Until recently, employers and insurance providers were required to cover all forms of birth control as preventive healthcare. But just a few weeks ago, the Trump administration took steps to immediately give my university or my parent's employer the power to decide my birth control coverage.
Chances are most college students who are on birth control today have never had to pay for their birth control because of the Affordable Care Act’s birth control benefit. But, depending on how students get their insurance, they could now lose their coverage.
I’m a non-binary person, and before I left for college I wanted a highly effective way to prevent pregnancy, because I was certain I did not want a child and wanted to focus on my studies. I chose a Mirena IUD, a long term, but expensive device, and because of the ACA I did not have to pay for it. I have been protected for 2 years and my IUD is good for three more years of highly effective birth control.
In fact, access to birth control is an issue that affects everyone, including trans and non-binary people.
The ACA means that birth control is covered. End of story. But many people think of birth control as a women’s issue, but it is not just women who were biologically born female who need access to birth control. This issue affects people of all genders, and we need to make sure that young people who do not look like how we imagine a woman or someone who needs birth control to look like STILL receive access to this service.
Birth control is about more than just preventing pregnancy. I have friends who are trans men who use birth control too. One has polycystic ovarian syndrome, and relies on birth control for his health, and another who chose to get an IUD to stop his periods and help with his gender dysphoria until he can get on testosterone.
All the reasons women use birth control are reasons why trans and non-binary people need birth control. And they need access to centers like Planned Parenthood that provide care to everyone, no matter their gender.
My first office was to Senator Moran’s office in late January. I heard about the visit through Johnson County MoveOn. Joco Moveon’s advice was to pick a subject you have a personal connection to, write a letter, read a letter to the staff, handover the letter to the staff. I generally have kept to that format because it helps me organize my thoughts.
Back in January I started thinking, what subject do I have a personal connection to? My father had died in the past year and before that he was ill and my mother was his primary caregiver. I saw how valuable Medicare is. I saw that it worked. I couldn’t imagine not having it at all or having to deal with a voucher system or other difficulties while you are dealing with a serious illness. So the gist of the letter was don’t take Medicare away from my mom!
So I write the letter, I practice reading it at home. The day of the office visit, I’m driving there; I have Hamilton cranked up in the minivan, getting psyched up. I arrive and there are a lot of people there. We cram into Sen. Moran’s office (some spilling out into the hall) and right next to me is a TV reporter and a big TV camera from one of the Lawrence stations.
At this point I have to say I am not a fan of public speaking. At all. However, I am determined. I had spent too long taking in information at home, stewing over it, grousing about it. So I am going to read that dang letter. I do get my chance and I read the letter. I feel good. I’ve done it, I’ve communicated with my senator.
After that, I can stop focusing on me and really start listening to others in the room. People telling their stories, giving information to their lawmaker on how the laws affect their lives or the lives of people they know. At every office visit I learn something from the people in the room.
I’d like to read a short letter I was able to slip into the hands of a very fast moving Kevin Yoder on his way into an interview with KCUR. It is very snazzily entitled, The People I’ve Met and Why You Should Meet Them, Too.
When a group walks through the doors of your office, we meet as a group, but we come as individuals. Some of those individuals are novices like me who feel it is time to take some responsibility and get involved. Others have been lending their voice, their knowledge to the democratic process for years.
There are Veterans, Military Spouses, Independents, Democrats, Republicans, Parents, Students, Doctors, Nurses, Social Workers, Engineers, Educators, Business People and more.
I’ve met people with incomes in the top 3% of Kansans and those whose lives are affected in a very fundamental way by changes in economic policies. Those with secure healthcare and those whose healthcare options are precarious. Those who bring statistics and those who bring valuable, often very touching, personal experiences.
I’ve met people who speak eloquently, loudly, quietly, passionately, nervously, boldly, and each of them want what you want: to make our community better.
Please come talk with them. Please attend a townhall soon.
Patricia “Peezy” Mullins
A lawyer in Kansas City was shot dead. Gun violence touched my community more closely than ever before.
