Friday, December 08, 2006

Radio Interview with Lisa Birnbach on Greenstone Media on 12/5/2006

Click here to hear Gloria's interview with Lisa Birnbach on Greenstone Media about Bush's appointment of anti-birth control Dr. Keroack to head nation's birth control program.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Humpty Dumpty Keroack

With W, up is down and down is sideways. We've grown inured to the duplicity, the sleight of hand, the wink while Haliburton profits as our sons and daughters die in Iraq, the ruthlessness with which the 1 percent get richer while the rest of us get a burgeoning national debt and fewer of us get health insurance.

So it's no surprise that the man talks piously about creating a culture of life while taking funding from lifesaving prevention programs like family planning and giving it to abstinence only preachers. This makes the U. S. the laughingstock of the world's public health organizations and in the end paradoxically increases disease, unintended pregnancies, abortions, and deaths.

Usually, however, this administration and its right wing buddies at least try to obfuscate their Orwellian redefinitions. Not so, however, in the president's latest and most arrogant "in-your-face, voters, ‘cause I'm-the-decider" action. I'm speaking about the appointment of Dr. Eric Keroack to the position of Deputy Assistant Secretary for Population Affairs, DASPA for short.

Keroack, who opposes birth control, will be in charge of the nation's major family planning program, Title X of the Public Health Services Act , which provides contraceptive services to over 5 million American women each year through some 4500 public health facilities, preventing 1.3 million unintended pregnancies and hundreds of thousands of abortions, and saving taxpayers $3 on Medicaid pregnancy and newborn-related care for every dollar spent.

Yes, you read that right. A man who opposes birth control has been put in charge of the nation's major providers of birth control services. Never mind that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention includes family planning as one of “Ten Greatest Public Health Achievements of the 20th Century” for good reason.

Keroack—a non-board certified ob/gyn—at the time of his appointment was the medical director of A Woman's Concern
, one of many chains of so-called Crisis Pregnancy Centers whose purpose is to dissuade women from choosing abortion under any circumstances. The methods used by these centers range from showing women misleading photos of fetal development to giving them misinformation about the health risks of abortion. Whatever works, it seems, is their motto. In my own personal experience with these clinics, I've known one to lock women in a room to watch videos for so long that they missed their appointments at a nearby reproductive health center and another that advised women to pray to Jesus rather than to giving her the requested information about birth control. Praying is not a bad idea, but it has not been known to be a very effective contraceptive method.

A policy statement of A Woman's Concern says, “A Woman’s Concern does not distribute, or encourage the use of, contraceptive drugs and devices…A Woman’s Concern is persuaded that the crass commercialization and distribution of birth control is demeaning to women, degrading to human sexuality, and adverse to human health and happiness.”(
The organization supports sexual abstinence until marriage, opposes contraception and does not distribute information promoting birth control at its six centers in eastern Massachusetts. Keroack also serves on the advisory committee for the Abstinence Clearing House and has alleged that pre-marital sex changes the brain chemistry so that bonding to another person becomes difficult.

It's no surprise that the ideological right opposes abortion, but now it should be abundantly clear they also oppose birth control. Down is up. It's not that they don't understand birth control prevents abortion; it's that they don't want women to have birth control in the first place. Or the sexual and reproductive self-determination that goes with the ability to plan and space one’s own childbearing.

Keroack's appointment does not require Congressional confirmation. But that doesn't mean his appointment should be allowed to stand. For further media reports and editorial comments: Washington Post, Boston Globe, Associated Press, United Press International , Boston Globe, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, U.S. News & World Report.

With enough public outcry, this Humpty Dumpty can and should fall down.

© Gloria Feldt 2006

Friday, November 10, 2006



So now President Bush wants to cooperate. Now he wants to reach across the aisle. Now he wants to work together with the Democrats, finally to show he can be that “uniter not divider” of his 2000 campaign promises. That perhaps he isn’t even the sole decider of everything after all. What? Why would any Democrat in his or her right mind give this man the time of day?

