tv Kathryn Kolbert and Julie Kay Controlling Women - What We Must Do Now to... CSPAN August 29, 2021 7:03am-8:05am EDT
it's never been in more dire straits. planned parenthood unexpectedly preserves them, yet in following decades these rights have been gutted by restrictive state legislation, the appointments of hundreds of antiabortion abortion judges and providers. today the conservative majority in the supreme court has adequate medical providers and every day americans worrying that we are about to lose our most fundamental reproductive protections. catherine and joy shared the story of one of the most divisive issues in american politics through behind-the-scenes personal narratives of harboring victories and accounts of women and healthcare providers at the
heart of nearly five decades of legal battles. at this make or break moment, abortion in the united states, the provide audacious strategies inspired by medical advances, state-level protections, human rights models and activists across the globe whose courage and determination are making a difference. the authors of the conversation are cecile richards, the cochair of american bridge, author of make trouble stand up, speak out and find the courage to read and former president and lifelong supporter of planned parenthood. we will be sure to post a link for the excellent book as well. on behalf of politics and prose please join me in welcoming kathryn kolbert, julia kay and cecile richards. thank you so much. >> thank you to politics and prose. it's so great to see you.
thank you for this extraordinary book. julie and i are kind of on brand here. if you haven't read the book, it's incredible. i was talking earlier about how it was exciting the two of you wrote this together. this is going to be a good conversation tonight. my take on the book is great history lessons for folks trying to make sense of where we are at right now. incredible stories and what i love about it is at the end it tells me what to do because of course there's nothing like getting people all hot and bothered and then not having a next step so i love those pieces of the book. i hope everyone will read it and there is something for everyone. what i thought we would do since
not everybody knows everybody is may be led to each of you tell a story from the book. one of your many and credible court cases or even a plaintiff in a story that you think really resonates because that is what is amazing about the book you tell the first-person stories of so many that have been affected by abortion or the lack thereof in the united states and around the globe. so i will start with you. >> it's great to be here and thank you so much for all of your amazing work. i have a number of stories of cases cited in the book, but the big one was planned parenthood versus casey which was the case of 92 where we thought at the
time we litigated the case in a way to ensure that we could when politically if we lost in the court and to me that was quite an interesting experience because of course i'm a lawyer and i think about arguments before the court. the reality was making the argument in the court of public opinion and trying to ensure that at the time a democrat would be elected president should we lose in 1992, but the moral of the story is we did preserve what we knew at the time but that case gives states greater latitude and in the intervening 20 years we have seen young women and women without any resources lose their ability to obtain abortions.
number two, and i think that this one is really important is at the time no one thought to the court could overrule and i hear that over and over again today. the court in kc there were five votes to overturn and it wasn't until afterwards that we learned justice kennedy switched his vote at the last minute and made the difference to join with the group preserving. we do not have that luxury today. there are six votes to overturn and we will go into this i'm sure. we have a court that is much more extreme than we did in 1992. >> for me, even getting to hear the background and your press for the case is worth the entire book right there.
julie, i know that you are coming in from maine or it looks like you are in maine. >> i am in the great state of maine that has great things to offer but probably not the greatest connection. the weather up here it does feel like ireland. in politics and prose in my heart, one of my favorite bookstores especially after being on capitol hill i would go as a cleansing of getting away from politics and into the books. i'm delighted to be here on this virtual platform and with you especially, cecile. i think for me it was a moment almost like through the looking glass going from the u.s. to ireland where there were very progressive rights and part of a human rights community but there
was a constitutional provision that banned abortion by equating the life of the so-called unborn with the so-called mother. women traveled and it was stigmatized and a really difficult situation and a lot of really strong advocates working to change the law and public opinion. i arrived after working at the center and got very involved in the movement and brought what i learned that the sender if you don't like something, sue and what i found was a human rights court and it was delightful to me. it's a court that the entire purpose was to advance human rights. i worked with a great group of lawyers and activists and saw a law suit challenge.
