YWCA Mobilizing Young Women to Vote in November for Their ‘Reproductive Rights’

Kendra Alleyne | June 7, 2012 | 10:11am EDT
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(CNSNews.com) – Reinforcing its feminist mission, the YWCA is launching a get-out-the-vote drive, urging young women to participate in an election it describes as “critical to the well-being of women, girls and people of color.”

“At the YWCA, we are doing work to mobilize more young women to the voting booths,” Danielle Marse-Kapr, the gender equity coordinator for the YWCA’s Orange County, N.Y. chapter, wrote in a recent newspaper column. “This November, young women will ensure that anti-choice politics does not decide the future of our reproductive rights.”

Marse-Kapr also plugged Planned Parenthood in that column: “As staff of the YWCA, an organization which functions as both a social service and a social justice agency, we are very familiar with the lives of women who need the affordable care that Planned Parenthood offers. Furthermore, we have all personally accessed Planned Parenthood for health care and reliable health-care information.”

The YWCA describes itself as one of the oldest and largest women's organizations in the nation, serving over 2 million women, girls and their families. It says it is “dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.”

Known at one time as the Young Women’s Christian Association, the American branch of the organization now goes by its initials only. A search of the YWCA's national website produces the word “Christian” only once – in the website’s “history” section, as follows: “1858: The first Association in the U.S., Ladies Christian Association, was formed in New York City.”

Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the YWCA is now has 1,300 locations across the country from California to Maine, said Desiree Hoffman, director of advocacy for the YWCA.

“We are going to be doing voter registration out of YWCA facilities and get first-time voters registered, and we’re hoping to focus in on women from various backgrounds, from single women, to first-time voters, to young women, to get them mobilized to vote,” she told CNSNews.com.

“We also are engaging women through different town halls, hopefully from now until election season, so as time moves forward we’ll have more information around that as well, women’s top issues in the upcoming election.”

The YWCA’s voter education website identifies the top election issues as increasing women's income, welfare reform, child care and early education, racial justice, hate crimes, affirmative action, violence against women, health care and global issues.

The website does not mention abortion, but it does say the YWCA “strongly supports comprehensive health care for women that includes reproductive healthcare.”

Over the years, YWCA has become increasingly vocal in its advocacy for reproductive rights, beginning in 1967 when it adopted the first of three abortion resolutions leading to its “freedom of choice position.”

“We are living in a time when noncontroversial issues such as women’s health care and violence against women have become politicized,” YWCA CEO Gloria Lau says in a statement posted on the YWCA’s website. “In the current climate, policies on women’s health and reproductive care have become regressive and major issues such as jobs and the economy are being overlooked by our elected officials.”

In her May 14 newspaper op-ed, Marse-Kapr wrote: “Young women will not be shamed out of protecting their reproductive rights. Generations of feminists before us taught us to be thick-skinned when powerful men call us prostitutes for demanding basic human rights.”

The latter is a reference to Rush Limbaugh’s comment about a Georgetown University law student who complained that her Jesuit school's student health plan did not provide women with contraceptive coverage.

Women at Catholic schools expect to "be treated equally," expect to have "all of our medical needs" met, and expect the university to "respect our choices" on health insurance,” Fluke told an unofficial hearing stage by Democrats.

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