Saturday, December 6, 2014

2015 Call for Nominations to Asheville NOW Elected Offices

The 2014 President of Asheville's NOW Chapter, Debbie Metcalf, has issued a call for nominations to office for Asheville NOW. This year's nominating committee has proposed the following slate, but the FLOOR REMAINS OPEN FOR NOMINATIONS until noon Thursday, Dec. 11. 

Please submit your nominations for the offices of President, Vice President, Secretary, or Treasurer. Members willing to serve may nominate themselves for these positions, or another may nominate you. Comments may be made during the brief meeting  portion of the holiday event.

 The proposed slate of officers is as follows:
  • President - Sherri McLendon
  • Vice President - Byron Ballard
  • Treasurer - Lorraine Cummings
  • Secretary - Open (Internal Communications)

To submit your nominations, please email those suggestions to

Debbie Metcalf will contact those individuals to acquire their acceptance of the nomination. Should no additional nominees be submitted, the slate of proposed officers will be affirmed at the event. Any positions not filled and/or committee chair positions may be filled by the incoming president.

Holiday 'Drop In' Celebration on Dec. 11 Fills Women Activists with Joy, Hope

Join us Thursday, Dec. 11, as we laugh out loud and in Asheville with amazing, vibrant women

We'll begin to plot and plan our next direct action, elect next year's officers, create general mayhem, make a chain of wishes, create the kinds of connections to cherish and remember.

You're invited to celebrate the holiday season with a casual, drop-in celebration with the Asheville Chapter of the National Organization for Women on Thursday, December 11, at Battery Park Book Exchange and Champagne Bar, in the Grove Arcade, from 6-8 p.m.

Each attendee will receive a special gift of light from us to you, and will have the opportunity to win the seasonal Rosemary tree, a gift of remembrance in honor of the sisterhood of women and the hope for the future.

We look forward to sharing this time with you! Of course, you are more than welcome to bring a friend. We'll have a few munchies and non-alcoholic refreshment options are available.

2015 - ERA Legislation to be Introduced in North Carolina

Did you know that 2015 is the year that ERA Legislation will be introduced in the State of North Carolina? If you haven't heard about it, then please learn more and share what you know.

The Equal Rights Amendment was never ratified in North Carolina before the artificial deadline in 1983.

ERA is a constitutional inequality issue at the federal and state levels. Without ERA, more than 50 percent of the nation's voting populace is subject to state sanctioned discrimination on the basis of gender.

Economic inequality (paying women less for equal work) and the treatment of violent crime against women as lesser, second-tier offenses could be effectively addressed with the guarantee of legislated equality without regard to gender.

Learn more about North Carolina's ERA status quo at this website:

To get involved with women's issues, including ERA, at the local level, please contact Asheville NOW, or reach out to other organizations like this one:

Friday, July 25, 2014

NC Legislators Give A Motorcycle More Rights than A Woman: A Year Ago in Herstory

One year ago in "herstory," on July 29, the State of North Carolina legislators placed limits on health care access for women, passing SB 353. The “Motorcycle Operation” bill was widely considered by equality advocates as an attempt to erode women’s rights to bodily autonomy.
See below for details about the Women's Rights Rally.

Equitable access to health care is only one of several women's rights issues on the agenda for the Women's Rights Rally at 7 p.m. Saturday, July 26, at Vance Memorial, downtown Asheville. 

Review of the motorcycle bill’s content may be considered moot, as codes of professionalism for medical professionals already include safeguards like those specified to ensure that physicians follow best practices. Thus, despite the lack of evidence for need, the state’s governing body chose to create superfluous legislation possibly to lay the foundation to legally limit reproductive decision-making by North Carolina women.

The bill specified:
·         · Medical providers have the right to refuse to perform abortions – despite the case this is already the case
·         ·Sex-selective abortions are banned – despite no evidence of any such selection
·         ·Providers must be present for the entire surgical abortion procedure or administration of the first pill to induce chemical abortion – despite no evidence of adverse health or safety risks
·         ·The Department of Health and Human Services would be required to write and enforce new rules for health clinics – despite health clinics exceeding existing guidelines

Finally, and perhaps most tellingly, the bill stipulates that motor vehicle operators are responsible when colliding with motorcycles they do not see. 

