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Hey gang,

If you could ask any question to the president of NARAL, what would you ask? If

I am going to be on a conference call with the president of NARAL and some other women bloggers in about an hour. I definitely want to hear what you would like to ask and/or tell her. I will be live-blogging as much as possible at my blogbase,

So let it rip.

Originally posted to liza on Wed Aug 10, 2005 at 03:19 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Does this merit a tipjar? (none)
    I don't know, anyhow, please y'all ... let it rip!
  •  Please, for the love of God.... (4.00)
    ....don't support pro-choice Republicans over pro-choice Democrats. Pro-choice Republicans over anti-abortion Democrats, I can understand. But the first, not a good call.
  •  two questions (4.00)
    (the obvious one) With Jim Langevin out of the race, do you regret your early endorsement in the RI Senate race?

    (the hard one) Did you release your current tv ad on Roberts knowing that many would see it as distorting and unfair, for the purpose of stirring up debating about its controversial claims?

    Patrick Murphy for Congress (PA-8) --

    by Adam B on Wed Aug 10, 2005 at 03:16:50 PM PDT

    •  I second the second ... (none)
      That's how I've been defending the ad, on Kos and elsewhere, so I'd like to know.

      "Nature favors the apt, not the strong or the weak." Louis Sullivan

      by Lilibeth on Wed Aug 10, 2005 at 03:24:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Maura in VA's post above (none)
        has a link, but Bitch Ph.D's format is too hard to read, at least on my screen, so here's the whole statement as I received it today, complete with sources. I apologize for the length, to those who aren't nerds for this kind of thing. Could Use a Good Factchecker's analysis of the television advertisement released by NARAL Pro-Choice America on August 8, 2005 is deeply flawed, and its conclusion that the "ad is false" is unsubstantiated and should be retracted.  The analysis, written by Matthew Barge, identified as a recent college graduate,[1] is riddled with legal and factual errors and in many instances virtually mirrors the White House's talking points.  One might disagree with the opinions stated in the ad or even have a different view of how John Roberts' role in a particular case should be characterized; however, every factual statement made in NARAL Pro-Choice America's ad is completely accurate and supported by objective documents.  The ad is not "false."  John Roberts did indeed file briefs supporting violent fringe groups, with the effect of excusing their actions by helping to remove a crucial legal remedy that had been the most effective tool against them.

