Ask and You Shall Receive

Amie Newman

Rewire's reader survey results are in! Thanks to the tremendous feedback, we're building on our successes and rising to the challenges. Read on...

We asked and you responded!

Rewire's first reader survey was a resounding success, thanks to you!

"Rewire is an AMAZING resource–I can't believe it has only existed for such a short time. I send links to it all the time. I love that there is content appropriate to people well-versed in the issues as well as contextualized material for those without a background in reproductive health, rights, and/or justice."

It's not just that many of you made us feel all warm and fuzzy with your verbal high-fives and encouraging comments. It's that we had no idea so many of our readers (almost 500 of you!) would spend precious time reflecting critically on how Rewire fits into your news and information world. We truly appreciate it and have read, re-read, studied, discussed and analyzed your comments so that we can use your feedback to build an even better resource for countering the misinformation and false facts that spill daily from anti-choice web sites and advocacy organizations.

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"Keep up the good work – you are a light in the darkness."

"We need as much information as possible given to the public considering how government does not want us to be able to educate our youth and adults about the most vital part of our lives, human sexuality."

"I love the policy-related blogs from the national folks that I believe helps to inform our state level work."

Here's some of what you told us:

1. How do you identify yourselves?

Let's just say we should have included a check-box for "concerned parent/mother/citizen/progressive." Many of you self-identified as simply being a concerned person who cares about human rights. What more could we want in a reader?! In addition, one-third of you identify as "avid readers of blogs and other online media outlets" (sites you visit most often in addition to Rewire: The New York Times online, The Nation, Alternet and Mother Jones), just as many identify as "reproductive rights activists" with almost 20% of you working as a professional reproductive or sexual health advocate. But we've got freelance writers, mainstream media journalists, school teachers, doctors, scientists, artists, psychologists, environmental activists, and religious leaders in our community as well!

Here's my blog-love section: the blogs you all visit most often? Feministing, UN Dispatch, Pandagon, Our Bodies, Our Blog, ColorLines and Wiretap are all up there. But other sites listed also include Shakesville, Grist, TomPaine, Womens Enews, Raw Story, Firedoglake, Carpetbagger, Bush v. Choice, TalkingPointsMemo and Feministe. Most of these sites have been unerringly helpful to Rewire in our young life thus far so please continue to read them and tell them you read us!

2. This is for those of you who think Rewire is just a fantastic source for news:

No, no, no. I mean, yes, sure, we are an award-winning news site. However, an astounding 69% of you rated our wiki-able sections (Reckless Rhetoric, Fact v. Fiction, Policy Watch, About The Right and Issue Briefs) as "excellent" or "interesting."

"You have an excellent site. I like your Reckless Rhetoric and Fact vs. Fiction sections, and I think you should do more to debunk the myths, misconceptions and outright lies that are out there. But overall, great website!"

If you haven't already, isn't it time you visited these sections? We've got an incredible team of brand new volunteer Wiki Editors who keep these pages up-to-date and chocked full of exciting and new sources and information (thank you Wiki Editors!). But you can join the team and contribute content to these sections whenever you like. You don't need to volunteer as a wiki-editor to use our wiki. Anyone can do it! And your work helps organizations like the California Coalition for Reproductive Freedom:

"I love the wikipedia editing project!!! I sent it out to the California Coalition for Reproductive Freedom and from there the Commission on the Status of Women sent it everywhere!!!"

If you're not already a registered user, just register on our site from the "About Us" page. Then visit one of the wiki-able sections of the site and go for it. Read a particularly infuriating quote from James Dobson? Add it to the Reckless Rhetoric page! Notice we don't have a key piece of legislation detailed in our Policy Watch section? Wiki it for us! Don't know what the heck a "wiki" is? Read all about how simple it is to edit our content and become a key information source for your fellow progressive news readers!

3. If I were an Rewire editor, I'd add __________to the site.

Since Rewire launched in 2006, we have worked consistently to build a site that is relevant and useful not just to the reproductive health and rights movement but to individuals – people like you who want to read evidence-based information, challenge the misinformation on sexual and reproductive health and rights that gets perpetuated, and enjoy engaging and informative commentary on these issues.

We are bringing you content from amazing contributors from around the world, including our Global Perspectives writers; we have new features like RealityCast, hosted by the inimitable Amanda Marcotte and focused on the politics and the lives behind reproductive and sexual health and rights; and our RealTime posts highlight the latest, breaking news. But we are primed to do more!

