Volume , Number 0
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keith harmon snow
Church & State
Eleanor J. Bader
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What If Roe Fell?
T he scariest reading you’re likely to do this year won’t come from Stephen King. Instead, this season’s creepiest spine-tingler derives from policy analysts at the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights. What if Roe Fell ? , a 132-page booklet released in late 2004, addresses the consequences of overturning Roe v. Wade and provides a state-by-state, territory- by-territory analysis of what would happen if the Supreme Court revokes the legal right to terminate unwanted pregnancies.
According to the document, a decision to repeal Roe will most likely not make abortion illegal in the United States. Rather, such a decision will remove all federal protections for reproductive choice and will grant each state the authority to set its own abortion policy. This means that if a state is so inclined it will be able to ban abortions completely or limit access to cases of life endangerment, rape, or incest. The only states in which the right will be protected are those that have already passed legislation, separate and apart from federal dictates that grant abortion rights to residents.
impossible? While denial will probably edge its way into most of
our psyches, the sad truth is that the composition of the Supreme
Court has for several years been ripe for change. Justice Steven
Breyer, the newest member of the bench, was appointed in 1994 and
rumors about the impending retirement of William Rehnquist, John
Paul Stevens, and Sandra Day O’Connor continue to surface.
Should they go—and should Dubya appoint jurists who toe the
line of Christian fundamentalism to replace them—today’s
five to four pro-choice majority will shift and in most locales
a state’s interest in protecting fetal life will trump feminist
arguments about women’s rights, sexual autonomy, and reproductive
The Center’s investigators found just 20 states in which abortion is relatively safe from Court machinations: Alaska, California, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Tennessee, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
The remaining 30 states—as well as the District of Columbia, Guam, and Puerto Rico—are poised to reevaluate their policies; 21 will likely restrict abortion access. That’s not all. Like a page from Ken Loach’s 2004 film, Vera Drake , the states of Alabama, Arizona, Louisiana, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Rhode Island have punishments on the books and, in the event of Roe’s demise, will impose sentences ranging from 12 months in the county jail (Alabama) to 10 years of hard labor and a “fine of no less than $10,000 and not more than $100,000” (Louisiana) on anyone guilty of causing an abortion or aiding and abetting a woman who wishes to obtain one.
While the report is stomach churning, it is meant as both a reference tool and an activist prod. As such, Center staffers remind readers that the Court has not yet acted and that there is a great deal of work that pro-choice activists can do to safeguard abortion availability. “In some states,” the authors write, “only defensive strategies are realistic; in others, advocates should consider an affirmative strategy to protect the right to choose abortion.”
What if Roe Fell ? offers numerous suggestions, the strongest of which is to find sympathetic lawmakers and have them introduce legislation to protect abortion from federal erosion. A model Reproductive Privacy Act is provided as a guide to help anyone interested in writing a bill to keep abortion legal in their state.
The booklet also advises activists to work on repealing long-forgotten abortion bans that remain on the books since these laws will be enforceable if the Court overturns the 1973 Roe decision. In addition, the report urges activists to lobby against any and all restrictions on access—from parental consent and notification laws to 24-hour waiting periods between requesting an abortion and having the surgery.
Lastly, the report urges the pro-choice community to become pro-active and develop plans to deflect the impact of a possible abortion prohibition. “As history teaches, anti-choice legislators will be busy introducing and pushing for bans on abortion if they sense that Roe is in danger. Their efforts will become more frenzied if the composition of the U.S. Supreme Court changes and as controversial litigation makes its way up the Court.” Broadly inclusive coalitions, the authors write, need to be formed now so that strategies can be developed before—not after—the Court has acted.
For its part, NARAL is gearing up for what communications director David Seldin calls “the mother of all confirmation battles,” following any new Supreme Court appointments.
“The president is going to push as much and as hard as he thinks he’ll be able to get away with,” Seldin continues. “We will do our best to rally the support we know is there for Roe . We plan to keep ringing the alarm bells through our state affiliates and at the national level.”
Eleanor Bader is the co-author of Targets of Hatred: Anti-Abortion Ter- rorism (St. Martin's Press, 2001).
Z Magazine Archive
HUMAN RIGHTS - The U.S. Human Rights Network will celebrate its 10th anniversary with the Advancing Human Rights 2013 Conference, December 6-8, in Atlanta, GA.
Contact: 250 Georgia Avenue SE, Suite 330, Atlanta, GA 30312; firstname.lastname@example.org; http:// www.ushrnetwork.org/.
AFRICAN/SOCIALIST - The Sixth Congress of the African People’s Socialist Party USA will be held December 7-11, in St. Petersburg, FL.
Contact: 1245 18th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33705; 727- 821-6620; info@aps puhuru.org; http://asiuhuru.org/.