Bush puffed and preened and bared his teeth before the election. But once he "got thumped", as he put it, all that puffery deflated in a nanosecond just like you might see with any other bully. Rummy (who could do no wrong 24 hours previously) was shown the door the day after the elections, Congresswoman and probable next Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi--taunted throughout the election season as the very personification of liberal, liberal, liberal evil--was invited to lunch at the White House, and the president allowed as how he wants to work with the same Democrats he's been wringing out and hanging up to dry for the last 6 years. And all too often, they have been complicit in their humiliation.

This puts the Democrats into a catch 22 of their own making. After railing about the lack of bipartisan cooperation, and whining about what was wrong rather than setting forth an agenda they think is right, the Democrats have only two choices: to behave as the winning party usually does and run roughshod over the others for as long as they can get away with it, or to play the cooperation game.

If they use their political currency to play hardball while they have the momentum and the public weal behind them, they will be called partisan and arrogant. Notwithstanding that this is exactly what Bush has been doing for six years, despite losing the popular vote in his first "selection" and having the good fortune to draw John Kerry, who was perfectly capable of defeating himself, as his opponent in his second race. On the other hand, if the Democrats do genuinely try to cooperate they will most likely find themselves and their principles co-opted faster than you can say "appeaser".

Or maybe there is a third way, much as I hate that overused term.

Americans who campaigned on behalf of, wrote checks to, and cast votes for the winning Democrats need to remind the new Congressional majority that electing them wasn’t the goal. Getting then to do a better job of governing than the Republicans they ousted from power is the goal.

The Republican right brought a scorched earth philosophy to governing. To the extent the Democrats play the charade of cooperating with this president without extracting serious concessions from him beforehand, we will be back where we started all too soon, with a devastating war dragging on, increasing numbers of people lacking health insurance, a burgeoning deficit, and an economy that pleases no one. They will then most likely be swept out of office in 2008 as they were in 1994 on the heels of a similarly heady ascent to power in 1992. Only this time it will mean the loss of the White House yet again as well. That’s an enormous price to pay.

To the extent that the Democrats exhibit statespersonship and invite a respectable number of their adversaries to the policy table in a principled way while not caving in to the lowest common denominator or losing their moral center, they might just be able to reduce the cynicism that sours so many people on participating in the democratic process. Better yet, they might even be able to get a great deal of good done for the American people while solidifying their political base for winning the big prize in 2008.

© Gloria Feldt 2006

Friday, September 08, 2006

South Dakota Law New Chapter in Story of Childbearing Rights

The biggest news about the sweeping new South Dakota law that will ban all abortions except to save the woman's life—no exceptions to preserve her health or for rape or incest--is that it is not such big news, It is in fact a news story that has been repeated over and over for more than a generation. But this time the story might well be headed for a disastrously different ending.

The South Dakota abortion ban, which passed the state legislature Feb.22 and was signed by Governor Mike Rounds (R), will join over a dozen state bans already on the books. It’s a head-on challenge to Roe v Wade, the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion.

Most of the outright abortion bans predate Roe, or passed soon after it. None can be enforced now because Roe is federal precedent that applies to all states.

Roe galvanized those who oppose a woman's right to choose about childbearing, and their immediate post-Roe response was to seek sweeping abortion bans. But they lost most of those battles, some by ballot initiative, some by legislative action or inaction, most by court rulings. They learned from their defeats and began to seek incremental victories: eliminating Medicaid funding for abortions for poor women, requiring minors to get parental consent prior to obtaining an abortion, mandatory delays, and state-written “counseling” aimed at promoting childbirth over abortion.

Still, Roe’s central tenets of a right to privacy in making childbearing decisions--the same as those in Griswold v Connecticut in1965 that gave Americans the right to obtain birth control--and the primacy of protecting women’s health have stood the test of time--thus far.

According to Eve Gartner, senior litigator for Planned Parenthood Federation of America whose Minnesota/North Dakota/South Dakota affiliate is the only abortion provider in the state, the ban will be challenged even before it is slated to go into effect July 1. There is a strong likelihood of success in the lower federal court. So far, this is a familiar story.

