Roundup: Ballot Measures Gain Attention, Roe’s Impact Beyond Abortion, Most Catholics Agree with Pelosi

Brady Swenson

California's 'parental consent' law over-reaches; Pastors organize support for South Dakota abortion ban; Principles of choice, privacy and equality embodied in Roe; Pelosi's views on abortion in line with most Catholics; Campaigns ramp up competition for women's votes; VIDEO: Giuliani defends sex ed ad on Meet the Press.

California’s ‘Parental Consent’ Proposition 

Francesca Ratner of the LA Times tackles the third incarnation of
California’s ‘Parental Consent’ ballot proposition from her perspective
as an uninformed citizen looking to make up her mind about Proposition
Four.  Ratner reads through the proposition, seeks some clarification
from a spokesperson for the proposition and from an unaffiliated law
professor and then offers her interpretation of the proposed law:  

Proposition to Curtail Abortion for Teenage Girls:

* Do not allow minors to obtain abortions behind their parents’ backs.

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Create an undue burden on physicians, with miles of red tape and severe
repercussions for a misstep in filing notifications, reports, etc.

* Make sure pregnant teens go through humiliation and exposure.

* Create a pretext for taking the matter of abortion to court.

* Add vague clauses regarding "court relief" and "coercion," which could warrant further litigation. 

Abortion is an unfortunate occurrence for women, and even more so for
underage girls. And performing one on a minor behind her parents’ backs
is often wrong. Nonetheless, selling Proposition 4 as just "parental
notification" is dishonest. Those who use such ploys should not be
allowed to rewrite the Constitution.


Pastors Form Group To Support South Dakota Abortion Ban

Measure 11 is a proposition that will be put to voters on the ballot in
South Dakota this November.  The measure proposes to ban all abortions
except in cases of rape and incest or to protect the life of the
mother.  According to our Election 2008 page
the measure, if passed, would enact "one of the
most restrictive abortion laws in the country."  Now pastors in South
Dakota are working to organize support for the measure through the
Lampstand Project, seeking to involve as many as 800 churches in a campaign.  Other churches are aligning themselves with the South Dakota Campaign for Healthy Families, which opposes the measure. 


The Principles of Choice, Privacy and Gender Eqaulity Embodied in Roe Extends Beyond Abortion

Cass Sunstein, professor of law at Harvard, writes an opinion piece in the Sunday edition of The Boston Globe arguing that Roe v. Wade as written in 1973 was "far from a model of legal reasoning" and "it ruled far too broadly."  He also notes that "Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg – the most
important women’s rights lawyer in the history of American law, but
also a judicial ‘minimalist’ – has sharply criticized Roe for doing so
much so fast."  Sunstein then writes, however, that

… it is one thing to object to Roe as written in 1973. It is another
to suggest that it should be overruled in 2008. American constitutional
law is stable only because of the principle of stare decisis, which
means that in general, the Court should respect its own precedents.

The decision has become "settled law" that has impacted the development of policy at a fundamental level since it was made :

Roe v. Wade has been established law for 35 years; the right to choose
is now a part of our culture. A decision to overrule it would not only
disrupt and polarize the nation; it would also threaten countless
doctors, and pregnant women and girls, with jail sentences and criminal
fines. As Ginsburg has also urged, Roe v. Wade is now best seen, not
only as a case about privacy, but also as involving sex equality.

In this respect any effort to overturn a landmark Supreme Court case that has played a role in establishing a fundamental right to privacy and even gender equality would not be ‘conservative’ at all, but would be a radical overturning of ‘settled law’:

No one should disparage the convictions of those who believe that
abortion is an immoral act. But after more than three decades, a
decision to overrule Roe v. Wade, and to throw an established domain of
human liberty into turmoil, would be anything but conservative. It is
relevant here that many people, including McCain running mate Sarah
Palin, believe that abortion is unacceptable even in cases of rape and
incest, and there is little doubt that if Roe is overruled, some states
will enact that belief into law.

For the future of constitutional
rights, there is a broader point, which involves the fragility of many
constitutional principles. Of course the Supreme Court tends to move
slowly, but some conservatives who speak of "strict construction," and
of "legislating from the bench," have something quite radical in mind.

For them, these are code words. They seek to appoint judges who will
overturn not merely Roe, but dozens of other past decisions. For
example, they want judges to impose flat bans on affirmative action, to
invalidate environmental regulations, to increase presidential power,
and to reduce the separation of church and state. Some Republican
appointees to the Supreme Court have already called for significant
changes in constitutional law in these domains.