SCHOOLS - The Dignity in Schools Campaign (DSC) will host a workshop on the DSC “Model Code on Education and Dignity: Presenting A Human Rights Framework for Schools” at the Mid-Hudson Region NY State Leadership Summit on School Justice Partnerships, December 11 in White Plains, NY.
Contact: http://www.dignityin schools.org/.
ANARCHIST/BOOKFAIR - The Humboldt Anarchist Book Fair will be held December 14, in Eureka, CA.
Contact: humboldtgrassroots @riseup.net; http://humbold tanarchist bookfair.wordpress. com/.
CLIMATE - The World Symposium on Sustainable Development at Universities is hosting a follow-up event to the 2012 Rio de Janeiro symposium. The gathering will be held in Qatar on January 28-30, 2014.
Contact: http://environment.tufts. edu/.
LABOR - The United Association for Labor Education (UALE) will host Organizing for Power: A New Labor Movement for the New Working Class in Los Angeles, March 26-29. Proposals are due December 15.
Contact: LAWCHA, 226 Carr Building (East Campus), Box 90719, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708-0719;lawcha @duke. edu; http://lawcha.org/.
MEDIA FELLOWSHIP - The Media Mobilizing Project is seeking applicants for the first annual Movement Media Fellowship Program. The Fellow will work with MMP to produce the spring season of Media Mobilizing Project TV. MMPTV is a news and talk show that tells the stories of local communities organizing to win human rights and build a movement to end poverty.
Contact: 4233 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19104; 215-821- 9632; milena@media mobilizing.org; http://www.media mobilizing.org/.
RACE - The 7th Facing Race: A National Conference will be held in Dallas, TX November 13-15, 2014. Organizers, educators, artists, funders and everyone interested in racial equity is invited to exchange best practices and learn about innovative models and successful organizing initiatives. Proposals must be submitted by January 24, 2014.
Contact: Race Forward, 32 Broadway, Suite 1801, New York, NY 10004; 212-513-7925; media @raceforward.org; http://race forward.org/.
VETERANS - They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return from America’s Wars - The Untold Story, by Ann Jones, is about the journey of veterans from the moment of being wounded in rural Afghanistan to their return home.
Contact: Haymarket Books, PO Box 180165, Chicago, IL 60618; 773-583-7884; http://www.haymarketbooks.org/.
LIBYA - Destroying Libya and World Order: The Three-Decade U.S. Campaign to Terminate the Qaddafi Revolution, by Francis A. Boyle, is a history and critique of American foreign policy from Reagan to Obama.
Contact: Clarity Press, Inc., Ste. 469, 3277 Roswell Rd. NE, Atlanta, GE 30305; 404-647-6501; email@example.com; http://www. claritypress.com/.
CHILDREN - Fannie and Freddie by Becky Z. Dernbach is about two bumbling villains who gamble away the savings of the people of Homeville.
Contact: fannieandfreddiebook @gmail.com; http://fannieand freddie.org/.
PROTEST/COMIC - Fight the Power!: A Visual History of Protest Among English Speaking Peoples, by Sean Michael Wilson and Benjamin Dickson is a graphic narrative that explains how people have fought against oppression.
Contact: Seven Stories Press, 140 Watts Street, New York, NY 10013; 212-226-8760; info@ sevenstories.com; http://www. sevenstories.com.
CHILDREN - Brave Girl by Michelle Markel and illustrated by Melissa Sweet is the true story of Clara Lemlich, a young Ukrainian immigrant who led the largest strike of women workers in U.S. history.
Contact: http://www.harpercollins childrens.com/Kids/.
FESTIVAL - The 2014 Queer Women of Color Film Festival will be held June 13-15 in San Francisco. The festival is currently accepting submissions until December 31.
Contact: QWOCMAP, 59 Cook Street, San Francisco, CA 94118-3310; 415-752-0868; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.qwocmap.org/.
IRAQ/REFUGEES - Ten years after the U.S.-led war in Iraq, thousands of displaced Iraqi refugees are still facing a crisis in the United States. The Lost Dream follows Nazar and Salam who had to flee Iraq in order to avoid threats by Al- Qaeda-affiliated groups and Iraqi insurgents that consider them “traitors” for supporting U.S. forces in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Contact: Typecast Films, 888- 591-3456; info@type castfilms. com; http://type castfilms.com/.
HUMAN RIGHTS - Lyrical Revolt! III will be held December 4 in Syracuse, NY. The event will feature hip-hop musician Anhel whose album Young, Gifted, and Brown was just released. The event is sponsored by ANSWER Syracuse, Liberation News, and SyracuseHip Hop.com. Performers and artists are encouraged to send submissions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.answercoalition.org/syracuse/.
FOLK - Musician Painless Parker has released his album Music for miscreants, malcontents and misanthropes featuring “Fuck Yeah, the Working Class.”
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://painlessparkermusic.com/.
COMEDY - Political comedian Lee Camp’s new album Pepper Spray the Tears Away has been released.