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Race to Watch: Maine's 2nd Congressional District

Erika West is the Political Director at NARAL Pro-Choice America.

Right now, we're seeing anti-choice politicians launch some of the worst attacks on our reproductive freedom, including going after women's access to birth control, taking away insurance coverage of abortion and passing regulations that are closing clinics all over the country. If we're going to protect and even expand reproductive freedom, we have to win at the ballot box in November.

That's why we're posting a new blog series called "Races to Watch." We'll highlight competitive races across the country featuring pro-choice and anti-choice candidates. Please check back often for the latest on these key races, and share our posts with pro-choice friends who will support our candidates. When we know the stakes and we vote together, we change the game.


ME_EmilyCain_crop.jpgA couple of weeks ago, we scored a victory for reproductive freedom when NARAL Pro-Choice America PAC-endorsed candidate Emily Cain won in the Democratic primary in Maine's 2nd congressional district. She soundly defeated her anti-choice opponent Troy Jackson with 72 percent of the vote.

Cain's strong pro-choice values make her best positioned to advocate for Maine women and families in Washington and she has a track record that shows we can count on her to get the job done. She's the youngest woman to ever serve as Maine's House Minority Leader and knows the importance of breaking down barriers. Since she was elected to the State House in 2005, Cain has been dedicated to fighting to protect access to reproductive-health care. One of her biggest fights was to preserve funding for women's health care services, including cancer screenings, birth control and STI testing at Planned Parenthood, which benefit 10,000 Maine residents each year.

Cain is no stranger to working to stop anti-choice attacks - which is experience she is going to need when she goes to Washington. In 2011, she spoke out against a bill that would have created an unnecessary waiting period on women seeking abortion services. And at a town hall, Cain called for Maine politicians to stop interfering in reproductive health decisions and said politicians "should not hinder a woman's ability to make important choices about her body and her health."

While we are excited that she won her primary, she now faces anti-choice Bruce Poliquin in November. Poliquin has already been endorsed by the National Right to Life Committee and was endorsed by both the anti-choice Christian Conservation League of Maine and Concerned Women for America in 2012 when he ran for the Senate. Poliquin stated that he believes that, "at conception, a life has begun, and that is a life that should be protected." His anti-choice position was a key factor in his primary win against mixed-choice Kevin Raye. Numerous church leaders rallied their congregations in support of Poliquin and his abortion stance during the primary.

Poliquin's position is clearly out of touch with the values held by the constituents of Maine's 2nd congressional district.

Cain and Poliquin are vying for the open seat created when pro-choice Rep. Michael Michaud announced his run for governor this year. We're lucky to have another pro-choice leader on the ballot to fill his shoes and we need every pro-choice voter engaged in order to win in November. Today, our pro-choice allies in the U.S. House are outnumbered - and with Boehner at the helm, the House has moved bill after bill aimed at making it impossible for women to get the reproductive-health care they need. The people of Maine's 2nd district deserve a pro-choice leader who shares their values and Emily Cain has proven that she can deliver. Now, let's deliver the pro-choice vote in November for Cain and secure another win for reproductive freedom!

Paid for by NARAL Pro-Choice America, www.ProChoiceAmerica.org, and not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.

One Year Since Wendy

It's been one year since Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis' historic 13-hour filibuster to stop politicians from pushing through a draconian anti-choice bill during a special legislative session.

Ever since Wendy's epic stand, NARAL Pro-Choice Texas has been working with allies on the ground to make sure women can continue to access abortion and reproductive-health care in the Lone Star state. But the energy we saw in Texas from activists standing up to join Wendy one year ago has spread far beyond Texas.

We've seen pro-choice champions in Congress and state legislatures across the country fight back against anti-choice politicians who will do whatever it takes - even breaking their own rules - to make it next to impossible for women and families to get the health care they need.

Anti-choice Sen. Lindsay Graham tried to use the anniversary of the conviction of the illegal back-alley butcher, Kermit Gosnell, to ramp up support for his national 20-week abortion ban. But Sen. Richard Blumenthal stood up to Sen. Graham and talked about how a ban would endanger women's lives and criminalize doctors.

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Sen. Barbara Boxer joined him and talked about how the bill would drive women to rogue doctors or leave women with no choice by to try to self-abort. (One study in Texas showed that 7 percent of women who seek abortion care have already tried.) Sen. Harry Reid also called out Sen. Graham for using the debate to win votes.

