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.
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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.