Live-Blogging NCRW’s “Reproductive Rights” Panel

Sarah Seltzer

I'm at the National Council for Research on  Women's annual conference,  live-blogging the Thursday morning panel on reproductive rights.

I’m at the National Council for Research on  Women’s annual conference,  live-blogging the Thursday morning panel on reproductive rights.


Sharon Camp, Guttmacher Institute
Wendy Chavkin, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University
Adrienne Germain, International Women’s Health Coalition
Silvia Henriquez, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health
Loretta Ross, SisterSong


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Anika Rahman, Americans for UNFPA THURSDAY


First question is about the new administration and how much the climate for Reproductive Rights has changed
+ what new priorities are.

Sharon Camp: "We are already deeply disappointed that the new adminstration has failed to make eye-contact with the issue of abortion."

Camp expresses concern that although Obama will be "transformational," administration has and will sidestep issues like the Hyde Amendment, stimulus funding, international funding, and Health reform that tackle social inequality in terms of abortion access and coverage. 


Henriquez: Obama administration reveals the "opportunities presented to communities of color to show we have ability to lead." She hopes to mobilize community to work on reproductive health issues. Points out that a more friendly-faced administration and downturn combined present a challenge for funding and organizing. 

Has been pushing for coverage for immigrants, ready to push for access to safety-net programs for immigrants when the issue of immigration reform comes up. Wants women’s rights community to get on board w/immigration reform fight.

Germain: People don’t know yet that despite Democratic congress "we don’t have supporters in House and Senate who can push issues forward." It’s crucial on a grassroots level for citizens and orgs. to pressure politicians as much as the opposition does.Also crucial to change discussion of HIV prevention internationally to focus on reproductive rights.

Ross: Quotes LBJ–"I agree with you, now make me go out and sign it." Says it’s all about mobilizing voices to force Obama adminstration to pay attention to our agenda, and says when women of color do speak to elected officials on RH, they are grateful to hear non-white voices on the issue.

Says there’s sometimes disagreement w/allies–i.e. people in mainstream pro-choice movement who don’t think Hyde  Amendment is a priority.

Finally Ross says we can use organizing momentum from election to tip some more southern states blue.

Chavkin: Says health reform is the issue to insist upon for Obama for his first term–he needs the victory. "He needs us." Public option is key, and using "medical standard of care" in language instead of listing reproductive services that will siphon off votes.

Rahman: Wants to build bipartisan support for issues. Says it’s a shame to see RH as a one-party issue.


Question from the floor on immigrants and health coverage.

Henriquez says it’s to our best interest, while health reform being negotiated in DC, to deal with supplemental issues that affect immigrant and diverse communities: community health care for instance. Organize activists and community members to talk to officials about their needs and take other advocacy avenues.

Question from the floor on working with international groups beyond US aid and UN jursidiction:

Germain: says there’s incredible motivation on the ground, but the issue is connecting local with global donors, big countries like US and Europeans. Says she’s more optimistic than her younger staff. Says we have an obligation to right the wrongs of previous administration which "ballooned" NGOs that were opposed to women’s rights.

Camp:Says local funding in jeapordy because int’l donations tend to be more general,central, not reaching grassroots.

Questions about where doctors stand and how women’s health framework (as opposed to rights) plays in Washington:

Chavkin: Doctors often come from privilege so can be conservative. But some have been moved by reality they’ve seen. Mentions several very progressive groups of medical professionals fighting for public option in health care.

Also says that legislators are excited about  "women’s health across the lifespan" approach because reproductive rights battle has become so entrenched.

Henriquez: Women in NLIRH’s constituency are heads of households, part of larger groups: women’s health is about the well-being and opportunities of families and communities.

Want to work with larger social justice issues, but faced with misogyny/ and opposition when women’s issues come up.

Loretta Ross: Made it safe for women to have abortions, but not to talk about abortion and for elected officials to stand up for abortion. 

