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OneRouge Community Check-In: Week 209

"All is quiet on the western front", is not necessarily an adage many would consider applicable to 2024. But here we are in June and past LaLeg...even if we aren't past the decisions that came out of it. Some of the biggest changes have been directly related to mothers and children:

It's been a wild ride for those fighting at the Capitol. We are going to hear from a few of them about the changes to reproductive rights that happened this year.

Gender equality has emerged as the most direct and efficient way to end poverty. And since that is what we are most interested in doing with the OneRouge Coalitions, we hope you will join us this Friday as we hear from some of the most impactful advocates in the space for women and children.



Pepper Roussel: Hey Helen, thank you for being here on time. Good  morning. Good morning. Good morning. Happy Friday. Casey, I don't know if you have good reception or if you can say hello to the good people of one.

Casey Phillips: I would love to say hello to the good people. People I was just remembering Pepper that the email that I forwarded, yesterday about the upcoming Metro Council meeting, and I want to make sure that we bring light to that especially with you as much work as you put in with CPEX and AHA, if you maybe wanted to let everybody know about the Council meeting before we get rolling today. You are on mute, my friend.  Look at that.

Pepper: As always, I struggled to get off the mute because why would I not? Hey y'all. And I was just saying, no, I didn't do a whole lot. I am merely a support staff, but I will absolutely let folks. That on June 12th, is that I don't know. It's 5 days from now. I think 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12. Yes, I got it. Please  join us. The collective at city hall at 4pm for the EBR metro council meeting. They are going to be seeing on updating the city parishes, complete streets policy that is aimed to and y'all remember a couple of weeks ago. We were actually talking about. Complete streets. So this is not just how you and where you can drive your car, but also sidewalks. It is also it is access. It is many things. Thank you, Kate, for dropping your support in the chat. Our good friends over at CPEX have been working on this for a while with American Heart Association. And I was just there, help with the guard rails. So we are excited for them and really hope that you can make it. Oh, and if you can, We're red just for funsies.  

Casey: Indeed, go AHA. 

Pepper: Indeed. All right. And there's not a really good segue. I was going to say, and speaking of fun this year at the state capital which is not a thing, but at least we do get to lock arms with our brothers and particularly sisters who are there, just doing the good work. And so today we are going to be talking about 1 of the things that is most prevalent for our for lifting each other out of poverty for ensuring that we all have a healthy, happy place to live and that we can live our best lives. Women's and children's policies. That have gone through the legislature this year. Additionally, what does it look like to make sure that we all have enough? And so we are starting with 1 of our favorite people. I say 1 up, because I think we got a full house this morning. A favorite folks. Frankie Robertson. If you wouldn't mind letting us know who you are, what you do and how we, what it is that we need to know your 5 minutes starts now. 

Frankie Robertson: Sure. Hey, Pepper and good morning, everyone. Thank you so much for having me here today. And I'm super excited to present today in collaboration with Kaitlyn Joshua. So I'm not sure how we do that. That 5 minutes. Is this 5 minutes for me for introductions or the whole bill spill? 

Pepper: Listen, you want 10 y'all can do y'all want to tag team at 10.

