Thursday, August 11, 2005

NARAL's ad, criticisms,, and irate pro-choice women bloggers

As some of you may have known and even discussed already throughout the blogosphere, NARAL Pro-Choice America recently put out a new ad exposing Roberts' past legal anti-Roe history. He willing sided with violent anti-choice extremists such as Bray who was a convicted clinic bomber--a domestic terrorist (see Bray v. Alexandria and N.O.W. v. Scheidler for more info). Roberts didn't have to represent Bray or anti-choice extremists (who define "pro-life" as bombing clinics, murdering doctors and clinic staff), and go against the attorney generals' decision at the time, but he did so anyway.

Of course, the ad was met with criticism--from the pro-choice community and movement. Many feared that the ad had "untruths" within it and suggested going to to do an analysis of the ad. (here's their analysis of the ad) Well NARAL did a fact-check of their own and found this... (via BitchPhD.)

On Monday, NARAL Pro-Choice America released our ad "Speaking Out" concerning John Roberts' record of siding with radical anti-choice groups in a critical Supreme Court case. By now you've likely seen an analysis of that ad from We wanted to share with you the attached document showing conclusively that their analysis was completely wrong. The basic fact about this case is incontrovertible: In his role as a top legal strategist for the first Bush Administration, Roberts put the U.S. Government on the side of individuals and organizations that had used violent tactics against women's health clinics -- in a case that was critical to efforts to curtail that violence. [...]

Factcheck.orgs 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[...];....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.[...] 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 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 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 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).”[...] 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...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).” [...]

(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.[...]
(read the rest at BitchPhD to see the resources cited by NARAL as they refuted and also see Scott Lemieux's post about the NARAL ad)

Forty-six months for bombing clinics--a terrorist gets only forty-six months. Had he'd been a member of Al Qaeda or some other extremist from the Middle East.....well, it doesn't even need to be mentioned, we know what would have happen to him. So, I will agree, needs some fact-checking of its own. And we here in the pro-choice movement need to stop quibbling over a flawed analysis of serious legal briefings in our nation's highest court. We need to focus on Roberts and his ties to violent anti-choice extremists he willing defended, though he didn't have to. By fracturing ourselves over "what this person said and this person said" gossip over a not-so-credible-after-all source on the net, we are loosing focus of our main objective which is bringing to light and into the eye of the public, Roberts' legal and ideological alliances with violent anti-choice terrorists. He did not have to defend them, but he did anyway. This is what the anti-choicers want--for us to loose our shit over what a not-all-that-credible source on the net wrote-up, so we'll forget about Roberts and what was our goal to begin with. Divide and conquer--it actually works.

Anyway, there was also criticism of NARAL's past endorsements of pro-choice Republican candidates, who vote against choice when they're in office. I will admit, that yes, these are valid criticisms, as one who values a woman's right to choose--her right to be an autonomous human being--cannot always trust nor expect the Republicans once they are in power, to keep their end of the bargain should they say at least during their campaign that they are pro-choice. When more than likely, they will cave-in to the majority vote of their party which usually leads them to be ardently anti-women's-reproductive-rights. So yes, NARAL should stop endorsing pro-choice Republicans until it is proven from the voting and legal records of these "pro-choice Republicans" that they are bona fide pro-choicers who would actually vote against the majority vote of the [anti-choice] Republicans, and are not just bullshitting us to get our vote. NARAL has made errors in their strategy and hopefully they will do all within their power to fix them. If not, then yes, we should voice our criticisms of their tactics to them.

And now what you all have been waiting for--the dismissive, obviously sexist quips from so called "A-list" male bloggers such as the DailyKos, whom I have dubbed to be Frat-Boy-Lefty-Bloggers. There, I said it. Predictably they have been dismissing pro-choicers, women, and--duh--feminist bloggers who object to their "shut-up and listen here girlies, we can't deal with your girly pet causes right now, the big men are trying to deal with important shit right now" line of rhetoric and approach to the whole Roberts issue and the Democrat Party's platform. In this post over at the DailyKos, they attack NARAL's call to "A-list" left-leaning blogs to speak up about pro-choice issues and join the fight against Roberts. Because you know, that's what we're supposed to do since we're progressive and all that (or at least we say we are). But apparently, not so, in the "A-list" male corner of the progressive, lefty-blogosphere. Standing against a man who voluntarily represented anti-choice terrorists--because his anti-choice ideological sentiments are that strong and would compel him to do so--"aren't important enough." Instead, it's all about their Machiavellian strategy to get back at the Republicans, while disparaging and shooting-down their fellow pro-choice, liberal women, and feminist bloggers in general in the process. Hence why it is Machiavellian--"the ends justify the means"....they wish. Apparently, for so called "A-list" lefty male bloggers, telling pro-choicers--especially feminist women bloggers--to shut-up and let the big boys take care of everything, will make everything "a-okay" in the end. Rolling over on Roberts' confirmation, glossing over his past legal history and his strong ideological sentiments that would voluntarily drive him to defend anti-choice terrorists, and buying into the Rightwing's b.s. that he is a "moderate" will make everything "okay" for us in the end. [raises hand] Um, bullshit?! I'm just sayin'.

