Dover Bitch

Monday, June 18, 2007

Show some adaptability

(cross-posted at Hullabaloo)

At the Take Back America Conference today, in the Women Rising: The Issues that Count panel, Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards made an important point that may only be just beginning to sink in for most of America: The Bush administration's changes to the judiciary are going to have a long-lasting impact on the nation.

I think the most lasting legacy of this administration, besides the war in Iraq, will be the total remake of the federal judiciary, which we're going to live with for decades. It's not... It is the Supreme Court, but it's obviously much, it goes much deeper.

And I do believe, actually though, this is the time that we... Litigation was a tool we used for years and at the end of the day, we always thought we could sort of rely on nine predominantly men in robes, and those days are over. And so I think this is our opportunity and obligation to rebuild a movement in this country. And it does mean building grassroots support in this country, state by state.

It's why it was so important for Planned Parenthood's action fund in the last election to demonstrate that being pro-women's rights and pro-women's health care was not only the right thing to do, it was the politically right thing to do. And I think that's why it was so important that we elected governors across the country and have to continue to do that. Because at the end of the day, the decisions that are being made, and some of them were spoken here, that affect women's access to health care, women's access to affordable health care and teen's access to comprehensive, medically accurate sex education... These decisions are being made by governors and state legislatures.

So, I think it is incumbent on all of us to do our work at the local level and as we know -- anybody who is spending time in Washington knows -- everyone on Capitol Hill came from somewhere else. So, if we change power in this country, we're going to change Washington.

The sooner this registers in everybody's skulls, the better. I hesitate to say that people who believe a woman has a right to control her own body have become complacent, but the fact of the matter is that the courts are no longer a reliable last line of defense for women's rights. The arena in which women's rights will be secured has shifted and become less concentrated, which means the burden of maintaining those rights will have to be shared by more Americans.

Furthermore, there is hardly a flatter lie than when a GOP candidate says these issues should be left to the states. Is there any doubt that the minute a woman no longer has a Constitutional, fundamental right to make these decisions, the pro-life movement will immediately attempt to have a federal ban? They've been trying to do that already, even with a woman's rights protected by Roe.

The ongoing struggle for women's reproductive rights is going to become increasingly a state and local issue, but it will remain a federal issue as well. Hopefully America won't waste too much time adapting to this new landscape because there isn't much time to lose and it's no longer up to a group of smart and dedicated lawyers to keep us free.

UPDATE: After reading some of Hullabaloo's excellent commenters, it is obvious to me that I missed a golden opportunity to point out that the president of any organization that endorsed Joe Lieberman has some chutzpah to be lamenting the fact that we can no longer rely on the Supreme Court to protect women's rights.

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