Three distinct differences today: the Court, the role of Congress, and the right's agenda

What’s most different now is the Supreme Court.

Roe was decided 7-2. The most recent rulings on abortion have been 5-4, with Justice Sandra Day O’Connor casting the pivotal 5th vote and often the person who cobbled together that razor-slim majority within a sharply divided Court. In between came numerous rulings that so pushed back the protections of Roe that some believe Roe is already a fragile shell.

The Republican right’s endgame of capturing the Supreme Court was won when Samuel Alito took the seat vacated by O’Connor. Alito authored the incremental strategy of overturning Roe restriction by restriction when he was an attorney in the U.S. Department of Justice during the Reagan administration.

Now Alito will be the pivotal vote on those very cases when they come before the Court. The South Dakota law could be the one that finally fells Roe after years of chipping away at it. Already, the Alito Court has agreed to hear a challenge to the federal abortion ban, giving it one more opportunity to roll back Roe and prepare the way for its demise. And an anonymous donor has offered to $1,000,000 to fund South Dakota’s legal challenge to Roe.

South Dakota is just one of the 30 states which “What if Roe Fell”, an analysis published in September, 2004, by the pro-choice Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) predicts would either reinstate their old laws banning abortion or move swiftly to pass new bans if Roe were overturned.

But state-by-state analysis might become moot. Another big difference from the pre-Roe era is that Congress is in the act now, passing federal laws restricting abortion in various ways but applying in all states. And Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) has already said he will move to make it a crime to cross state lines for an abortion if it is illegal in your state, in the event Roe is overturned.

Finally, with the FDA dragging its heels on approving over-the-counter sales of the morning after contraceptive called Plan B, half a billion dollars a year spent on abstinence-only sex education programs while family planning services are underfunded and gagged, and a growing number of pharmacists refusing to fill birth control prescriptions, it is increasingly clear that much more than abortion is at risk. Overturning Roe would pull the thread that unravels the entire fabric of reproductive justice that began even before the Griswold birth control decision. That includes the right to privacy, the right to make our own childbearing decisions—to bear or beget, to use birth control or not, to have access to medically accurate sexual health information and services that are informed by science and not ideology.

The saga continues

But even then the end of this story will not have been written. The new South Dakota law could become a wake-up call to that 66 % of Americans who consistently say Roe v Wade should remain the law of the land. Most agree with Planned Parenthood’s Gartner when she says, “It would be a devastating day for women if they are no longer able to make intimate, personal decisions on their own.”

If Roe is overturned, there could be a pro-choice backlash equal to the anti-choice backlash after Roe. The midterm elections in 2006 and the presidential election in 2008 bring could bring about yet another twist to the plot of this seemingly unending story.

©Gloria Feldt 2006 9177155107
Gloria Feldt is the author of The War on Choice: the right-wing attack on women’s rights and how to fight back, and was president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America from 2006-2005.

Originally Published on

Friday, September 01, 2006

Bang Those Pots and Keep This Movement Moving

Today is March 8, International Women's Day 2006. But before getting into that, let's think back to September 1995.

Spin the globe and stop the world on China.
It's the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women, where hugely ambitious and thrilling goals were set for improving the lives of women, and by extension their families and the world.

The official conference was in Beijing, but the much larger convocation of activists from nongovernmental organizations was literally stuck in the mud in Huairu, a suburb an hour's drive from the city.

Thousands of us had arrived early on the morning of Sept. 6, to stand packed together under a roof of brightly colored umbrellas, jockeying for the few hundred seats inside the auditorium where then first lady of the United States Hillary Clinton was slated to give a speech.

I was fortunate not only to get inside but to get a seat. The program was running late; Hillary was running even later and the crowd was getting restive. Just as it seemed a revolt might be brewing, Shirley May Springer Stanton, the cultural coordinator of the conference, walked onto the stage and began to sing a capella, ever so softly: "Gonna keep on moving forward. Never turning back, never turning back."

Then she asked the audience to join her. Pretty soon the house was rocking. By the time the first lady arrived and gave her brilliant "human rights are women's rights and women's rights are human rights" speech, it truly felt like the global movement for women's rights was unstoppable. It was, you might say, an ovular moment.

