Pro-Choice Leaders Push Legislative Justice

Pro-choice politicians and advocacy leaders are not taking Wednesday's Supreme Court decision lying down.

In a press conference on Thursday, April 19th, Congressman Jerrold Nadler (NY-08), along with Senator Barbara Boxer, re-introduced the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA), just one day after the U.S. Supreme Court handed down their damaging decision, in effect banning second-trimester abortions for women.


Nadler and Boxer were joined by Nancy Keenan, President of NARAL Pro-Choice America and other pro-choice activists. They convened on Capitol Hill to push legislation that would, according to Nadler, "codify the rights guaranteed under the Constitution by Roe v. Wade. It would bar government – at any level – from interfering with a woman's fundamental right to choose to bear a child, or to terminate a pregnancy." Freedom of Choice would guarantee a woman's right to legal abortion in every state in the country.

Nadler and Boxer called on members of Congress that support Roe v. Wade to support this bill that would provide "meaningful protection for women." Nancy Keenan backed them up,

"We applaud their efforts to stop anti-choice attacks and protect a woman's right to choose by introducing the Freedom of Choice Act. We are also committed to increasing the number of pro-choice members of Congress who will stand up for the fundamental values of freedom and privacy."

Keenan is right – we'll clearly need more pro-choice Democrats to react to this kind of defeat, let alone push proactive bills. The Freedom of Choice Act has been sponsored by Nadler and Boxer a handful of times over the years. Only now, we can look back at the reasoning for pushing the bill with an eery sense of foreshadowing. As the NARAL web site warned in 2004, "This guarantee (FOCA) will protect women's rights even if President Bush and an anti-choice Congress are successful in reversing Roe v. Wade or enacting even more restrictions on our right to choose (emphasis mine)."

And as Nadler points out in his statement, the facts in the cases before the Supreme Court that led to the decision to ban a particular abortion procedure have not changed one iota from the last time the court examined this issue, in 2000. The only thing that has changed are the two Bush appointees that currently stack the court against women's civil rights. President Bush, along with his Republican comrades in Congress, are assuredly proud of this activism-from-the-bench.

But if the Democrats are going to claim to support reproductive justice for women, they must ramp up their collaborative power and support legislation like FOCA. The Freedom of Choice Act has lived with its "I'm just a bill" status for a long while now. It's up to the Democrats now to steady the ship and sail towards 2008 with enough wind to keep things moving forward.

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  • invalid-0

    Last night, one day after the Supreme Court ruling, Eve Gartner spoke in Charleston, SC about what happened. Her conversations with the Supreme Court Justices during the case (Eve represented Planned Parenthood) are very revealing and show why the Freedom of Choice Act is so important. She described to us, a crowd of 150 Planned Parenthood supporters, that the justices actually argued that not enough women would be harmed enough by this ban (part of their reasoning to not have a health exception, I guess) and that since some women might later regret the decision, the decision should no longer be theirs to make. [insert Handmaid’s Tale/Taliban reference of choice here.]

  • invalid-0

    That kind of reasoning is truly terrifying to me. Quantifying "how many" women or to what degree women will be hurt when deciding upon implementation of a particular law is a complete miscarriage of justice. And to base a law on the idea that the government knows what's best for women, better than we know ourselves is not a veiled reference to the Handmaid's Tale or the Taliban – it IS the Taliban.


    Thank you so much for commenting. I'd love to know more about what Eve spoke to – if you've got any links please post. Thanks!


  • invalid-0

    This event was organized as a fundraiser for Planned Parenthood. The organizers knew that the ruling would happen around the date of the event, and I am glad that we all got to talk after the ruling, instead of dealing with hypotheticals. This audience was a group of supporters, old and new, old and young. Basically Eve introduced herself, described the case and her time with the court, and said that there’s going to be a lot more bans, and that the court is willing to restrict abortion as much as possible. I think that’s what’s going to happen for the forseeable future. Luckily, we’re on the coast and can call Women on Waves!

    yeah, why the gov wants to be in the police state business is beyond me. And why the medical establishment doesn’t act up more is a puzzle too. The more legislation, the more liability (the less access for women, especially lower-income.)

    The only link I have is at the PP site-

  • invalid-0

    hi again-
    sorry, I posted instead of replied, so I’m just re-establishing blog-flow.
    – lar

  • invalid-0

    Though I appreciate the sentiment of this piece, you should really get your facts straight. The Federal Abortion Ban does not actual ban all 2nd trimester abortions, just one type called “Intact D&E”. While it is a scary decision and could lead to challenges on all late-term abortions, we’re not there yet. Please, don’t jump the gun. The only way to deal with this situation is as issues arise, not before. We need to support the Freedom of Choice Act and keep our eyes pealed for the inevitable trials ahead.

  • invalid-0

    Issues arisen. This intact D&E ban sets a totally new precedent exactly so that there will be more bans, and more red tape like ultrasound-viewing requirements. Roe vs. Wade and reproductive rights are being dismantled with many approaches, like pharmacist refusal (access to birth control prescriptions.) Funding for low-income women and birth control has been flat for the past 10 years or so. The issues are here. Late term leads to early term leads to the moment of conception. I’m not an alarmist– that is “their” agenda– and I’m certainly not waiting around for legislators to duke it out in the courts.

  • invalid-0

    Visit any hospital NICU and you’ll find thriving babies born in the 3rd trimester. There is zero reason for the gruesome partial-birth abortion (performed in the 3rd trimester) except because the mother wants the baby dead. Calling yourself pro-choice means you accept that you are pro-dead babies.

  • tyler-lepard

    Actually, “partial birth abortion” is not a medical term and does not identify a specific procedure. But this term has come to be associated with Intact D&X, which can be the best choice to protect a woman’s health. However, I think a woman and her doctor should decide that — instead of politicians — don’t you? Or do you want the government making your personal medical decisions for you?

  • invalid-0

    Did you intentionally avoid the point? A trimester child in the womb is viable – s/he will survive outside the womb and it happens all the time in NICU units. All partial birth abortion children can be delivered. The death of the child is not required.

    Concerning the health of the mother, the act does permit execution of the procedure only when the life of the mother is in jeopardy, but the procedure is very rarely done under these circumstances.