it was important to bring on behalf of the women. we didn't want to sort of carve out who deserves and who doesn't. that case was coupled with a lot of political activism and activist activism in the streets and we were using a human rights framework that spoke to people so there was a woman that made it her life saving abortions and traveled to england. we lost on behalf of the other clients, one who was juggling her own recovery and restoring her relationship with her children. another one who had emergency contraception's there with these daily life experiences and they were representative of what a lot of women are going through. by telling their stories and
using the human rights model, we are able to turn that into more political action, but we started changing the conversation and i think that is a lot of what we want to do. we keep banging our heads against the wall and it's true that is what inspired us to write this book. a lot of people have known for a long time but we are looking to motivate and activate people to look at other possible solutions to advance reproductive freedoms. >> and that comes through so well. thank you. and the chapter on a ireland is amazing. i think none of us will forget watching women all around the world go home to vote, so incredible. i actually on page four of the book you say something that i think for lawyers is simple and wonderful but echoes i think what you just said that we can't
allow vital reproductive freedoms to twist and turn on the vagaries of legal or the whims of supreme court justices. that to me is what this entire book is about. the litigation of course is such an important tool, but it's a tool that has to be surrounded by a lot of other things. building political movements, medical providers, you know, advances in medicine and using new techniques and strategies. to me, that is where i think we are at today. maybe you could give me your thoughts about it. preserving row has been a fig leaf for a long time as we recounted in the book.
depending on what your zip code is it really depends on a lot of other things and whether you can get any kind of reproductive access. what do you think now as we are facing a court that as you say is not our friend. these are not folks that support this fight people have had for almost 50 years. can we quit talking about preserving row and how you make a very compelling case and we need to be a lot more aspirational than protecting row because it's not the relevant conversation anymore. >> it's been a mantra for so
many years and we need to stop doing that. we need to stop depending on the court. what we need to do is build political power, and that we need to do both in congress and in the state legislators because when row is overturned, the question then goes back to the states. and each state will have the power to eliminate women's ability to obtain procedures. seventeen states so that means we have a lot of work to do to preserve the rights for those women. the only way we can do that is
to get organized. it really depends on your access to healthcare and we know in america that your race, ethnicity and economic status affects how you access healthcare so while it's been in effect that we talk a lot in the book about casey and how the legal strategies her team employee to save those. even if we have status quo for those that are funding abortion
and medicaid we don't have access for a lot of minors and experiencing planned parenthood keeping clinic doors open and places and letting women have access to later abortion has been a tremendous struggle for decades now. bringing abortion in from out of the cold and recognizing the gender equity issues as well as the race equity issues and overall socio- economic play in these decisions people make in their lives. >> i 100% agree until we dispel the political power and political will in the country we are just sort of destined to rely on the litigation which i
think should be the last resort, not the first plan. thank goodness for the center and for the two of you. we've got to do the rest of this work as well. i want to ask something you talk about it for a moment in the book. it's a topic that comes up and i think it's interesting in your experience in ireland and that is of course justice ginsburg's statement and i'm not going to get it exactly right, but essentially row went to fast and if it hadn't been decided that way, the theory would be that the movement in the states would have built and we would have had a more powerful political platform for the abortion rights nationally. i don't want to speak for the
justice, but i and you all reject the notion i can understand. i'm kind of curious as attorneys and people that have written this book, what do you think and what is it going to take because i agree a lot of the stories that you've written i believe for many years unfortunately in planned parenthood that it was going to be the kind of horrible stories that we are seeing now out of indiana, pennsylvania and other places that we are finally able to get the american people to realize that it wasn't just something we would take for granted. i'm curious what you think about justice ginsburg's statement and how you kind of squared away with where we are today because in some places, starting over. >> with all due respect the ways for women's rights more generally i don't think that if we had gone slower it would have been any different.
