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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In 2004, women made history by descending on Washington in droves to March for Women’s Lives. Estimates vary about how many people attended the march, but it’s safe to say that there were over 1 million pro-choice activists in D.C. in 2004, myself included.

Last weekend a Walk for Choice was held in cities across the globe. Here is a roundup of photos from rallies across the country–the decentralized nature of the walk made it impossible to get exact numbers, but the geographic dispersion was impressive.

This Is a Sampling of What a Pro-Choice Rally Looks Like:

NYC – Feministing
Boston Walk for Choice
Walk for Choice Chicago – Feministing
Tucson Walks for Choice – Feminists for Choice

But we should not have to fight these battles over and over…

If you’ve got photos that you would like to add to our historical record (however “unofficial” it might be), please leave a link in the comments section. And by all means, take a moment to share your most proactive and innovative thoughts about what history you want to write for the future of reproductive rights, health, and justice.

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RHRealityCheck asked me to answer this question for the 1/22 anniversary of Roe v Wade. What does choice mean to you?

What does choice mean to me? Forget about Roe v Wade and legalities for a moment. Just a few minutes ago I received this message via e-mail from a professional colleague:

I saw my granddaughter born last March and it is because I value life that I value choice. I think we should speak out for ourselves – perhaps even as grandmothers who know a thing or two.

So speaking as another grandmother who knows a thing or two (ahem), I’ll be happy to tell you what choice means to me.

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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: www.gloriafeldt.com, 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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Several people have e-mailed me today to ask what I thought about Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s comments about the Roe v Wade decision in today’s New York Times.

“The court bit off more than it could chew,” Justice Ginsburg said in remarks after a speech at Princeton in October. It would have been enough, she said, to strike down the extremely restrictive Texas law at issue in Roe and leave further questions for later cases.

“The legislatures all over the United States were moving on this question,” she added. “The law was in a state of flux.”

Roe shut those developments down and created a backlash that lasts to this day.

“The Supreme Court’s decision was a perfect rallying point for people who disagreed with the notion that it should be a woman’s choice,” Justice Ginsburg said. “They could, instead of fighting in the trenches legislature by legislature, go after this decision by unelected judges.”

It’s also old news that Ginsburg believes, as many others have said over the years that the Court’s decision in Roe leapfrogged over public opinion that was heading in the prochoice direction anyway, so they should have just waited for the legislative process to work.

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2:52 AmieN: Welcome everyone to RH Reality Check’s second in our monthly series of live-chats on the reproductive health and rights issues facing the country today. Of course, today is the 36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade and President Obama is at the helm. We have a lot about which to be hopeful (and thankful)…

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Today, on the 36th anniversary of Roe v Wade, I salute Sarah Weddington.

I first met Sarah, the lawyer who successfully argued Roe v Wade before the U.S. Supreme court when she was just 27 years old, in a church meeting room in Midland TX. Yes, the heart of George Bush country where we both had roots. It was around 1975, I was the relatively new executive director of Planned Parenthood of West Texas, then called Permian Basin Planned Parenthood, and the topic that brought together a number of family planning providers from the wide expanse of West Texas was legislation to allow nurse practioners to work in our health centers so that more women could get birth control and related health services to prevent unintended pregnancy and plan wanted ones. The demand from women desiring to plan and space their childbearing was clearly outstripping the supply of services available to them.

As a state legislator, Sarah continued her commitment to women by working tirelessly to make sure they could get access to reproductive health services. She understood that legality is one thing; access can be quite another, and rights without access are meaningless.

Sarah continues now to speak, write, teach, and work on behalf of women. Her accomplishments are legendary and too numerous to mention. But the most striking thing about Sarah is that she is such a great friend and a generous, devoted colleague in the continuing movement to secure the human rights of women to make their own childbearing decisions.

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With a new Obama administration about to begin, timing couldn’t be more perfect for a fresh look at reproductive rights, health, and justice policies. I reviewed the book Our Bodies, Our Crimes, by Fordham sociology Professor Jeanne Flavin, for Democracy: a Journal of Ideas. DJ asked me to write the review as an essay about…

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The frisky pit bull bounded out of her debate camp confinement, lipstick glistening under the PBS staging lights. Her black suit might have echoed Susan B. Anthony, were it not for the decidedly un-serious peplum that added a not so subtle, curtsy-cute feminine flourish. But then nothing about Sarah Palin is either subtle or uncalculated.…

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Seems like my last post, “Obama Caint Choose Kaine”, riled some folks up.

Erin Kotecki Vest, who blogs at BlogHer and Queen of Spain, got on my case with several arguments worthy of response. I have great respect for Erin, and am pleased for this excuse to congratulate her in public on becoming BlogHer’s Producer of Special Projects (high five here!).

However, I learned from hard knocks on the political frontlines that her argument on behalf of Gov. Kaine is self-defeating. Sadly, it also demonstrates how we can make it so incredibly hard to hold politicians’ feet to the fire about reproductive rights, health, and justice, and how women are often entirely too well behaved to make history turn out the way we want it.

True, the issues of birth control, sex education, reproductive rights, and abortion have been so polarized by the media’s false balance (someone else used that phrase on HuffPo last week, but I made it up when I wrote The War on Choice) that both the facts and the framing get skewed in public discourse. That’s frustrating to be sure. But, the deal is, whoever defines the terms of the debate is probably going to win it. And you can’t ever win at all if you don’t stay in the game.

If you haven’t already, please read “Obama Caint Chose Kaine” for my key points about Obama’s veep pick, which I won’t reiterate here. Here’s an excerpt of Erin’s reaction:

We could go through and talk about Kaine’s repeated his position supporting Roe and what he’s done as Governor…however, let’s just put all that aside too.

Let’s deal with the realities of this country. The reality of government. The reality of America in 2008.

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