Sara Nelson, Jennifer Baumgardner, Katha Pollitt, and Eyal Press re-focus abortion issue for 2007
With the tilt of the U.S. Supreme Court into the hands of the religious right at the beginning of 2006, followed by the surprising seismic political shift of the U.S. electorate to the secular left at the end of the year, 2007 promises to be a pivotal year in the 34-year old national debate over abortion. Last month, the Small Press Center sponsored a panel of journalist/authors titled ROE VS. WADE IN 2007: NO REST FOR THE WEARY at their 19th Annual Independent and Small Press Book Fair in New York City to explore the events of 2006 and address the new political framework for the debate going forward. Publishers Weekly editor-in-chief Sara Nelson, who moderated the discussion, introduced the panelists--Third Wave feminist and independent journalist/author Jennifer Baumgardner, Nation columnist/author Katha Pollitt, and Nation contributing writer/author Eyal Press--who began with their prognoses for survival of the landmark Roe vs. Wade decision in 2007. The panel quickly moved to an extended discussion of the grassroots political landscape, where religion, politics, language and women's rights issues collide. Nelson (So Many Books, So Little Time: A Year of Passionate Reading), Baumgardner (Look Both Ways: Bisexual Politics) and Pollitt (Virginity or Death!: And Other Social and Political Issues of Our Time) went on to examine the meaning of 'feminism' today, and were joined by Eyal Press in the unavoidable discussion of the thing polite people aren't supposed to talk about in public--religion --and its impact on the abortion debate. Nelson then led the panel into a spirited analysis of the politics of language that frame the debate. Opening the discussion to the audience, Baumgardner took a question on whether there were any new ideas on changing the political framework of the abortion debate; Pollitt and Baumgardner fielded a question about the religious and social rituals for aborted embryos, and Eyal Press (Absolute Convictions: My Father, a City, and the Conflict that Divided America), the son of an abortion provider, raised the issue of family planning and contraception as another battlefront in the debate looming large in 2007.
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