The History of Women's Issues Network
By: Sue A
What we know as Women’s Issues Network today, started as Clark Countians for CHOICE in the 1990’s. Cathy Tuckerman and Sue Allen recently sat down to try to remember our history, so dates are approximate to the best of our memory.
As CcforC, we were a group of Planned Parenthood supporters that were concerned about reproductive rights. Our leaders were Sue A, Colleen B, Janet C, Jan D, Karen D, Nora P, Cathy T, and Peg V. We participated in marches, went to Washington DC, wrote “Letters to the Editor”, held small fundraisers, and had a booth at the county Fair. For many years, that booth was shared with Project Woman and Black Women’s Leadership Caucus.
As the group evolved, we leaned more towards political activity, but the local issue that stood out was the hospital merger. Would reproductive services, that Community Hospital provided, still be provided at a Mercy Hospital, under a Catholic ethics policy?
The merger agreement was signed in 2004. Around that time we became the Women’s Issues Group, and continued to be more active in the local Democratic Party. In those early years we were not well received, and treated with suspicion. It was fine for us to bring the refreshments, but not be in the decision making process. It took years of “paying our dues” to change that mentality.
Meanwhile, we continued to agitate over the hospital merger. We worked with two gentlemen on the Community Hospital Board and a national group called Merger Watch out of Albany, NY. This group was watching mergers between religious and secular hospitals all over the country. They showed us examples of failures, partial successes, tactics to watch for, and compromises. We shared this information locally, with limited success.
In 2011 the new hospital opened, and the entity of Community Health Foundation was charged with handling reproductive services. They promised that services like sterilization and dispensing of birth control would be “seamless” to the patient in their separate pavilion. Next time you drive by our local hospital, look at the building from the west side and note that the CHF building is separate, with a different color brick. And now you know why.
Over the last ten years, the WIG’s turned into WIN for campaign finance reasons, as we concentrated more on local and state candidates. We sponsored a training to help Indivisible get started. We’ve earned respect in the local Democratic Party by serving on committees, helping candidates, holding events (like the workshop on gun violence), lobbying, fundraising, and of course, still working at the Fair. We’ve worked on our newsletter, social media, and social issues that promote collaboration with other progressive groups. That’s at least thirty years of service.
If you have stories to share, send them to us. We should have been recording our own history!