 In North Carolina, it follows that a motorcycle has more rights than a woman if acted upon by an outside force without consent. Women’s rights advocates continue to see spurious bills like this one as a thinly veiled attempt to build a foundation in law for the repeal of women’s reproductive rights.

If you are concerned about inequitable treatment of women under state, federal, or constitutional law, please consider joining Asheville NOW for the Women’s Rights “Bitter Pill” Rally on July 26 at 7 p.m. at Vance Memorial, downtown Asheville. 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Asheville National Organization for Women To Hold “Bitter Pill” Rally Saturday, July 26

Women see an Equal Rights Amendment as a means to stop legislative, legal and economic discrimination on the basis of gender, improve earnings, and increase quality of life

ASHEVILLE, N.C. – The Asheville Chapter of the National Organization for Women earlier this week announced a “Bitter Pill Rally” Saturday, July 26, in response to recent Supreme Court decisions limiting women’s rights. Leaders cite the pressing need to direct the attention of North Carolina legislators to the immediate improvement of women’s rights at the state and national levels. The “Bitter Pill Rally” is 7 p.m. Saturday, July 26, at Vance Memorial.

Speakers will focus on an Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution to stop codified legislative, legal, and economic discrimination on the basis of gender.

The announcement comes within days of the Supreme Court landmark cases of McCullen v. Coakley and Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby. The former ruling decreases the buffer zones between violent protesters and women exercising their right to safe, legal abortion, and the latter upholding corporation’s rights to make decisions about women’s private health care, including contraception. Under the Hobby Lobby ruling, corporations are granted rights as persons – rights not currently guaranteed to women themselves.

The rulings are a “Bitter Pill” for women to swallow both in western North Carolina and across the nation.

Today, women constitute more than half the U.S. work force and 52 percent of registered voters. One in three women also live and raise their families or retire in abject poverty, reported National Public Radio. In western North Carolina, like the state, 59 percent of women aged 16 and older are either employed or looking for work, according to recent figures from the Institute of Women’s Policy Research. The report for Asheville-Buncombe and Madison counties states that 73 percent of all women with dependent children work, and 25 percent of women in the area are single heads of households with dependent children.

Women in Buncombe and Madison counties earned only 85 cents for every dollar earned by men in 2012, the most recent year for which figures are available.

“That 15 percent difference would go a long way toward creating opportunities and sustainability for women and girls,” says Debbie Metcalf, president of Asheville NOW.

Women Are Not Equal Citizens
The decision from the all-male majority, all-female dissenting Supreme Court is a blatant illustration of the reality that women are not equal citizens in the United States, say Asheville NOW women’s rights leaders.

“We have to ask who it serves to create circumstances intended to economically disenfranchise women during mid-career by limiting access to health care, including contraception,” Metcalf says.

 “The Supreme Court’s decision increases the financial burden of health care on working women everywhere. As a working woman, I am aware we already pay 68 percent more in out of pocket costs than men for our health care,” Metcalf says.

“The court’s ruling will not have the same affect on men’s reproductive health care, as coverage will continue for vasectomies and Viagra,” she notes.

North Carolina’s Anti-Woman Legislation
In 2013, the state’s openly anti-woman General Assembly packed inflammatory legislation into a motorcycle traffic bill, SB 353, which was signed into law July 29, 2013, in an attempt to legally erode women’s right to bodily autonomy when it comes to reproductive health. Opponents of the measure suggest state legislators have effectively turned back the clock on reproductive rights to pre-1963.

“Contraception is vital to a healthy family,” says Lorrie Cummings, a gynecologist, Asheville NOW officer, and former owner of FemCare. The Asheville women’s health center recently closed its doors amidst unwarranted political controversy covered by regional media syndicates and the national MSNBC Rachel Maddow Show.  

“It’s a 21st century family issue which should be as important to men today as it is to women,” Cummings  says.

Economic Impact on Working Women, Families
When contraception is not affordable or available to working women, it negatively impacts the family’s income for years. It also increases the likelihood that children and women over the age of 65 live in poverty, says Cummings.