Other Countries Take the Lead

Here in the United States, that moment can seem long ago when we consider our administration's federal budget and see how it slashes funding for international family planning services that could reduce the millions of unsafe abortions and risky pregnancies that cause 500,000 unnecessary deaths each year globally.

But the U.S. women's movement can take inspiration from working in sisterhood with women from around the globe. While the United States fails to meet its commitments to the global public-health community, many developing countries are funding these essential women's health services beyond all expectations and the European nations step in to fill much of the void left by America's abdication of leadership.

Women's development projects are also fueling economic growth around the world while bringing greater equality to the women in their societies. Sex trafficking and other acts of violence against women, long merely routine facts of life for women, are becoming subjects of international media attention and human rights action. And female heads of state are being elected in Europe, Africa and Latin America this year.

No movement for social justice moves forward without struggle, nor does forward movement necessarily go in a straight line. Yet, the movement for women's liberation in the U.S. seems to be the only one about which it can be said with impunity, "Enough now, we must go backward."

In her 2004 book "The Boundaries of Her Body: The Troubling History of Women's Rights in America," author and lawyer Debran Rowland delineates in crushing detail "cycles of advances and digressions characterizing women's rights in America."

Throughout these cycles, the rhetoric of opposition to the women's movement has been consistently pejorative. "Sensible and responsible women do not want to vote," President Grover Cleveland said, arguing against the suffrage movement prior to 1920.

Vilifying the Movement

Today, televangelist and political power broker Rev. Pat Robertson calls feminism a "socialist, anti-family, political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians."

In the pressure cooker of such vilification and political retribution, U.S. women's rights activists sometimes succumb to squabbling about strategy. Instead of pushing ahead with passionate commitment, we debate the merits of retreat, reframing and retrenchment.

A prime example: John Kerry failed to articulate his own passionate commitment to women's rights during the 2004 presidential campaign. After his defeat, Sen. Hillary Clinton--the inspirational speaker at the Beijing meeting--chided New York reproductive health care providers, telling the very people who invented prevention--to change their agenda to prevention.

"The best way to reduce the number of abortions is to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies in the first place."

(Well, yes, Hillary, that's why providers asked you to co-sponsor the Prevention First Act, which calls for increased funding for family planning services and access to emergency contraception that could prevent half of all abortions. You did and thanks for that, but now, how about giving the bill another big political push?)

Similarly, reproductive rights advocate Alex Sanger, in a Women's eNews article last month, charged feminists with having too narrow an agenda. To muster political clout in the next election, he said, we have to broaden our message to policies that affect entire families.

In truth the feminist movement--not the anti-feminists--has always advocated for the full panoply of just social policies from child care to pay equity and universal access to quality health care.

The Agenda is Not the Problem

The problem is not the feminist agenda. The problem is that all of us who support it need the political will, courage, commitment, stamina and a never-ending creation of inspiring initiatives that touch real people's lives. A movement, after all, has to move.

We who call ourselves feminists must remember, proudly, that we have changed the world, much for the better in terms of justice and equality. That's exactly what scares our adversaries so much.

A group of African women at the Beijing conference told a story about how they stamped out spousal abuse in their village. It bears repeating in this muffled era for women's rights activism.

The women said they banded together, took their cooking pots and took up positions outside of the homes of men who had committed violent acts against their wives. They banged on those pots so loudly that the whole neighborhood came out and took note of them and the men agreed to change their behavior.

Each country today has different reasons to bang their pots on this International Women's Day 2006. But the refrain for all of us who aspire to global justice for women is the same.

"Gonna raise our voices boldly, Never turning back. Gotta keep on moving forward, Never turning back, Never turning back."

So the Hammer Finally Nailed Himself

So the Hammer finally nailed himself.

I am so disappointed. It would have been much more fun to defeat Tom DeLay fair and square at the ballot box in November.

