Tell NARAL They're Wrong
by alegre, Wed May 14, 2008 at 07:24:41 PM EDT
When I was a girl my mom and I drove 6 hours from Detroit to Chicago to help lobby for passage of the Equal Rights Amendment.
When I moved to the DC area some 24 years ago, I didn't waste any time in getting involved with the progressive causes. With the national headquarters of so many great groups here in our area, it was easy to volunteer and feel like I was making a difference. One of those groups was NARAL - then called the National Abortion Rights Action League.
I'd show up every Wednesday evening to hang out in the conference room, go through "hate mail" and visit with friends. We had a great group of folks - and it was kind of funny to see what some of the anti's sent back in NARAL's pre-paid mailers. The idea was to weed out addresses from the mailing list so the group wouldn't waste money on them once we id'd them as anti's. They got pretty creative actually - more than once we'd open the envelope to find a squished frog or something equally gross. Another time someone sent the envelope back taped to a brick - running up the postage charged to the group.
I also showed up to help with national marches, and was a regular at clinic defenses when we got word that the anti's would try to shut down a clinic - especially on January 22nd, when they turned up in DC for their annual march. The idea was to keep it open so patients could get in for their appointments - most of whom were there for check-ups, advice re birth control or cancer screenings etc. So we'd act as escorts or legal observers. We'd ring the door to the clinic to keep the anti's from gaining control of the entrance and shutting it down. It got kind of comical at times really - we'd set up a ring and then the anti's would set one up in front of us. Then we'd block them off so more anti's couldn't get in to add to their ranks. Layer of us - layer of them - layer of us and so on... to the point where it looked like a rainbow.
I remember one clinic defense where we'd formed so many rings that ours was eventually out to the edge of the building. I was right near the corner and facing the outside, and an anti decided to park himself in front of me and started talking at me.
Where could I go? My arms were linked to other defenders on either side of me - I was stuck. Thankfully this guy was fairly reasonable and we struck up a conversation. At one point he said god was anti choice (he didn't use that term btw) and god was never wrong. So I asked him something he never could answer - and no one's been able to answer since...
If god is never wrong then why did he give us the intellect and curiosity to discover ways to safely terminate a pregnancy? AND why did he put me on this earth - a pretty smart and PRO-CHOICE woman who's active in defending my reproductive rights?
Things suddenly got nuts and folks began pushing us. I ended up getting jammed up against the corner of the building by my new buddy - my spine slamming against the bricks - and I ended up on my knees in pain. Well I guess that's one way to get a "heathen" on her knees right? So much for compassion and love for all living things.
I don't lay all this out to brag about what I've done to defend my and my daughter's reproductive rights (what little we have left) but to explain why I'm so
saddened outraged over NARAL's endorsement of Sen. Obama over Hillary today. I feel betrayed - big time.
Hillary's record on defending and fighting for our reproductive rights is unparalleled. She's fought for access to the morning after pill and other contraception for women serving in our military. She's held up presidential appointments until we got an answer from the FDA on Plan B. She's gone to bat for us more times than I can count and she isn't done yet. In January she proposed her new Agenda for Reproductive Health Care, in which she maps out what she hopes to do going forward in fighting for our rights. She's not just talking the talk guys - she's walking the walk with this one...
"When I'm President, I will appoint judges to our courts who understand that Roe v. Wade isn't just binding legal precedent, it is the touchstone of our reproductive freedom, the embodiment of our most fundamental rights, and no one - no judge, no governor, no Senator, no President - has the right to take it away."
The agenda includes preventing unintended pregnancies by increasing access to honest, accurate sex education, contraception and family planning services, ensuring that private health plans offer the same level of coverage for contraception as they do for other prescription drugs and services, ensuring that women who survive sexual assault have access to emergency contraception upon request. Clinton also calls for providing greater access to reproductive health care services overseas.
WCLA joins other prominent pro-choice organizations endorsing Hillary Clinton for President, including the National Organization for Women PAC, EMILY's List, Women's Campaign Forum, National Women's Political Caucus, Women's Political Committee.
Hillary has been a leading advocate for the right of every woman to make the most personal of life decisions for years. She believes the right to privacy is a fundamental right, and that abortion should be safe, legal, and rare. Her views on reproductive rights were informed by seeing what happens when the government gets involved in these decisions. As First Lady, Hillary traveled to Romania where, under a Soviet-style dictatorship, the government had controlled every aspect of women's reproductive health by eliminating birth control, sex education and abortion and requiring humiliating government-controlled monthly exams, in order to compel every woman to bear five children and build the Romanian state. Hillary saw the other extreme in China, with its one birth policy, under which women could be sterilized or forced to have an abortion if they got pregnant for a second time. Hillary took those lessons to heart.
In the Senate, she has been an outspoken critic of the Bush Administration's relentless and insidious attempts to undermine Roe and has been on the forefront of the major victories on behalf of the pro-choice community in recent years. In the Senate, Hillary waged a three-year effort, along with Senator Patty Murray, to get the FDA to accept the overwhelming recommendation of the medical community and approve emergency contraception for over-the-counter sales. She also helped craft a winning strategy to put the right wing on the defensive by highlighting their opposition to contraception, a position that is way out of the mainstream in the U.S. Hillary championed the Prevention First Act, which expands access to contraception for women of all income levels, and provides for honest and complete sex education programs. As President, Hillary will be vigilant in ensuring that each woman maintains the right to plan her own family and protect her reproductive health.
