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It’s Unanimous! Massachusetts Senate Votes for Bill to Improve the Treatment of Pregnant Women in Prison and Jail

This afternoon, the Massachusetts State Senate voted 39-0 in favor of a bill to establish minimum standards for the treatment of pregnant women in prison and jail, including access to medical care and limits on shackling.

(The bill is now known as S.2063.)

After years of being bottled up in committee, the Senate vote is a resounding endorsement of this long-overdue legislation.

As Senator Linda Dorcena Forry said on the floor, “This bill will change lives.”

The measure now goes to the House for consideration.

Read up on the bill in my previous post:

Today, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick announced plans to issue emergency regulations to put a stop to the shackling of pregnant women in labor.

“Regulation is good but here law would be better,” the governor said. Pledging his support, Governor Patrick added, “I urge the Legislature to send [a bill] to my desk for signature this session.”

Only 11 days left! Tips on how to get the word out about new health coverage options.

Each person in my family has a pre-existing condition. Even my seven-year-old son.

From my high blood pressure, to my husband’s cholesterol, to my son’s severe health issues as an infant—just a few years ago we were basically uninsurable on the individual market.

So, you can imagine how relieved I was about the provision in the Affordable Care Act that protects us from being charged more or denied coverage because of these pre-existing conditions.

This is why I’ve been working so hard to get the word out to anyone and everyone who will listen about the new benefits and protections under this new law. And why I’ve been so inspired by the creativity of our members who are helping to get the word out about healthcare reform as well!

With just 11 days until the end of this year’s open enrollment period at, I’ve been amazed at the initiative our members are taking to help spread the word about new affordable heath coverage options.

Jeanette in New Jersey told me,

#FoodFri Tweetchat: Liquid Sugar’s Reign Must End

California is in the midst of an obesity and diabetes epidemic. It did not happen by chance. It has been led by sophisticated marketing that targets our kids. It is wreaking havoc on the public’s health, and healthcare costs, and we are all paying for it.

Soda and other sugary drinks are the single largest factor in the obesity epidemic. The ever-present availability of sugary sodas, sports drinks, iced teas, juice drinks, vitamin waters, and energy drinks are readily available to our kids and in our communities. Soda companies have peddled their liquid candy for far to long without restraint, delivering an express line to obesity and diabetes that must stop!

6 Reasons to Stop Antibiotic Overuse

80 percent of antibiotics used in this country are used for food animals. What is wrong with that picture?

1.  The more we use them, the less effective they become. According to the Center for Food Safety and Save Antibiotics, drugs become less effective, and bacteria more resistant with overuse. So while antibiotics have saved hundreds of  thousands of lives, if they are used for food animals regularly, this might not always be the case.

2. Antibiotics are routinely administered to healthy animals in order to speed growth and compensate for unsanitary conditions. The use of antibiotics is not to protect the health of the animals in many cases. It’s quite the opposite. To cope with the often unhumane conditions in many factory farms, antibioitcs are used to keep animals from getting sick.

René Loves Her New ACA Health Coverage

After running errands, getting exercise, and driving across town to make St Patrick’s Day crafts with my elderly mom and friends, cooking dinner last Saturday was out of the question.  So naturally, I popped into my favorite neighborhood restaurant, Cafe Soleil, for some delicious Ethiopian cuisine. Every time I walk in the front door of this cozy little place, Kuri, the owner, beams me a knowing smile. “The usual?” I just love her yellow split pea ginger alitcha wet.

I settle into my customary table, a corner nook, just as a waitress strides over. René, 24, works here and holds down another part time job.  She starts thanking me profusely.

A few months earlier, I’d sent her a link to a radio show I’d done encouraging people to explore their new, affordable health insurance options. René listened, signed up, and here she was, raving about what a difference her new coverage was making in her life.  All I’d done was give her a little information and now she was making me feel like a hero.

No One Tells Mamma to “Just Go Home!”

By Galen Sherwin, ACLU Women’s Rights Project

Imagine you have just returned from maternity leave, still nursing your baby, and you find that your workplace has no place available for you to pump breast milk.  After trying for several hours to find a place, you ask for help from your department head, who says “You know, I think it’s best that you just go home to be with your babies.”  She hands you a pen and paper, advises you to resign, and even dictates what you should write down as your letter of resignation.

This is exactly what Angela Ames, a Loss Mitigation Representative at Nationwide Insurance, alleges happened to her when she returned to work eight-weeks after having her second child.

Join #TaxChat on Thursday, March 20

Americans for Tax Fairness, National Women’s Law Center, the National Priorities Project, and MomsRising invite you to a #TaxChat tweet chat Thursday, March 20th at 2pm EST. In the lead up to Tax Day we’ll discuss ways families can prepare to file their taxes, tax breaks that benefit working families, and negative tax policies that are harming families in the name of big business. Join us with resources, ideas and tweets by adding the hashtag #TaxChat to all your tweets at 2pm EST on March 20th.

Tweetchats are a great way to raise awareness about important issues, share resources, and increase your Twitter following.  We hope you’ll join us!  Please also consider inviting your networks or followers to participate.

Don’t let the NRA choose our Surgeon General

I couldn’t believe my ears when I heard about the Surgeon General controversy on the news. Emboldened by its influence on Capitol Hill, the NRA is now flexing its muscles and actively working to derail Dr. Vivek Murthy’s confirmation just because, like many other doctors, he has referred to gun violence as a threat to public health in the past.

Many health associations have found gun violence to be a public health issue. Even C. Everett Koop, the legendary Surgeon General nominated by Ronald Reagan, described gun violence as a “public health emergency.”

Will every qualified public health leader be held to a new standard: that a mere mention of the word “gun violence” is a disqualifier from public service?


Three ways we can push back from the brink of poverty – Katrina Gilbert Shows Us How in a New HBO Documentary

By Melissa Boteach and Katie Wright

Last night, viewers across the country tuned in to watch the premier of the new HBO-produced documentary, “Paycheck to Paycheck: The Life and Times of Katrina Gilbert.” The film, associated with Maria Shriver and the Center for American Progress’s The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Pushes Back from the Brink, follows Katrina Gilbert, a young single mother struggling to make ends meet, and will be available for streaming for free for one week at

Katrina’s story was featured in the film, but the reality is that there are millions of Katrinas out there—women doing all they can to stay out of poverty and take care of their families. Today in America, 42 million women and 28 million children who depend on them live in poverty or on its brink. Despite the moral and economic challenges brought on poverty and economic insecurity, there are clear steps we can take to help Katrina, and us all, push back from the brink.

Raise the minimum wage

New Minnesota Bill Addresses the Treatment of Pregnant Women in Prison

For the first time, policymakers in Minnesota have introduced legislation to improve pregnancy care for imprisoned women, including limits on shackling.

Broad in reach, the bill applies to all prisons and jails, for youth as well as adults.

While the bill is innovative for its dual focus on health care and shackling, it can be enhanced to better reflect community standards of care.

Ensuring access to health care?

The bill features many specific mandates and notable omissions. For example, although the bill requires educational materials about pregnancy and has three different provisions on mental health care, it is silent on the basic matters of prenatal care and nutrition.

The bill requires the head of each correctional facility “to ensure” that every woman is tested for pregnancy and if pregnant for sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV.

In practice, few pregnant women refuse HIV tests, but this language makes it sound as if they have no say in the matter.

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