Frankie: Yeah, that works. All right. We'll move on. Okay. Thank you ,my firm is the group Amandla Group. It's a social justice consulting firm and I focus on addressing the social structural and political determinants of health that impact black and brown birthing people. And some of the clients that I work with are the Institute of women and ethnic studies. They're based out of New Orleans. R. H. impact is a national. Organization and then March of dimes. And that's just to name a few. And through my work, I provide direct lobbying services and advocacy services for them. And I'm grateful to work in coalition with so many people here today who are. Who speak my love language and who just, give you hope at the end of a day that just seems so down and hopeless at times when you're dealing with policy and people needing to move the needle who are just totally resistant to the idea. So today I just want to give you an overview of some of the policies that were presented to the legislature this session. I'll share the ones that passed and I'll share some of the ones that didn't pass. Kaitlyn, who I'm honored to co-present here alongside today. We'll just, we're just going to organically bounce off of each other in terms of how these policies overlap. One of the things that I want to stress is that our legislature is divided along partisan lines, partisan politics when we talk about maternal and infant health and reproductive health. There is this wide boundary that they have drawn in the work that we do not support collectively. And when I say we, I'm not speaking for Kaitlyn. I'm speaking just as a member of this movement who is here on a personal level. Level, and I'm able to do it through my work. There are conservative politics that say define what pro life is but actions speak otherwise. There's a progressive understanding of what needs to happen in terms of separating politics from medical help and medical and health needs of the community and the work that I do  each day, I try to remove that boundary along with friends and colleagues in the movement. To show that boundary does not exist from a practical standpoint, a medical standpoint, or a health, a personal standpoint. But when you try to move the needle at the legislature, there is this hard line that they have placed there, either you are pro life or you are pro choice, and there is no in between from a conservative standpoint. However as many people have known for a long time is that when you implement bad policies without any medical expertise, influencing those policies, any positive movement that you can have towards improving the needle on maternal and infant health starts to regress. And we already started with limited access to care, poor maternal and infant health outcomes, high death outcomes for moms and babies. And then you have partisan politics that's drawn a line in the sand to say, you can't cross over. And that's just ridiculous. With that being said, there were a few bills that crossed the finish line that I was working on and led the strategy for my clients. 1 was Senate bill 300. This was a bill that was authored by state Senator Royce Duplessis and it closed existing gaps in private insurance, lactation coverage to make sure moms can get the proper lactation support they need postpartum no matter if they have a PPO, HMO, those gaps should be closed now. It also. Requires private insurance to pay for dietitian services for moms early in pregnancy. The still the previous law allowed for insurance companies to not provide dietitian support unless a mom was diagnosed with gestational diabetes way in the third trimester, right? And that is way too late. Doctors told us we need people to be educated and have access. That is no longer because Senate Bill 300 has also passed with Senate Bill 142. That was a bill authored by State Senator Regina Barrow. And it's a bill, a basic bill that requires medical professionals to screen for hypertensive disorders during and after pregnancy, like in any medical setting that passed. We know that chronic health conditions such as high blood pressure can lead to death and severe maternal injury. So that bill will hopefully close some of the gaps in the medical field that we're not properly screening people across the spectrum, right? We also have success with supporting. Senate Bill 148, it was drafted by Senator Beth Mizelll. And that bill basically closes some pharmaceutical gaps to making sure that moms can access the postpartum depression medication as approved by the FDA without having to go through multiple steps of medicine to see what works, just because the insurance company was not providing a direct link to access the medicine that's proven to work. Also we had success in working with the nurses association on carrying out some of the recommendations from the S.C.R. 20 task force. And that's relative to urging requesting the Department of health to apply for the C.M.S. transforming maternal health care model as well as establishing, a task force or a study to look at removing some of the barriers to freestanding birth centers, which we know are largely staffed by midwives, which we know is a model of care that can support positive maternal outcomes. Now that I've gone through some of the bills that we were leading or supporting on. That cross the finish line, I want to take a minute to talk about the ones that did not cross the finish line and some of the implications. And I see that Michelle and Frink or Helen Frink, always have to call you by your last name 1st, and then catch up to the 1st name. Helen Frink is here and they're going to cover a lot of the bills that were authored by sponsor created by Lift that Mama Plus also supported and we were devastated that those did not cross the finish line. But I want to share 3 in particular both of our doula Medicaid coverage bills that did not pass House Bill 702 sponsored by our champion of all champions Matthew Willard that bill did not make it out of House Appropriations. And I encourage you to and I can send you the link pepper because I want this committee to watch that hearing and I want you to hear some of the ridiculous, insane comments and just the resistance to basic common sense health policy that you see and see what advocates are dealing with on the front line. And I encourage that to be the catalyst. For anyone here, not on the front lines to show up and support and hold people accountable, but I'll send you the link to that testimony. If you can even watch it in a backdrop, it would be highly informative of what this process can look like. That did not make it out of house appropriations, but it did make it out of health and welfare. That bill would have required Medicaid to cover doula services beyond their in lieu of service policy. This was important because it would basically mandate that Medicaid do it and do it in a way that was proven to help by providing minimum. Equitable payment standards for doulas who were doing a lot of great work on the front lines of saving lives. And then it would have created minimum standards and how many visits doulas are paid for and then in the postpartum area as well. And it would have created needed uniformity to make that model work. On the Senate side we had our sponsor, Senator Regina Barrow, who was carrying Senate bill 142 that made it the farthest in the process. It actually crossed over from the Senate. To the house with a lot of pressure. It did not make it past the house. We ran out of time, but unfortunately, it needed to be discharged from committees and that it could have actually made it with some rush time, but it was not discharged from Senate from house health and welfare. Despite direct conversations with influencers there, it didn't was never called up to be discharged. And so it was never called up to be discharged from house appropriations, which we understand probably would not have been discharged. And in the end, there are some dire implications for that. Kaitlyn Joshua needs no introduction and I'm going to pause because we talked about and little Liam Lord so cute. No introduction. I'm certainly not deserving of me to try to do that for her. But when we talk about. Kaitlyn sharing her story and being an advocate across the United States and beyond simple things like having doula support to curtail the racism and the lack of protocol that black women and in particular face in the medical community. Doulas have been proven to help. Strike down some of those boundaries as advocates along with midwives and for something so simple, that is a best standard, a best practice, an evidence based model to not even be embraced when there are opportunities on the house and senate side is infuriating. And it shows total disregard for the lives of women and children. So I'm going to pause to Kaitlyn to share in this space. And I appreciate you giving me some time to reflect.  

