Of Counsel, Fall 2008
Message from our President, Nancy Northup
This summer I was fortunate to attend both the Democratic and Republican National Conventions. I went to Denver and St. Paul to meet with lawmakers and press for policies that will secure a woman’s reproductive autonomy and health. I left convinced that we urgently need to reinvigorate the U.S. debate on reproductive rights.
During prime time at the Democratic Convention, reproductive rights and health were pariah topics. , Al Gore was virtually the only speaker to mention the Supreme Court and a woman’s right to choose. The Republican platform, meanwhile, pushed an extreme stance on banning abortion. Amid this silence and hostility, I thought about the current challenges to Roe v. Wade. I thought about the one in three American women who have an abortion by the age of 45. And I thought about the imperative to press officeholders to tackle these issues with candor and sound policy.This is what the Center is doing in the weeks leading up to the election, with our Federal Policy Agenda as the driving force. The agenda sets out concrete actions for pro-choice lawmakers, from repealing the global gag rule and restrictions on public funding for abortion to increasing funding for Title X family planning programs and comprehensive sex education. With these policy goals in mind, we submitted testimony to the platform committees of both parties and questions to the moderators of the presidential and vice-presidential debates. We offered background materials to both campaigns to help the candidates prepare for the debates. Looking ahead, we will provide the next administration with a set of priorities for protecting women’s reproductive health from Day One. But we know that this is not enough in the long term. So we are working to transform the way people in the U.S talk and think about reproductive rights: focusing on women’s human rights to dignity, health, and autonomy. The Center has helped change that conversation in other parts of the world. Just this August, when Mexico’s Supreme Court upheld a 2007 law in Mexico City legalizing first-trimester abortion, it cited several cases brought by the Center that established access to legal abortion as a human right. Now the Center is revving up its paradigm-shifting vehicles at home: a fact-finding project, the Law School Initiative, and a new position at the Center, U.S. Advocacy Director. Your generous support helped us win those international victories, and it will enable us to redefine reproductive rights in the U.S. For that, I thank you. ,