U.S. Mayors Pass Pro-Choice Resolution
A the end of 2011, I wrote that the new strategy for anti-choice advocates is to roll back reproductive rights at the state level, allowing them to create real barriers to women’s health services while largely shying away from national criticism. However, as of this past weekend, we can count on U.S. mayors to stand up for reproductive rights in our cities.
At its annual meeting in Orlando, FL, last weekend, the U.S. Conference of Mayors passed a resolution in support of reproductive rights and funding for Planned Parenthood and Title X family planning services. The U.S. Conference of Mayors is the official, non-partisan organization representing mayors of cities with 30,000 residents or more. According to its website, its goals are to promote the development of effective national urban/suburban policy; strengthen federal-city relationships; ensure that federal policy meets urban needs; provide mayors with leadership and management tools; and create a forum in which mayors can share ideas and information.
The resolution passed last weekend calls out specific ways in which federal and state legislation have sought to restrict a woman’s right to plan her own family and take care of her reproductive health, including efforts to defund Title X and Planned Parenthood, ban later-term abortions, require ultrasounds before abortions, restrict access to birth control, and impose refusal clauses that would allow hospital employees to refuse to provide emergency abortions to patients.
The step that the mayors took last weekend is timely: In 2011 we saw an unprecedented number of bills introduced that would impinge on reproductive choice. If last year is any indication of the future, the 2012 legislative cycle could be equally as dangerous to women’s lives, which is particularly unusual for an election year.
The U.S. Conference of Mayors resolved to urge “Congress and the states to pursue a positive agenda that reaffirms fundamental rights and improves women’s access to safe and comprehensive reproductive-health care.” The resolution was sponsored by the following mayors: Sam Adams of Portland, OR.; Michael Bloomberg of New York City; Ed Lee of San Francisco; Mike McGinn of Seattle, WA.; Pedro E. Segarra of Hartford, CT.; and Antonio Villaraigosa of Los Angeles.
Nancy Keenan of NARAL Pro-Choice America stated her strong support for the mayors’ resolution: “These mayors collectively represent millions of Americans in communities where the public-health programs and clinics under attack by members of Congress and state legislators provide basic care for their residents. We are inspired by the mayors who supported this resolution, and we salute them for stepping up in support of women’s freedom and privacy.”
We, too, thank the mayors for standing up for women’s rights. Jewish tradition has historically reflected the view that contraceptives are not only acceptable but also a legitimate form of health care and family planning. The Reform Movement has long been staunch supporters of women’s reproductive rights, and we have long held that every woman is entitled to access and make her own decisions about reproductive health care, including whether to seek an abortion or use contraception.
Ten years ago, this resolution might have seemed like a basic reiteration of the rights granted in the Supreme Court’s decision, Roe v. Wade, but today in 2012 it marks a brave and strident move toward protections that women across the country badly need.
Photo courtesy of CSPAN