I was prepared to walk door-to-door in the district (my son, daughter-in-law, and two grandsons who deserve better representation live there). A stunning election defeat for Tom DeLay would show other zealous right-wing politicians that the majority of Americans--when you can get their attention away from trying to make a living and taking care of their families--really are in favor of basic democratic principles and--dare I say--ethical government. They really do believe in liberty and justice for all, in freedom of religion and speech, and in respecting the fundamental rights of others. They want to live and let live, not by the hammer but by common decency and fairness. Many of them were outraged when he violated the medical privacy of Terry Schiavo’s family who were faced with heartrending decisions. Others were shocked by his probable brush with corruption in his dealings with lobbyists. Everyone should be furious about how his long arm reached from Congress into the state redistricting process and defeated those with whom he disagreed, not at the ballot box but in the backrooms.

DeLay fell prey to his own arrogant quest for power over others when he should have been focusing on how he could use his position of public trust to improve the lives of the people he supposedly served. You have to admire and learn from his vision and tenaciousness, while reviling his raw use of power in the service of avarice, personal aggrandizement, and fundamentalist screed.

So another corrupt politician bites the dust. But now, while we do have the voters' attention, let's all take all this little civics lesson to heart. Politics is only a crooked and cynical game when we let the crooks and cynics hold the keys to the halls of government.

Go to your next precinct meeting, people. Practice democracy 101. Get registered to vote if you're not already. Vote every time and take your friends and family with you. Go to town halls to meet candidates and elected officials in person. Scour politician's websites and ask them questions. Check their voting records. Organize voters who share your values to get a meeting with candidates prior to elections when they are most likely to spend the time with you and keep in touch after their elections so they know they are accountable. And yes, write a check now and then to candidates you support. It does take money and lots of it to run a campaign. In today’s media-saturated world, candidates have to be able to get their message out to voters. We want to make it possible for people who aren’t rich or simply power mad to run for office. And hold the media accountable too, for representing the candidates and the issues accurately.

When we as citizens fail to do these things, we're the ones who get hammered. That's just the way it is in a democracy, like it or not.

© Gloria Feldt 2006

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Newsletter: April 6, 2006

“I was ahead in the slalom. But in the second run, everyone fell on a dangerous spot. I was beaten by a woman who got up faster than I did. I learned that people fall down, winners get up and Gold Medal winners just get up faster.” ~Bonnie St. John

(*see story below)


Thank all of you who have sent me dangly earring stories. Please keep sending them to In case you missed the metaphor, I revealed in a previous newsletter that one of my declarations of independence a year ago was to get my ears pierced for the first time in my life so I can wear beautiful dangly earrings. Many readers responded with their own stories. I’m going to share some stories with you, starting with this one from David Nova:

I don't have any dangling earring stories for you, but I do have an excerpt from a speech I gave for AAUW regarding violence against women. The speech began with the following:
When I was a junior at
Vassar College, a student was raped on the campus grounds. A few days later …(click for more)

No Temple in Temple

I am very excited about my next two speeches (see column on right) because I get to talk about something near and dear to my heart. I will tell my personal story of growing up, yes, in Temple TX, where there was no temple, and later farther west in the "Last Picture Show"-like town of Stamford TX.

My sometimes painful and sometimes funny experiences as one of a small minority and sometimes the only Jewish family in town, was the impetus for my commitment to social justice and led me to my life's work for civil rights, including women's reproductive rights.

My desire to be an all-American girl (just like everybody else I knew) coupled with a minimally observant family life led me away from Judaism at first. But when my children were told by neighbors that they had black hearts because they hadn't been saved, I studied world religions, decided to embrace my own Jewish religion, became active in the small synagogue serving a 100-mile radius in West Texas, and began to truly value the source of my passion for repairing the world, Tikkun Olam.

There’s a new blog in town. Check out

Upcoming speeches

Special Conference Guest Speaker. “Civil Rights/Women’s Rights”

Hadassah Southern Region Spring Conference

April 23, Chattanooga TN

Chattanooga Choo-Choo Hotel (can you believe that?)