        Some of the more glaring errors in's analysis are detailed below. Makes Factual Misstatement About "Clinic Bomber" Statement in Ad: asserts that ad is false in part because Bray v. Alexandria Women's Health Clinic "didn't deal with bombing at all."  However, NARAL Pro-Choice America's ad never claimed that it did.  What the ad did claim - and what is in fact true - is that John Roberts "sided with violent fringe groups, including a convicted clinic bomber."  Long before Roberts involved himself in the case, Michael Bray, one of the named defendants in the Bray case, was convicted for his role in the bombings of several reproductive health facilities.[2]  John Roberts did, therefore, side with a convicted clinic bomber.  He also sided with a violent fringe group - the violent history of Operation Rescue is well known. Falsely Suggests that Roberts Did Not Support Bray Defendants:  In a puzzling statement, states that "the ad misleads when it says Roberts supported a clinic bomber. It is true that Roberts sided with the bomber . . . ."  Mr. Barge further states that Roberts merely "made the same arguments as" the defendants.  However, there is no question that Roberts sided with convicted bomber Michael Bray and the other defendants, and, in doing so, Roberts supported those defendants.  The brief itself is titled a "brief for the United States as amicus curiae supporting petitioners,"[3] with the petitioners in this case of course being the defendants, including Michael Bray.  The filing of an amicus brief is a discretionary act, and the office of the Solicitor General enjoys wide latitude in deciding whether to intervene as an amicus in any particular case.  If the Solicitor General's office did not intend to support the Bray defendants, the office could have chosen to intervene on the side of the reproductive health clinics or not to intervene in the case at all. Makes Factual Misstatement About Timeline Used in Ad: states that the "ad fails to mention that the 'court briefs' it mentions are actually from nearly seven years before the abortion clinic bombing talked about in the ad."  As the sidebar to the article demonstrates, the date of the filing of the brief - April 11, 1991 - appears on screen as part of the overall image of the brief's cover.  The year of the brief's filing is visible on-screen, as is evidenced by the date's inclusion in's summary of the ad in its sidebar.  Furthermore, the ad opens with the announcer stating that Ms. Lyons was injured in a bombing "seven years ago" and includes an image of the New Woman All Women Health Clinic and the date - January 29, 1998.  There was no attempt by NARAL Pro-Choice America to misstate the timeline of events or to infer that Ms. Lyons' injuries occurred as the result of the actions at issue in the Bray case. Makes Factual Misstatement About Roberts' Legal Argument:  It is worth noting that even's legal description of the brief Roberts filed in the Bray case is not accurate.  Mr. Barge states that Roberts argued that the act at issue in the case "applied only to conspiracies to deprive people of civil rights due to racial discrimination, not gender discrimination."  In fact, that was not Roberts' position.  Roberts actually argued that, regardless of whether gender discrimination was covered by the act at issue in the case, the clinic blockades were not gender discrimination at all.  The brief states that the question of whether gender discrimination was actionable under the law was one that there was "no need to answer" in this case.[4]  The brief further adds that, even if the act at issue was "broad enough to reach gender-based animus, the actions taken by the petitioners are not a form of gender-based discrimination."[5] Minimizes John Roberts' Role in Filing of the Bray Brief:  The ad states that "John Roberts filed court briefs supporting violent fringe groups and a convicted clinic bomber."  Mr. Barge states, without explanation but apparently in an attempt to minimize Roberts' role, that Roberts was "one of six Justice Department officials who submitted the brief."  In fact, the ad is accurate when it says Roberts filed the brief - his name appears on the brief itself.  Furthermore, Roberts was the second in command at the Solicitor General's office, a senior political appointee largely responsible for shaping legal strategy.  Roberts appeared to have been the office's point person on its strategy around the clinic violence issue - appearing twice before the Supreme Court to argue the Bray case and making media appearances to defend his office's position.[6]   Minimizes Operation Rescue's Lawlessness: paints a grossly misleading picture of the nature of Operation Rescue "protestors."  At the time of Bray, reproductive health clinics were under siege by anti-choice extremists.  In many cases, state law enforcement was outnumbered, overpowered, and overwhelmed, despite their best efforts.  For example, in their amicus brief in Bray, the State Attorneys General of Virginia and New York pleaded to the Supreme Court to make federal civil rights laws and remedies available to reproductive health clinics and other victims of Operation Rescue's lawlessness.  They insisted that "[n]o state, or group of states, is equipped alone to deal with and redress the deprivations of federal rights caused by the nationwide activity of Operation Rescue."[7]  

        The City of Falls Church, home to one of the plaintiff clinics in Bray that experienced clinic blockades on almost a weekly basis for five years,[8] declared in its amicus brief that it could not effectively contend with Operation Rescue's "military-style tactics."  During blockades that local law enforcement were unable to effectively handle, Falls Church reported that "[s]ome [patients] suffered physical injury, locked captive in cars that could not move through the parking lot, or bunkered inside the clinic from which medical personnel seeking to treat them had been denied access. . . .  It was only when the federal court in this case entered its injunction under § 1985(3) against the blockades and those that would act in furtherance of them that these disturbances ceased."[9] Is Profoundly Misguided To State That Operation Rescue's Behavior Is Akin to the Civil Rights Movement:  Mr. Barge states that Operation Rescue's actions "in some ways mirrored the non-violent tactics used earlier by civil-rights activists."  This restatement of anti-choice extremists' talking points is clearly untrue.  As Justice Stevens wrote in Bray, "the demonstrations in the 1960's were motivated by a desire to extend the equal protection of the laws to all classes - not to impose burdens on any disadvantaged class. . . .  The suggestion that there is an analogy between their struggle to achieve equality and these petitioners' concerted efforts to deny women equal access to a constitutionally protected privilege may have rhetorical appeal, but it is insupportable on the record before us. . ."[10]  Justice Stevens also noted that Bray "presents a striking contemporary example of the kind of zealous, politically motivated, lawless conduct that led to the enactment of the Ku Klux Act in 1871 and gave it its name."[11]  Similarly, Justice O'Connor likened Operation Rescue's behavior to the Ku Klux Klan, noting that "[l]ike the Klan conspiracies Congress tried to reach in enacting §1985(3), '[p]etitioners intended to hinder a particular group in the exercise of their legal rights because of their membership in a specific class.'"[12]