Does all this
sound like "strict construction"? Actually there is an uncomfortably
close overlap between the constitutional views of some recent
Republican appointees to the federal judiciary and the political views
of those on the extreme right-wing of the Republican Party. There is a
good chance that a newly constituted Supreme Court would entrench some
of those views into constitutional law.


Pelosi Views on Abortion in Sync with Most Catholics

The San Francisco Chronicle follows up last month’s Meet the Press comments from Speaker Nancy Pelosi with some polling data that shows her views are in live with the views of a majority of other Catholics:

In fact, while the bishops may seek to make abortion an election
issue, it is clear from a poll conducted by the noted Washington, D.C.,
firm of Belden Russonello & Stewart, that many of the hierarchy’s
teachings on reproductive health and rights have not been received by
the faithful. For example, 6 in 10 support keeping abortion legal and 7
in 10 say they feel no obligation to vote against candidates who
support abortion. An even larger majority (75 percent) disapproves of
denying Communion to Catholics who support legal abortion.

Catholic voters are not concerned with so-called values issues as
much as they are with improving the economy (68 percent saying it
should be one of the highest priorities); protecting the United States
from terrorism (54 percent); resolving the war in Iraq (50 percent);
and making health care more affordable (48 percent).

Campaigns Competing for Women’s Vote

This past Sunday’s New York Times ran an extensive look at the McCain and Obama campaigns’ efforts to secure the votes of women.  Both campaigns are spending a lot of money on TV advertising and time on the campaign trail talking about the issues women care most about.  For the Obama campaign that means

… drawing attention to Mr. McCain’s record on issues that particularly
resonate with women: his opposition to abortion rights, his votes
against expanded health insurance for children and pay equity
legislation, and his support for private investment accounts for Social
Security, of concern among white women over 50, a group Mr. Obama has
had trouble winning over.

The McCain campaign’s strategy

… is to emphasize personality, capitalizing on the booming celebrity of
Ms. Palin, highlighting Mr. McCain’s story as a war hero, showcasing
their families, and trying to keep alive the anger about sexism that
many women felt during Mr. Obama’s primary campaign against Mrs.

The most recent edition of Newsweek also takes an in depth look at women voters and how they are approaching the nomination of Sarah Palin and evaluating the issues at stake in this election:

It is important to be cautious about generalizing about female voters. The voting record of women in the past few decades shows that they are more likely to vote for issues—particularly the economy and foreign policy—than gender. Female voters tend to be more concerned about war, education and health.

Giuliani Defends ‘Comprehensive Sex Education for Kindergartners’ Ad on Meet the Press

Rudy Giuliani did his best to defend a controversial and misleading TV ad run briefly by the McCain campaign last week insinuating that Obama supports a plan that would teach explicit sex education to Kindergarten students.  Giuliani, continuing the GOP deception of the facts of this comprehensive sex education curriculum, said "I think the only thing wrong with that ad is that it lists it as an accomplishment of Mr. Obama." Giuliani failed to mention the false insinuations about the important details of the sex education curriculum that Obama supports, namely that it would only teach Kindergarten students age-appropriate information including appropriate and inappropriate touching.  Lines 11 and 12 of Section 2 of the Illinois law in question clearly state that all cruuriculm is to be age-appropriate. Giuliani defelected all important criticisms by simply ignoring them and then moving quickly to a non-answer challenge to Barack Obama to meet with McCain in a town-hall style setting.

Commentary Abortion

As Threats to Autonomy Intensify, Alabama Feminists Fight for Reproductive Freedom


The virulently anti-choice, anti-gay Operation Save America spent a week in Alabama last month for its "Let Justice Roll" event. But local feminists met the invasion with calls for justice of their own.

Despite temperature warnings of over 90 degrees with unbearable humidity on the horizon, the group Operation Save America (OSA) descended last month on Montgomery, Alabama, bringing hundreds of anti-choice, anti-gay activists of all ages to the state’s capital city. Opening the “Let Justice Roll” week-long event was Alabama state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, who warned the crowd—commonly inflated in mainstream media to be more than 300 people, though on-the-ground activists only witnessed about 100—that “America is under attack.”

From what, you might ask? Abortion rights and marriage equality, of course.