Kaitlyn Joshua: Of course, and thank you, Frankie. I'm so in awe of all the work that you do, and so blessed that I get to do it with you. And excuse me, all Liam's not feeling well today. I'm gonna take him to the doctor in a little bit. He's stuck to me for the moment, but for those who may not know, my name is Kaitlyn Joshua. I work with the Power Coalition for Equity and Justice and with that do some organized around voting rights. And the list is long, all the stuff that we do at Power, but one thing that I am very blessed to be able to do is to work alongside Frankie and Michelle and Ellie and so many others around reproductive justice and reproductive care and really bridging the gap and helping community understand the intersectionality  between postpartum health, pregnancy, health and support doulas and the need for doulas, especially when we talk about black maternal health and then most importantly, how that correlates and corresponds with early childhood education. And plays a role in the village, right? And Frankie spoke really well about, as always, of course, about all of the bills that we sponsored this year, supported this year, and along with our partners at Women with a Vision and Planned Parenthood and so on and so forth, we were really able to bring community to the capital worked in tandem with physicians and medical providers this year in a very positive way. Big capacity, which is I'm smiling when I say that because to see physicians and medical providers mobilized around these issues and really wanting to make change in our current health crisis, which is what we're in the state of Louisiana was amazing to see firsthand. And so not wanting to leave folks with, Michelle and Helen will go into great detail around kind of the reproductive justice abortion care side. So I won't be repetitive or duplicative there, but I do want to say just some next steps and kind of our role at Power again, just bringing community and centering community in these conversations and looking to local policies, resolutions, ordinances that we may be able to pass in lieu of some of the legislation that was not passed on the state level, which again is so frustrating, but we can look to cities and parishes like in Orleans. I know there is a, spoke with Dr Jennifer last Friday night, and they're pushing some measures around doula care around maternal health care, specifically around addressing the black health morbidity rates and fetal morbidity rates within the parish. And so I was speaking with her and a few others alongside. What was that? What would it look like to do that in East Baton Rouge and Jefferson Parish, since our legislators did not deem it important enough for us to do in the state level. And so really wanting folks to understand that while we're in this moment, and without getting too C4.  Where it feels like, everything's on fire. And essentially, we did not get some of the most important policies passes legislative session. We can look to some of our local policies and measures to be able to bridge the gap in the meantime. And then, of course, planning to go back to the capital next year. And push through a lot of the measures that Frankie spoke about the last thing I'll leave us with before I turn it over to Michelle and others around some of the other bills that Lift Louisiana is pushing this session. Want to make sure that folks understand while we have this downtime, if you want, if we want to call it that, it's really important for you to build a relationship with your legislator. I myself got surprised a little bit with my legislator out of Baton Rouge that voted a certain way on some of these bills that we spoke about. And so what does it look like to build that relationship right now, nine months before the next legislative session? I know folks are probably concerned about a constitutional convention and that may happen as a special session in August or September, but for the time being, we need to be speaking with our legislators and letting them know. So while you think that there's this vast majority that believes in these pro life measures as it's listed in black and white, let me tell you what pro life really means. And that means putting up policies that speak to addressing food deserts, addressing early childhood education dollars that were not put back in the budget. Addressing black maternal health care and holistic approaches and supporting doulas and all the things like that is being pro life and we really have to change the narrative again in this downtime while we've got the months and we've got the time to be able to spend with our legislators day in and day out to have those harder conversations and shift that narrative. And so I'll pause there Pepper, and of course sticking around for questions, but just wanted to lift that up that we are not powerless, and I think it's time out for us allowing legislators to take this messaging and this rhetoric that the 75 percent of Louisianians don't believe in the policies that we're talking about, because we know that's not true. 