        [1] Annenberg Political Fact Check, About Us -, at (last visited Aug. 10, 2005); Chris Wooley, McCain Talks to WBTB, The Hoya, at (last visited Aug. 10, 2005).

        [2]  Bray was convicted of two counts of conspiracy and one count of possessing unregistered explosive devices. The court sentenced him to 10 years in prison and ordered him to pay restitution in the amount of $43,782.  The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit overturned his conviction on a technicality relating to jury selection.  Before he was retried, Bray entered a plea that resulted in him serving 46 months in prison.  Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Extremist Biography:  Michael Bray (Feb. 2, 2005), at (last visited Aug. 10, 2005); National Abortion Federation, Anti-Abortion Extremists/The Army of God and Justifiable Homicide, at  (last visited Aug. 10, 2005); National Abortion Federation, History of Violence/Arsons and Bombings, at  (last visited Aug. 10, 2005); Sandy Banisky, Bowie Family Condones Anti-Abortion Violence, Baltimore Sun, Oct. 9, 1994, at 1A.

        [3] Brief for the United States as Amicus Curiae Supporting Petitioners, Bray v. Alexandria Women's Health Clinic, No. 90-985 (Apr. 11, 1991) (emphasis added).

        [4] Brief for the United States as Amicus Curiae Supporting Petitioners, Bray v. Alexandria Women's Health Clinic, No. 90-985 (Apr. 11, 1991).

        [5] Brief for the United States as Amicus Curiae Supporting Petitioners, Bray v. Alexandria Women's Health Clinic, No. 90-985 (Apr. 11, 1991).

        [6] See e.g., Gwen Ifill, 1871 Law at Issue in Abortion Debate, N.Y. Times, Aug. 11, 1991, at 16; MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour Transcript #4133, Aug. 7, 1991.

        [7] Brief of the Attorneys General of the State of New York and the Commonwealth of Virginia as Amici Curiae in Support of Respondents, Bray v. Alexandria Women's Health Clinic, No. 90-985 (May 13, 1991).

        [8] National Organization for Women v. Operation Rescue, 726 F. Supp. 1483, 1489 (1989).

        [9] Brief for Falls Church, Virginia as Amicus Curiae Supporting Respondents, Bray v. Alexandria Women's Health Clinic, No. 90-985 (May 13, 1991).

        [10] Bray v. Alexandria Women's Health Clinic, 506 U.S. 263, 344-45 (1993) (Stevens, J., dissenting).

        [11] Bray v. Alexandria Women's Health Clinic, 506 U.S. 263, 313 (1993) (Stevens, J., dissenting).

        [12] Bray v. Alexandria Women's Health Clinic, 506 U.S. 263, 349 (1993) (O'Connor, J., dissenting).