This announcement of NARAL's just doesn't make sense. A friend of mine wrote to her state's NARAL affiliate and she got a note back saying they didn't have any input into this decision. None was solicited. The national political PAC made the call on their own - not sure why. But as a longtime supporter and activist of NARAL's, I feel betrayed. I really do. Here we have a supremely capable and qualified woman running for President - a woman who's stood up for our rights for decades here at home and around the world and NARAL decides to back her opponent in this race?
Now back when I volunteered for NARAL they were called the National Abortion Rights ACTION League. Not sure what they hell they're calling themselves now (NARAL ProChoice America?) but given that they're backing a guy who voted PRESENT on key votes re our reproductive rights in the IL legislature it's no wonder they dropped the ACTION bit from their name. It's all about CYA and wait & see with them - notice they stayed on the sidelines until they figured BO was a sure bet?
Why they couldn't have waited another three weeks to let this primary season play out is a whole other question.
Here's a bit of history on NARAL from Wiki
The group was founded in 1968 by Bernard Nathanson, Larry Lader and Betty Friedan as the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws. Bernard Nathanson, like Sandra Cano a.k.a. "Mary Doe," is now a vocal pro-life activist. After Roe v. Wade, the 1973 case in which the U.S. Supreme Court declared a constitutional right to privacy in reproductive decisions including abortion, it changed its name to National Abortion Rights Action League, then to National Abortion & Reproductive Rights Action League, and in 2003 dropped the long form in favor of "NARAL Pro-Choice America."
(BTW - when I volunteered at a big NARAL celebration to mark their 20th anniversary, I had the honor of meeting Betty Friedan. I wonder what she'd have to say about today's endorsement).
This wiki article notes that NARAL was one of the many sponsors of the 2004 March for Women's Lives. Hubby and I took our kids down to this march. Our son was just 19 months old at the time and rode in the stroller, so hubby turned the stroller into a little float, taping a Catholics for Free Choice poster to the front of it. (We're not Catholics but hubby grew up in Ireland and I think he liked the idea of sticking it to the priests back home who ruled with a do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do attitude). After just a few hours at the march and in parading down Pennsylvania Avenue, we lost count of the number of folks who stopped our little family to take a picture of the kids with that poster. Another family for choice.
Now as some of you might recall, NARAL raised more than a little ire when they jumped into the political fray a couple years back, by endorsing a couple Republicans in the 2006 elections. This was a year we were fighting to retake control of congress and many governorships around the country. More from Wiki...
NARAL Pro-Choice America and its affiliates have been criticized by some abortion political activists, both for supporting pro-choice Republicans such as Lincoln Chafee and Michael Bloomberg
Now I was blogging on DailyKos back then and there was an absolute uproar over these endorsements. One diary after another - not to mention multiple front page posts - were put up decrying these endorsements every day, with the diarists declaring that NARAL is dead to me! Hundreds of comments would follow. I not only refused to chime in on the side of the condemners - but I actually defended NARAL. As a former volunteer and long time activist for our reproductive rights, I just wasn't ready to admit that they'd let us down with those endorsements.
Looking back though I see what Markos and the rest of the folks there were saying. They were fighting (as was I) to help elect enough DEMOCRATS to retake control of one or both houses in Congress. But thinking back, with the razor thin majority in the Senate, if NARAL had gotten their wish and Chaffee had won, we'd be dealing with a Republican controlled Senate right now. NARAL didn't have to endorse anyone in those two races - they could have stayed out of them and focused on the many other contests around the country.
Come to think of it - before that (before Roe) they were known as the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws. Maybe today's endorsement signals a return to that name eh? Because if Obama's our nominee you can bet your @ss we'll see McCain in the WH and anti-choice justices nominated / appointed to the Supreme Court and the lower courts. This will - in effect, wipe out everything we've gained in our reproductive rights since Jan. 22, 1973. Intended or not, today's endorsement could well lead to the repeal of what few laws are on the books protecting our right to choose.
Hmm. So yeah - to that Tell NARAL They're Wrong bit noted in the title of tonight's post...
I got an email from someone today and they had a great idea. She's asking everyone to let NARAL know just how pissed we are over this betrayal (and we DO feel betrayed trust me) by donating the equivalent of a year's membership to NARAL. So if you're currently a member or were thinking of joining NARAL, send the money to Hillary instead you guys. Help put a powerful pro-choice candidate in the White House - someone who can and WILL beat John McCain in the general election - and make sure our rights are protected. Advanced even.
Membership levels are at $35, $50, $75 or $100.
Leadership Circle membership levels are at $100, $250, $500 and $1,000.
If it's done via our HillRaisers account we can track things and maybe update NARAL as to how many of us have walked away from them forever over this betrayal.
So here's the thing - donate and include an extra 44 cents to signify WHY you're doing it. I'll tally things up pass the info on - let NARAL know what they've lost and maybe let the campaign know why we're supporting Hillary with a donation now.
After you donate come back and tell us about your
history herstory of working to defend our reproductive rights.