal governments financial support for abstinence-only programs, were discussed at length. I was made to reflect upon how my own biases about female sexuality affect the way I think about reproductive rights.

Through all of these experiences, I have grasped the notion that the leaders of the reproductive rights movement are not somehow above and beyond the women they help. I now know that the work ACCESS does is truly part of a bigger movement that is not only concerned with helping the women who call our hotline, but with all womens rights and lives, including mine.

The Women's Policy Institute
A Vehicle for Creating Change
ACCESS is proud to announce that our Executive Director, J. Parker Dockray, has been selected to participate in the Womens Policy Institute, a year-long fellowship that provides public policy advocacy training for women community leaders from throughout California.

Launched by The Women's Foundation of California in 2003, the Women's Policy Institute is an innovative training program that works to increase the number of community-based women leaders who are actively involved in shaping and implementing policies that affect the health and well-being of women and girls in California. Parker is one of 27 outstanding women chosen to participate in the 20052006 class, which includes grassroots leaders in the reproductive rights, health, environmental health, and economic justice movements.

The Womens Policy Institute allows Fellows to remain active as leaders in their organizations while they apply new advocacy skills and knowledge to a state-level policy project. The twelve-month program includes four Sacramento-based retreats, where Fellows receive practical training in how to develop and refine a policy idea, build a network of support (and deal with opposition), and navigate the policy process. Over the year, Fellows work with a team to develop and implement a specific policy project, usually legislation. Past WPI projects have included bills to lift the restriction on CalWorks benefits for women convicted of drug-related felonies, streamline access to breast and cervical cancer detection for low-income women, and restrict toxic chemicals used in cosmetics.

Through participation in the Women's Policy Institute, Parker will be working to build ACCESS' capacity to conduct policy advocacy and expand access to reproductive health care for low-income and uninsured women in California. In particular, she hopes to help policy makers understand and address the gaps that can arise between a policys intention and its real-life implementation, by ensuring that the voices and experiences of ACCESS clients are heard.

You will hear more about Parker's WPI Team and their policy project in our future action alerts - including ideas for how you can get involved in advocating for positive policy change!

Making Choice A Reality...
Life on the ACCESS Hotline
Names and other identifying information have been changed to protect each caller's confidentiality.

Rosalinda wanted information on medical abortion. She had just called a crisis pregnancy center called Living Well by accident, and the woman she spoke to started trying to convince her of other options, but in the process the woman inadvertently told her about the abortion pill. Rosalinda said that she became angry and told the woman to mind her own business, but once she heard about the option of medical abortion she looked in the phone book again and found our number. She really liked the idea of medical abortion but was disappointed there wasnt a clinic in Nevada County. I gave her referrals to the closest places in Sacramento. She was very grateful for my time.

Tina called asking for resources for pregnant women (i.e., housing, insurance, etc). She had just left San Jose and moved to the Central Valley because her family is not supporting her and she had no where to go. She is 17 years old. I gave her info about Medi-Cal, some prenatal care referrals and the one housing referral we have for young mothers in her area. I let her know that the housing is a Christian-based program - she was okay with that. I suggested she call us back in case it didnt work out for her. She said Thank you twice and God bless you.

Kim found out she was 8 weeks pregnant after being admitted to the ER last night. Shes been seriously ill every day and shes taken pills to get rid of the nausea. She wants an abortion and has the emotional support of her mom. She tried to get Medi- Cal at the local DSS office, but she said the county employee was rude and tried to tell her she shouldnt get an abortion. She said she doesnt have much money but is prepared to pay by credit card if necessary. I told her about the presumptive eligibility Medi-Cal program and called a clinic on her behalf to see if they could see her next week. They said they could see her tomorrow and that she neednt worry about her Medi-Cal not being approved yet because they could do presumptive eligibility. Kim was very relieved.

Sophia called from Modesto asking about late term abortion. She had an ultrasound a few days ago that said she was 24-25 weeks. She has Medi-Cal, so I gave her the number to Planned Parenthood in Los Angeles but told her the cutoff is 24 weeks. I asked if she knew about out-of-state late term abortion providers and she already had the numbers. She said she couldnt afford it. I told her if she thought she wanted to try to raise the funds she could call ACCESS back and we could talk about it. I also suggested that she could call back if she is unable to get an abortion, and we could talk about adoption and/or prenatal care. She didnt know she could still get prenatal care this late, and I told her she may have to travel some, but there are prenatal care providers who do not have a gestational cutoff. She is going to call PPLA first to see if they can help her.