Pepper: I'm going to save my righteous indignation until after everybody has had a chance to speak and we are in the Q and a section of our program.  And so for those of you, who've got some questions, please formulate them, drop them in the chat. If you want to, you can come off mute and a little bit and ask them yourself. I dropped all of the the, at least the ones that I could find all of the bills that were passed in the chat. So you've got those with the notes when they go out. Hopefully, Frank, you will have. You've been able to send me a link to the the session featuring Matthew Willard. And for now we are shifting to Michelle. So Michelle with Lift, if you would not mind coming up, there you are coming off mute and letting us know who you are, what you do and what we need to know to appreciate it. Your five minutes starts now.  

Michelle Erenberg: Thank you. Sure. Thanks so much for having me. I'm actually sitting. I had to bring my dad to have a procedure done at a hospital this morning. So apologies for sitting outside and being off camera for a bit. But I'm Michelle Erenberg. I'm the co founder and executive director at Lift Louisiana. And we're a nonprofit organization that is working to build a better Louisiana for women, girls, and gender expansive people by advocating for reproductive justice. And we work very closely with Kaitlyn and with Frankie and with Helen Frink at Planned Parenthood and other organizations through the legislative session to really try to push a reproductive justice agenda. And one of the things that we have been leading a legislative strategy around is trying to I'm not going to say make the abortion ban better, because we can't do that, but to really address some of the harmful impacts that that we've seen over the last two years since that ban has gone into effect and and we know we know that these harms exist in terms of the impact that it's having on pregnancy care and maternal health more generally and we've actually released a report in March of this year, which I just put a link to in the chat really documenting we interviewed 30 physicians throughout Louisiana and also patients and community based organizations that really told the story of the way that the the confusion and sort of the vagueness of the abortion ban is having an impact on how people physicians are caring for their patients or trying to figure out when they can provide necessary care to their patients. So we went into this session really trying to address some of those impacts with legislation. We had two bills that were brought by Representative Newell that really were just trying to clear up some of the vague language to actually replace those bills. Non medical terms that are used in the abortion ban with actual medical terms and to allow for more clarity so that if if someone's having a miscarriage facing an atopic pregnancy or another serious health condition in conjunction with their pregnancy that the physician has has discretion and the ability to actually use their best medical judgment as to what, what to do if ending the pregnancy is in the patient's best interest for their health. So those were two of the pieces of legislation that we worked on. And then we also worked with Representative Boyd on a bill. That one was HB 164, I believe. And it would've actually added the the exception for people who become pregnant as a result of sexual violence so that they would be able to have access to abortion care. And we had a couple other bills that were dealing more with the criminalization part of the abortion ban. Clarifying the sort of prosecutorial standard so that, a physician that simply is caring for their patient and in the course of providing that care something happens to someone's pregnancy. We wanted to clarify that would not be considered criminal, but criminal activity that they would have to have a specific intent to violate the abortion ban in order for them to be prosecuted. So little things like that we've heard from physicians would make a difference and kind of relieve some of the fear that they have about the practice of pregnancy care and medicine at this point. So those were where we also did actually work with representative Amy Freeman, who represents a district in New Orleans on trying to get a constitutional amendment referred. For folks who don't know in Louisiana, we can't just do a popular referendum to get something on the ballot. We actually have to have it referred through the legislature. And that's going to be a really heavy lift, except we've done polling and we know that since the overturning of Roe v. Wade public opinion has shifted in Louisiana significantly on this and a majority of people that we've polled say that they would want the state constitution to protect the right to to abortion and reproductive healthcare. So we're going to continue to work with Representative Freeman on trying to get that on the ballot for voters to take a look at. And thank you so much for posting all of the bills in the chat. Yeah, so I'm happy to answer any more questions. And I'll stop talking it now. And See what Helen has to add. 

Pepper: Fantastic. Fantastic. You've even done the intro for me. Thank you, Michelle. We are going to shift to Helen. If you wouldn't mind coming off mute and letting us know who you are, what you do and what we need to know. We'd appreciate it.  Five minutes starts. 