We all live in a variety of communities. Some are very large and some much smaller. Personally, I am a citizen of the world and of the United States, two large communities. I live in the Kansas City metropolitan area, I work as a lawyer and my church is St. Peter’s Catholic Church, where both of my children attended primary school. Gun violence is wreaking havoc on our communities.
In 2016, there were 58,794 incidents involving guns. Of those incidents, 15,082 resulted in death and 30,618 resulted in injuries.* This is not universal. Other countries are not plagued by the gun violence in the United States. Americans are 10 times more likely to be killed by guns than citizens of other developed countries and U.S.A.’s murder rate is 25 times higher than other developed countries.
While Americans may be more violent than other individuals, the more likely culprit is America’s ridiculously lenient gun laws. Missouri is very close to the top of the list for gun laws that do nothing to prevent anyone from owning a gun. In fact, Missouri’s legislature has recently and effectively undertaken efforts to weaken gun laws.
As of January 2017, in Missouri, it is no longer necessary to have a permit to own a gun or to carry a gun concealed on your person. It is not necessary to have a license to possess a rifle, shotgun or handgun. You need no training to obtain a gun. You need no license or permit to purchase a gun. Once you have purchased your gun, do not worry about registering it – no one needs to know you own a gun. You can also carry your concealed weapon, without a license or permit, and if you want to threaten or “warn” someone, you can display your gun “briefly” to let others know you are “carrying.”
I do not want this article to be a “how to” guide for anyone to get a gun, but suffice it to say, there are almost no limitations on the ability to own or possess a gun in Missouri. The lack of need for training or registering guns is particularly distressing, but also concerning is that Missouri has passed the “castle doctrine.” In other words, you can shoot “an invader” in your home or office without retreating or giving the intruder a warning.
Kansas gun laws are virtually identical.
Here’s the thing. Almost everyone who reads this blog agrees that the gun laws of Missouri are awful beyond reason. What each of us must do, therefore, is convince one “reasonable” conservative to at least considering gun laws before casting a vote. We must recognize, even when it seems incomprehensible, that many good people have decent reasons for voting Republican. We must attempt to make them see that the more lenient the gun laws, the more likely Las Vegas, Orlando, San Bernardino and even, Brookside, are to occur.
It is with heavy hearts that we share the news that gun violence has touched the home of IKC founder and President, Emily Riegel. Yesterday morning, her husband Tom was murdered by an individual with a gun on their front stoop in Brookside.
As the founder of Indivisible KC, and in her professional career, Emily has been a phenomenal force for good. She continues to be a hero and inspiration to all of us, and we wish her and their boys love and healing in this profoundly difficult time.
We encourage you to read the details of the case, and let it build the fire inside you to push for change. Reports indicate this heinous crime may have been committed by a man who had a history of gun violence, and who had no business freely carrying a firearm. Tom’s was only the most recent in an unfathomable number of preventable deaths. He was one of 159 people murdered in the Kansas City metro so far this year, along with an unknown number of deaths by gun suicide. Each death is tragic; each victim loved, valued and mourned.
There are always those who argue that loss should not be politicized. Many IKC members live by the mantra that the personal IS political. This is most acute in situations like Tom’s death, which may be directly attributed to the failure of our politicians to enact and enforce common-sense regulations, with which even most gun owners agree. It is time to ask our representatives in state and federal government how they justify their failure to act.
Remember Tom and Emily as you do the good work.
In Love, Strength, and Solidarity,
During this era when the behavior of the likes of Bill O’Reilly, Harvey Weinstein, and Predator- in-Chief Donald Trump is coming to light, it is important that everyone, especially women, know what to expect in the workplace and what recourse they have when they suffer sexual harassment and/or discrimination.
One would think that Missouri, recognizing the struggles of workers, would want to provide further protections for workers. To the contrary, in the last legislative session, Missouri’s lawmakers chose to decrease the protections of workers and lessened their ability to recover financially if the employer is found to have committed unlawful behavior.
The main change and the most exciting for employers is that the new law does away with Missouri’s “contributing factor” standard for adverse employment decisions. The “contributing factor” standard has been relatively easy for employees to meet. Employees needed to show only that discrimination contributed to termination, demotion. Under the new version of the law, the employee plaintiff will be required to establish that the claimed act of unlawful bias was a “motivating factor” for the challenged employment decision. This change makes it much harder for employees to prove discrimination.