        David E. Seldin
        Director of Communications
        NARAL Pro-Choice America

  •  Naral single issue approach may have damaged (none)
    Pro choice legislation. By this I mean Republican majorities have been eroding all the hard won victories. Why don't they change their tactics and support parties that support their agenda. Individuals can be swayed but its harder to sway a whole party.
  •  Kos' point (none)
    Why supprt Chafee, who WILL cave and support anti-choice judges who will overturn Roe v. Wade vs. people who are anti-choice on paper, like Reid, who would NEVER support these radical people or support efforts to overturn Roe v. Wade. It's totally winning the battle and losing the war.
  •  I'm curious about Roberts (none)
    They are obviously the group that is most out front on Roberts.  I'm wondering if they're on their own or are they working within a coalition of other groups on that.  Do they have the support of Catholics for a Free Choice, Planned Parenthood, and other reproductive rights groups?
  •  Framing issue (none)
    Why does NARAL let the other side frame the debate. Pro Choice is not the opposite of Pro Life. They are actually the Anti Choice crowd why not call them that? Example I am personally against abortion ( I am Catholic ) yet I support a women's right to choose. So I am Pro Choice not Anti Life. Their lable sucks and is defective we should call them on it
  •  my question (none)
    With the frequent and repeat requests for donations, how does NARAL priortize its financial resources?  What percentage goes directly to support candidates (Congressional or otherwise); administrative costs; lobby coordination with other groups; direct aid to women... etc.

    Where are my donations going??????

    Flag burnings occur on average 8 times a year. Is the time/$ cost of a constitutional amendment really worth anyone's tax dollars - even if they support it?

    by deep6 on Wed Aug 10, 2005 at 03:23:21 PM PDT

  •  I have a few... (none)
    I'd ask them to consider not endorsing pro-Bush Republican candidates like Chafee,and staying neutral. Obviously you don't endorse anti-choice candidates if you are NARAL, but you can stay NEUTRAL.

    I'd also like to know why they put their love and support behind Chafee, yet know they are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on ads in Rhode Island to pressure Chafee to NOT vote for Roberts.

    Makes no sense...

    Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds - Albert Einstein.

    by GregNYC on Wed Aug 10, 2005 at 03:25:00 PM PDT

  •  If Chafee's actions on Roberts' (4.00)
    nomination for the Supreme Court undermine his claims to be pro-choice, will NARAL withdraw its endorsement for him?

    "... I love watching you work. But I've got ... my wedding to arrange, my wife to murder and Gilder to frame for it. I'm swamped." The Princess Bride

    by Rusty Pipes on Wed Aug 10, 2005 at 03:26:18 PM PDT

  •  Right to Privacy (none)
    How can you frame the importance of a constitutional right to privacy in a context larger than abortion?

    I think the right to choice is important and fundamental, but the issue of Roberts' opposition to recognizing a right to privacy is being discussed only in the context of abortion.  There is no room for movement in the abortion debate- everyone has a strongly-held opinion.  If you want to engage larger segments of society, explain what losing a right to privacy would mean.  I don't know the answer, but it seems like a good avenue to explore.

    •  At least hit contraception (none)
      Everyone at NARAL knows that "choice" is about more than abortion.  But it would really help if all of US (NARAL and Planned Planned Parenthood  have already been doing this) would hit the drumbeat on the right-wing assault on access to contraceptives.  There are many, many middle-of-the-road people who aren't going to come out as major activists in favor of abortion rights, but they sure do use contraception.
      •  Make it a front burner issue (none)
        because the antis are coming after birth control in a big way.

        In Wisconsin NARAL is asking gubernatorial candidates to state their positions on access to birth control right up front.

        NARAL Pro-Choice Wisconsin has asked the three announced candidates for governor of Wisconsin to clarify whether they believe contraception is a form of abortion.

        "This request is especially pressing in light of recent comments by the state's leading anti-choice, anti-birth-control interest group indicating its intention to pass legislation limiting access to contraception, which, contrary to medical science, it believes is a form of abortion," the letter said.