Helen Frink: Hello, everyone. Special hello to all of my friends that I've worked with so much in the past few weeks, and that I could not do this job without all the ladies that have gone before me big essentially retweet to everything that they mentioned and I will drop links in the chat to our Planned Parenthood legislative page where you can find our website at Blog posts that are just the content we sent out weekly throughout the session. If you really were interested in catching up on what happened, we made them very simple and very formatted for quick digestion. You can also sign up there to get emails in the future.  As I think it was Kaitlyn said that we're in a quasi off season, yes, we're done with regular session, but there's more work that happens now than during the session. Oftentimes, as far as it goes with building relationships with legislators and expanding our interactions with them. So the best time to get involved is now and that goes for all of your various. Folks that you get involved with, that you connect with, whether it's, your email list, your program participants, things of that nature. So if you do have a group that's interested and, maybe learning more, getting more engaged with the legislative process. That is something that Planned Parenthood and I know some of these partners can absolutely support. I would put my email in the chat as well. We can provide trainings. I have a full education team that can provide really great  educational information, whether it's fun games at events or presentations at meetings. I'm happy to do that. But the one thing that we are focusing on Planned Parenthood that's a little bit different than what the ladies before me have discussed is our faith engagement. That is really my priority for the next, through the end of 2024, is establishing our Louisiana Faith Leader Advocacy Coalition, which again, I'll drop the link to that as well in the chat when I'm done, but  when we see push back on a lot of these, especially reproductive justice type bills, whether it's birth control or IVF or abortion ban most of the justification made and shooting this, these progressive pieces of legislation down are faith based but that doesn't reflect the honestly vast majority of Louisianians and especially faith members of faith in this state. And so we are seeking to reclaim that narrative by accessing and convening members and leaders of faith especially in the Baton Rouge and New Orleans community, but looking to do it statewide as well. Lafayette, Alexandria, Shreveport, et cetera in order to get people to feel more comfortable supporting pro choice pro abortion pro birth control efforts and letting their legislators know that's something as people of faith that they support to reclaim that messaging. So always looking for more individuals or organizations to get involved with that work. But other than that, I just have a lot of educational resources that I think could be useful to this group. Pepper, I will include, send you directly a little bit of information, a document that you can attach to the meeting summary of some education resources that Planned Parenthood has available, but yeah, thank you all so much for all the work that you do and a big shout out to the continued work with One Rouge, which I'm thankful that y'all are still doing these. 

Pepper: Fantastic. All right we are just going to agree. We are just going to agree that by empowering women and paying women and lifting women in and centering women that we can address poverty in a very succinct and sufficient manner, such that everybody comes with because that's how women work. That said, before we get into railing against the system and me shaking my fist of fury in the relative direction of the man, my question is, how do y'all do this? Not how many hours are in the day, but how is nonprofits? Are you able to  talk to legislators to move the needle? What is the magic trickety trick so that we can share it with everybody who's got a nonprofit and who's afraid that they will lose their nonprofit status? How do you do this policy work? 

Frankie: Who's that question for? 

Pepper: All of the people, it's for you.  

Frankie: Okay, thanks. 1st of all, it's always here. Good morning. Everybody. So basically there are certain guidelines that nonprofits provide. Nonprofits opportunity to engage I think there's a misconception that nonprofits can't lobby and that nonprofits cannot engage in such work. And also want to stress. There's a difference between advocacy and or difference between lobbying. And that's also the key. But I think that what we've showcased today are that there are a lot of organizations that have worked in coalition together. I think the easiest, lowest hanging fruit for nonprofits who want to do more in this intersectional space is to work in coalition, starting with the organizations that are here today. Kaitlyn shared the Power Coalition. There's the Amandla group who can connect you to the Mama Plus. A coalition, which is a black led reproductive health coalition that form to in the disparities and unapologetic center, the needs of black women and infants across the. The sector lines, right? I'm signing up to be a part of mama plus signing up to be a part of Planned Parenthood, Lift, you make that decisions what I would say, because we all work together. I did put the link in the chat to sign up to become an advocate. I'll listen to the group and what I'm not under with, but basically what I do is I provide that over to the New Orleans maternal child health coalition, which houses all of the registrants for mama plus to connect people to opportunities to engage for Mama Plus, if anybody wants to join and learn more. I think just about everybody on this call and the reproductive space is attending those meetings. We meet the 2nd, Wednesday of the month at 1 o'clock and we provide all these same updates and opportunities to engage. That would be my recommendation, but I definitely yield to everyone here. Kaitlyn, Helen, Michelle on ways that they encourage nonprofits to engage.  