The other ways Missouri has just harmed employees is by creating limitations on the amount of money employees can recover if the employees prevail against the employers after make it past all the hurtles in the law. For most small to medium size employers, employees can recover only $50,000 for emotional distress.
Missouri law has not gotten better for women suffering sexual harassment in the workplace, still one of the most common forms of discrimination. Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination based on sexually explicit behavior. Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment only when such conduct creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive working environment. This is where the sexual conduct is so pervasive or severe that it creates an abusive working environment. So, in other words, it needs to be very, very bad. It is also not lawful for an employer to make sex a condition of employment or promotion, which is really the least lawmakers can do for women.
"I'm a disabled veteran from Raymore Missouri."
"I'm a full time lawyer and a new mom."
"I was an academic librarian for 25 years."
"I don't have much experience really."
"I have a pickup truck and carpentry or paint skills and would like to help in anyway possible."
"I have over 10 years’ experience freelance writing and truly love researching ideas and sharing them with others."
"I’m a passionate liberal wanting to participate in the resistance movement, but am an extreme introvert."
"If it's cookies you need, I am an excellent follower of the recipe on the back of the Tollhouse bag."
"I am a woman, an African American, a senior citizen and this administration and this fool pres does not represent me nor wants to represent me."
These quotes are from just some of the emails we received in response to our call for volunteers. Thank you so much for stepping up. You have warmed our hearts and brightened our lives. This movement is for all people, and each of us has an important part to play.
We want to hear from more of you. Email us at email@example.com.
And, remember, keep making those calls, keep showing up, keep advocating for yourself and those you love, and know that you are not alone. We are shoulder to shoulder in this together.
Dr. Emily Riegel
For the past 10 months, the country has watched as our elected officials have attempted, repeatedly and unsuccessfully, to gut the benefits provided under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Despite their backhanded tactics, sneaky actions, and tunnel-vision focus on delivering mortal wounds to the ACA, they failed. They failed because they were held accountable by the Americans who demanded that their access to healthcare coverage be protected.
Now, as if in a petty game of retribution, lawmakers are striking back by stalling the much-needed approval to guarantee funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). CHIP is the federal funding program that guarantees quality health coverage for more than eight million children in families with incomes too high to qualify for Medicaid but too low to afford private health coverage.
CHIP, in effect now for over 20 years, has been among a handful of success stories of bipartisanship – that oft-dreamed of, rarely seen political unicorn that appears when both political parties agree to set aside their differences and unite behind a cause so important that their raw humanity compels them to do the right thing.
Apparently, we are no longer in the age when “doing the right thing” matters in politics. We have moved beyond the time when the health and lives of children in this country were seen as a commodity valuable enough to support through programs like CHIP. Now, our children and their access to healthcare- healthcare that not only treats them when they are sick or injured, but healthcare that helps keep them healthy and safe- are being used as a pawn in the game of what can only be called a revenge plot.
Revenge against whom?
Against the Democratic Party for not wavering in their defense of the ACA?
Against the holdout Republican Senators like Collins, Murkowski, and McCain who didn’t tow the party line?
Or is it against the constituents: the people who wrote, called, demonstrated, visited, and continued to demand that their ACA benefits be protected?
What the GOP is now doing is effectively holding children hostage, taunting, “look what we’ve got now.”
Meanwhile, as this political gamesmanship unfolds, there are actual lives hanging in the balance. Unless Congress votes on continuation of CHIP funding within the coming days, we know that 3 states and the District of Columbia will run out of money to fund their CHIP programs by the end of 2017. An additional 27 states-including Kansas and Missouri- will see funding go dry by March of 2018.
So what does this mean here at home? In Kansas, over 77,000 children will be affected. In Missouri, over 78,000 will be affected. Nationally, nearly 8.4 MILLION children could lose insurance coverage, and with the health insurance marketplace being destabilized by the attacks on the ACA, many of these children may remain uninsured for an unknown period of time.