In Michigan, when anti-choice politicians pushed legislation that would require women to buy a separate insurance plan for abortion care, even women who have been raped, state Sen. Gretchen Widmer spoke out and bravely shared her personal story of sexual assault for the very first time in public.

In Oklahoma, Republican state Rep. Doug Cox had it when fellow Republicans tried to ban coverage for emergency contraception for people who rely on Medicaid for their insurance. He bravely wrote an editorial and asked, "What happened to the party that I joined?" When these same politicians tried to push Texas-style restrictions, he condemned them for being "prejudiced against women."

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Pro-choice lawmakers are not just speaking out and refusing to stay silent - they're pushing legislative strategies to expose the true agenda behind the flood of medically unnecessary anti-choice restrictions.

Oklahoma state Rep. Constance Johnson stood up to "personhood" legislation in her state.

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The legislation could ban abortion and common forms of birth control by introducing a measure to ban "non-procreative ejaculation." Constance said:

"As a woman and a 31-year veteran of the legislative process in Oklahoma, I am increasingly offended by state law trends that solely focus on the female's role in the reproductive process. With Oklahoma's new, never-before-experienced Republican majority, we are seeing enactment of more and more measures that adversely affect women and their rights to access safe medical procedures when making reproductive-health care decisions."

Ohio state Sen. Nina Turner introduced legislation to require men to seek counseling before accessing Viagra to expose just how ridiculous it is for anti-choice politicians to assume that women who choose abortion haven't given that decision enough thought.

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But pro-choice elected officials aren't the only people standing up for women's reproductive freedom. Pro-choice activists across the country have taken to the streets and to state capitals in masses to protest legislative attacks.

NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina helps organize rallies for "Moral Monday" to protest the GOP's extreme attacks, including laws to make it harder for people to vote, to weaken environmental protections, to cut funding for health care, and to close all but one of the state's reproductive-health clinics that provides abortion care. Thanks to thousands of progressive North Carolinians coming together week after week for months in different cities across the state, with hundreds arrested, these protests made national headlines.

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In Missouri, pro-choice people organized a 72-hour people's filibuster to protest an extreme anti-choice bill that would require women to wait three days and make multiple visits to the single abortion provider within the state in order to get abortion care.

Not only are our champions exposing hypocrisy and holding anti-choice politicians accountable for restricting women's access to health care, but they're protecting and expanding reproductive freedom. In Congress, they've introduced the Women's Health Protection Act to wipe away all the unnecessary obstacles that are designed to make it impossible for women to get the reproductive health care they need.

When we speak out, our voices become a roar that cannot be ignored. Sen. Wendy Davis showed the nation that there are hundreds of thousands of pro-choice people who won't put up with the anti-choice agenda any longer, and she, along with all of our pro-choice champions, inspired so many people to take a stand for reproductive freedom for the very first time.

How will you use your voice?

Choice Out Loud All-Stars: Sandra Sanchez

Our Choice Out Loud - On Campus representatives have done amazing work to engage the community around the issue of reproductive rights. We asked our graduating class of activists from this academic year to tell us why they decided to become a campus representative, what they accomplished, and what they've learned. Here's the latest post in this series.

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Meet Sandra Sanchez.

What was your major?
I am a Political Science and Women's and Gender Studies double major at the University of Mary Washington in Virginia.

Why is choice important to you?
For me, being pro-choice is simply the idea that women have the right to choose and have control of their bodies and their sex lives. Being pro-choice is the belief that women have the right to have a child, to give up her child in an adoption, to have an abortion, or any other choice about her body. Also, an important part of being pro-choice is that it encompasses all of reproductive rights. This includes contraception, sex education, advocacy for sexual assault victims, and of course, choices made during the pregnancy. As human beings and as American citizens, rights are afforded to us that allow us to be free thinking, free living individuals - choice, in any way, but especially in a reproductive standpoint, fits in with all those values.

How did you get involved in the pro-choice movement? Do you intend to stay involved after you graduate?
I interned with NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia in the Spring of 2013 as their Advocacy and Communications Intern. After that, I became the campus representative for the University of Mary Washington. Working for NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia got me to get heavily involved in the pro-choice movement, but, prior to that, I had attended various rallies and worked on pro-choice activities on UMW's campus, such as the Wear White for Women's Rights event. After I graduate, I plan on staying involved in the movement, although my current job is not in the realm of reproductive rights or even politics, I still plan on volunteering and spreading the word on what's going on.

