Live Blogging at WAM! Breaking the Frame: Revitalizing and Redefining Reproductive Rights Media Coverage

There’s a fantastic group of women panelists covering this session: Amanda Marcotte of Pandagon and author of “It’s a Jungle Out There: The Feminist Survival Guide to Politically Inhospitable Environments” (highly recommended), moderator Emily Douglas of RH Reality Check, Cristina Page, author of “How the Pro-Choice Movement Saved America,” and Aimee Thorne-Thompsen of the Pro-Choice Public Education Project (PEP).
Aimee talks about PEP’s work with younger women of color, their research and critique of the “choice” movement and the ways that it isolates many women, in which she leads to a discussion about the creation and history of reproductive justice, which she means working towards “a collective solution that betters us all instead of betters just some of us.” She also touches on the amazing initiative EMERJ who has the goal of growing and strengthening the reproductive justice movement.
Cristina Page discusses her experience within the pro-choice movement and how the conversation around the movement has largely been around abortion, when the fact of the matter is that reproductive rights organizations are working more towards prevention than anything, specifically contraception rights. In fact, she befriended a “pro-life” leader, traveled across the country and ended up writing an op-ed together in the New York Times, “The Right to Agree” suggesting that the two movements can, in fact, work together to provide support for prevention and family-friendly policies, but how that all gets lost in the larger debate of abortion rights. She talks about taking back language that anti-choice leaders use, including “murder” and “butcher,” but as well as anti-choicers being “fanatics.” In short, there are arguments that we have to potentially recruit anti-choicers to see things differently.
Amanda talks about how a reproductive justice framework “makes it easier to communicate our values to the public.” Really understanding the reproductive justice framework can also help you debate anti-choice people, particularly anti-choicers who aren’t necessarily activists. She says we need to talk about things in really blunt, frank terms (like “sex,” as scared as the public may be to talk about it) in order to reach out to people, and even using humor in the process. She also suggests to not be afraid to take the cheap shot when you need to. (She uses the example of her calling out John McCain’s spiritual adviser Rod Parsley for saying that the KKK would just love abortion rights people for committing “black genocide,” while she finds very clearly on the KKK website of their opposition to choice. Who would of thought.)
Great questions and comments are being brought up by the audience, including how to engage anti-choicers, people with faith who support reproductive justice, including abortion as a health care issue in the media, taking “education” out of “abstinence-only education,” and talking to black communities about abortion. (Silent Choices is a film running today at the conference addressing that very issue.)
Great panel. Serious kudos to all the panelists!

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7 Comments

  1. wandergrrl
    Posted March 29, 2008 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    I wish I could be there. Sounds brilliant! Thanks for the coverage.

  2. Posted March 30, 2008 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

    Yes, I’m terribly jealous, too!
    PS: Rod Parsley isn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer. I’m curious which politician supplied him with the KKK info, which he could never have thought up on his own…

  3. Posted March 30, 2008 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

    Did anyone from this site get to BFP’s lecture? I know there’ve been snarky name-naming episodes (while really just trying to make a comment on a broader point, not one about the person–hence me labeling it “snarky”) and such…but despite that, did anyone go? I’m curious to hear…well…what people here thought of what she said. (I’ve just read her speech as she wrote it.)

  4. PlainJane
    Posted March 30, 2008 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

    Just wanted to say…this panel was amazing. And, the whole chicken/beef/spam thing…well, that was just really funny in context! (Ah, the ignorance of the oppression olympics!) I didn’t get to go to BFP’s panel…I really wish the panels were staggered. I hated having to choose!

  5. PlainJane
    Posted March 30, 2008 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

    Just clarifying…I’m commenting on 2 panels in one post. (Oops!) But every panel I went to inspired me…even when there was tension, the ideas were amazing.

  6. Posted March 31, 2008 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

    WAM Redux

    I spent the weekend at the Women, Action and Media conference up in Boston, and it was so fantastic I’m not even sure where to start. First, a million thanks and a big round of applause for WAM organizer (and Feministe guest-blogger) Jaclyn, who…

  7. Posted April 1, 2008 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    Okay…too bad. I would’ve loved to hear the commentary on, well, just the ideas contained in the speech…from authors at a site that perhaps has been trying to figure out the best ways to get to where the speech was about (but has sometimes been not-so-inspired by the way the reminders to do so have come from that speechwriter’s corner of the internet).
    If anyone wants to read it, I reformatted it and posted most of it over at my site…
    http://kitkatscritique.blogspot.com/2008/04/please-read-this-very-powerful-speech.html

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