CHIP and the ACA have allowed our children to be healthier: providing coverage for their well child checks, immunizations, routine dental care. These are measures that help make sure kids are sick less, that kids feel better, that they are able to avoid the kinds of illnesses and health risks that could have significant, even life-threatening, consequences. It also ensures that children who do face a serious illness or injury, the kind no family can prepare for, and that little can often be done to prevent, are able to receive the kind of medical care and treatment that gives them the best chance of recovery and survival; and it helps do this without the risk of bankrupting or financially devastating their families.
Why would any politician stand in the way of this kind of program?
Why would any political party argue against its importance?
Why would any lawmaker with a conscience put children’s lives at risk?
And what have we come to that these are questions we must actually try to answer?
We have been through this for 10 months, and we have resisted the attack on health care at every turn. We aren’t finished yet, it seems. If Congress is going to keep doing what it has been doing, then so will we. If they think we are going to get tired and quit paying attention, they have grossly miscalculated their constituents and what we will do to protect and advocate for every child in this country.
Make your calls, make those office visits, hold your signs up high, stand shoulder to shoulder: do your part and do not quit.
Our children are watching. Let’s make them proud.
Senator Pat Roberts, Senator Jerry Moran,
I am profoundly sad and utterly baffled. I don’t know what kind of people my federal representatives in Washington, D.C. are, and that includes you. I used to believe that people from Kansas had some of the same values and beliefs that I, another Kansan, do. But you don’t – it seems you don’t care about your constituents, or your fellow U.S. citizens, in the least. If you did, you would have taken up the issue of gun control long before now, before people were shot in Lawrence, Kansas, or Las Vegas. I would have thought that the killing of children at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut would have motivated you to address this issue, to propose a bill, to co-sponsor a bill… to do SOMETHING besides express your sympathies. They were beautiful children, for God’s sake! And you did nothing, except talk.
When Sandy Hook didn’t move you, I was sure that the shooting of members and staffers of Congress at the baseball practice last June would surely make you pay attention. Those are your own peeps – surely a shooting that was so “close to home” would move you! But no. No movement, nothing but hollow words of sympathy for the victims and some mild public outrage to mollify your constituents.
Please explain to me how money from the NRA matters more to you than the murder of children or the shooting of your fellow Congressmen or 59 people in Las Vegas? Help me understand the morality of a man – you – who is more interested in getting re-elected than he is in the well-being and safety of the people he was elected to serve.
All this talk about 2nd Amendment rights and “they’re going to take away all our guns” is unmitigated horseshit and you know it. There are a number of actions that could be taken to protect the citizenry, none of which you seem willing to consider at all:
When the framers of the Constitution met and wrote that great document, including the Bill of Rights, the 2nd Amendment had to do with very different kinds of guns than we have now, and it was meant to allow individuals to protect themselves in their homes and to form a “well-regulated militia” when called upon. Furthermore, the Supreme Court has ruled that the 2nd Amendment is NOT unlimited and does not prohibit all regulation of either firearms or similar devices. But you have allowed yourself to be bullied and threatened by the NRA into believing that there should be no regulations AT ALL.
If you continue to choose not to act to protect the lives and safety of your constituents, then I can think only that you lack the courage and fortitude to stand up for us. And if that’s true, then step down, because you don’t belong in Congress. It takes people who are brave enough and strong enough to stand up to wrong-doing and who have a moral center to govern our country. Based upon your lack of action on this very important issue, you are clearly not one of those people.
I don’t know about you, but I am tired this week. I held my breath until 12:01 am on October 1st, when the efforts to repeal the ACA through budget reconciliation maneuvers were ended. I’ve been worried sick about the American citizens suffering without food, water, electricity or adequate attention since hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico. I’m trying to keep up with information about the DACA recipients who need to get their status renewed by this evening. I’m contacting my reps about their failure to reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which protects millions of vulnerable American children. And I am heartsick about the massacre in Las Vegas and furious that it coincides with a week where there are not one, but two NRA-backed bills moving through Congress, to further loosen our gun laws. All of that before I can even focus on the travesty of a budget that Congress is trying to sell.