“Well, are you prepared for the consequences?” Moore asked the crowd at Fresh Anointing House of Worship on July 11. “There will be consequences.”

Yes, there are and will continue to be consequences, as Alabama politicians and anti-choice activists remain determined to undermine the rights of fully formed people. But some of these consequences are perhaps not the ones Moore envisions. Indeed, as Operation Save America and its ilk pursue their agenda in a state hospitable to their own, feminists and pro-choice activists are pursuing reproductive freedom at every turn.

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Let’s back up to discuss what happened in Alabama during the OSA inundation.

Operation Save America Invades

OSA activists spent a week in mid-July protesting in front of clinics in Montgomery and Huntsville, as well as outside of the statehouse, Huntsville city hall, and the Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization that has renewed its ethics complaint against Moore and identified several organizations affiliated with OSA as “hate groups.” But local activists—including Alabama Reproductive Rights Advocates (ARRA), for which I am coalition liaison—were prepared for the onslaught of anti-choicers.

In Montgomery, pro-choice activists rented the house next door to the local clinic to help protect the facility, providers, staff, and patients. While OSA members chanted, prayed, yelled, held signs featuring gruesome and inaccurate images of aborted zygotes that one clinic defender called “fetal porn,” and more, advocates sang, observed, and of course, escorted. Because yes, clinics remained open the entire week. In Huntsville, where anti-choice activists have a history of violence, OSA affiliates and supporters gathered a crowd of approximately 100 adults and 75 children over the day. There, they too were met with about 40 pro-choice clinic defenders. Not only did these activists escort patients, they also parked moving vans draped with signs reading “Team Dalton” (for the clinic owner) and quoting rock singer Tom Petty: “You can stand me up at the gates of hell, but I won’t back down.” No one from OSA could see the clinic or anyone seeking its services.

These strategies speak to the power of clinic defenders to maintain both order and safety under siege. And they weren’t alone—the actions of the feminists and pro-choice activists throughout OSA’s event show Alabaman advocates’ potential power to push back against these growing threats to bodily autonomy.

In fine—and fun!—feminist form, ARRA turned the weeklong OSA event into a fundraiser. About a month prior to the OSA action, ARRA launched an “adopt-an-anti” campaign online, wherein people could “Let Reproductive Justice Roll!” and sponsor a particular protester or adopt people for a day or the entire week. This online fundraiser depended on ARRA members counting anti-choice activists every day to account for 5-, 10-, or 25-cent donations. One participant donated a dollar for every child present and $10 for every child outside at an OSA event when the temperatures were over 90 degrees. When it was all said and done, ARRA raised more than $3,100—all of which went to help women in Alabama obtain an abortion even when finances stand in their way. Local artist Pamela JoAnn Willis also used her talent—as well as a pair of handcuffs delivered anonymously to the Huntsville clinic—and auctioned off this painting as a fundraiser for ARRA, raising another $550. Using art and online activism, ARRA turned OSA into a lot of money to help Alabama women obtain abortions.

But it is more than using OSA’s presence to further pro-choice causes. Upon the conclusion of the anti-choice organization’s weeklong visit, seven executive board members of ARRA filed an ethics complaint against Moore for his involvement with the event. In this complaint, which will be taken up by the Judicial Ethics Commission, ARRA charged, “By aligning himself with these domestic terrorists, Judge Moore is guilty of domestic treason by association, conflict of interest, misconduct, collusion and consorting with the enemy.” Indeed, known clinic bomber John Brockhoeft as well as sex offender Howard Scott Heldreth were both in the area during the week—and Judge Moore praised this “radical for God” organization openly, with both his words and his presence.

The Struggle for Bodily Autonomy Continues

“Let Justice Roll” came and went, but a month later, anti-choicers’ beat goes on.

Three weeks after OSA left the area, a woman known as Jane Doe sought an abortion—something well within her legal rights in the state as a person pregnant for less than 20 weeks. Of course, in addition to the time restriction, abortion is already difficult to obtain in Alabama: 48-hour mandatory waiting period, two clinic visits, and cost of travel, time, and procedure. But Jane Doe’s choice was exacerbated by the fact that she is imprisoned in the Lauderdale County jail. The state ACLU sought to get her a temporary furlough to travel 75 miles to the Huntsville clinic; ARRA agreed to lend financial support if Doe was able to obtain the procedure but lacked financial resources to do so. However, the Lauderdale County District Attorney Chris Connolly refused to let her go, citing the 2013 criminal endangerment act under which she is currently charged, and instead sought to appoint an attorney for the fetus. He also stated that if the court approved her petition to obtain an abortion, he would have her parental rights terminatedwhile she is still pregnant. These legal machinations effectively threatened to turn Jane Doe into a reproductive vessel, not a woman with rights to determine what could happen to her own body.

