I believe in making common cause with people of all persuasions, but here’s what I learned about the quest for common ground on issues where people have diametrically opposing worldviews. Originally published at On The Issues Magazine.

©Elaine Soto

©Elaine SotoThe day before the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was expected to rule, rumors circulated that the agency would approve Plan B One Step emergency contraception as a non-prescription item and allow it to be sold without age restrictions. Freelance writer Robin Marty predicted via e-mail, “Conservative reaction will be a total shitstorm.”

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Elizabeth WarrenHer voice raspy from the rigors of perpetual fundraising events that characterize running for U.S. Senate in America today, Harvard law professor and controversial—in a good way—creator of the Consumer Protection Agency Elizabeth Warren addressed an Emily’s List coffee gathering in New York City December 14.

She’s seeking to take the seat back for the Democrats from Republican Scott Brown, who ran as a moderate but has held the party line on most votes since he’s been representing Massachusetts. Symbolically, this would be a big deal, since the woman some have called “a red hot poker in the Republicans’ eyes” would be reclaiming the office held by the late great liberal lion of the Senate, Ted Kennedy, before he died of a brain cancer in 2009…

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Please read this article, and just as the steam is coming out of your ears, go sign the petition and leave your comment for the president. It’s up to us to hold him, and all politicians, accountable.

Beyond-CrankyOut of patience with Obama Administration betrayals on health issues, a coalition has launched a petition demanding an agenda that is fair to women.

It wasn’t the first time that President Barack Obama played to a right-wing constituency at the expense of women’s interests, but the reversal last week of an expected decision on emergency birth control provoked perhaps the most critical reaction so far toward the administration by women’s health advocates and feminists across the nation…

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Katha Pollitt, The Nation columnist and author of a new book of poetry, The Mind Body Problem asked a great question today on a media listserv we’re both on. She wanted to know what we thought were the places where women and/or feminism made advances, went backward, or were treading water.

How do you think women advanced during the last decade? (We can deal with the backward steps in another post…at the beginning of a new year and new decade, let’s start with a nod to the advances.)

Here are my two top-of-mind, unfiltered answers that I sent to Katha, mostly to the positive.

1. The rise of social media has given women the opportunity for a much bigger voice individually and collectively. The asynchronous, information-rich technology and the ability to create “rooms of one’s own” appeal to women who have for so long been overtalked by louder male voices. As a result women are over 50% of bloggers and 57% of the people on Facebook and Twitter. Social media offer a way to connect, share, find support systems, and organize. Women tend to isolate and think they have to solve their problems–often problems caused by systemic barriers–alone. But with social media, they can find answers to their questions and if they choose they can organize to solve problems whether in the private sector or politically. Having been recognized by advertisers as the purchasers of over 80% of all consumer goods, women could also use their online and social media presence to reshape the consumer economy.

The bad news is that this power remains largely in the potential category because women have not used it strategically to mass their voices. Power unused is power useless. This is the name of a chapter in the book I’m writing now and I am sad to say I have all too many examples.

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Note: given the news about the FDA’s current proposal to allow plan B Emergency Contraception (EC) to be sold over the counter—BUT with requirements that women under age 18 must have a prescription and that pharmacists must keep all EC behind the counter thus making it more difficult for women of any age to access, I thought a brief reminder of what EC is and why it should be fully accessible to all who need it is in order.

Want to reduce abortions by half? Want to know who is keeping the means from American women?

The topic is emergency contraception—EC for short. You might have heard it called the morning after pill. It’s birth control—just basic birth control pills in a formulation that can prevent pregnancy from occurring if used within 120 hours after intercourse.

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