primarily, because the opposition to abortion is not really about healthcare. it's not really about religion and the protection of rights. it's about controlling women. it's about misogyny and that happens whether or not we had gone faster. it's what amazes me. the reality was the political powers that be, use abortion as a wedge to hold the coalition together and they really look to the issue as a way to build political power as opposed to having anything to do with the medical procedure. we of course want women to have access to the good healthcare, so it's like talking to two
different sides of the coin and in my view, being nice, going slow never got us very far. times have changed the strategy and take on the power to be. i wholeheartedly agree. i went to law school because of women like ruth bader ginsburg and not enough good can be said. here we are in 2021. why so angry and demanding. it really does dignify enough. like we are not sitting down and saying let's have a little bit of compromise. the amendment bands funding and disappointment and an amount of reasonableness. you shouldn't have to pay for the government funds. i think that we are looking at
the human rights issues approach to this not only for abortion but the gender equity and trying to control who has sex with who, who has babies with whom. having an assertive based approach to this and i think it's timely. a lot of progress on the issues and looking at marriage is a fundamental decision and looking at people's ability to live safely in the streets and equity. is this a part of that liberty and dignity and something that you kind of chip away and ask
nicely for. >> we agree with that and i hope people will buy and read the book because how you did take a different approach in terms of the basis for these rights and your theory on human rights is compelling and interesting. if we have to change the whole thing up anyway i think it is fascinating. let's switch to something that you talk a little bit about women's health and i remember we were probably in the courtroom together listening to the difference between sitting in that courtroom elana kagan and sodium ir and justice ginsburg and how fundamentally different it felt to have the justices that were talking about their own lived experiences and understanding that.
representation matters. would you like to say anything about the importance of not of the additional woman on the court now, but justice kagan and reflecting the diversity of the country, does that make you hopeful? >> absolutely. the women were champions and they were there understanding what women face when they can't have access to abortion services. but representation can't just be in the courts. they have to look at the legislatures. state legislatures are overwhelmingly male. there isn't a legislature in the country that has over 50% women. over 50% of the population to me
the state courts could be representative and congress needs to be representative. we still have 25% women in congress even though it's the highest number it's ever been. so, the tierney of the angry white man i think is true in many of our democratic institutions and we need to work hard to change that. that is the most critical thing that we as individuals can push here because everyone out there tonight who's joined us people say what can i do and one of the first things you can do is work to elect people that care about this issue and that will be our champions. >> tuning in tonight, that would be even more awesome.
>> we talk a lot about that. i think representation and champions will put this issue first. to the most insidious kind of ban on abortion funding and for a long time overturning the hyde amendment basically taking it out of the federal budget considers the third rail and what we saw as the reproductive justice movement to speak up and
show the impact that this has had on women of color and now with more women of color in congress leading the charge we have seen that it can work and we have seen amy cohen barrett to join the supreme court. i thought no way this is going to happen, but the chutzpah as we say in my world was incredible of how that could rush through. we've seen a lot of the cases work their way up to the court coming from judges that are conservative that were largely appointed because of their point on abortion. creating allies and bringing in new coalitions is equally important. a. >> i've seen some questions i was going to ask you coming up
on the chat. i will ask when we go to q and a. we are going to have time for that. maybe if we can talk about the court and for justice roberts i don't know if maybe it's getting too much so interested and disturbed and you talk about the june medical case and how the court basically identical to the women's health in texas which had been decided in our favor just a few years earlier and i don't want to try to explain justice roberts explanation our thinking because you all are the experts but it feels like despite kind of winning that case just the indications of where justice roberts is going
to be on other cases is disturbing so i don't know, do you want to talk about where you see him? i'm interested because as a chief justice. abortion litigation is a lot like sesame street. you have to learn to count. the only number that matters is five, so in many respects, justice roberts is irrelevant because number six. there are five votes in my view that could either totally over rule resent the matter back to the states that undercut its protections to make them meaningless both large numbers. he cares about the institutional integrity of the court, so it's his court and he cares about it
being perceived as being too political or off the charts against not responding to the rule of the law. i will remind everybody about this, justice roberts grew up in a conservative environment with political people who adequately opposed abortion and much like the views on voting rights, the views on abortion are very strict and problematic. i feel like he comes from the rehnquist position and chief justice rehnquist, his predecessor the person he clerked for voted in my case to overturn roe v wade. he wrote the opinion that overturned. it didn't get adopted remember because of justice kennedy, but i think that roberts is in that same vein and we can't depend on him. even if we could.