Margaret was calling on behalf of her 15-year-old niece. She needed information on how to get confidential services for her and where to get an abortion past 18 weeks. She called SFGH, but said they had a 2-week wait. I told her she could call back and stress that she is worried her niece is nearing the gestational cutoff, but that either way she should make her appointment immediately because in 2 weeks her niece should still be able to be seen. I then told her about Medi-Cal sensitive services and how to apply. The only problem is her niece has no ID and the only identifying paperwork she has is with her mother (who the services are being kept confidential from). I told Margaret to explain the situation to Medi-Cal and see what else they will take as forms of ID.

Dianne just found out she is pregnant and needs to start prenatal care ASAP. She went to a clinic and applied for Medi-Cal but didnt qualify because she makes too much money. Then she tried to contact private insurance but says she was denied because of her pregnancy. I explained that if she told them she was already pregnant, it would be considered a pre-existing condition, but that if she decided to apply again, it wouldnt be unusual for a woman not to know when she is only 5 weeks pregnant... I also gave her the number for AIM (Access for Infants and Mothers, a prenatal insurance program for women who make too much money for Medi-Cal). She appreciated the info and said "you're the only people that have really helped me."

Tasha called saying she was seen at a clinic in Sacramento but is too late to get an abortion there using her Medi-Cal (shes 20 weeks). She already has 4 children and says she really needs this abortion. She said she had already been calling SFGH but couldn't get through. I called and made the appointment for her, but they said she would need to get a referral from her primary care doctor because she has a Medi-Cal Managed-Care Plan. Tasha called back with her PCP on the other line. She said they were giving her a hard time, telling her she was too far along for them to cover an abortion. I talked to the woman from her HMO and told her the law (that if an HMO contracts with Medi-Cal they have to cover abortion to 24 weeks just like Medi-Cal does, no matter what they do or don't cover for their private insurance patients). The woman said she would process the referral. I told Tasha to call back if she had any more problems.

ACCESS Needs Your Support!
How You Can Help...
ACCESS relies on people like you to make our work possible. Especially in these tough times, your support is truly what keeps our hotlines, practical support network, abortion fund and advocacy projects alive. Please consider supporting ACCESS in one of the following ways:

Become a member with a financial contribution - annual membership is just $25 (or whatever you can afford)! Your money will go directly to keeping our hotlines open and helping women get the reproductive health care they need. Your membership will also make our advocacy efforts stronger by adding your voice to hundreds of other supporters. Please make a donation today!

Show your commitment to reproductive freedom with a new ACCESS t-shirt, magnet, thong, or baseball cap! Or share your love for ACCESS by giving one of our coffee mugs or tote bags as a holiday gift. All products can be special ordered with our English or Spanish logo - if you don't see what you want, let us know and we can get it for you! Visit our shop at Cafepress!

Donate something from our office wish list and help us conserve funds for our programs! We currently need a new vacuum cleaner, a combo VCR/DVD player (or one of each), new Filemaker Pro and Adobe software, a securely encripted cordless telephone headset, and several ergonomic office chairs. Contact Parker with ideas or questions - 510-923-0739 or jparker@whrc-access.org!

phone: 510-923-0739

ACCESS is dedicated to making reproductive health and freedom a concrete reality - not just a theoretical right - for all women. No other California organization provides the same range of free and unbiased information, advocacy and direct support to women considering or seeking abortions and other reproductive health care.

Board of Directors
Raquel Donoso, Zo�Harte, Reichi Lee, Deborah McSmith, Jerrie Meadows, Shailushi Baxi Ritchie, Ellen Schwerin, Andy Wong

Alma Avila-Pilchman, J. Parker Dockray

Sepi Aghdaee, Elena Foshay, Laura Elena Mendoza, Janet O'Connor, Becca Palmer, Elise Roselle, Sophia Song