What was your favorite event that you planned as a Campus Representative? My favorite event was when we held the 12th & Delaware documentary showing on campus! I had a good group of students that were engaged and interested in the documentary and afterwards the discussion that was facilitated was productive. After that event, many of the attendees wanted to work further to stop CPCs.

What is/are the greatest skill or skills that you've learned from being a Campus Representative?
The biggest skill I gained was engaging students and opening a dialogue. Especially since I am very passionate about reproductive rights, I wanted to really engage students so they could be just as passionate and potentially make a change. Engaging students and opening dialogue helped me not only as a campus rep but also in my current job where I'm engaging with clients about my company's product. I honestly believe that if you educate people then those lessons stick to them. It doesn't help to merely yell about being pro-choice, it's also important to engage people, to explain why this position is the right thing for society and for women.

What is your earliest memory of interacting with NARAL Pro-Choice America?
My earliest memory of interacting with NARAL Pro-Choice America was going to a women's rights rally my sophomore year of high school. To be honest, I went on a whim! I had a friend who lived in Richmond and she asked if I wanted to go to a rally that was against VA's TRAP bill, and I went. After that I just wanted to keep going to rallies, so, for the next one I went to, I spray-painted a sign that said "End the War on Women," and I was wearing a shirt I made. Then, a few months later, I was on the NARAL website!

Out of all the different ways to engage with this issue, why did you choose to engage with NARAL Pro-Choice America?
As a political science major, I think people getting together and protesting, rallying, and making noise are the best ways to make change. I wanted to engage with a group that did those things. I also think that NARAL Pro-Choice America does a good job of providing information about the issue and raising awareness. They have such a loyal volunteer base, and I really loved that about them.

What are your future plans?
After school, I actually got a job with a digital advertising start-up company. I will, of course, continue to spread the message of choice. I would like to eventually go back and get my masters and maybe a Ph.D! Who knows? The world is full of choices and I plan on keeping it that way!

Why Everyone Needs to See the Pro-Choice Film Obvious Child

The amazing pro-choice comedy Obvious Child hit select theaters across the country and will open nationwide on June 27.

Seriously, go see this movie. I was lucky to see it in an advanced screening and was blown away. It was hilarious, heartwarming, and, most importantly, it was honest in its portrayal of abortion care.

So, why am I personally thrilled to see a movie tackle a woman's unintended pregnancy and decision to have an abortion with respect and humor?

There are plenty of movies, like Juno and Knocked Up, that share stories of women who face an unintended pregnancy. In these films, the option to choose abortion is either glossed over or talked about as something dirty or a decision to be ashamed of. When we watch story lines that depict abortion negatively, they feed into a culture that teaches women that it's not okay to talk about abortion and that having an abortion makes you a bad person.

Obvious Child is unlike any film I've seen before about young people like me and our real-life experiences. To see a main character choose abortion and be happy and content with her decision to do so is pretty awesome. When I watched Obvious Child I could immediately relate and laugh about some of the real conversations about relationships, sex, and our bodies that I've had with my friends, and I loved the courage Jenny Slate's character showed when she made the best decision that was best for her. It was refreshing to finally see a complex female character deal with issues that are rarely shown on screen. I could also relate to the fear of sharing something so personal and being pleasantly surprised by the outpouring of support from friends and family when you didn't know if they'd have your back.

The movie also debunks some of the most common myths about abortion and the women who have them.

It's kind of amazing when you think about how unique Obvious Child is - because it shouldn't be unique at all. One in three women has an abortion in her lifetime and research shows that the majority of those women - 95 percent - feel relieved and like they made the right decision afterwards. Shouldn't the majority of stories about abortion and unplanned pregnancy in pop culture reflect this breakdown? It's troubling and hugely problematic that we're afraid or made to feel ashamed to talk about our real experiences because Hollywood isn't getting this issue right.

But based on the numbers, maybe Obvious Child can convince filmmakers to treat these topics in a more honest way. So far, Obvious Child has the best per-screen ticket sales of the summer independent releases. These numbers show that there's no monetary excuse not to change the way stories about abortion are told in movies. People will show up to watch movies about real women and their experiences.

