NOW: losing its potency?

Posted by: ST on August 7, 2005 at 9:33 am

Charmaine Yoest points to an article from Friday’s WSJ that indicates a serious decline in support over the last ten years for NOW, and other ‘women’s rights’ groups.  From the article:

The divisive 1991 confirmation hearings of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, involving charges of sexual harassment, launched 1992’s Year of the Woman. That election’s windfall brought four new women to the U.S. Senate and 20 to the House — and turned women’s rights groups into a force to be reckoned with.

Now another Supreme Court appointment battle looms, with abortion rights a likely central issue. But internal squabbles, declining membership and complacency during the Clinton years have left most women’s rights groups in weakened shape for the clash over Judge John G. Roberts Jr.

The National Organization for Women’s political donations shriveled to $44,000 in 2004 from $327,000 in 1992. Planned Parenthood Federation of America Inc., facing a revolt among affiliates in part because of the politicization of the group, ousted its president in January and hasn’t taken a position on the Roberts nomination. NARAL Pro-Choice America’s new president was still on an introductory tour to affiliates and donors around the country when the Supreme Court fight started.

And while liberal feminist groups have been losing influence over the last decade not just with the American public, but in Washington, DC as well, conservative groups are flourishing:

Meanwhile, an array of conservative organizations is stronger than ever. They spent the Clinton years recruiting members and electing lawmakers, particularly to the Senate. High School Bible clubs flourished and anti-abortion organizations established footholds in colleges and universities across the country. The groups helped create a generation of women more receptive to restricting access to abortions and, because of broader access to birth control, less sympathetic to women with unwanted pregnancies, recent polls and focus groups have found.

This article gives me hope.  It sounds like America is indeed turning more conservative on social issues, even if our politicians in DC choose to take a more ‘moderate’ approach.   That said, a majority of Americans still oppose overturning Roe v. Wade, and that’s something that ‘women’s rights’ groups like NOW and NARAL are using in an attempt to galvanize their supporters and bring in new ones:

"Bush has been our number-one membership recruiter," says Kim Gandy, president of NOW, which held dozens of protests the day after Judge Roberts was nominated. NARAL sent emails to 800,000 activists urging them to begin petition drives and contact their senators to express opposition to the nomination. Both groups, and others, added their lawyers to a coalition that is mining Judge Roberts’s record for clues on how he might rule on the high court. They also are coordinating with Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee to ensure the nominee is questioned on abortion rights during his hearings next month.

And no doubt coordinating with the media to make sure we know Roberts’ wife’s views on abortion, too, since they haven’t yet gotten an answer that satisfies them from Roberts himself.  Hard to believe NARAL managed to have the time to tackle the Roberts nomination what with the planning involved for the ‘Screw Abstinence" party,’ the ‘outreach event’ aimed at educating adults about sexual freedom – in a bar. 

Do I feel these groups will fade into irrelevancy? No.  But the fact that their influence with the American people and DC politicians is lessening should be an encouraging sign that our cultural compass, which has slowly been turning southward, may just be ticking up a bit north.

(Wink: Dean Esmay)

Linking up with Mudville Gazette’s open post.

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5 Responses to “NOW: losing its potency?”


  1. Howard says:

    I make it a rule to have feminists out of my life BUT
    When the current feminst movement started there were zero female news people, no good roles in either movies or TV, women had a hell of a time getting credit on their own, and they had to put out on the first date. Now that those things are far in the past the current feminsts have no meaning. Mission Accomplished.

  2. Believe me, not of that happened as a result of the *current* feminist movement. I credit the early feminist movement for *some* of the advances women have made throughout the years but I largely credit women in general with making great strides in the work force, etc, that NOW deserves no credit for.

  3. stephanie wendelken says:

    I thinkt he groups are losing support in large part b/c there’s not a battle to be fought yet. Most woemn i know don’t really feel choice tis threatened, so they’re more involved in other aspects of politics- I think there may be a significant change in those numbers if the situation changed. Other things the current feminists have fought for and been successful- holding men accountable for children they’ve fathered. Sure, there are still abandoned children- but not as much as 25 years ago, when I was one. If you know that the state will try and force the guy to support the child, you’ve got more of a choice, don’t you? 25 years ago, all the responsibility fell on the women.

  4. Dell Gines says:

    Like the look of the blog. WordPress three column?

  5. Stephanie: thanks for visiting. I would like to think that the dwindling support for NOW and NARAL is not due to there not being any issues to fight, but due to the possibilty that less people support abortion now than used to, but that’s just me 😀

    Dell: Howdy! Good to see you here, Dell. This is actually a custom design from Lisa at Elegant Webscapes. In fact, all three of my skins are. I’d keep them, but each of them have certain problems being viewed in certain browsers and/or screen resolutions, so I’m having a new one designed. If you’re on the greenish looking “Geek Girl” blog skin, that’s the one that works well with most browsers and screen resolutions, but my favorite of the three I have now is the one called “Sister Toldjah” and of course that seems to be the one that other browers/resolutions have the most problems with LOL. I view my pages through IE 5, screen resolution 1024×768.

    BTW, for any of you who haven’t visited Dell’s blog – please check it out! He’s one well spoken gent. :)