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To arrange a media interview with Ellie Smeal or other spokespersons at Feminist Majority Foundation, contact the FMF media department at 703-522-2214.


Date: March-25-04
Contact: Jeanne Clark
Phone: (703) 522-2214

Eleanor Smeal, Feminist Majority President, Decries Senate Move

Defeat of Feinstein Amendment Shows Disdain for Women

Arlington, VA Eleanor Smeal, President of the Feminist Majority, today condemned the action by the United States Senate to further erode womens rights by passing H.R. 1997, the so-called Unborn Victims of Violence Act.

The very fact that the majority in the Senate refused to vote for the exact same bill with one small change not granting separate personhood to the fetus shows that his legislation had nothing to do with protecting pregnant women, and everything to do with restricting womens rights, said Smeal. This is all part of the attempt by the right-wing to stop womens advancements, and to have legislation in place for when they capture the majority on the Supreme Court. This bill, along with others passed in states and federally, are traps waiting to be used to make abortion and birth control illegal.

Thats why the upcoming March for Womens Lives on April 25 in Washington, DC is so important, continued Smeal. We can and must fight back against those who would drive women into the back alleys and out of the halls of power. Women and the men who love them must march as if their lives depend on it because they do. If the right-wing has its way, U.S. women will join the 500,000 women worldwide who die each year from complications of pregnancy and childbirth, much of it due to lack of access to safe, legal abortion and birth control.

Smeal is the most senior organizer among the coalition sponsoring the March for Womens Lives, with her first major campaign taking place in Washington at the Vatican Embassy in 1975. One of the architects of the modern drive for womens equality, Smeal is known as a political analyst, strategist, and grassroots organizer. She has played a pivotal role in defining the debate, developing the strategies, and charting the direction of the modern day womens movement. Smeal was the first to identify the gender gap -- the difference in the way women and men vote -- and popularized its usage in election and olling analyses to enhance womens voting clout. Smeal is the author of How and Why Women Will Elect the Next President (Harper and Row, 1984), which predicted that womens votes would be decisive in presidential politics.

For over 30 years, Smeal has been on the frontlines fighting for womens equality. She has been at the forefront of almost every major womens rights victory from the integration of Little League, newspaper help-wanted ads, and police departments to the passage of landmark legislation, such as the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, Equal Credit Act, Civil Rights Restoration Act, Violence Against Women Act, Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, and Civil Rights Act of 1991. She has pushed to make Social Security and pensions more equitable for women, and to realign federal priorities by developing a feminist budget. She has campaigned to close the wage gap and to achieve pay equity for the vast majority of women who are segregated in low-paying jobs.

A former three-term president of the National Organization for Women (NOW), Smeal has promoted the involvement of young women in the feminist movement. Smeal initiated the Choices Campus Leadership Program, a groundbreaking organizing effort on college campuses throughout the country. This program is comprised of a nationwide network of campus-based feminist activist groups called Feminist Majority Leadership Alliances. Leadership Alliances are based on the Feminist Majority Foundations innovative study and action model which focuses on four critical choice issues: Reproductive Choices, Career Choices, Leadership Choices, and Saving Choices: Fighting the Backlash. Smeals innovative campus program has energized young feminist leaders on hundreds of public and private, two and four-year, large and small college campuses in 32 states and the District of Columbia.

Under her guidance, the Feminist Majority Foundation publish