"Have to convince politicians that we will vote them out of office if they don’t support our issues"

Germain: If we don’t make abortion acceptable conversation, we start to lose other things like contraception, family planning. Germain says we can’t stand up for our human rights if we don;t have our health and ability to control our bodies. 
First step is educating politicians effectively.

Rahman concludes: it’s all about education and mobilization.

News Politics

Former Klan Leader on Senate Run: My Views Are Now the ‘GOP Mainstream’

Teddy Wilson

David Duke has been a fervent support of the Trump campaign, and has posted dozens of messages in support of Trump on Twitter. Duke has often used the hashtag #TrumpWasRight.

David Duke, convicted felon, white supremacist, and former leader of the Ku Klux Klan, announced Friday that he will run for U.S. Senate in Louisiana, Roll Call reported.

Duke said that after a “great outpouring of overwhelming support,” he will campaign for the open Senate seat vacated by former Republican Sen. David Vitter, who lost a bid for Louisiana governor in a runoff election.

Duke’s announcement comes the day after Donald Trump accepted the GOP nomination in the midst of growing tensions over race relations across the country. Trump has been criticized during the campaign for his rhetoric, which, his critics say, mainstreams white nationalism and provokes anxiety and fear among students of color.

His statements about crime and immigration, particularly about immigrants from Mexico and predominantly Muslim countries, have been interpreted by outlets such as the New York Times as speaking to some white supporters’ “deeper and more elaborate bigotry.”

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Duke said in his campaign announcement that he was the first candidate to promote the policy of “America first,” echoing a line from Trump’s nomination acceptance speech on Thursday night.

“The most important difference between our plan and that of our opponents, is that our plan will put America First,” Trump said Thursday night. “As long as we are led by politicians who will not put America First, then we can be assured that other nations will not treat America with respect.”

Duke said his platform has become “the GOP mainstream” and claimed credit for propelling Republicans to control of Congress in 2010. He said he is “overjoyed to see Donald Trump … embrace most of the issues I’ve championed for years.”

Trump in February declined to disavow the support of a white supremacist group and Duke, saying he knew “nothing about David Duke” and knew “nothing about white supremacists.” He later clarified that he rejected their support, and blamed his initial failure to disavow Duke on a “bad earpiece.”

Trump’s candidacy has also brought to light brought many incidents of anti-Semitism, much of which has been directed at journalists and commentators covering the presidential campaign.

Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro wrote in the National Review that Trump’s nomination has “drawn anti-Semites from the woodwork,” and that the Republican nominee has been willing to “channel the support of anti-Semites to his own ends.”

Duke took to Twitter after Trump’s acceptance speech Thursday to express his support for the Republican nominee’s vision for America.

“Great Trump Speech, America First! Stop Wars! Defeat the Corrupt elites! Protect our Borders!, Fair Trade! Couldn’t have said it better!” Duke tweeted.

Duke has been a fervent Trump supporter, and has posted dozens of messages in support of Trump on Twitter. Duke has often used the hashtag #TrumpWasRight.

Duke was elected to the Louisiana house in 1989, serving one term. Duke was the Republican nominee for governor in 1991, and was defeated by Democrat Edwin Edwards.

Duke, who plead guilty in 2002 to mail fraud and tax fraud, has served a year in federal prison.

News Abortion

Reproductive Justice Groups Hit Back at RNC’s Anti-Choice Platform

Michelle D. Anderson

Reproductive rights and justice groups are greeting the Republican National Convention with billboards and media campaigns that challenge anti-choice policies.

Reproductive advocacy groups have moved to counter negative images that will be displayed this week during the Republican National Convention (RNC) in Cleveland, while educating the public about anti-choice legislation that has eroded abortion care access nationwide.

Donald Trump, the presumptive GOP nominee for president, along with Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R), Trump’s choice for vice president, have supported a slew of anti-choice policies.

The National Institute for Reproductive Health is among the many groups bringing attention to the Republican Party’s anti-abortion platform. The New York City-based nonprofit organization this month erected six billboards near RNC headquarters and around downtown Cleveland hotels with the message, “If abortion is made illegal, how much time will a person serve?”

