Reproductive Rights Dangling on an Olive Branch

Senator Russ Feingold (D-Wisconsin) just had one hundred pounds of olives dumped on his doorstep. And feminists concerned with reproductive rights hope that the next shipment will be on its way soon.

Nancy Millar, president of the New York City chapter of the National Organization for Women, heads the “olive and hanger” campaign to show Senator Feingold how disappointed millions of women are when he supported the nomination of John Ashcroft for U.S. Attorney General. Feingold said his vote was meant to extend “an olive branch” to the Bush Administration, but feminists worry that the extremely right-wing and anti-choice Ashcroft will use his power as Attorney General to destroy women’s reproductive rights. Alex Leader, Executive Director of NOW-NYC, said the group plans to send Feingold half a ton (1,000 pounds) of olives in all, in order to send the message that “women’s reproductive rights are not something to be compromised or negotiated over.”

NOW-NYC also hopes to send that same message to the seven democratic senators who followed Feingold’s lead and voted to confirm Ashcroft in the full Senate vote. NOWNYC hopes to send each of those senators (Robert Byrd of West Virginia, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Byron Dorgan and Kent Conrad of North Dakota; Chris Dodd of Connecticut; John Breaux of Louisiana, and Zell Miller of Georgia) a few thousand wire hangers each, to protest their votes to confirm Ashcroft — and therefore roll back abortion rights. Senate Minority Leader Thomas Daschle (South Dakota) will also receive a shipment of hangers, because he failed to start a filibuster to block Ashcroft’s confirmation. According to Leader, “it was his job to lead, he could have led in a filibuster. We expect to see stronger action when such an enemy of women’s rights is being appointed to such a powerful position.”

To donate to the hanger and olive campaigns, visit the NOWNYC Web site. And visit the national NOW home page for more information on other reproductive rights campaigns, including the upcoming Emergency March for Women’s Lives in Washington, D.C., on April 22, 2001.



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