>> emboldened the legislatures here by abortion to really throw anything against them all and [inaudible] texas, mississippi, the lawsuit we are seeing wouldn't have the exam on constitutional law. they are unconstitutional and yet, there's hope because of this court even if they don't take everything it's not a real issue because there are so few abortions being provided to begin with, but it's going to settle a president of boiling
away the abortion rights and we've been talking a lot about the law to come out of texas and with all due respect part of that is the legal process behind this it not only makes abortion is illegal very early on but also let's anyone bring a charge if a woman is violated. the medical provider, the taxi driver and an abusive partner, the next-door neighbor, a minor's history teacher that thinks he overhears something it's procedurally so awful and out of bounds and i think what we are seeing is a new climate where anything goes. they are sort of dog whistling
to the state and that's something we need people in the states to push back against the legislatures and say you know what, not here, not now. we talk about what's been happening with the voting rights and how they really dug in. a. >> i think the other piece of that is when it was overturned, kc was overturned and the matter goes back to the states, some will ban abortion, others won't and it won't be like the situation in 1973 where they had to turn to back alley practitioners because of the availability of medical abortion, but medical abortion, which can operate in many respects is people healing could be liable to lawsuit by that's
going to be much more difficult to obtain. one of their conditions we make is that women shouldn't be liable for either helping other people getting abortions are getting them themselves but we would like to see more medicating and that means we need to give information to those women. it means we need to get help for them, financial resources to travel, et cetera and that is all in possible of the states adopted laws like that in texas and if it is upheld. >> i am not a texan, but can't really say it's unthinkable for many of us that we would get to this point and i think your point is it's really important
that this past administration, this court is like throw open the gate to whatever comes their way. we were talking before this in many ways the mississippi case reported it as horrifying as it is the fact the texas law may go into effect this fall and really nobody understands it or understands all the repercussions is so incredibly disturbing. we are going to go to questions in just a second. i don't want everyone to just leave and give up because i feel like there are hopeful signs and the potential of birth control over the counter, which you talk about which will be happening sometime in our lifetime. the availability of medicaid abortion, telemedicine, just the internet, the invention of the
internet and versus if it was just meant to happen. so there are good signs you talk about also really importantly the advanced practice folks to help provide abortion care in a way that was sort of unthinkable years and years ago. if you would give people a couple of hopeful things before we go to the questions, what would you say gives you encouragement right now? >> so, to me it is the availability of medical abortion and thinking much more broadly about where that can be made available. but now they don't require women to come to the doctor's office to get the pill that is a temporary change and one that's important that we hope will become permanent. any dr. can make a prescription and there's about 900 abortion
clinics in the country. we have about 6,000 places where you can go to get primary health care, places run by clinics and hospitals all over the country. that is how healthcare is being administered particularly in rural areas. to me, having the availability of medical abortion in those types of facilities would change the scenario that we need to work hard for that, but the one that i loved was passed by california. it says that the clinics at every state university have to be able to provide medical abortion. and that's huge. if that could be done in any other state in the country, that would make a major difference. >> i love that and i think part
of it also would be. they have a hard time taking time off particularly we are still lawyers at heart and optimistic about the legal system as a way forward. i urge those going to law school to read the book and i think our long-term goal is to have a gender equity amendment in the constitution and advanced reproductive freedom and it wouldbring in on another kind of gender equity issues and putting in place firmly a provision that bans that type of discrimination. right now, we are kind of resting on privacy. the supreme court has found in
the constitution which i preserve our legitimate but we need a different charge in the constitution and as a longer-term goal, we are certain one size doesn't fit all, so in the book we provide a lot of different solutions on the situation in blue states we think that there's train what's possible in the states and we want to emphasize women are going to travel. i saw it a lot when people travel, they need support, child care, housing, they need funding and so it kind of depends on where you are and what fits. we think it's something that should be capable for people to do and then they bring new
allies while we are dealing with any number of different activities in the reproductive freedoms. >> both great answers and yes how you all lay out your idea of using the human rights frame as we go forward and really pushing for the gender equity is fantastic. there are so many questions you all are so popular. wendy asks about medication. i'm hoping you kind of got a case of that answer. susan lippmann i can't [inaudible] susan wants to know why are white men so angry. i'm going to take this one. we can't answer that fully on this program. i want to shout out roger evans after a white man that spent his
entire career litigating reproductive rights and just retired last week. so i want to say something nice about an incredible white man who paid it forward. i worked with roger for many years when we were doing the moot court for casey, rogers said to me no matter what it takes, stick to your guns. when i was out there before the court, i took his advice and it really made a difference. >> great. kathleen costello says this is a really important point. america shows a majority of americans want to preserve row in the legal abortion and it's higher now looking at the polling how we find the narrative going forward to build
the majority we need to take actions of the state and federal level and i think that is a great question. we are not even fighting for something that people don't already believe in. clearly we have to build the political night and will to demand rights. anyway, i would love to know what you all think about that. >> thanks, kathleen. the most important part is the minority on the issue vote on this issue in ways that those of us that support reproductive freedom don't. so legislators are at their beck and call because they know that if they cross the other side that the boat will be withheld. we are not so singularly focused. we need to think about how we take the public opinion and turn that into political power.