You told us, far and away, that you want more Election 2008 coverage. Rewire offers an Election 2008 special section (which over 50% of you rated as "excellent") with the low-down on each candidate's stance on an array of reproductive and sexual health issues. Video included! Our New Journalist Fellow Lynda Waddington keeps you clued into how these issues are playing out on the campaign trail in Iowa.

But we are continuing to ramp up our Election coverage as we move into the New Year. Look for our Election 2008 graphic on our homepage and on the right-bar on our inside pages; it will lead you to any candidate's personal page or any of our stories that mention a particular candidate. If it's about reproductive health and rights on the campaign trail, Rewire will cover it!

In January 2008, stay tuned for new weekly reporting from Rewire's exclusive news reporter, writing on the news coming out of Washington, DC, on the reproductive and sexual health issues that affect all of our lives.

Cristina Page keeps you informed and (productively) enraged with her commentary about contraception and the presidential candidates. Stay tuned for her in-depth reporting on this issue!

Check out TV Reality on our home page for daily viewing of the best video on the web about sexual and reproductive health and rights. Right now, we're featuring video questions for our GOP candidates from citizens around the country – including our own readers!- and video of all of the candidates talking about reproductive health and rights. From policymakers discussing the global gag rule to clips of the Family Guy on the failings of abstinence-only programs, TV Reality has something for everyone.

You also let us know that you want to see more interviews with community leaders ("I really like the idea of doing interviews with activists and community leaders"). In January 2008, Rewire will feature a weekly column – personal, entertaining and informative – which will include interviews with advocates on the forefront of reproductive rights.

4. You Told Us What You Think.

There was no shortage of opinions shared in the survey. And we thank you for taking the time to offer suggestions, constructive criticism and, our favorite, praise. Remember, you don't have to wait for a survey to offer your feedback. Below are some comments and what we're doing to meet your challenges and live up to the acclaim!

I have a really hard time FINDING old posts on Rewire – I don't think your search engine works very well!

For those of you who told us that the search feature on our site wasn't working efficiently, we've made the fix! Our search engine is powered by Google and works like a charm (it's at the very top of every page on our site). We've also got a customized Google search option which you'll find in the drop-down menu of our site search option. Doing research for a report and need to wade through the top sexual and reproductive health web sites? Try our customized Google search. We've gathered many of the leading reproductive health and rights research and advocacy sites on the web so when you search for something, you know you're getting vetted, top quality information. Go ahead and try it and let us know what you think!

We heard from many of you that while you enjoy receiving our weekly eNews (you can sign up for our eNews at the top of every page) which brings many of you to the site weekly, it's packed full with too much information:

"Please add more "white space" to your emails – too much info squeezed in. If there's an action you recommend we take, give it prominent space."

"…Better to just have headlines so that we can easily tell what the content is and go to it directly. Current format is too cluttered and hard to scan quickly."

We hear you! We are in the process of switching over to a new program to handle our emails and newsletter sign-ups. This new program will facilitate a new design and lay-out where we'll pare down information and include only the highlights for you.

"Send us emails more often – with headlines – reminds me to check out the site."

We are also discussing short, pithy and useful daily emails so you know what's new each weekday on Rewire. Stay tuned for more details on that in our weekly eNews and on our site!

"Great site. Shorter, quicker posts covering real news is good to balance with thought pieces. I love the variety of people writing for the site."

We have recently begun writing our RealTime posts that cover breaking news stories in shorter posts!

"I subscribe to RHRealityCheck through my newsreader, so I read daily. I love your articles; my only real qualm with them is I wish there were more "and here's what you can do" links/suggestions at the end of more of the posts."

Thanks to the many of you who said you want more ways to take action through Rewire. We have started adding links at the end of many of our posts to advocacy organizations that are taking action on our issues. In addition, we have rallied our readers to submit video questions for the GOP CNN/YouTube debate and launched successful petitions to lobby Congress on abstinence-only funding. We are continuing to explore ways to actively engage our community on these crucial issues!

Finally, I'll leave you with Rewire's favorite comment from one of our readers. It really does say it all.

"Rewire – Good."

We think so too. Because of you, our growing community!