Keynote speaker: “There was No Temple in Temple: What Growing up Jewish in Small-Town Texas Taught Me About Leadership and Tikkun Olam”

Jewish Federation of Valley Alliance. Followed by book signing.

El Caballero Country Club

April 28, Tarzana CA

Bang Those Pots and Keep This Movement Moving
On International Women's Day, Gloria Feldt looks back to a recent high-tide of activism at the Beijing global conference on women just over 10 years ago. Now more than ever, she says, we need to tap that same spirit of conviction.

Click here to read my commentary on Women’s e-News

The Battle to Ban Birth Control
Click here to read a great article exposing the attacks on birth control

*Bonnie St. John was the overall second fastest woman skier in the world on one leg in 1984 and the first African-American to win Olympic medals in skiing.

The quote at the top of this newsletter will be featured on Starbucks cups this fall. For more information click here.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Newsletter: June 1, 2006

June 2006

"The simplest explanation of any phenomenon is nine times out of ten truer than a really fancy one."--Occam's Razor, or The Law of Parsimony

An occasional newsletter from Gloria Feldt, May 8, 2006,

So this month, I'll keep it as simple as Occam's Razor because I'm really busy, but I want to tell you about some highlights.

My New Book (or how I'm going to spend my summer vacation)
I am very excited to tell you that Kathleen Turner and I are writing a book about her life lessons, to be published in September, 2007, by Springboard (Time Warner Book Group's imprint that targets baby boomers). The book is tentatively named Take the Lead, Lady! We love the title because it came from a moment when we were shuttling around town from publisher's office to publisher's office to pitch the book. At one point, Kathleen, my agent Karen Gantz Zahler, and I tumbled out of an elevator, clueless about which way to turn to find the office where out next appointment was to be. Kathleen boomed, in her most imperiously Kathleen voice, "Take the lead, Lady!". It's going to be a very fun, smart, interesting book with lots of dish. I can't wait to be able to tell you more. And if you want to find me this summer, I'll be glued to my computer.

Other book news
What an honor to be included among outstanding women in Willa Shalit's recently released book, Becoming Myself: Reflections on Growing Up Female. I'm page 77, between Susan Stamberg and Patti LaBelle. Proceeds from this book go to four wonderful organizations that work to better women's and girls' lives. It's a delightful, inspiring Mother's Day gift. Click here for more information.

And speaking of books, I recently attended a swishy party for Joe Klein and his new book....(Read on, my latest political commentary on the blog )

The "War on Contraception" is finally recognized by the New York Times!

O'Reilly has a thing about hardhats
To read a transcript of my recent interview on the O'Reilly Factor regarding an excellent ad campaign by Planned Parenthood Golden Gate, Click here.

Dangly Earring story of the month from Patricia Ireland, labor lawyer and past president of NOW:
Hi Gloria--
How great to know where you are and what you're doing!

To celebrate being sixty I got a beautiful new tattoo on my back. It's an absolutely gorgeous phoenix, and it joins a dragon that I got in my fifties. Having colorful tattoos on my back pleases me. They are my secret and my absolute claim to my own body. Together the dragon & phoenix are a male-female symbol in Chinese iconography.To me they represent an expression of my individuality, creativity, and a little touch of fantasy.

Hope you're enjoying your dangly earrings!

Best to you,


EC for EW (Emergency Contraception for Every Woman Who Needs It When She Needs It)

Note: given the news about the FDA’s current proposal to allow plan B Emergency Contraception (EC) to be sold over the counter—BUT with requirements that women under age 18 must have a prescription and that pharmacists must keep all EC behind the counter thus making it more difficult for women of any age to access, I thought a brief reminder of what EC is and why it should be fully accessible to all who need it is in order.

Want to reduce abortions by half? Want to know who is keeping the means from American women?

The topic is emergency contraception—EC for short. You might have heard it called the morning after pill. It’s birth control—just basic birth control pills in a formulation that can prevent pregnancy from occurring if used within 120 hours after intercourse.

Research predicts that if it were readily accessible, well-advertised, and properly used, EC could prevent about half of all unintended pregnancies and abortions. Imagine!