It's important that we help build momentum for Obvious Child. That's why we teamed up with Cosmopolitan to host a screening of it that featured a panel discussion moderated by our president Ilyse Hogue. Director Gillian Robespierre, lead actress Jenny Slate, producer Elisabeth Holm and editor of Cosmopolitan Amy Odell joined her to talk about why honest stories of abortion and women's lives are essential to breaking down stigma and uniting women in their shared experiences.


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Hopefully, Obvious Child will make filmmakers and members of the media think twice before they pedal more negative stereotypes about abortion. And maybe we'll even start to see more plot lines that accurately portray a woman's decision to choose abortion with honesty and empathy.

Check out the trailer below for Obvious Child and see it in theaters starting today!

Jindal's Devastating "Health Care" Plan for Women
Lydia Paver is an intern in the political department at NARAL Pro-Choice America.

In the coming days, Gov. Bobby Jindal is preparing to strike several blows to reproductive freedom in Louisiana. Three bills that will compromise the health, safety and rights of women are before him awaiting signature. Since assuming office in 2008, Gov. Bobby Jindal has signed 13 pieces of legislation curtailing women's reproductive freedoms, making Louisiana the most anti-choice state in the United States.

HB 388, or "The Unsafe Abortion Protection Act," is modeled on a 2013 Texas law, which resulted in the closure of a third of the state's abortion clinics. Sources on the ground say the Jindal-backed bill is "likely to shutter most clinics," forcing women in southern Louisiana to drive up to 400 miles each way to obtain an abortion.

The bill requires physicians who provide abortion services to have active admitting privileges at a hospital that provides obstetrical-gynecological services within 30 miles of their clinic. But of course, nothing in the bill requires hospitals to grant admitting privileges to doctors - and many anti-choice hospitals routinely deny - or simply ignore - the requests. Currently, only two of Louisiana's five abortion clinics meet such harsh regulations, meaning that the remaining three face immediate closure. While supporters of such anti-choice measures claim that further regulation works to protect women, it is clear that that these anti-choice laws are strategic attempts to reduce women's access to reproductive services by creating unnecessary requirements that few abortion clinics can actually meet. In fact, abortions are already a very safe procedure, with clinics under regulation by both federal and state laws, as any other health care facility.

Last week Jindal took to his Twitter page to publicly express his enthusiasm to complete the passage of the bill:

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But, this isn't the only extremist anti-choice measure that Jindal is seems overjoyed to force upon the women of Louisiana...

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This second bill, HB 305, would prevent staff and volunteers of, or organizations affiliated with, abortion providers from distributing materials on any health topic in all public and charter schools that receive state funding. This means that organizations with the most expertise on women's health, such as Planned Parenthood, would be prohibited from guiding necessary discussions on "human sexuality or family planning" throughout the state. Louisiana teens - like many young people across the country - are in desperate need of basic, unbiased, comprehensive sex education; this bill would make a bad situation even worse.

Louisiana's legislature hasn't stopped there. A third bill that would force anti-choice propaganda on every woman seeking abortion in the state, HB 1261, is now also before Governor Jindal. The bill would require that a woman seeking abortion care be isolated in a private room where she must read counseling materials created by a governor's task force, including a pamphlet about the "alleged psychological effects of abortion."

About that task force: it's looking like Gov. Jindal is packing it with anti-choice state politicians and advocates, including two counselors from crisis pregnancy centers, which are fake clinics that are known for lying to women. If that wasn't sketchy enough, according to the Times-Picayune, "no abortion providers or mental health professionals that recommend abortions would be allowed on the panel." What are the chances that this task force is going to produce unbiased, fact-based information? Probably zero. These measures in Louisiana mirror laws enacted throughout several Southern states in recent legislative sessions. Together, these measures have nearly created a no-access zone that limits women's access to abortion and reproductive health facilities under the cover of heightening safety and protecting women's health. Since they have been unsuccessful banning abortion outright, anti-choice groups have turned to these tactics to virtually ban abortion by making it almost completely unavailable in regions of the country. What region will they focus on next?

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10 Reasons to #StopBoggs as told by Star Wars

It's hard to believe: anti-choice, anti-civil rights, anti-LGBT judicial nominee, Michael Boggs, could get a vote in committee at any time for a lifetime appointment to the federal bench.