News Law and Policy

Anti-Choice Group: End Clinic ‘Bubble Zones’ for Chicago Abortion Patients

Michelle D. Anderson

Chicago officials in October 2009 passed the "bubble zone" ordinance with nearly two-thirds of the city aldermen in support.

An anti-choice group has announced plans to file a lawsuit and launch a public protest over Chicago’s nearly seven-year-old “bubble zone” ordinance for patients seeking care at local abortion clinics.

The Pro-Life Action League, an anti-choice group based in Chicago, announced on its website that its lawyers at the Thomas More Society would file the lawsuit this week.

City officials in October 2009 passed the ordinance with nearly two-thirds of the city aldermen in support. The law makes it illegal to come within eight feet of someone walking toward an abortion clinic once that person is within 50 feet of the entrance, if the person did not give their consent.

Those found violating the ordinance could be fined up to $500.

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Harassment of people seeking abortion care has been well documented. A 2013 survey from the National Abortion Federation found that 92 percent of providers had a patient entering their facility express personal safety concerns.

The ordinance targets people seeking to pass a leaflet or handbill or engaging in “oral protest, education, or counseling with such other person in the public way.” The regulation bans the use of force, threat of force and physical obstruction to intentionally injure, intimidate or interfere any person entering or leaving any hospital, medical clinic or health-care facility.

The Pro-Life Action League lamented on its website that the law makes it difficult for anti-choice sidewalk counselors “to reach abortion-bound mothers.” The group suggested that lawmakers created the ordinance to create confusion and that police have repeatedly violated counselors’ First Amendment rights.

“Chicago police have been misapplying it from Day One, and it’s caused endless problems for our faithful sidewalk counselors,” the group said.

The League said it would protest and hold a press conference outside of the Planned Parenthood clinic in the city’s Old Town neighborhood.

Julie Lynn, a Planned Parenthood of Illinois spokesperson, told Rewire in an email that the health-care provider is preparing for the protest.

“We plan to have volunteer escorts at the health center to make sure all patients have safe access to the entrance,” Lynn said.

The anti-choice group has suggested that its lawsuit would be successful because of a 2014 U.S. Supreme Court decision that ruled a similar law in Massachusetts unconstitutional.

Pam Sutherland, vice president of public policy and education for Planned Parenthood of Illinois, told the Chicago Tribune back then that the health-care provider expected the city’s bubble zone to be challenged following the 2014 decision.

But in an effort to avoid legal challenges, Chicago city officials had based its bubble zone law on a Colorado law that created an eight-foot no-approach zone within 100 feet of all health-care facilities, according to the Tribune. Sidewalk counselor Leila Hill and others challenged that Colorado law, but the U.S. Supreme Court upheld it in 2000.

Roundups Law and Policy

Gavel Drop: The Fight Over Voter ID Laws Heats Up in the Courts

Jessica Mason Pieklo & Imani Gandy

Texas and North Carolina both have cases that could bring the constitutionality of Voter ID laws back before the U.S. Supreme Court as soon as this term.

Welcome to Gavel Drop, our roundup of legal news, headlines, and head-shaking moments in the courts

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton intends to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to reinstate the state’s voter ID law.

Meanwhile, according to Politifact, North Carolina attorney general and gubernatorial challenger Roy Cooper is actually saving taxpayers money by refusing to appeal the Fourth Circuit’s ruling on the state’s voter ID law, so Gov. Pat McCrory (R) should stop complaining about it.

And in other North Carolina news, Ian Millhiser writes that the state has hired high-powered conservative attorney Paul Clement to defend its indefensible voter ID law.

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Alex Thompson writes in Vice that the Zika virus is about to hit states with the most restrictive abortion laws in the United States, including Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. So if you’re pregnant, stay away. No one has yet offered advice for those pregnant people who can’t leave Zika-prone areas.

Robin Marty writes on Care2 about Americans United for Life’s (AUL) latest Mad Lib-style model bill, the “National Abortion Data Reporting Law.” Attacking abortion rights: It’s what AUL does.

The Washington Post profiled Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Given this Congress, that will likely spur another round of hearings. (It did get a response from Richards herself.)

Kimberly Strawbridge Robinson writes in Bloomberg BNA that Stanford Law Professor Pamela Karlan thinks the Supreme Court’s clarification of the undue burden standard in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt will have ramifications for voting rights cases.

This must-read New York Times piece reminds us that we still have a long way to go in accommodating breastfeeding parents on the job.

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