This week, our blogger Meg Massey took part in a roundtable discussion at Newsweek about abortion with four other organizations: the National Organization for Women, NARAL Pro-Choice America, Choice USA and Pandagon.
The debate occurred after an April 16 article at Newsweek made the declaration that young voters are not as involved in defending abortion rights as their older counterparts. It used data results from a study released exclusively to the magazine, which found that
"[m]ore than half (51 percent) of young voters (under 30) who opposed abortion rights considered it a "very important" voting issue, compared with just 26 percent of abortion-rights supporters; a similar but smaller gap existed among older voters, too. Worse still for NARAL, the millennials surveyed didn’t view abortion as an imperiled right in need of defenders."
These statistics didn’t match the reality on the ground for young women working for abortion rights. Erin Matson, VP of Action at NOW, led the charge, writing that she was "shaking with anger" that Newsweek chose not to interview any young women for the article and starting a Twitter petition aimed at Newsweek that asked them to correct their story to reflect the opinions of young women. Within days her actions led to blog posts and reactions around the web, including Meg’s recent post, "Where Are the Young Women? Right Here."
Newsweek responded — and Meg was asked to participate in a follow-up discussion with other young activists to discuss the article, the abortion rights movement of today and what the movement will look like in the future. Check out the full article and add your comments. In the meantime, here are some highlights:
Nancy Keenan, president, NARAL Pro-Choice America: …"That brings me to the question of how established groups can work with emerging groups. I think it’s essential. No one group or one person can do everything. We need political organizers (online and on the ground), more abortion providers, and the intellectual force of writers and commentators to accomplish what we seek to achieve for women. How we cultivate even more new leadership in all of these areas should spur new thinking, and I am open to hearing these ideas and sharing some examples of what I’ve heard in previous discussions on this topic.
Erin Matson, action vice president, National Organization for Women: [The NEWSWEEK] article was hardly the first time the media has made sweeping conclusions about the uncaring, unknowing young women who just have no idea they must defend Roe v. Wade—and the alleged failure of the women’s movement to connect with the millennial generation—without asking a single young woman for her opinion.
In its most simple, pure form, I am hopeful this conversation will serve as a loud lesson to the media: Young women are fully capable of speaking for ourselves. It’s irresponsible reporting to talk about us without talking to us. Due to the overwhelming frequency of this sloppy reporting, I believe after sharing their opinions about the future of the movement, older abortion rights leaders now must take responsibility to provide referrals to young leaders.
And who is Meg Massey? She’s a graduate student at Georgetown University, studying American Government. Meg has been blogging for us since November of 2009 (you can check out all her posts here) and we are thrilled to have such a talented new thinker on board.
There’s room for a few more — we are always looking for new contributors. If you’re interested in blogging for Fem2.0, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.