Magazine article The American Prospect

Body Politics

Magazine article The American Prospect

Body Politics

Article excerpt

THE WOMEN'S MOVEMENT--AND PROGRESSIVE politics--faces a pivotal moment. On the one hand, the fundamentalist right has a powerful ally in the White House, and insidious incursions are already restricting reproductive choice. We could be one or two Supreme Court justices away, from a reversal of Roe v. Wade itself. On the other hand, the right has overreached with Bush's bizarre decision to constrain stem cell research. What's clear now is that fundamentalists are attacking not just abortion rights, but also contraception and life-enhancing laboratory science.

And after years of being on the defensive, the pro-choice movement is gaining ground. As Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Gloria Feldt says, "In many ways, we were victims of our own success. The twentieth century was a time of great steps forward--women's right to vote, to contraception, the birth-control pill in 1960, legal equality in the workplace, legal and safe abortion. But in a democracy, there are no permanent victories."

In the last two decades, the momentum passed to the opposition. "Our grass roots languished," adds Feldt. "If you don't have a positive agenda, you end up defending a constantly eroding status quo. …

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