Doe has since decided not to have an abortion and instead will carry her fetus to term. No one knows for certain if she was coerced into this decision—she signed an affidavit that she was not—but it is easy to see how few choices she actually has as someone imprisoned and pregnant. She also still faces the potential loss of her parental rights because of the criminal endangerment charge.

Beyond this particular—and particularly horrifying—case, the state legislature is in special session and using this time to push through devastating anti-choice bills. Governor Robert Bentley had to call a special session, which convened on Monday, August 3, because the legislature did not pass a budget during regular session. The focus of the special session must be on the budget, but the legislature passed a Budget Isolation Resolution allowing it to take up “emergency measures.”

Two such measures include SB 44, sponsored by Sen. Bill Hightower (R-Mobile), which prohibits the exchange of money or anything of value for fetal tissue. Of course, this bill is related to the attack videos that have had forced-birthers pushing to defund Planned Parenthood at the federal level for the last two weeks. Meanwhile, SB 26, a bill Sen. Gerald Dial (R-Lineville) proposed, would set up the state to charge a woman who has an abortion with homicide. As the bill is worded, it would revise the definition of criminal homicide to include abortion, even if the woman consents. The Alabama legislature is poised, once again, to challenge the very foundation of Roe v. Wade and subsequent legal precedent that affirms a woman’s right to abortion. In so doing, it undermines the reality that women are fully formed human beings. If SB 26 is successful—and history shows that in the Alabama legislature, anything is possible—the consequences for any person who can and does get pregnant are very real.

To cap all of it off, last week, Alabama Gov. Robert J. Bentley announced that he was cutting off state funding to Planned Parenthood.

Getting Radical for Reproductive Rights

Forced-birth activists in Alabama and around the country will be protesting Planned Parenthood agencies later this month. ARRA and clinic defenders will greet them and anyone who needs clinic services with more goodwill toward patients and providers, and a firm commitment to women’s human rights. And we will continue to work in the courts, in the statehouse, at the clinics, and alongside each other.

Now that Gov. Bentley has decided to defund Planned Parenthood, pro-choice activists are donating money in honor of (and more than one activist, “in memory of”) Bentley and his administration. Monday, August 10 was a “storm the statehouse” day, in which people around the state protested, among other things, the governor’s cuts to the organization. And on August 22, the day identified as a national day of protest against Planned Parenthood, ARRA will counter-protest those activists. We, along with other advocates, will be working in coalition with local, state, and national organizations to launch lawsuits, file ethics complaints, and stop abusive legislation that undoes women’s human rights. Alabama feminists and pro-choice activists are poised to get radical for reproductive rights.

CORRECTION: This piece has been updated to clarify the waiting period in Alabama.

Commentary Media

Beyond the Coat Hanger: What’s Next for Abortion Rights Iconography?

Cynthia Greenlee

For me, and many others born after Roe v. Wade, the fixation on coat hangers as the prevailing imagery of the reproductive rights movement excludes the possibility of alternatives that are more relevant to current struggles.

This piece is published in collaboration with Echoing Ida, a Forward Together project.

For many in the reproductive rights movement, the coat hanger is more than a commonplace closet item. Activists use it to memorialize those girls and women who turned to unsafe abortions out of desperation when abortion was illegal. It transforms into shorthand for “Never again.”

Although the symbol resurfaces throughout the year, it becomes a frequent sight around the January anniversary of Roe v. Wade. As I saw coat hanger references earlier this year, I felt an odd dissonance. I knew what I was supposed to feel: outrage, sadness, and a renewed commitment to reproductive justice. Instead, though, I only felt unmoved and then unnerved. For me, and many others born after Roe, the fixation on coat hangers as the prevailing iconography of the reproductive rights movement excludes the possibility of alternatives that are more relevant to current struggles.