I have had moments this week when I have just felt worn to the bone. I’ve picked up the phone to make my calls, or typed my emails and faxes, and I just feel as though I am shouting into the wind.
In those moments, I understand the people around me who feel defeated by our political system. Who have looked at this whole mess and just said, “I don’t have the money of an NRA or the Koch brothers. My voice doesn’t matter.” Who have opted to focus on other issues, because politics makes them feel powerless.
Then, I take myself for a walk, take some deep breaths, and force myself to re-engage. Because what I have learned in the past year is that I, personally, don’t have a ton of power in the political system. But if I am persistent and informed and I show up, I make a small impact. If I find a few other people to show up with me, we make more of an impact. If they find a few more people, we can stop terrible legislation like Trumpcare.
Part of why it feels as though we have lost power in politics is because we have handed that power over. We have been told that every candidate is corrupt, so our votes don’t matter. We have been told that money rules politics, so our voices don’t matter.
I refuse to accept that storyline any longer. Not all candidates are created equal. None of them may be perfect, but some candidates & elected officials take their jobs seriously. They show up at town hall meetings to truly listen to their constituents. They work out of the spotlight, to fix real problems, in a bipartisan way. We should be asking candidates how they plan to act if elected, and we should hold them to their answers. We also have to become educated. Too many candidates get away with glib, vague answers to tough questions. We need to ask for details, and we need to know enough that we can push back when we don’t get them.
As we get educated, we need to vote. EVERY SINGLE TIME. In every single election. For city clerk and US President. In the 2016 election, more people didn’t vote at all than voted for either major candidate. There is no way that our government can be representative if a third of eligible voters (or more in smaller elections) just don’t show up. It is my responsibility to vote. It is your responsibility to vote. When we fail at this responsibility, we are handing power to extremists and special interests. We need to show up.
Once someone is elected, we need to be engaged with them. I had a legislator tell me that she got most of her education about issues outside of her field from lobbyists, “because no one else is giving me that information.” We should all be talking to our legislators about our areas of knowledge--they should be educated by constituents, not by lobbyists.
Representative democracy can’t be a spectator sport. It is our responsibility to be educated, aware & engaged in our democratic process. If we are not, that spot will be filled by special interests, who are not looking out for the good of all. We must show up. And when we do, I truly believe we can change the world.
Indivisible KC needs You! Check out our list of volunteer needs to see what you can do to help the movement. We have opportunities available for people with all kinds of skills and availabilities, including online-only so you can resist from home!
Resist from home! Online volunteer positions available:
Talking points writer
IKC needs people to help us generate talking points and collect research for our weekly Calls to Action and Member of Congress Office Visits. You will be provided with a topic (for example, “IKC Opposes the Cassidy-Graham health care bill”) each Wednesday evening. Your task will be to write three clear, concise talking points supporting the topic, plus two to three supporting links for our members who would like to read further, all before Friday morning. Extra credit for sign and chant ideas! We’ll need everything ready to distribute by Friday morning.
Image research/Basic weekly graphics creation
IKC needs someone to research and retrieve photos and create header graphics using a specific, easy template for our weekly Calls to Action and Member of Congress Office Visits. We will provide the topics to you by Wednesday evening and will need the graphics completed by Friday morning. We use Google Drawings but you don’t have to (if not using Drawings, we’ll need the shared design assets).
Resist in person
Blunt office visit helper
IKC hosts office visits at Senator Roy Blunt’s downtown Kansas City office on the first Wednesday of each month at noon. We need one person for each of those visits who can help greet fellow resisters, maintain order in the crowd, and recruit and register new members.
Special Events logistical assistance
IKC needs people who can assist with logistical support for occasional evening and weekend events such as member meetings, educational events, and rallies. Tasks will range from handing out programs to bringing cookies to directing parking traffic.
McCaskill Office leader
IKC needs someone to lead actions relating to Senator McCaskill. This person will maintain contact with the local Westport office of Senator McCaskill, keep track of news related to Senator McCaskill, determine when there is a need for an office visit with Senator McCaskill’s staff, and lead office visits or other events related to the Senator.