Studies show women are more likely than men to cut back on employment when they are parents.
“Derailment of earning potential and a lack of adequate health coverage significantly and directly affect women in the present, increasing stress and economic difficulties,” says Cummings.

Therefore, the question of women’s health care, including contraception, is a human rights issue which affects each member of the family – not only women, she says.

Currently, the least expensive birth control alternative for women is about $300 per year for a generic pill, compared with about $1,000 out of pocket to receive newer, better options.

 “Until women have the same level of control over their reproductive lives as men do, we are not fully American citizens,” Cummings says.

The “Bitter Pill Rally” of the Asheville Chapter of the National Organization for Women will be 7 p.m. Saturday, July 26, at Vance Memorial. For more information, email

Friday, July 4, 2014

Asheville NOW Plans July Response to SCOTUS Rulings

Please join us in this significant response to recent challenges to women's rights in N.C. and the U.S. 
And you're invited! Yes, men are welcome, too.
Note: the permit to gather at Vance Memorial is pending. We reserve the right to change dates or locations to facilitate a successful vigil/rally. 

The Dates/Time for the Phone Party are etched in stone.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Today's Supreme Court Ruling Gives Corporations Religious Rights which Supersede Those of Individuals, Women

First, this decision isn't an "argument." It's a decision. A Supreme Court decision is rarely reversed.

Previously, a religious organization can opt to employ based on its convictions, but that has not included corporations with a primary objective of economic gain. As of today, corporations (not religious entities) can decide for themselves which laws they will obey and which they will not on the basis of their religious beliefs.

The last time I checked, corporations are inanimate and incapable of holding beliefs. The whims of corporations should not ever supersede the law of the land.

While I'm thinking about it, I'd really like to know how one measures sincerity. Is there a sincerometer?

Read my original text copy of Ginsberg's Dissenting Opinion here.

A couple of gems pulled from these pages you need see. This decision is primarily concerned with the employers' primary aim of denying contraception and certain types of health coverage to women.

“The  ability  of  women  to  participate  equally  in  the economic and social  life of the Nation has been facilitated by  their  ability  to  control  their  reproductive  lives.” - Planned  Parenthood  of  Southeastern  Pa.  v.  Casey,  505; U. S. 833, 856 (1992).

“Women  of  childbearing  age  spend  68 percent  more  in  out-of-pocket  health  care  costs  than men.” - Sen. Mikulski

"I would reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit and affirm the 
judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit." - Justice Ginsberg

I support Justice Ginsberg's recommendation as my reading thus far suggests the ruling is blatantly discriminatory on the basis of religion and creates a climate of discrimination based on gender, more specifically, the reproductive rights of women. The opinions here are my own and not necessarily a representation of the diversity of the Asheville chapter of the National Organization for Women.

- Sherri McLendon
Vice President of Asheville NOW

Feel free to add your own findings and insights. Feel free to be outraged, but please choose your words wisely. We reserve the right to edit comments for a cross-generational audience.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Women's Right to Vote: N.C. NOW President Calls for Online Letter Campaign to End Voter Discrimination

The right to vote is the only constitutional right granted to women by the United States. Perhaps that's why National NOW president, Terry O'Neill, is calling for an online letter campaign to end voter discrimination.

A number of Asheville and western North Carolina residents are aware of what they believe to be regional gerrymandering in recent years, which have the affect of marginalizing certain types of voters.

"I know it's early, but I"m already worried about the 2014 elections," says O'Neill.  "Anti-woman forces know that when women vote, women win. So they are pulling out the stops to drive down voter turnout in communities they know support women's rights."

Asheville is widely known as a community which supports women's rights. This issue is knocking at our back doors, and wiping its feet in preparation to come in.

"Voting restrictions are often aimed at communities of color and disproportionately impact women in those communities," McNeill says.

This is a national issue with serious implications for Asheville and western North Carolina. Abusive voter suppression laws have already passed in North Carolina. And the problem doesn't stop there.

"Funded by the Koch brothers, misleading campaign ads have begun to air across television and radio media. These ads are designed to confuse voters and discourage them from going to the polls," says McNeill.