Part of my discomfort was rooted in historical quibbles; while the coat hanger is the enduring symbol of women’s determination and desperation to end pregnancies during the era of illegal abortion, the implements of pregnancy termination also included catheters, toothpicks, unnaturally long fingernails, and drugs—even well before medication abortion was an accepted practice. And as durable as the images of the coat hanger or dangerous back-alley procedure may be, not all illegal abortions were unsafe; many were performed by trained clinicians working outside the law. In addition, as part of the first post-Roe generation, I didn’t live through a time when many hospitals had so-called “dirty” wards, where they treated women suffering from botched abortions. As much I hate to admit it, the coat hanger doesn’t resonate with me or many other people my age or younger.

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Given these realities, combined with the abortion storytelling trend—through which women publicly share their experiences with reproductive care—it is surprising that more advocates in the mainstream movement have not honed in on visual storytelling’s potential to change the way the general public perceives our issues. Considering, for example, the remarkable artistic flowering and public visual commemorations (such as “hands up” pictures) that are part of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, it’s time for the reproductive rights movement to get on board too.

Because images matter. Even if we stop short of agreeing with the old adage that “seeing is believing,” they can still influence, inflame, and reinforce beliefs—and we should be taking advantage of that.

Some activists have begun to pinpoint the problems with the movement’s existing iconography and to propose and create alternatives. Boston-based artist Megan Smith, who created the Repeal Hyde Art Project to increase dialogue about the federal policy that restricts Medicaid funds from being used to support abortion care except in case of rape or incest, points out that the coat hanger, on its own, reduces the struggle for reproductive health-care access to a single act of danger.

“Perhaps the coat hanger does what it’s intended to do. It makes me uncomfortable and makes me think about the violence [inherent in restricting women’s rights],” Smith told Rewire. Through art, she said, “I want to find a way to honor that history, what illegal abortion meant, and be respectful of what that means for people who have that real connection to that history. But I don’t know if that’s the message to put out there and for people to share. Women are resilient. Where are the images of resilience? Where are the images of faith? Where are the images of optimism?”

This narrow scope, she noted, reflects activists’ frequent embrace of narratives of suffering when garnering support for reproductive rights. “When talking about abortion access, we tend to victimize women who can’t afford their abortions or don’t get them. We are not opening the narrative to talk about women who have overcome that,” she said.

Still, it is challenging to convey the wide range of reproductive health experiences in a lasting, recognizable way. When Smith first began thinking about reproductive rights and visual media, she observed the limited repertoire already in use: the astrological female symbol, a silhouette of the uterus (not exactly familiar without a more-than-basic knowledge of anatomy), or the raised fist popularized by Black nationalists. She wanted to use art to give people an entry point to talk about abortion and reproductive rights without either contributing to the existing echo chamber or veering automatically to the polemical. To that end, her installations feature paper birds—whose flight, she says, can symbolize transcending the abortion debate. She invites spectators to add their own winged creation; often, passersby become participants just because they are drawn to the flock of simple, origami-like creatures.

Megan Smith's "Repeal Hyde" installations symbolize the act of transcending the abortion debate.

The birds used in Megan Smith’s “Repeal Hyde” installations symbolize the act of transcending the abortion debate. (Image courtesy Megan Smith)

Graphic designer Andrea Goetschius, also of Massachusetts, has had similar struggles in her work with international women’s health organizations. Too often in mainstream symbolism, she tells Rewire, pregnant women are reduced to nothing but body parts. This issue, she says, extends to general messaging about reproductive health.

“This isn’t just a problem about abortion; it’s a problem in terms of [illustrating] the spectrum of reproduction. If you try to find any image of pregnancy, you get ultrasounds, and you get bellies without heads. And these are white bellies. I refuse to use disembodied women,” she said. Instead, she frequently works creatively with fonts or typography rather than use pictures: “I’ve often chosen to strip the images … because it’s worse to perpetuate the de-centering of the woman.”

Maggie MacDonald, a visual anthropologist at York University in Toronto, has a slightly different take. She agrees that depictions of women are now largely absent from global reproductive health groups, especially those aiming to reduce pregnancy-related deaths worldwide. However, she notes, those campaigns have instead adopted pre-adolescent girls as their poster children, often pictured in school clothes or skipping in the sunlight.

This hypothetical young girl, MacDonald said, allows global information consumers to experience a “shared sense of humanity, through hope and aspiration. We want her to delay marriage, stay in school, use contraceptives, space her children.” But depicting schoolgirls as the ultimate target of reproductive health services strikes MacDonald as irresponsible, in that it ignores adult women’s needs and wants.