When you think about what makes a good judge, a few qualities probably come to mind: fair, unbiased, and committed to protecting the rights of all Americans. That's why judicial nominee Michael Boggs is the wrong man for the job. In honor of the much-buzzed about upcoming film, check out 10 reasons why we must #StopBoggs as told by Star Wars:

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For 1) Michael Boggs voted to endanger abortion providers by putting detailed information about them on the Internet, including how often they provided abortion services.

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2) Boggs said that when he took this vote, he had no idea that this measure could've put the health and lives of women and abortion providers at risk. That's pretty hard to believe. Just before he voted, lawmakers had a heated discussion about this very topic.

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3) Boggs cosponsored a bill to create "Choose Life" license plates to funnel state funds - aka taxpayer dollars - to "crisis pregnancy centers" that lie to and shame women out of choosing abortion.

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4) Boggs also pushed to make parental consent laws more extreme.

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Not only does Boggs have a clear record of undermining and restricting a woman's right to choose, he also voted to suppress LGBT rights:

5) Michael Boggs voted for a constitutional amendment to ban marriage equality in his home state of Georgia.

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6) He called his vote against LGBT rights a matter of "common sense."

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7) Even the Boy Scouts weren't safe from Boggs' prejudice - he pledged to oppose Boy Scout leaders who also happen to be gay.

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But Boggs isn't just politically opposed to women's reproductive freedom and equality for LGBT people.

8) Boggs voted to keep the confederate symbol, a symbol of racial oppression, on Georgia's state flag.

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This guy is bad news all around. Boggs' disturbing record regarding civil rights and reproductive freedom isn't the end of it. You should also take this serious allegation into account:

9) Boggs potentially violated Georgia's ethics rules while he was a judge by contributing to a political organization.

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10) Michael Boggs said that we should look to his legislative record to see what kind of judge he'd be - and we're doing just that!

Does Michael Boggs sound like a person who deserves a lifetime appointment to the federal bench? Nope, we don't think so either.

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Help us #StopBoggs from reaching the federal bench by sharing our graphic on Facebook.

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How CPCs Try to Use Search Engines to Harass Women

Benita Ulisano is a co-chair of the Illinois Choice Action Team, a committed group of volunteers advancing NARAL Pro-Choice America's mission, based in Chicago.

Did you hear about NARAL Pro-Choice America's recent victories with Yahoo and Google? Both search engines agreed to enforce their truth in advertising policies and removed a slew of deceptive ads from crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) that come up if you search for "abortion clinic" - even though CPCs don't provide abortion care and actively dissuade women from choosing abortion.

I'm particularly thrilled about this change because I know firsthand how dangerous CPCs are.

One of the CPCs we caught lying in a Yahoo ad is actually right around the corner from the women's health clinic here in Chicago where I run an escort program. Check out the ad - you'd never know this is for a CPC!

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(Last time we checked, the CPC website referenced in this ad is down, too.)

One of CPCs' common tactics is to purposely situate themselves near real reproductive-health clinics to confuse women. This CPC is no different.

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For women who figure out where the real clinic is, anti-choice activists aggressively try to prevent women from going to their appointments. They stalk around outside the clinic, hold offensive signs, and harass women as they head in for an appointment, even if it's for a birth control prescription. The staff at the reproductive-health clinic has asked me to increase the days we're organizing escorts from one day a week to four. It's that bad.

I've seen anti-choice activists approach women in their cars to intimidate and shame them. CPC activists will yell at anyone of reproductive age who just happens to walk by! The harassment is so unbelievable that some of my current clinic escorts told me they decided to volunteer because they live in the neighborhood and are sick of being harassed for walking down the street.


Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

This is what's happening outside the clinic. What's happening inside the CPC is even more disturbing.

One woman told us that she was tricked into going to this CPC instead of the reproductive-health clinic by finding the CPC online. Mid-way during the appointment, when she realized she wasn't at the real clinic and tried to leave, CPC staff physically restrained her. We've also heard reports that inside the CPC there are photos of our pro-choice escorts posted on the wall. We provide a lot of training to our escorts so they know how to handle this kind of pressure, but of course it's intimidating to know that you've been targeted so personally.

Women who are looking for an abortion provider shouldn't have to endure the harassment and intimidation that I've witnessed firsthand - and a lot of that starts with what's happening on Internet search engines. Women deserve the truth when trying to find abortion providers or other reproductive-health services. Every day I hear about women who have to encounter anti-choice protesters from the CPC, and you wouldn't believe the lies they've been told.

