All of the Democrats who have declared their intention to run for President in 2004 say they will attend a fund-raising dinner to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion. The dinner is held every year by NARAL Pro-Choice America, formerly National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action league. The six candidates will share a stage at the dinner to address a crowd of 1,500 on women’s reproductive rights, according to the New York Times.
“The fact that this is the first major gathering of the announced presidential hopefuls on the Democratic side demonstrates the importance and power of this issue. Frankly, this is a right in peril, and frankly, I don’t think people have taken that seriously enough,” Kate Michelman, president of NARAL, told the Times. Of the current Congress members who are vying for the Democratic presidential nominee, Sen. John Edwards (NC), Sen. John Kerry (MA), and Sen. Joe Lieberman (CT) are all rated as pro-reproductive rights by the Planned Parenthood Action Fund; Rep. Richard Gephardt (MO) has a mixed record on choice. Congressional aides told the Times that Gephardt planned to address his mixed record at the NARAL dinner. In the 1980s, Gephardt was anti-abortion rights, a position he changed before his first run for the presidency in 1988; recently, Gephardt has voted for bans on the so-called “partial-birth” abortions as well as against Medicaid funding for some abortions for poor women, according to the Times.
NARAL announced its name change on Jan. 6 to NARAL Pro-Choice America at the same time the group announced its plans for a large-scale grassroots effort to protect abortion rights in the United States. Michelman told the Times that “through our name change we are underscoring that our country is pro-choice. It is the right name for this moment in history.” NARAL will be focusing its efforts on 15 to 20 key states, with an advertising campaign focused on young women and suburban women, according to the Times.