However, focusing on adult women should not mean the exclusion of offspring altogether; in an effort to center women, other reproductive health organizations that specifically work on abortion hesitate to use pictures of children in their publications. That is also short-sighted, says Madison, Wisconsin-based graphic designer Heather Ault.

“I think that’s the wrong approach,” she told Rewire. “Abortion is ultimately about motherhood, and women who are mothers are the majority of those who are having abortions. I think that by ignoring that fact, we’re missing out on an opportunity to tell the story of motherhood. The idea that abortion is about motherhood—abortion providers talk about abortion that way, but our mainstream movement does not.”

Ault is well known for her “4000 Years for Choice” exhibits, which tell the stories of abortion activism, contraceptive methods, and abortion procedures over time; she’s also produced some of the mostly widely circulated memes about reproductive health.

Heather Ault's “4000 Years for Choice” exhibits tell the stories of abortion activism, contraceptive methods, and abortion procedures over time.

Heather Ault’s “4000 Years for Choice” pieces tell the stories of abortion activism, contraceptive methods, and abortion procedures over time. (Image courtesy Heather Ault)

When preparing for “4000 Years for Choice,” Ault noticed that one political group in particular has consistently cogent messaging about reproductive issues: the anti-choice movement.

“In 2008, I went to the pro-life march in Washington, D.C. I marched with them, went to workshops. I felt like their signs were good. Their t-shirts were really good; there were so many different pro-life t-shirts you could buy. Almost any design, any personality. I was really impressed. I don’t agree with them, but they knew what they were doing. It was really inspiring from a design side,” she said.

In her view, abortion opponents were and are ahead of the game, designing apparel and billboards that put their messages on American streets.

Granted, it may be that the other side has an inherently simpler message. As Smith pointed out, “It’s not exactly nuanced: Abortion kills. That’s it.”

While that overarching message may be a great anti-abortion unifier, though, abortion opponents aren’t afraid to go for the gusto, trotting out images that may mobilize or even risk offending potential allies: notably, the bloody fetus. Since the invention and consumerization of the ultrasound, the fetus has taken center stage. It seems to float in “space,” independent of the person to whom it’s literally tied. She disappears or is only acknowledged as the fetus’ adversary—reinforcing her sublimation to the fetus in anti-choicers’ rhetoric and legislation.

Abortion rights activists may have a harder job in creating a symbolic language. How do you convey the state of abortion access—legal but increasingly restricted—visually? No single symbol can carry the weight of the many messages that emanate from these movements: obstacles, lack of access to contraceptives, women’s empowerment, abortion as a moral choice, and so on.

Goetschius says that reinventing a compelling visual language may force the reproductive rights movement to focus on targeting their audiences’ sympathetic as well as logical sides.

“Do we fall into the trap of trying to intellectualize this and not going for the emotional appeal? If we’re going for the equivalent of the cute baby”—the anti-abortion mascot—”why don’t we show happy and fulfilled women and men?” she asked.

But she does think that research can help determine new frontiers in the iconography of abortion rights; she hopes to one day run focus groups that ask women who have given birth or had abortions to draw their experiences, and to use their responses to generate new images. Similarly, she supports the idea of campaigns to submit and upload better images—say, those that show whole women and not merely their pregnant abdomens—to stock photography sites, frequently used by media outlets and ad companies.

For her part, Ault is waiting for the reproductive rights movement to invest money and time in finding new symbols. That may take a while because, as scholar Rosalind Petchesky wrote in a seminal 1987 article about the fetal image and visual culture, even feminists and pro-choice advocates find it hard to imagine positive images of abortion; we, she argued, “have all too readily ceded the visual terrain.”

To this end, the reproductive rights movement can take a page from the corporate and design worlds. Any new consumer product comes with a branding package that’s not just about the text. It’s also about the look: how evocative it is and how it aligns with the message.

When Ault started the “4000 Years” exhibit, she was surprised that something like it “hadn’t been done before—despite the fact that the feminist movement had been in full swing for decades. We’re an image culture, but our movement has been focused on state and national politics.” That focus, she says, means there are few artists like the Bay Area’s Favianna Rodriguez, who can build artistic reputations and movements at the same time.

“What would have happened if more than 40 years ago, our movement started funding ten different artists a year to do work about reproductive justice and funded spaces to show it?” she wondered. “If that had been a priority, we would have so many images we wouldn’t know what to do with them.”