The World Health Organization says it is completely safe for over-the-counter use, and 39 countries already make it available that way for women of all ages. It is supported by the American Medical Association, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American Academy of Pediatrics, and a wide array of public health professionals.,

And no, making EC widely available doesn’t make women promiscuous. We actually have the brains to use it appropriately.

Nor do women use EC as a substitute for their regular methods of contraception. In fact, when they have EC in their medicine cabinets in advance of need, it seems to serve the same purpose as the proverbial string tied around your finger.

So if EC really could prevent many unintended pregnancies and abortions, what’s the debate? Why is there any debate? And why should we care?

The fact is, Emergency Contraception is a vital component to comprehensive health care for women—it is literally, a woman’s “plan B”—if the condom breaks, if a woman has been sexually assaulted, if she thinks her regular contraceptive didn’t work for whatever reason--and that should be personal.

But it has become a political fight in which the science and medicine are being trumped by the politics of an ideological battle. For a timeline of the long-running battle over EC, take a look at this: Over-the-Counter Insurgency.

Those opposed to EC are the same people who oppose both abortion and family planning in other venues based on narrow ideological and religious views they want to force upon all of us regardless of what the evidence shows. In Fact, FDA officials have testified that they were forced to place the politics over the known scientific facts and their own best judgment.

An editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine called it “A sad day for science at the FDA”, when FDA management bowed to political pressure…and continued to ignore the recommendations of its own scientific committees.

I think “sad’ is way too timid a word. It is an outrage.

Because, after all, mistakes happen. Condoms break. And not always during regular business hours. And women who have suffered the trauma of rape should not have to endure the second trauma of worrying that they might become pregnant.

One courageous and ethical woman, Dr. Susan Wood, resigned from her FDA position as director of its Women's Health Division in protest over its disregard of science regarding EC. Like Susan Wood, I think women deserve health care based on science, not politics, and they shouldn’t have to fight their government to get it.

So do Senators Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Patty Murray (D-WA), rightly held up the confirmation of Andrew von Eschenbach to the post of FDA commissioner. Their stance has caused the FDA to make its latest tepid proposal. I say, Senators, hold tight until the FDA decides to actually make the approval with its current restrictions removed and an affirmation that the scientific evidence will prevail.

Since unfettered access to EC could prevent half of all unintended pregnancies and abortions, let's celebrate this incremental step forward for women's health while we continue to work toward what 39 other countries have already done: make EC available without prescription to all women of all ages. There is no medical reason not to.

The Bush administration has played retail politics with women's health for many years. Now they have been bested at their own game. Senators Patti Murray (D-WA) and Hillary Clinton (D-NY) held up confirmation of Dr, Andrew von Eschenbach's nomination to be FDA commissioner until he capitulated and replaced his shameful political-ideological policy with legitimate science.

It took politics to overcome politics and allow medical science to prevail on medical decisions. I hope the Democrats will grow some balls when they see that they really can play to win. And how about the fact that it took two women to demonstrate this fact?

© 2006 Gloria Feldt

Friday, February 24, 2006

Newsetter: February 24, 2006

“Well behaved women rarely make history”

~Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

Honor Our Mothers by Celebrating Women’s History Month and

International Women’s Day on March 8.

Here’s a little background on Women’s History Month: In my youth and up until the 1970's, women's history was virtually nonexistent the public school curriculum or in public consciousness. The Education Task Force of the Sonoma County (California) Commission on the Status of Women first initiated a "Women's History Week" celebration in 1978. They chose the week of March 8 to make International Women's Day the focal point of the observance.

The response was so overwhelming across the country that by 1987, the entire month of March was designated as Women’s History Month by a bi-partisan Congressional resolution. That said, it is my observation that most history curricula still underreport women’s history and history made by women. Thus the annual celebrations are an opportunity to learn and to teach about this universally important topic.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court can be up to no good by agreeing to hear another abortion ban case, and South Dakota has passed a law making abortion illegal, it’s urgent to talk about the connection between women’s struggles for our most fundamental rights, including reproductive rights as an essential human right.