Asheville, if you'd like to take action right NOW to mobilize the women's vote, place the Governor's office on notice that we know what's happening and that we want it to stop. Click on any of the links in this article and enter your zip code in order to send your letter in this important online campaign today.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Members Identify Next Action Steps for Asheville NOW at April 6 Meeting; McLendon is VP Nominee

ASHEVILLE, N.C. - The Asheville Chapter of the National Organization for Women today affirmed the nomination of Sherri McLendon to the office of vice president, approved a new strategic communication plan, and identified local shareholders in six key issue areas of women's rights, according to President Debbie Metcalf.

McLendon is an independent communications consultant and recognized feminine business leader, writing the popular "Women, Spirit and Money" magazine column for WNC Woman (for women nurturing change). Previously, she served two terms as president of the Public Relations Association of Western North Carolina. A former North Carolina and Georgia educator and newspaper editor, she holds an M.A. from the University of Georgia Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communications, Athens. She is also a soccer mom.

"We need a coherent voice related to women's issues in Asheville and at the state and national levels," she says. "Women are too often treated as second class citizens. Through NOW, our voices can change that."

The attendees explored the possibility of developing a series of round table discussions and media events focusing on women and family law, the Equal Rights Amendment, wage inequity, and other areas of gender bias.

"Our goal is to breathe new life into the organization," says Metcalf. "We are relevant to all women who are troubled by today's political climate and attitudes toward women." says Metcalf.

A work session focusing on prioritizing topic areas will be Saturday, May 4. For more information or an invitation, please sign up for the chapter mailings on the sidebar to this posting.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Spotlight on Reproductive Rights: Femcare to Close, Transition Services to Planned Parenthood

ASHEVILLE - Recognizing the political challenges in today’s environment, Femcare has been in conversation with Planned Parenthood for several months, according to Lorraine Cummings, M.D., owner of Femcare, in a public statement on March 18.

Both parties want to ensure that women in Western North Carolina have strong, long-term access to full GYN health options, including abortion.

With that mutual goal in mind, in the coming year Femcare will shift its abortion services to Planned Parenthood.  During the time of transition Femcare will continue to provide abortion services, but will not see new gynecology patients.

Femcare has offered comprehensive reproductive health services in the region since 1985.  Similarly, Planned Parenthood has played a role in meeting women’s health care needs in Western NC and their patient base is rapidly increasing, providing over 3,000 medical visits during the past fiscal year.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Gender Bias is Critical Issue in March 29 event to benefit Aura Home for Asheville's Female Veterans

ASHEVILLE, N.C. - Women in the U.S. Armed Services are often a silent group of abused and invisible members of our society, says Debbie Metcalf, president of Asheville NOW. 

For the past three years, Asheville NOW has challenges this position, demanding equality for women veterans who need and deserve a place of their own to transition back into society. 

"These women dedicate their lives to service, living and working in a male-dominated environment," she says. "Many come home to find themselves without a home." 

The Veterans Restoration Quarters, funded by federal tax dollars, does not allow women access the facility, despite their veteran status and honorable discharge after years of service. 

"This is a straightforward gender discrimination issue," says Metcalf. "The male veterans have federally funded transitional house and the female veterans do not."

The creation of the Aura Home, a transitional home for female veterans, is today spearheaded by former Asheville NOW member Alyce Knaflich. The project has the support and backing of AMVETs, and is endorsed by Asheville NOW.

The March 29 Asheville fundraiser will benefit Aura Home through these combined efforts, featuring speakers, documentaries, direct access to sponsors and information, and more, .

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Asheville Women's fight for ERA featured on AskAsheville

Read the full text story at

Asheville NOW, A Voice for Women, Is On Facebook

The Facebook Community of Asheville's National Organization for Women needs 100 "likes" in order to rank on the social community's search engines and be eligible for a customized email linking to the page. Please visit to join the conversation on Facebook.

Once you join the community at, you'll have the opportunity to ask your friends to join.

Please consider reaching out to the women in your life who are concerned with issues related to women's rights, gender equality, and health, among others, and ask them to join the Facebook group, which is open to members and non-member supporters alike.

To learn more about NOW in Asheville, go to