For Immediate Release

July 5, 2005

Statement of Eleanor Smeal on the Resignation of Sandra Day O'Connor

Statement of Eleanor Smeal
President, Feminist Majority

July 2, 2005

The feminist movement today is declaring a state of emergency to save the Supreme Court for women’s rights. President Bush will reverse 32 years of freedom and progress for women if he carries out his promise to appoint a justice in the mold of Justices Scalia or Thomas.

We must mount immediately an emergency campaign to save abortion rights and access to birth control for all women. Make no mistake about it – Sandra Day O’Connor was the determining vote saving not only Roe v. Wade but also many other women’s and civil rights that were decided by 5-4 votes.

If Roe v. Wade and the right to privacy are reversed, millions of women in the United States will lose access not only to abortion, but also access to birth control will be restricted and narrowed. Both abortion and birth control depend on a vigorous right to privacy.

Twenty-four years ago, as president of the National Organization for Women (NOW), I led the fight for a woman to be named to the Court, and testified for Sandra Day O’Connor before the Senate Judiciary Committee. I knew then that O’Connor, although a conservative voice, would not permit the elimination of women’s fundamental rights, including the right to privacy. She has said that indeed the very fact of her presence on the Court made a difference for women.

Sandra Day O’Connor was nominated in 1981 at the height of the Equal Rights Amendment campaign. One of the reasons she was nominated is that NOW stood outside the White House with thousands of people demanding that President Reagan nominate a woman, and a woman who would not turn her back on the women of the nation. Even a very conservative President heard our voices. And we must make our voices so loud today another ultra conservative President will hear our voices.

Reagan understood we had the power of the gender gap. Today, no politician can ignore an activated women’s electorate. We intend to use the power of the gender gap to save women’s lives. We are marching today, July 2, in Tennessee to tell Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) we will never go back.

To schedule an interview with Eleanor Smeal, contact Erin Carmany at 703-522-2214 (office), 703-298-7469 (cell), or ecarmany@feminist.org.

FOR MORE INFORMATION Read the Ms. magazine Urgent Report on the Looming Fight Over the Supreme Court

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