The institute’s campaign comes as Created Equal, an anti-abortion organization based in Columbus, Ohio, released its plans to use aerial advertising. The group’s plan was first reported by The Stream, a conservative Christian website.

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The site reported that the anti-choice banners would span 50 feet by 100 feet and seek to “pressure congressional Republicans into defunding Planned Parenthood.” Those plans were scrapped after the Federal Aviation Administration created a no-fly zone around both parties’ conventions.

Created Equal, which was banned from using similar messages on a large public monitor near the popular Alamo historic site in San Antonio, Texas, in 2014, did not respond to a request for comment on Thursday.

Andrea Miller, president of the National Institute for Reproductive Health, said in an interview with Rewire that Created Equal’s stance and tactics on abortion show how “dramatically out of touch” its leaders compared to where most of the public stands on reproductive rights. Last year, a Gallup poll suggested half of Americans supported a person’s right to have an abortion, while 44 percent considered themselves “pro-life.”

About 56 percent of U.S. adults believe abortion care should be legal all or most of the time, according to the Pew Research Center’s FactTank.

“It’s important to raise awareness about what the RNC platform has historically endorsed and what they have continued to endorse,” Miller told Rewire.

Miller noted that more than a dozen women, like Purvi Patel of Indiana, have been arrested or convicted of alleged self-induced abortion since 2004. The billboards, she said, help convey what might happen if the Republican Party platform becomes law across the country.

Miller said the National Institute for Reproductive Health’s campaign had been in the works for several months before Created Equal announced its now-cancelled aerial advertising plans. Although the group was not aware of Created Equal’s plans, staff anticipated that intimidating messages seeking to shame and stigmatize people would be used during the GOP convention, Miller said.

The institute, in a statement about its billboard campaign, noted that many are unaware of “both the number of anti-choice laws that have passed and their real-life consequences.” The group unveiled an in-depth analysis looking at how the RNC platform “has consistently sought to make abortion both illegal and inaccessible” over the last 30 years.

NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio last week began an online newspaper campaign that placed messages in the Cleveland Plain Dealer via, the Columbus Dispatch, and the Dayton Daily News, NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio spokesman Gabriel Mann told Rewire.

The ads address actions carried out by Created Equal by asking, “When Did The Right To Life Become The Right To Terrorize Ohio Abortion Providers?”

“We’re looking to expose how bad [Created Equal has] been in these specific media markets in Ohio. Created Equal has targeted doctors outside their homes,” Mann said. “It’s been a very aggressive campaign.”

The NARAL ads direct readers to, an educational website created by NARAL; Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio; the human rights and reproductive justice group, New Voices Cleveland; and Preterm, the only abortion provider located within Cleveland city limits.

The website provides visitors with a chronological look at anti-abortion restrictions that have been passed in Ohio since the landmark decision in Roe v. Wade in 1973.

In 2015, for example, Ohio’s Republican-held legislature passed a law requiring all abortion facilities to have a transfer agreement with a non-public hospital within 30 miles of their location. 

Like NARAL and the National Institute for Reproductive Health, Preterm has erected a communications campaign against the RNC platform. In Cleveland, that includes a billboard bearing the message, “End The Silence. End the Shame,” along a major highway near the airport, Miller said.

New Voices has focused its advocacy on combatting anti-choice policies and violence against Black women, especially on social media sites like Twitter.

After the police killing of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old Black boy, New Voices collaborated with the Repeal Hyde Art Project to erect billboard signage showing that reproductive justice includes the right to raise children who are protected from police brutality.

Abortion is not the only issue that has become the subject of billboard advertising at the GOP convention.

Kansas-based environmental and LGBTQ rights group Planting Peace erected a billboard depicting Donald Trump kissing his former challenger Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) just minutes from the RNC site, according to the Plain Dealer.

The billboard, which features the message, “Love Trumps Hate. End Homophobia,” calls for an “immediate change in the Republican Party platform with regard to our LGBT family and LGBT rights,” according to news reports.

CORRECTION: A version of this article incorrectly stated the percentage of Americans in favor of abortion rights.