TV & Radio
chicagotribune.com >> Leisure >> WomanNews
Feminism proves to be a big tent
Alison Neumer Lara
Published August 3, 2005
As public debate continues over Supreme Court nominee John Roberts Jr., some also are looking at his wife, Jane Sullivan Roberts, and her membership in a little-known political organization, Feminists for Life. Mrs. Roberts is the pro bono counsel to the anti-abortion group, which works to reduce the need for abortion by collaborating with forces on both sides of the issue.
How is that possible in a world where the terms feminist and pro-life rarely describe the same person? Not all female activists' efforts begin and end with Roe vs. Wade. Many organizations also address related family and women's issues, where positions sometimes intersect.
The chart at right takes a closer look at how three groups that lobby for women's rights, including Feminists for Life, stack up on matters outside abortion.
- - -
CONSERVATIVE, LIBERAL, IN THE MIDDLE: WHERE'S THE DIVIDE?
CONCERNED WOMEN FOR AMERICA
ABORTION: Opposes abortion in all forms. Lobbied against efforts to make emergency contraception (morning-after pill) available over the counter. Petitioning to repeal approval for abortion pill RU-486.
VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN ACT: The act "has become a huge funneling scheme to radical feminist activists who use the funding to basically set up anti-men programs," said Wendy Wright, senior policy director.
SAME-SEX MARRIAGE: Helped launch the Marriage Protection Act, a bill that would keep courts from striking down the Defense of Marriage Act. Local chapters and national staff lobby for state marriage amendments.
TITLE IX: "Like much well-intended utopian legislation, Title IX has done little to help women and has wreaked havoc in sports programs around the nation. Now it is male athletes who are shortchanged."
WELFARE: Included welfare reform authorization (Healthy Marriage Initiative) and the adoption tax act on its legislative agenda.
FEMINISTS FOR LIFE
ABORTION: Recognizes abortion as a "symptom of, not a solution to, women's struggles in the workplace, at home and in society." The organization's tagline is "Refuse to Choose."
VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN ACT: "Supporting the reauthorization of VAWA is the best way to demonstrate ... that pro-lifers support women and children--born and unborn," said FFL President Serrin Foster.
SAME-SEX MARRIAGE: No position; the topic is outside the group's narrow focus. FFL's membership includes some gay men and women, as well as those who oppose same sex marriage.
TITLE IX: No position; outside the group's focus.
WELFARE: Lobbied against the family cap, which would have cut off benefits for additional children born out of wedlock. "Basically, you're starving kids," Foster said.
FEMINIST MAJORITY FOUNDATION
ABORTION: Supporter of broad reproductive rights. Current core issues include improving access to RU-486 and emergency contraception.
VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN ACT: Supports the legislation. Key in passing the original law in 1994. Perpetrators of gender-based violence should face federal civil and criminal penalties, FM president Eleanor Smeal testified in 1993.
SAME-SEX MARRIAGE: Supports lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights, including same sex marriage.
TITLE IX: Works to strengthen Title IX and ward off perceived threats, such as the 2003 Department of Education commission recommendation that would have changed funding for women's teams.
WELFARE: Lobbies to maintain existing benefits. Protested laws that would end the federal guarantee to welfare.
by alfayoko2005 | 2005-08-04 19:44