5 smart advocates explain what matters most for Maine women

BDN | Michael C. York

BDN Photo | Michael C. York

Recently, I was given the opportunity to guest host The Pulse morning show on WZON, usually helmed by the much-funnier and more professional Don Cookson. I knew right away what I wanted to do with three hours of air time.

Too often in politics, issues are considered in their own, separate silos, and many of the broader themes are missed. That’s especially true for issues important to women, where the hot-button issue of abortion rights and reproductive freedom is often treated as separate from more holistic issues of health and economic opportunity.

So, on Wednesday, when I had the time to dig deep and make some of those connections clear, I tried to make the most of it.

Joining me on the show were five smart and passionate advocates for different aspects of what are often considered women’s issues:

Kate Brogan of Maine Family Planning joined me for a discussion of the recent legislative session in Maine and the fate of bills to curtail or expand access to reproductive health care.

Eliza Townsend of the Maine Women’s Lobby talked about some of the broader economic issues that disproportionately affect women, and policies like parental leave and earned paid sick days that could make things better.

Danielle Donnelly of Restaurant Opportunities Centers United discussed the importance of raising state and local minimum wages for women, especially the sub-minimum wage for workers who receive tips.

Meagan Gallagher of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England discussed the coordinated attacks on reproductive health care both nation-wide and here in Maine and New England and best to stand up for women’s rights.

Allison Kennedy of the national Women’s Equality Center helped put it all in perspective and outlined the principles of their Stand with Women or Stand in the Way campaign.

You can listen to all the raw interviews on The Pulse AM 620 Facebook page and edited versions will also air on the Beacon Podcast. (The conversation with Kate Brogan is included in today’s episode.)

One thing I learned from these discussions that surprised me a bit was just how well-organized the forces pushing back against women’s rights have now become and how their attacks have intensified, especially in the area of access to birth control and abortion.

According to an analysis by the Guttmacher Institute, states have enacted 231 new restrictions on abortion in just the last four years, far outpacing the rate of legislation of the last several decades. This anti-women’s rights movement even has its own version of ALEC to push legislation at the state level.

If you want to learn more about these issues or become more involved, now’s a good time. Women’s Equality Day is next Wednesday (August 26th). There will be an evening rally in West Market Square in Bangor to mark the occasion.

Mike Tipping

About Mike Tipping

Mike is Maine's longest-writing political blogger and explores state politics and policy with a focus on analysis and explanation. He works at the Maine People's Alliance and Maine People's Resource Center.