The National Institute for Reproductive Health is proud to announce its 2014 Strengthen Our States Initiative (SOSI) partners. Through SOSI, the Institute provides funding, targeted technical assistance, and capacity-building, along with networking opportunities, to state-based organizations and coalitions, with the goal of expanding and diversifying the reproductive health, rights, and justice movements in key states.
The Institute supports state-level advocates seeking to build and mobilize their public base of support, engage policymakers, change the public dialogue, and alter public policy to increase access to reproductive health care, including abortion. The Institute recognizes that proactive initiatives are not won in a single year and that, in some states, countering attacks on reproductive rights and health is by necessity a long-term proposition. This year, we will partner with the following organizations:
Developing Proactive Policy Agendas to Protect and Expand Abortion Access
Georgia: The Feminist Women’s Health Center will develop proactive strategies to protect reproductive rights, while continuing to fight against anticipated anti-choice legislation. This initiative will enable them to expand and diversify the state’s coalition working to protect reproductive rights and justice, engage new stakeholders and volunteers, and strengthen their communications efforts – with the ultimate goal of achieving positive policy change in the state.
Rhode Island: Planned Parenthood of Southern New England, a member of the Rhode Island Coalition for Reproductive Justice, will bring in diverse new members, reorganize the coalition to encourage a broader base of leadership, and coordinate a series of reproductive justice trainings for stakeholders. The strengthened coalition will drive a broad proactive policy agenda in Rhode Island, including increasing access to contraception and abortion, expanding insurance coverage for abortion and ending discrimination against pregnant women.
Wisconsin: Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health will launch a series of public education and policy projects designed to educate and engage the public around women’s health, with a particular focus on changing the conversation about reproductive health and creating a proactive public policy agenda to protect and advance women's reproductive health.
Multi-state: Legal Voice will lead the Alliance of State-based Women’s Rights and Gender Law Centers in the planning and development of proactive policy tools to advance reproductive health and rights in the context of women’s equality.
Limiting the Harm of New Abortion Restrictions
Illinois: The Illinois Coalition for Adolescent Health (ICAH) will lead a youth-focused campaign, #StopPNA, designed to shift public perception about the state’s parental notification law, with the long-term goal of repealing the legislation. The campaign will include print and digital media advocacy to share stories of youth impacted by the law, community mobilization among young people and adult allies, and training and engagement of youth leaders and health care providers to provide “know your rights” peer education and support for abortion-seeking youth.
North Carolina:NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina will capitalize on the newly energized pro-choice movement and public anger generated by passage of three anti-choice laws in 2013. They will focus on public education, community engagement, and coalition building around the upcoming regulatory process for the state’s new TRAP law. A critical component of this work will be engaging non-traditional allies and youth.
Leveraging Current Battles to Strengthen Coalitions
and Broaden Public Support
Michigan: The Health Centers for Women/Northland Family Planning and the ACLU of Michigan will expand, strengthen, and diversify their pro-choice coalition in order to push back more effectively against the state legislature's repeated attacks on women's reproductive health care, including the recently enacted ban on abortion coverage.
North Dakota: North Dakota Women’s Network, the only statewide multi-issue women’s advocacy organization in ND, will involve the public in policy advocacy to increase the impact of a rapidly growing coalition of reproductive rights allies in the state. With a personhood ballot initiative slated for 2014, this campaign will have a particular emphasis on outreach to underserved locations of the state in order to empower women in rural communities and on Native reservations to speak out and step up to leadership.
Tennessee: The Healthy and Free Tennessee coalition will formalize its structure and coordinate a campaign to defeat an anti-choice constitutional amendment that will be on the 2014 ballot, while working to expand and diversify organizational partnerships and grassroots organizing to build the capacity to have lasting statewide impact.
In cities and states across the country, there exists a wealth of advocates and organizations fighting back against anti-choice policies and eager to push forward a positive agenda. Building on these local strengths—and creating a stronger national movement—requires an infusion of both immediate, targeted support and the formation of longer-term partnerships founded on mutual trust and respect for each other’s knowledge and skills. To meet these needs, in late 2012, the National Institute for Reproductive Health launched the Strengthen Our States Initiative to support movement-building, particularly as it relates to abortion, in states across the country.
Strengthen Our States provides grants, hands-on support, and networking opportunities to key state-based organizations and coalitions. Our goals are to invest in strong leaders who are willing to take strategic risks and to create changes at the state level that can have an impact both regionally and nationally. In our first year, we awarded $125,000 in grants through four different grant streams.
On Monday, July 8th, 2013 our President Andrea Miller appeared on Joy Behar: Say Anything! to discuss the War on Women and recent attacks on reproductive rights and abortion access across the country. (Clip courtesy Joy Behar: Say Anything!, Current TV.)