Posts Tagged ‘prevention first act’

Penetrating Sotomayor’s Judicial Philosophy: My Interview With Diane Walsh

The Glass Wall: The People vs. Obama’s Supreme Court nomination
by Diane Walsh
Penetrating Sotomayor’s judicial philosophy is proving no easy task. Will we get the information we need to properly evaluate the merits of the US President’s ambiguous choice for the high court – before it’s too late? The media is in a frenzied state over this nominee – Judge Sonia Sotomayor. One would expect this, given the stakes that her nomination holds for the fate of abortion rights – which are currently hanging in the balance.

What is Sotomayor’s view about a woman’s right to make childbearing decisions? Oddly, there is nothing concrete that we know about her actual judicial philosophy. No one seems to know exactly – because there is no clear answer being laid bare.

This is creating much unease on both sides of the political spectrum. There is a fundamental lack of information flowing. This is unacceptable. I decided to seek out Gloria Feldt, former president of US Planned Parenthood, to get her take on the Sotomayor nomination. She’s the quintessential trailblazer of the pro-choice lobby.

Gloria initiated the Prevention First Act and reintroduction of a new, improved, Freedom of Choice Act. Her “fight forward” mission is further exemplified on her blogs and through her speeches and writings, all accessible through her website:, including 30 years on the frontline. So, needless to say, she’s in a position to evaluate the ‘threats’ that Sotomayor presents, if any, should Sotomayor be confirmed as a Supreme Court Justice.

Diane Walsh: Have you managed to find out whether Judge Sotomayor believes that Roe vs. Wade is “settled law” (under the precept of stare decisis)?

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After Obama’s Presser: “Simply” Forward to the Next 100 Days

Really I’m not single-minded.

I watched every minute of President Obama’s 100 Days Press Conference (transcript here). I was enchanted by the reporter who asked Obama what had “enchanted, troubled, surprised, and humbled” him since taking office. Even though a quick wit said that sounded like a Facebook quiz, I thought it livened up the other, more predictable questions.

The answer I liked best was what surprised him, as reported in the Los Angeles Times:

“I am surprised, compared to where I started, by the number of critical issues coming to a head all at the same time.” When he first starting running for office, Iraq was dominant. The economy was an issue. “Obviously I did not anticipate the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.” So unlike new administrations that deal with three big issues, he says, his has about eight to address.

It was delivered with a sense of humor, making light of the many problems on his plate and eliciting gentle laughter. The laughter at these events always sounds gentle. No big guffaws. More of a gentlepersonly acknowledgment that something humorous has been said that makes the president more human.

Obama observed that every generation faces challenges and we will meet ours. This reminded me of the late Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir’s observation that every generation finds it necessary to negotiate compromises with its own values. That thought was still in my mind when Obama was asked the inevitable torture question and he invoked Winston Churchill’s objections to using torture because it wasn’t in keeping with Britain’s values. Waterboarding is torture, he said, and he acknowledged that the U.S. had waterboarded. This is huge. No compromise there.

I was about to turn into a little puddle of warm butter over this amazing man–his intellect, grasp of the issues, candor, sense of ethics.

But then came this exchange with Ed Henry, and I snapped out of it. Really, I’m not single-minded but old habits die hard, and I couldn’t help but pay special attention:

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Best of Weeks, Not So Best of Weeks

The best: the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was the first bill signed into law by President Barack Obama. This photo says, better than a thousand words, the joy of this step forward for gender equality in compensation. That’s Lilly, the blonde in the middle (I won’t identify by her red jacket because it seems Senators Barbara Mikulski and Olympia Snowe and Rep.Eleanor Holmes Norton also got the memo).

Am I alone in noting the contrast between this photo, with its diverse group of people and the photo of old white men surrounding George Bush when he signed the abortion ban bill? Quite a sea change. Breathe out now. Guess which one of the signings I was invited to, and which one not.

But on to the not so best, for some happenings this past week were more like Washington as usual:

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What Are You Looking Forward to in 2009?

Heartland and host of NPR station KALW talk show “Your Call”, to a diverse (except for shared relief that George W. Bush’s disastrous presidency is almost over) panel of guests, with global to local expertise ranging from bugs to books, health to wealth, the arts to politics, war, peace, and everything in between. I was privileged to be among the large lineup that included Marian Wright Edelman, Founder & President of the Children’s Defense Fund, Antonia Juhasz, Author of “The Tyranny of Oil” & “The Bush Agenda”, David Kipen, Director, National Reading Initiatives, National Endowment of the Art, and David Cay Johnston, former NY Times tax reporter and author of Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (and Stick You with the Bill).

You can listen to the program in full.

Then tell how you’d answer the question, “What Are You Looking Forward to in 2009?” by posting your comments here.

Here’s what I’m looking forward to

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In the first post on “Message to Obama: Change Your View to Obama for Women“, I made clear that I’ll vote for Obama, but the fervor with which I and many other women work for his election will be determined by his actions going forward. As one former Clinton activist said, “women aren’t marginal; we’re the key”. John Kerry took women’s votes for granted, and won only 51% of women’s votes in 2004. That’s several points too low to create a gender gap capable of propelling any Democratic presidential candidate to victory.

Since I wrote that post, Obama’s tidy double digit lead over John McCain evaporated to a measly 3%, a statistical dead heat. This shift was brought about in no small part by Obama’s clumsy attempts to tack to the presumed center on core issues like wiretapping and abortion ostensibly to broaden his base, but instead turning off the passionately progressive grassroots groundswell that brought him to where he is. And remember–Republicans vote for their candidate come hell or high water while Democrats argue the issues, and that’s how we all too often lose elections.

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Reality Checking Ignorance Only Education

If the excellent website RH Reality Check isn’t on your bookmark or Google Reader list, it should be. Every day it brings me up to date on the good news, bad news, and interesting takes people are talking about concerning the big picture of reproductive health, rights, and justice. Not to mention handy information about things like how to knit a condom amulet, which would be much more useful than the abstinence only (non) sex (non) education that has been promoted by the (non) religious (non) right for the past decade or two.

Today, there’s Scott Swenson’s report on the encouraging trend by states to turn down funding for the now-discredited Federal abstinence only program, which never made any sense. I mean, ignorance has never really been bliss. That’s especially so when silence about sexual health and decision making is exacerbated by inaccurate teaching concerning the consequences of not just saying “no”, while failing to tell young people what “yes” means. Here’s Scott’s summary:

The Associated Press is just out with a major story about how in tough economic times, cash-strapped states are refusing federal tax dollars for abstinence-only programs. The story is one more in a long line of damning pieces of evidence about the failures of abstinence-only programs, the waste of tax dollars they represent, and should be a wake up call to Congress.

AP reporter Kevin Freking writes:

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Repairing the Damage, Before Roe by Waldo Fielding M.D., in today’s New York Times is a must read and must share. Fielding is 80; his generation of doctors knows the real stories about the injustices of illegal abortion. An excerpt:

With the Supreme Court becoming more conservative, many people who support women’s right to choose an abortion fear that Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that gave them that right, is in danger of being swept aside. When such fears arise, we often hear about the pre-Roe “bad old days.” Yet there are few physicians today who can relate to them from personal experience. I can.

I am a retired gynecologist, in my mid-80s. My early formal training in my specialty was spent in New York City, from 1948 to 1953, in two of the city’s large municipal hospitals. There I saw and treated almost every complication of illegal abortion…

Now it’s up to the generation now present to make the coat hanger (photos of which accompnied the article) a symbol of women’s empowerment rather than victimization.

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