I'm happy that Yahoo is reporting that it's going to do the right thing. We'll review the deceptive ads we found to verify Yahoo's claims, and we'll hold them accountable if our results don't match what they're telling the press. Enforcing their policies and taking down ads that deceive women will go a long way toward protecting women from deception.

Choice Out Loud All-Stars: Payne McMillan

Our Choice Out Loud - On Campus representatives have done amazing work to engage the community around the issue of reproductive rights. We asked our graduating class of activists from this academic year to tell us why they decided to become a campus representative, what they accomplished, and what they've learned. Here's the latest post in this series.

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Meet Payne McMillan:

What was your major?
I am an English major at St. Olaf College in Minnesota.

Why is choice important to you?
Choice is important to me because I believe that pregnancy is personal. It's nobody's business what a woman chooses to do once she is pregnant, but there needs to be structures that support her, regardless of what her decisions are. The ability to be in control of your own reproductive health is a fundamental right, as is all health care.

How did you get involved in the pro-choice movement?
I got involved in the pro-choice movement when I signed up for Students for Reproductive Health and Choice at the St. Olaf College co-curricular fair. Going to the meetings gave me insight into how important the protection of choice is and how opponents have been chipping away at reproductive rights, especially recently. It's important that men are allies and advocates; these issues don't just affect women, but they affect families and the well-being of all people. Now I will be an informed voter that makes sure to elect legislators that protect reproductive rights.

What was your favorite event that you planned as a Campus Representative?
We hosted a Faith and Choice event, where we brought in Rev. Kelli Clement from the Minnesota Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice as a speaker. She addressed how interconnected choice is with other areas of social justice. Her perspective showed that religion and abortion rights don't need to be pitted against each other, which is something most people don't realize.

What is/are the greatest skill or skills that you've learned from being a Campus Representative?
I've learned how to talk about these issues in an informed and respectful manner. I feel that I am well informed and can stand my ground in defending reproductive rights and educating people on the issue.

What is your earliest memory of interacting with NARAL Pro-Choice America?
I went to pro-choice lobby day in the spring of 2013 at the Minnesota Capitol. I also worked with them this fall in putting pressure on the "crisis pregnancy center" (CPC) in the town I live, Northfield.

Out of all the different ways to engage with this issue, why did you choose to engage with NARAL Pro-Choice America?
Through the campus representative program, they already had a presence at St. Olaf, which made it easy to get involved. I like NARAL because it is a powerful, established organization that works efficiently and effectively in not only protecting but expanding reproductive rights.

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Choice Out Loud All-Stars: Hailey Magee

The millennial generation (born between 1981 and 1999) is both the largest generation and the most pro-choice generation in American history. By 2020, 40% of eligible voters will be from the millennial generation. NARAL Pro-Choice America is committed to working with and learning from pro-choice millennials in order to organize in favor of reproductive freedom in a way that resonates with this important generation.

NARAL Pro-Choice America founded the Choice Out Loud - On Campus program in the Fall of 2012 as part of our strategy to engage this key generation in the fight to protect and expand reproductive rights.

Our campus representatives have done amazing work to engage the community around the issue of reproductive rights. We asked our graduating class of activists from this academic year to tell us why they decided to because a campus representative, what they accomplished, and what they've learned. This post is the first in a series.

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Meet Hailey Magee, a campus representative at Brandeis University in Massachusetts.

1. What was your major?
I am a Women's and Gender Studies and Politics double major, with a minor in Social Justice and Social Policy.

2. Why is choice important to you?
Choice is important to me because I believe bodily autonomy is the most basic form of human freedom. The idea that any person or society could legally inhibit me from exercising my right over my own body is horrifying to me.

3. How did you get involved in the pro-choice movement? Do you intend to stay involved after you graduate?
I got involved in the pro-choice movement as a natural extension of my feminist activism. Before college I hadn't understood the gravity or salience of the reproductive rights debate. When I became president of my campus Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance, I began to explore the diverse avenues through which I could create a more just society. My sophomore year, I lobbied a bill for comprehensive sex education (An Act Relative to Healthy Youth) in the Massachusetts State House, and from then on, I was hooked on reproductive justice. I spent the following summer interning for NARAL Pro-Choice New York, and have been interning for NARAL in some capacity ever since. I will spend my summer as NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts Intern and Campaigns Coordinator, and would love to work for NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts - or a different state affiliate - upon graduating college. This work is my lifeblood; I have never been more passionate about a cause.