On February 22, I had the pleasure of delivering the keynote speech to the remarkable volunteers of the Peer Health Exchange at their annual volunteer conference. Peer Health

Exchange college students give generously of their time and talents to teach top notch comprehensive health education in public schools.

Click here to learn more about the Peer Health Exchange.

Here’s where I’ll be speaking this month -- Please Join Me.

­The Bradley University Public Lecture

“The Courts and Women Today: Special Interests or

Fundamental Human Rights?”

Wednesday, March 1, 2006, 7:30pm

Newmiller Lecture Hall, Bradley Hall, Bradley University

1501 West Bradley Avenue, Peoria, IL

Celebrate Women’s History Month at the Library

“Motherhood in Bondage / Motherhood in Freedom.”

Saturday, March 4, 2006, 2pm

Brooklyn Public Library, 2nd Floor Meeting Room, Central Library, 1 Grand Army Plaza, call 718-230-2100 for more information.

I’m especially excited to give this speech in Brooklyn, where the birth control movement began with the first clinic in 1916.

Click Here for more information.

NY Celebrates International Women’s Day with leading human rights advocates.

I am honored to be speaking with this distinguished panel: The Right Reverend Catherine S. Roskam, Dr. Jean Shinoda Bolen, Charlotte Bunch, Noleen Heyzer, Bianca Jagger,

Dr. Speciosa Kazibwe, and Vivian Stromberg.

Wednesday, March 8, 7:30-9:30pm - St. Bart’s Church on Park Ave. at 50th

Click Here for more information.

Dangly Earrings

Of all the articles, photo, and words I have put into these newsletters over the past 6 months, my revelation that (finally at my tender age) I got my ears pierced so that I can wear beautiful dangly earrings has generated the most comments, from men as well as women.

This is not unrelated to the admonition about good behavior not making history. Any act that represents a break from the past creates energy, sometimes negative, more often positive. With this in mind, I want to ask you, dear readers, to share your equivalent of dangly earrings with me for a new column by that name. What have you done that is a meaningful departure from your past? Why did you do it? And what has been the result? I can’t wait to see your stories.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Newsletter: January 16, 2006

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy”

~Martin Luther King, Jr.

Best wishes for the Brave New Year

New is good. What did you do new last year? I left a 30-year career of social movement

leadership to become a solo practitioner writing and speaking about my passions. I got my ears pierced so I can wear those beautiful dangly earrings.

What are you going to do new this year? I’m working on a fun new book about life lessons for women and have created a new speech to share leadership lessons I learned the hard way. I’m working out with a trainer who has made me physically stronger than ever. We’re going to need strength to counteract the rightward drift of the Supreme Court. (See commentary, right column).

As words of encouragement, I want to share with you sentiments that have been attributed to Abel Muzorewa, former prime minister of Zimbabwe, and that have guided me through many new years and challenges. Dr. King exemplified such inspiration:

People are unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered

Love them anyway

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives

Do good anyway

If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies

Succeed anyway

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow

Do good anyway

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable

Be honest and frank anyway

The biggest person with the biggest idea can be shot down by the smallest person with the smallest mind

Think big anyway

People favor underdogs, but follow only top dogs

Fight for some underdogs anyway

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight

Build anyway

People need help, but may attack you if you help them

Help people anyway

Give the world the best you have and sometimes you’ll get kicked in the teeth

Give the world your best anyway

“Well behaved women rarely make history”

~Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

March is Women’s History Month. I’ll be speaking at Bradley University and the Brooklyn Public Library on the history and future of reproductive rights in a speech entitled “Motherhood in

Bondage / Motherhood in Freedom: The Choice is Yours.”

My Recent Commentary:

For Alito Hearing Theater, Get Your Playbill Here
Women's eNews - New York,NY,USA
Be careful about whose script you follow and offers a playbill for an interactive performance.

High Court Case Takes Aim at Heart of Roe
Women's eNews - New York,NY,USA
Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood is nothing less than an attack at the heart of Roe v. Wade. ...

By the way, if you don’t already subscribe to Women’s e-News, you should.