Moving Forward While Fighting Back
Of Counsel, Spring 2005
Message from our President Nancy Northup
Ever since Roe was decided, the reproductive rights movement has had to work hard-very hard-to fight back against relentless and repeated attacks. Pundits use that fact to argue that we would have been better off without that historic Supreme Court decision. They re-imagine history to claim that anti-choice forces would have acquiesced to legislative decisions – it’s just judicial intervention, the story goes, that has created this bitter divisiveness. Nonsense. Leaving politicians with the unfettered power to criminalize abortion would hardly have de-politicized the issue. But it would have risked the health and lives of millions of women.
In this issue of Of Counsel, you’ll read about ways in which the Center is using constitutional and human rights standards not only to fight back in this hostile climate, but to move forward in the U.S. and internationally.
As our cover story shows, in Michigan we’re back for a third time to defeat the state legislature’s attempt to ban abortion. They passed bans twice before, and twice we argued that the bans were unconstitutional-and won. Now they’ve done it again, this time with an even more extreme and dangerous ban. And we’ll keep going back every time that they try to deprive women in their state of the ability to make decisions about their own bodies and lives.
On page four, we explain why we are preparing to challenge a dangerous bill that was passed in April by theU.S. House of Representatives, which, if it is passed by the Senate, will severely limit the ability of teens to obtain an abortion across state lines. We oppose this bill, but we aren’t waiting to see what this anti-choice Congress will do. We’re building our case right now, in order to stop bad laws like this one before they go into effect, and before teenagers are harmed.
On page five we travel to Kenya, where women are dying because abortion is illegal and contraception difficult to get. A nationwide referendum on Kenya’s draft constitution is imminent, and we are working with a Kenyan group to advocate for their government’s compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. When Kenya became party to this treaty in 1972, it promised to fulfill and protect women’s human rights, commitments it still has not met. At this moment of great potential for Kenyan women, we are working to ensure that their rights are protected.
We don’t need to re-write history, we need to continue to make it. With your partnership and support, we will.