MoveOn Moves Into the Abortion Battle

In 1998, as the Republican Congress was salivating over President Bill Clinton’s sex scandal, software entrepreneurs Joan Blades and Wes Boyd started a petition drive to “Censure President Clinton and Move On to Pressing Issues Facing the Nation.” That online petition drive attracted hundreds of thousands of people who wanted their national leaders to express their displeasure and disappointment with the President and “move on.” It grew into a movement of progressives that today boasts 5.2 million members. In the process, it has influenced the direction of American politics.

MoveOn is now moving into the reproductive rights battle with an ad featuring Dr. Lisa Cuddy of House, Lisa Edelstein. MoveOn produced We Won’t Go Back, a powerful video that conjures up the horror of back-alley and self-induced abortions as part of their new campaign to call attention to attacks on women’s health and reproductive rights.

“This issue is hugely important,” Edelstein said to Ms. about the GOP’s latest efforts to turn the clock back on women’s reproductive rights. HR3, the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” sponsored by Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), would impose a tax on women and businesses that provide insurance for reproductive health care and restrict women from using their own personal funds to buy insurance that includes reproductive health services. Added Edelstein,

This is an attack on women’s rights that’s taking place behind closed doors and fine print legislation. They’re not attacking Roe v. Wade directly, they want to make it impossible for women to choose abortion. … [Most people] rely on organizations like MoveOn to let us know what’s going on. They’re in the trenches and paying attention.

I want to shine a light on what’s happening. No matter if you’re a Democrat or Republican–this is not about the GOP, although we mention them in the ad–voters need to know that their representatives are trying to take away their rights.

The anti-choice zealots in Congress are moving quickly. It’s no coincidence that two of the first three bills taken up by the new Republican majority in the House contain harsh anti-choice language, and the third would indirectly deprive women of reproductive health services:

H.R. 1: Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011 would restore the ban on international family planning.

H.R. 2: Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act would eliminate any provision of family planning services in the national health care reform bill.

H.R. 3: No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act would go beyond the Hyde Amendment to further limit women’s access to affordable reproductive health care.

When 30 million people are unemployed, millions more are underemployed, schools and libraries are being closed, cities and states struggle to provide basic services, more people are losing their homes and can’t afford health insurance, and the infrastructure of the nation is crumbling, the first three bills the anti-choice members of Congress focus on would force women to have babies they don’t want. Where’s the logic, let alone the compassion?

It’s time for Congress to move on–what do you think our U.S. legislators should be doing instead of undermining women’s reproductive rights?

Image from MoveOn’s We Won’t Go Back


Not the singer/songwriter Carole King. Been a feminist for as long as I can remember and committed to reproductive rights even longer.