House Democratic Whip Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) affirmed her commitment to abortion rights and contraception yesterday at the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (NARAL) Roe v. Wade anniversary dinner. Pelosi focused her remarks on securing reproductive rights for women and urged pro-choice supporters to be as vigilant about protecting access to contraception as they are about saving legal abortion. Pelosi noted that abortion opponents were extreme, continuously attacking family planning, and that their influence was notable in Congress, where there is an anti-choice majority. Commenting that it was appropriate that her first speech as Democratic Whip was before a pro-choice, women’s rights audience, Pelosi pledged to focus on freeing the international family planning funds President Bush has stalled and announced that long-time feminist Cecile Richards would join her staff as a Senior Advisor. Richards, previously at the Turner Foundation and board member of NARAL, has been an active abortion rights supporter both in D.C. and in her native Texas.
Senator James Jeffords (I-VT) was also present at the Roe v. Wade dinner where he was saluted for his own commitment to reproductive rights, including abortion and family planning. Jeffords was greeted with thunderous applause and received a standing ovation from the enthusiastic crowd of some 1400 leaders and activists from the women’s rights community. Actors Amy Madigan and Ed Harris emceed the annual event this year, which celebrates a woman’s right to safe, legal abortion.