one way we do that is to make sure that our legislators, people who agree with us know that they cannot just ignore us anymore. they need to be out there fighting for us or otherwise get the potential of losing the receipt. unfortunately, public opinion is mixed in that people you are going to get a lot of different answers and part of what we need to do is remind people that exceptions are not important. what i've learned is rape and incest, when their term comes up and they need a reproductive health service, they want access to it and part of changing the narrative is making sure that the political leaders understand
that there are not exceptions that will be acceptable, but we need to make this available to all women wherever they live, the color of their skin or however old they are. >> part of what we're doing tonight and how people are thinking is this isn't just a religious versus the way the antiabortion movement has trained this debate. it's part of the decision when and how and whether to have children and access to reproductive freedom and access to services and the model has shown us a pathway forward as well as the right to prenatal care. we've got that horrifying rate
of infant mortality among black women in the country. with access to the services they need and i think that as they start talking about decisions about pregnancy and parenting and abortion, we need to look at how it affects the person's liberty and their full participation i think the pandemic showed us what happens when women don't have access to childcare, when they continue to take on the lion's share of the responsibility.
part of what we try to do in the book is make sure that abortion is put within the framework of why women and families choose to have children when it's best for their lives and to me, child care, being able to care for the kids you have is at the top of the list and i'm thrilled to see the administration take that seriously. >> what happened in the investments in child tax credits sending millions of folks checks in the next package i think it's going to be incumbents to ensure that abortion doesn't get left
aside. we have the experience of being the last thing that gets fought for. that's why it to realizing. it wasn't medicare for all, it was reproductive rights. i don't think we did answer this because i think it's important and you covered it a lot in your book. to say whichever case you want to pick what does that mean in the state, literally and i think again we don't have to go into details because you talk about all of these bands and what will
actually happen. >> i think somewhere between a third and half of the states will ban some or all either immediately because they are already on the books or soon thereafter within a year of getting that power and of course this is the key unless we start fighting back in ways we have not done. when the legislature brings up this bill, they cannot do it in by sleight-of-hand or the dead of night. people are fighting back and organizing to be in those chambers and screaming and yelling about the loss of liberties the more likely the legislators are going to want to slow down any additional restrictions. they have that controversy so if in fact we can make it a big deal than i think we have a shot
at at least cutting back on some, that at least a third will effectively ban some or all. >> the nice thing about having a co-author, there's also some less than legal solutions and i think. we have to do so as safely as possible and also legally safe. if it's a big obligation and i think mentioned with the blue states having these kind of omnibus bills that are passed so that people that are traveling don't have to overcome that many hurdles but also to have the supports and the systems in
place and one of the reasons they've been grappling with this for a long time and the idea behind that project was out to the clinic in support women got on board and sailed up to the international waters. it raised a lot of tension of why are we getting this, and i think that culmination of the creative strategies is something we are going to have to look at in this country. how do we get a full range of
services even if it isn't legal and there are different rules for different people to play these are so good and existential but it's really difficult given that we do have majority support in this country, why, i think you kind of answer to that but that is a good question you've been struggling with for a long time. we've got to build more political power on our side and make it a voting issue, which it is and do more to educate folks about the rights they are about to lose or the rights that they did lose depending on what happens in the states. there were some great questions about why do folks want to control women and maybe i will just ask you that because i think it does hit at the
fundamental premise of the book. it isn't about health or the safety of women or babies. it's about controlling women. so maybe you want to say something about that to address how we got here. >> those that have relied on women to take care of them up for their entire lives have a lot to lose if women say they are not going to do that so it is a gender role within the families that are very much set up to protect men and a disadvantage women. it's harder to change that from the time even before a child is born, the pink and the blue are