4. What was your favorite event that you planned as a Campus Representative?
My favorite event that I assisted in planning was our Roe at Risk Mixer. Brandeis University Students for NARAL co-sponsored the screening with the Brandeis Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance (a student organization) and the Women's Studies Research Center (an organization of predominantly elderly feminist resident scholars at Brandeis). The screening, followed by small group discussions that addressed the inter-generational differences in reproductive justice advocacy, brought many diverse and engaging perspectives to the table.

5. What is/are the greatest skill or skills that you've learned from being a Campus Representative?
As a Campus and Community Organizer, I have learned how to build a network of faculty and staff allies that can help me achieve my campaign goals as a student. I have learned how to identify, contact, and build relationships with point people on my campus - administrators and staff I particular - that can use their networks, resources, and clout to help me to foster the pro-choice atmosphere the Brandeis University students demand.

6. What is your earliest memory of interacting with NARAL Pro-Choice America?
My first official contact with NARAL Pro-Choice America occurred through a Campus Organizer conference call in October. Led by Travis Ballie, the call was engaging, inspiring, and allowed the organizers to share their progress in establish their campus coalitions with one another. Travis was an excellent facilitator, and when I came to study "abroad" in Washington, D.C. this semester, he went out of his way to let me know about NARAL events and volunteer opportunities.

7. Out of all the different ways to engage with this issue, why did you choose to engage with NARAL Pro-Choice America?
Though many organizations fight for reproductive justice in some capacity, NARAL has been my favorite by far - and that's completely due to the characters that compose NARAL's staff. NARAL employees are witty, animated, intimidatingly intelligent, and passionate. In my experiences at NARAL Pro-Choice New York, NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts, and now NARAL Pro-Choice America, I have consistently been floored by the warmth and acceptance with which I've been treated. The enthusiasm of NARAL staff is contagious; it is that energy and passion that attracts me to the organization.

8. What are your future plans?
I will spend my summer as NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts' Intern and Campaigns Coordinator. I plan on continuing to intern with NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts throughout my senior year at Brandeis, and upon graduating, hope to continue working in a reproductive justice organization. When I become more familiar with the issues and the ins-and-outs of policy, I would like to become a lobbyist or policy director. In the distant future (or maybe not so distant!) I plan to run for state legislature and fight for social justice directly as an elected official.

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Gov. Brownback Doubles Down on Attacking Reproductive Rights

Sam Brownback_small.jpgThere's something happening in Kansas that's not making national headlines but should be. Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback is doubling down on his anti-choice agenda. It's extreme. And he's showing no sign of stopping.

Anti-choice Gov. Brownback already signed a bill that manipulates Kansas' tax code to limit abortion care, and now he's poised to sign two more bills that would severely restrict women's access to affordable health care in the Sunflower State.

One bill - the state budget bill - includes a provision that would effectively defund reproductive-health clinics, which many women and families rely on for a full range of reproductive-health services. For many low-income families, these clinics are their only means of accessing basic health care. The second bill would extend unnecessary tax penalties on reproductive-health clinics for making renovations or even holding fundraising events!

Don't be fooled, these bills and tax penalties are really just a way for extreme anti-choice politicians to further restrict access to reproductive-health care and force their personal beliefs on all Kansas families.

Gov. Brownback has never been shy about his extreme anti-choice record: "If a pro-life bill [comes] to my desk, I will sign it. I am not backing away from that."

If he signs these bills, Gov. Brownback will pile onto his already long anti-choice resume. Just last year, Gov. Brownback signed an extreme anti-choice bill into law to effectively ban abortion in almost all cases and could outlaw many common forms of contraception, stem-cell research, and in-vitro fertilization.

In 2012, Gov. Brownback signed a bill that allows doctors to withhold medical information if they think it will lead a woman to choose abortion or refuse treatment like chemotherapy for cancer patients if they think it would end a pregnancy. Even worse the same bill requires that doctors lie to women.

If these attacks to deny women control over the bodies and futures weren't bad enough, Gov. Brownback has spent roughly $1 million in taxpayer dollars to defend these unconstitutional laws in the courts.

Gov. Brownback has two more chances to stand up for women's freedom and privacy. It's time that he put his anti-choice, anti-woman agenda aside and prove that he's not going to punish working families and Kansan women just to score political points.

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