Here's Feministing's response to this.....

KosÂ’ post revealed a lot more than his feelings on NARAL; it made clear how he feels about womenÂ’s rights in general.

You know, nothing says they have to endorse an anti-abortion Democrat, but clearly they don't understand that good politics -- turning the Senate Democratic is far more beneficial for their issue (women rights) than anything the Republicans can muster.
Until NARAL (and the rest of the single-issue groups) understand that building a movement is more beneficial to their causes than singular devotion to their pet causes, I can't take them seriously.

Kos goes on to say that the groups he does take seriously are those “working to build an effective progressive movement, not a single issue.”

ItÂ’s bad enough to peg choice as a mere single issue, but womenÂ’s rights as a whole? Maybe itÂ’s just me, but I donÂ’t see how a progressive movement will be effective without addressing womenÂ’s rights.

But this kind of dismissive attitude isnÂ’t exactly new. It reeks of the New LeftÂ’s sexism that in part sparked the second wave.

Susan Brownmiller in In Our Time tells of a pivotal moment in the beginning of the womenÂ’s movement that occurred in the 1968 National Convention for New Politics. Jo Freeman and Shulamith Firestone had drafted a resolution on women, which was to be met with an all-too familiar pooh-poohing:

Back at the main session, Jo ran down the aisles handing out copies of the resolution while Shulie charged to the podium. “Cool down, little girl,” the session chairman told her. “We have more important things to talk about than women’s problems.”

Brownmiller also discusses the reaction of her male counterparts after women marched in an anti-war demonstration with a float dedicated to womenÂ’s rights:

The peace activists were appalled...Stopping the Vietnam War was the priority was still the chief priority, wasnÂ’t it? [This] action, they howled, was petty, disloyal, divisive.

Sound familiar?
Yes. But then again, what's the fight for preserving women's rights without some bashing from so called "liberal" and "progressive" male bloggers? (also see this other Feministing post, dealing with the same issue with Kos's response to NARAL and pro-choice, women bloggers). This fight against Roberts and unfortunately ourselves will be nasty, vicious, yet passionate as this fight deals with our--women's--fundamental right to control our body, and demand that our leaders, the Democrats--the people we voted for who are supposed to promote and ensure our rights and liberties--do their damn job to protect us from people such as Roberts and his ilk.

And remember, stop relying and hoping that the Frat-Boy-Lefty male bloggers will take our rights seriously, gals. It's up to us, not them. Let them play their little game of getting back at the Republicans via petty and shameless means in order to do so, by screwing over and shitting all over their fellow lefty-bloggers (just like the Democrats screwing over their voting-base) in the process, and we'll take care of business. Focus on Roberts and bringing a woman's right to choose and women's rights back to the forefront of this struggle. This is about our rights. But then again, I'm just a college-sophomore and some hysterical pro-choice feminist blogger--what do I know about politics? I'm probably just as bad (or worse than) as that recent college-grad over at, so I have no room to talk. But I don't work on a site called either and claim that I never make mistakes--I make mistakes all the time.

Lastly from Culture Kitchen, I leave you with this....

(1) People on your side are attacking this ad. What do you say about that?

(2) Is this the battle to invest in?

This is the swing vote. This is what shifts the court to the right. We could lose Rowe with this vote. This one is important.

"It is factual and it is tough".

There are consequences to the decision in Bray, that's why they are attacking Robets. A rash of violence has come about after Bray.

Roberts sided with the extremists and took away the tools law enforcement had to prevent these attacks to happen.

This is Sandra Day O'Connor'sseat and that is why this court appointment is about choice.

The fact of these organizations have our issues that we have to keep on the table. My job is to argue for women and their right to choose. The criticism is because we have affiliates over the states. You have to talk to the people on the ground and you have to take your criticism to them. We deal with candidates on the national level. Not an excuse just merely a reality. This is the deal it is us and it is them.

Vicky Suporter, President of the National Abortion Federation

Alice Cohen, Political Director of the feminist majority

Nancy Keenan, President of NARAL

This is coming from top male bloggers.
Do not rely on frat boys.
Markos says it is a women's issue organization.

This guy defended terrorist.
The majority of Americans support choice.
Anti-abortion is not the same as anti-choice.

This is not just about Roberts, this is about bringing choice back on the table on the political landscape.

A good strategy would be to push for state rights campaigns.

If we work from the POV that Roberts will get the nomination, what do we want?

IRONCLAD PARTY DISCIPLINE! Vote against him, make sure you express clearly how it is imperative to uphold the constitutional right to privacy as the foundation of choice, not just in relation to reproductive rights, but in relations to choose how we live, love, procreate and even die.
It was fun, gals ;-)