defining how they are supposed to be and those gender roles have been there for generations so it takes a lot to break them down particularly when those that have the power are so, given such an advantage as a result of maintaining the status quo. you don't need to go very far to see how families operate and how men get away with not doing a whole lot and women do a lot to take care of them and so until those power dynamics shift it's not one we can stop today but until that changes, the notion of controlling women will be with us for a long time. >> the stereotypes and gender
roles there are a lot of expectations on gender binary and the question of why are white men so angry i think they are scared. change is scary and there's this sort of high level debate because people fear they are going to lose and we talk a lot in the book about the equity modeling how that doesn't mean people are taken away from you but everybody gets what they need at the base level and looking at the human rights model there are some things access to healthcare and education and sort of personal safety are pretty basic and everybody should have so i think part of it is having more of the conversations talking about what's at stake and how having a
same-sex couple isn't really a threat to the marriage and framework, but i think i am an optimist and in writing this book together we were looking forward to where the change is coming from and we think things are moving in the right direction and getting better. two steps forward and one step back. i try to keep my optimism and recognizing that when we looked at some of the courts from 100 years ago with its proper role they wouldn't say so explicitly anymore so that's a plus. >> brenda has written in and asked organizations if she could donate to help women and i would say you all can answer that, but the book is just rich with those
organizations doing important work and someone also asked about who argue inspired by, and incredible leaders in the reproductive justice movement and young leaders around the country so i think if you read the book you're going to get a lot of great ideas about not only people you can support but also things that you can do if that's okay and then i know i just happened to see a question from my good long time friend talking about the fact that in vermont they are going to vote next year on a constitutional amendment. of course you're doing this. how many other states do you see going that route or other things you want to say about that before we kind of get to the end of the conversation. >> vermont is a great model when we suggested the gender equity amendment and i think there are a number of states and i don't have the exact number, but about
ten that have already recognized the constitutional right within their state constitutions or have passed the omnibus law that guarantee that it's a statutory matter so there are a lot of good things in some states that will help women obtain the services. the first question of where can people go to help, and every community there are pro-choice organizations working on this issue that shouldn't be hard to find, but if they are, the book website has a whole list of organizations that are working in the area. many of them have local affiliates, planned parenthood are in every states, so i think hook up with a friend and find some group to work with because it's also more fun when we do it
collectively. >> i was going to say who inspires me. to me it is a teenager for a day of commencement speech. she inspires me, the women of argentina and poland and ireland, people that are fighting back, that is what inspires me the most. >> it depends on the day. it's exciting in the local communities it's so important as much as we talk about everything they are doing to protect the legal rights and productive rights is so important as well as anyone dressing up in a handmaids costume and going to
their statehouse or even risking a lot of initiatives lately. new york city and austin. a big shout out to texas has been making it possible for women traveling to get help with their expenses and things. i'm really excited that this book has been speaking to people and that we've been able to speak to people. it was the plaintiff that we are going to sit in a bar and listen to ourselves about the end of the world and i think get out and try to inspire people and validate the truth a little bit and in a new way really looking at who we can bring in as allies and how we can look at reproductive freedom generally and bring abortion into some of the exciting work that's happened around for me to movement and black lives matter. it's an exciting time i think for people to be activists especially i think younger people are always more cutting-edge and interesting so a lot of them are doing some
great leadership now. >> that is a great note to end on and what an honor to get to be with the two of you, not only for writing the book to be inspired by, but for your lifetime of service to the movement. >> thank you so much. it's been a pleasure. an honor for us at politics and prose as well. we want to sincerely thank you catherine kolbert, julia kay and those of you out there for your thoughtful and engaging questions, your dedication enables us to bring this incredible programming, and we wouldn't be able to do it without the book sales to support it. make sure to follow the link in the chat to purchase your copy of controlling women, and also lucille's title as well. make sure you grab that if you haven't already. we hope everyone out there is