Kaitlyn: Yeah, I think that was amazing as usual, Frankie. The only thing I'll add is I think it's so important. When we talk about this topic, right? I think a lot of times folks just consider it. So taboo and we've got to come from the lens of this being health care because it is right when we live in a state where it is literally 50th in the nation for being the most dangerous to be pregnant. I don't think we have the liberty of coming at this just like politics or, from a bipartisan standpoint,  it's solely about health care and making sure that women are safe. Women are protected. And most importantly, that we're saving lives, whether babies, children, et cetera. And right now we're not doing any of that. And so I think if we again, like Frankie said educate ourselves, educate the community, but most importantly, get our organizations involved from the standpoint of addressing a health care crisis, then that gives you cover that gives me cover and at the end of the day, we are moving the needle towards a better Louisiana, a safer Louisiana for moms, for families, for babies. And I'll share this. One of the conversations that I had with a legislator, and I'll leave him nameless who passed one of the most dangerous bills, right? He specifically told me, he said, Kaitlyn I know you work for Power, like, how can you engage in this? Power is not pro abortion, which is what he was trying to throw in my face at the time. And I said no, it's not about being pro abortion or anti abortion or pro choice or, pro life. It is about saving lives and making sure that we are taking care of all women in the state of Louisiana and that completely shut him down. And so I think when we talk about the fear mongering, that is very much an issue in the state of Louisiana, even the 300 plus doctors that signed a letter saying, hey, if you pass this particular bill, it will harm communities that will harm. Particularly black women. And most importantly, it will restrict us from being able to do our jobs every single day and saving lives. They came from the lens of addressing a health care crisis. And I think that just has to be the place that we're all organizing from in order again, to provide cover, but also again, move the needle in a state that desperately needs it. 

Pepper: Helen, Michelle, you want to jump in on this or.  

Michelle: I don't think that I have anything more to add. I just big plus to everything that Frankie and Kaitlyn said. And yeah, I do think that a lot of nonprofits are really hesitant to lean into doing policy work. But the policy work is what is, either creating the conditions that your nonprofit is, trying to address in and that can be in a positive way, or it can be in a very detrimental way, which is really, honestly, what we're seeing more and more in Louisiana. The policy work has to be something that nonprofits care about. And yeah, there are guidelines and there are limitations in terms of how much of that you can do. But one of the things that was brought up  earlier in this conversation about even just meeting with your legislators are getting people, in the community that you are serving to sit down and talk to legislators about what's going on in their lives and how, the legislation that they are passing or failing to pass is having an impact on them is really important. So you don't have to get into the weeds on any particular bill, but just actually, educating these legislators and putting some of that pressure on them because they don't feel like they're accountable to the community and it's up to all of us to make sure that they are held to account. 

Helen: I will just add very briefly that the C3 versus C4 distinction. So 501 C3 is, as I'm sure all of, are nonpartisan and C4s are permitted to do more in terms of lobbying and influencing, so that's something that we are very cautious of at Planned Parenthood because a, we're on under constant scrutiny and be most Planned Parenthoods nationwide are connected with the C4. We do not have a C4, in Louisiana so it's something that we're constantly focusing on is the education efforts and they engage, encouraging engagement and just being cautious about our language. But if there's anyone here who does work for a nonprofit that wants to better understand where the line is between legislative engagement that see 3 safe and where you step out of that. Let me know. I'm happy to connect you with our lawyers who are like, superb experts on it. So we have that resource available.  

Pepper: Thank you so much. And on that note, thank you to Tristi for dropping this resource understanding the line between advocacy and lobbying that's in the chat. Please make sure that either you click on it and go to it before we leave this morning, or that you check it out in the notes. Additionally yes, so we talked or I've heard quite a bit about legislators who are advocating for and championing whatever it is that they're championing. I get the feeling that not every legislator is a man. Now I say this, not because I am anti male, but because the expectation is that if you understand what the problem is that you will use your voice in order to make it somewhat better. Sometimes I don't see that happening. What is your recommendation suggestion? What do we should we take away to reach somebody who should understand and already be in the struggle, but is fighting against us? 

Michelle: Oh, man. So many thoughts on this. I do have to say it is extremely frustrating to see  all of the conservative women vote against the positive things that we're trying to do to address pregnancy care and maternal health in the state. And I'm just going to call out one particular representative specifically Representative Amedée voted against a bill that would have required schools to put period products in the bathrooms and make those easily accessible to students and my daughter who's 12 was at the Capitol with me in the committee when that vote took place. And later in the day, we ran into Representative Amedée and my daughter was like, I'm just going to go ask her why she voted against that. And so my little precocious 12 year old just walked right up to her and said, why did you vote against that? And, honestly, she just really didn't have a good reason. They are just voting on ideology and not listening to two facts. Now, that's not all of them, but there is a handful of them that you're just not gonna be able to get to. And I think that it just takes, it takes some persistence. You gotta keep having the conversation. You can't just get frustrated because you talked to them, they didn't listen one time. I have been doing this work for a decade and I've seen, just keeping that conversation with someone going can actually eventually have an impact. So I think  that  yeah, you just can't, you can't get discouraged by one or even two or even three negative experiences in trying to move someone in your direction. And you also need to set reasonable expectations that you may not get them all the way to your side, but you might get them to not vote against you, which also can be powerful, too. So  yeah, that would be my advice. 

