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November 20, 2008

The Elections, The Transition Team, The Change We Need!

As many of you know by now, all of the state anti-abortion/fetal rights ballot measures were defeated. NAPW, working with extraordinary state and local allies in Colorado and South Dakota, played a role. Indeed, we can't help but believe that our video, viewed by thousands of people in those states in the days leading up to the vote, and our efforts to expand the base, especially in Colorado this year, made a difference. The Colorado amendment was defeated 3-1, strongly suggesting that our efforts, along with COLOR and L. Indra Lusero of the the Luz Reproductive Justice Think Tank, to broaden the base and expand the arguments -- account for the huge margin of victory.

NAPW has written to the new Administration's transition team explaining our work and offering our help and support. We explained that by including pregnant and parenting women in our work we are expanding the base of reproductive justice activists. While close to one million women have abortions each year, over four million give birth, and an awful lot of the women who give birth are outraged about how they were treated in that process. Their experiences offer important contrasts to the typical anti-abortion rhetoric. For example, while anti-abortion advocates continue to claim that women seeking abortions are not truly informed, it is in fact women giving birth who are often actually misinformed – accounting for such things as the extraordinary rise in rates of unnecessary and costly cesarean surgery.

We explained that many people who identify as "pro-life" are not in fact concerned about only one life – the life of the "unborn," but rather are pro-lives – concerned about the unborn as well as the pregnant woman, new mother and her other family members. This gives us, and the new Administration many opportunities to find common ground for advancing reproductive and social justice in this Country.

In addition, as a result of NAPW's efforts, recommendations being sent to the new administration by organizations that have historically been primarily concerned with defending the right to choose abortion include recommendations to increase and improve the care of birthing women, pregnant prisoners and pregnant women who love their children but cannot overcome an alcohol or addiction problem faster than, say, Rush Limbaugh. It is so important that the interests of birthing women not be ceded to Feminists for Life -- or any other one organization, one movement, or one party.

We are also pleased that leaders in the birthing rights movement have sent specific recommendations to the new administration, and in doing so acknowledged

the many points of similarity in the reproductive injustices imposed upon women across the entire spectrum of reproductive health, including pregnant women who are incarcerated or have substance abuse problems.

We ended our letter to the transition team by saying:

. . we hope the administration will be able to include not only abortion and maternity care in the national health care agenda but also meaningful access to mental health services and appropriate family drug treatment. We also hope that the Administration will eventually be able to address America's long standing and disastrous war on drugs that has become a war on American families and to recognize the enormous costs of our current and counterproductive policies of mass incarceration.

NAPW serves as a bridge between a wide range of pro-choice groups and other reproductive and social justice organizations and represents scores of leading medical and public health organizations and top medical and health researchers across the country. In 2009, NAPW will release a report documenting how anti-abortion and fetal rights laws have been used to punish pregnant women -- including those who go to term, those who have suffered stillbirths, and those who have tried to end their pregnancies.

Please know that NAPW is here to help and would be honored to assist the transition team and the new Administration in any way we can.

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