        The letter then quotes an Aug. 1 article by Judith Davidoff in The Capital Times that quoted Pro-Life Wisconsin lobbyist Matt Sande as saying, "By outlawing contraception, you're closer to outlawing surgical abortion. We're trying to overturn Roe v. Wade, but the court is pointing us over here (to contraception)."

  •  scary question (none)
    I realize this is not something that NARAL will likely want  to talk about in public, but do they have a "contingency strategy" in place for what to do if the Supreme Court were to suddenly overturn Roe?

    I don' want to jinx ourselves by asking this question, but with things going the way they are right now, it's something that pro-choice organizations ought to be thinking about in the back of their minds so that if the time comes, we can be ready for an all-out battle in the states and Congress to keep abortion legal.

  •  NARAL ad buy in Rhode Island (none)
    Why is NARAL buying advertisements in Rhode Island in their campaign against John Roberts? Both sitting RI Senators enjoy NARAL's endorsement.

    If you donate to NARAL how do they justify the use of your money of running an advertisement in a state with two NARAL approved Senators. Why pay to preach to the choir?

    I said it. I meant it. I stand by it. - Major Paul Hackett

    by joejoejoe on Wed Aug 10, 2005 at 03:38:10 PM PDT

    •  I would assume... (none)
      that it's an attempt to stir and froth up public sentiment to pressure Chafee into a "no" vote.  If NARAL believes Roberts is beatable, they've got to get 6 "no" votes for him from the Republicans (or for, at a minimum, not nuking the Senate).  Chafee (along with Specter, Snowe, and Collins) is an obvious target.
      •  Devil's Advocate (none)
        I agree with your view but why endorse people that don't support back your positions with votes?

        It's a small ad buy that (RI, ME) that has got larger attention thru free media coverage on the controversy but if that is the strategy then why not run the ad in Alabama where the bombing occurred in the first place.

        People get turned off to politics by all these hidden agendas. If NARAL believes what they say then the people in a position to be most offended are those where the clinic bombings occurred. Instead they make an abstract point in friendly states. It stinks.

        If you ran the ad in Alabama you would still get the free media coverage. If Chafee, Snowe and Collins don't really support NARAL's goals then they should never have received their endorsement in the first place. It's either about access to clinics or it not. Last I checked they were bombing clinics in the South, not New England. So why take this fight to New England Senators? NARAL is all over the map.

        I said it. I meant it. I stand by it. - Major Paul Hackett

        by joejoejoe on Wed Aug 10, 2005 at 04:29:06 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Good question (none)
      I get tons of paper from them asking me to write my congresspeople, who are already pro-choice. Maybe it costs more for their databases to do those kind of edits, but ...

      "Nature favors the apt, not the strong or the weak." Louis Sullivan

      by Lilibeth on Wed Aug 10, 2005 at 03:42:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Please tell them congratulations and good luck (none)
    it's good to see someone that actually fights for their beliefs.

    Could they give spine lessons for our Democratic representatives ?

  •  Dear Liza, dear Liza (none)
    ..Hum, ho. (Old Sesame Street song; never mind)

    Could you ask her to articulate why their backing Chafee and Bloomberg? I understand, but there are quite a few folks around here who just don't get it.  They seem to think that NARAL is a Goddamn offshoot of the Democratic Party.

    Hey fellow Kossacks - sometimes NARAL backs pro-choice Republicans.  And sometimes the NRA endorses pro-gun Democrats.

    And if you're like Howard Dean, you get supported by both.


  •  Just one for now... (none)
    ...How do other pro-choice women bloggers get invited to calls like this?

    Oh, and here's a second one:

    How about setting up rapid response teams among pro-choice bloggers to make sure we get correct facts and talking points out IMMEDIATELY?  For instance, Bitch PhD posted this great piece today from NARAL which eviscerates the claims about NARAL's recent ad about Roberts.  Arming the pro-choice blogosphere with this info quickly is critical, especially when pro-choice talking heads on TV aren't properly armed with this info before they go on air.

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