Kaitlyn: Pepper, Frankie knows how passionate I get behind this question. So I'm going to try and temper my response, but I will say that I don't think the time to pull in women that should be allied women during session is very difficult, right? That's it's almost too late. If you waited until the start of the session and the train has started going and everybody is meeting with all these different nonprofits and political influencers and, of course, obviously looking to it make sure that their bills go all the way and kind of rubber stamping each other. And it's very hard to intervene with all of that. And so what I plan on doing during my like, downtime here before the next legislative session is meet with women legislators, particularly on these issues. And if I can be quite candid, black legislators, black women, legislators that are leading the charge for harmful bills that are going to directly impact women of color in the state. We're going to see that in the next year or so. We won't need to look to other states for examples because unfortunately, their unwillingness to be allies on these issues are going to create our own little case study in the state of Louisiana, which is very disappointing to say. But the most disappointing of all is knowing that it is black female legislators that are leading that charge. And so we've got to pull them in. However, that looks like during the downtime during session. In between session, excuse me, to be able to have again, those one on one conversations and really help them understand the data, the science this is not made up information and this is not about your religious beliefs. This is solely about making sure that we are saving lives and taking care of women in the state. And so we've got to do our work. And so I say, now, if you have really good relationships with some of the female legislators across our state, try and meet them for lunch, try and meet them in your city and talk to them about this study that Michelle and others commissioned and Frankie was part of that as well with R.H. impact that speaks to criminalized care in our state and how women of color are bearing the brunt of that criminalized care and what that could look like in the next year or two if they don't move now. And that's just my two cents on that without getting overly passionate and angry and all the things, but we've certainly got to do a better job of educating our women legislators ahead of time and trying to get ahead of some of that misinformation they get during session from their male counterparts. 

Frankie: I'll add one thing, if I have a second Pepper, and I appreciate everything Michelle and Kaitlyn said, as usual, just spot on. In my observation in this, because it is equally frustrating to me, is that I think we might particularly possibly have maybe, and I'm not sure, two kinds of pots of people situations that are happening. Okay. Yes, Dr Tillman. Yes. People who there may be some hope for educating due to their strong personal and religious beliefs that have been grossly mis-educated. And oh, gosh, I want to say let me not say that grossly mis-educated straight by forces who are pushing a political plan, right? And you may have some genuine personal experiences that may have them want to take on an issue. But then there's the pocket of people who are pro just politics. The Republican party says this, and no matter what I vote on this and you have campaign promises and you have this and that particular body, I think may be more particularly hard to get to with education, because  in some instances, they probably already know this, right? But they want to get reelected and they want to have to whatever fulfill campaign promises, because their ambition is greater than what It's more about politics and power and not necessarily what they can do for the people they represent. Because if that was true, the study that Lift commissioned just last year, showed that 70 percent of Louisiana's were in favor of certain types of reproductive health care. So they still continue to vote against what their constituents have said, right? I think that, as Kaitlyn shared working to educate throughout the year because the deals have already been made, the mindsets have already been formed when people started looking at the legislation when it was prefiled and, right to life folks and family forum and any and everybody else starts to come out and start to influence people. But I think if we can work with people like Michelle Helen, help me out the lady who is the Republican who our group worked with to get to draft the legislation. Who's no longer here. There's some sacrifices that are going to have to be made. Right? She went against her party and drafting some common sense, reproductive health legislation, and now she's not a policymaker anymore. But again, there's some casualties that will have to happen. For doing things that have to happen for doing things that's right. But I do think that having some time talking to particularly our black legislators who are not voting in the right direction as it relates to this policy, like Kaitlyn shared, I do hope and want to hope and think that having those constant educational opportunities from the lens that I think they might be coming from would be helpful. And then also what has to happen is the stronghold that the right to life community has on this legislature has to stop. And I'll say this and close when some of these groups were approached for all of this pro life legislation that we share today. And then some, there was nothing that I'm aware of that was done to promote any of it. They show up when it's time to put religious beliefs on an entire state, and I don't need people to do that for me. I'm a Christian. I have my own religious beliefs. You cannot put that into policy for people. It's not a blanket. It is actually taking away access to care, putting people's lives in jeopardy. But when it comes time for increasing minimum wage, access to doula care, access to remote patient monitoring. Even as simple as a breast pump for a mom, for a baby clinging to life in the NICU to have access to care, that was not enough for them to even press a vote to yes for them to do this. So don't tell me about what pro life is, because it's a warp definition. It does not exist. It's a political agenda. If we truly were seeing a movement for pro life, then we would have had people either filing this legislation themselves the right way or at least supporting what we had. So yeah, there needs to be a lot of education, but only the people who are genuine will come on that side to actually entertain it. 

