Session Type(s): Panel, Streamed Session
Starts: Saturday, Jul. 15 2:30 PM (Central)
Ends: Saturday, Jul. 15 3:30 PM (Central)
Room: Continental B
The anti-abortion playbook is being used as a tool to erase other rights and freedoms, including threats against the transgender community. Look no farther than Missouri —the first state to ban abortion just minutes after the Dobbs decision. We’ve long said what happens in Missouri never stays in Missouri. Now, the Missouri legislature is using the same tools—sham investigations, character assassination hit pieces and inflammatory disinformation—to eliminate transgender health care and rights. Abortion and LGBTQ+ advocates will talk about the interconnectedness between the fight for reproductive freedom and all intersections of justice, liberation and human rights.
Bonyen Lee-Gilmore has dedicated her reproductive health and rights career to state-based work at two Planned Parenthood affiliates and Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), and currently at the National Institute for Reproductive Health (NIRH) where she serves as Vice President of Communications. Prior to joining NIRH, Bonyen was the VP of strategy and communications at Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri where she led the affiliate’s strategic storytelling series of post-Roe operational realities that have set the stage for the next era of sexual and reproductive health and rights in the Missouri/Illinois border region. She brings over 15 years of communications, media, and marketing experience. She is a telecommuter and lives proudly in a red state — in Kansas City, Missouri.
Shira Berkowitz is PROMO’s Senior Director of Public Policy & Advocacy leading statewide strategy for LGBTQ+ public policy, organizing, & advocacy. They’ve worked on policy & advocacy campaigns as a social impact artist and social entrepreneur. They are dedicated to building spaces for people to grow in community while addressing civic and social challenges. They sit on many boards & are a founder of the first ever midwest summer camp for trans, gender expansive, and LGBTQ+ youth.
Pamela Merritt is executive director of Medical Students for Choice, a global non-profit working in over 30 countries to ensure that medical students and residents are educated about all aspects of reproductive health care, including abortion. Prior to joining MSFC, Pamela co-founded and served as the co-director of Reproaction, a national organization formed to increase access to abortion and advance reproductive justice. Pamela was a 2017 Reproductive Health, Rights, & Justice Fellow at the Rockwood Leadership Institute. She is chair of the Guttmacher Institute Board of Directors and honorary chair of Reproaction’s Advisory Council. Pamela also serves on the Our Bodies Ourselves Today Leadership Council and chairs its Abortion and Contraception vertical. A longtime writer and progressive thought leader, Pamela’s personal blog (AngryBlackBitch.com) was named one of the world’s 50 most powerful blogs in 2008 by The Guardian. Her work has been published in The Guardian, Rolling Stone, and the Rewire News Group.
Yamelsie Rodríguez started her career as a Planned Parenthood health center translator for Spanish-speaking patients. Through that first volunteer engagement, she immediately understood that barriers to care for marginalized communities are layered and complicated. She now serves as the President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri (PPSLRSWMO). Under Yamelsie’s leadership, PPSLRSWMO has expanded its scope of care in the most difficult environments at an affiliate that straddles a geographic region that poses two realities — one where those whose reproductive freedom belongs to themselves and another whose reproductive freedom belongs to a small group of politicians who have effectively appointed themselves as decision-makers over our bodies, lives, and futures.
Before taking on this role at PPSLRSWMO, she served as the Chief Operating Officer at Planned Parenthood of Illinois. Yamelsie brings a wealth of experience in innovative and patient-centered health care delivery models that adapt to the evolving needs of the communities in which her health centers serve.