Pepper: That was phenomenal. Indeed. Thank you, Kate. I'm over here. I'm ready to throw something at somebody. I don't know who, but I have the things that are lined up and we will make this and we'll make this happen. The whole concept, the whole concept of policy is to ensure that the rules work and the systems work the way that they are intended to work. I want you to be a person who is showing up and sitting in meetings. You can be a person who's at your desk, making phone calls. You can be in your living room, sending emails, scheduling meetings. You can get in where you fit in. And that is indeed what the message is that you should be taken away from absolutely every meeting every call that we have on Friday mornings with the coalition. I want to be respectful of time, we will likely take this into overtime. But before we do, I want to say first and foremost, thank you. Thank you so much for showing up here today for sharing the information. There is so much information that y'all gave to us a lot to digest. And before everybody has to start falling off, please let us know what's going on this weekend in Baton Rouge. 

Helen: Oh, well, in New Orleans we will be walking in the pride parade as well as tabling at black pride. So if anyone here is in the New Orleans area. We're also even within the Baton Rouge area. I do have a couple extra spaces for walkers. So if anyone wants to join us Saturday evening for the New Orleans Pride Parade, let me know. 

Pepper: We've got a couple of things that were already dropped into the chat. So there's a community pantry that's at Red Stick Cares. It's going to on Sunday. I don't know if y'all remember. But that's a weekly thing, 10: 30 to 11:30. We've also got a town hall meeting on June the 10th with Devonte Lewis for LPSC, district three. I think the last time he was here he was talking with us about the request for 1.9 million dollars. That was by energy that did pass. That was 3 votes to 2 and the fun fact is that there have been some modifications since then. Go to the town hall which is going to be at the main library at the Goodwood library in Baton Rouge and find out more about. What you are paying for and what it is actually costing us. What else do we have? Thank you. Dota. 

Kaitlyn: Power Coalition sponsoring a college and career fair for high school students. That'll be at Elm Grove Baptist church tomorrow from 11 to 2, and we're going to have free haircuts, free food. And so if y'all know any high school students, even middle school students or kids that are 18 and older and are still exploring college. Please tell them to come through. 

Pepper: Gorgeous. There's also an expungement initiative event that is today. That was not at all with it. All right. So from eight to three at Southern the event is only for East Baton Rouge Parish residents, but please, if you can make it and you need to And you need an expungement, you need to bring your driver's license, a copy of your minutes, certified copy of the minutes, a certified copy of the bill of information and a background check from Louisiana state police headquarters. Is there a possibility of volunteers? For future events. Certainly not today, but your struggles with the mute, 

Flitcher Bell: Yeah, I got yeah, I'm 99.99 percent sure this always room for volunteers and help when but you have to contact the person who's over it so that they can coordinate the events and do everything timely. I can get you that information, Pepper. 

Pepper: Thank you very much. There is also a kids fest tomorrow in Scotlandville. Wait, that's a question. Do we know?  There is indeed. All right. When is the town hall? The town hall for Devontae Lewis is on the 10th of June. So it's a Tuesday, 8,  9, Monday. That's Monday, 4 to 6 at the Goodwood library. What time is the pride event in Baton Rouge on Saturday? Do we know?  

Helen: Let's see. I sent the link. It is  10 a. m. to 7 p. m. all day.  

Pepper: And the internship information that was shared last week. Last week's a long time ago. Ebony. Was it my way? I'm going to have to look it up and send it. Was it Malia who came and talked about it? I don't know. I can't listen. I don't know. You talk, you have so many faces.  

Casey: Yeah, I Ebony, I can actually help. It was Jen presented it. It was a college internship for a retirement company of some kind. Ebony, if you drop me a note, I'll make sure and send that over to you. 

Pepper: Gorgeous. All right. So thanks as always, for those of you who came and spent part of your Friday morning with me, you know how much I love that. And so if you do have to drop off, I understand and I won't hold you. We'll be right back here next Friday. Same bat time, same bat channel. For those of you who, Oh! And there is world refugee and immigrant day that's coming up on June 22nd from 2 to 6: 30 at the river center at the river center in Baton Rouge. If you can make it registration is required, or because they'll run out of space register early register often  for those of you who can stick around, we will be right here shaking our fists of relative fury in the direction of the man.



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