Vermont Conversation: How abortion became a battlefront in the culture wars

The Vermont Conversation with David Goodman is a VTDigger podcast that features in-depth interviews on local and national issues with politicians, activists, artists, changemakers and citizens who are making a difference. Listen below, and subscribe on Apple PodcastsGoogle Podcasts or Spotify to hear more.

How did abortion rights become a battlefront in the culture wars?

Felicia Kornbluh has been a participant observer in the fight for reproductive justice. Kornbluh is a professor of history and of gender, sexuality and women's studies at The University of Vermont. She is also chair of the board of the Planned Parenthood of Vermont Action Fund. Kornbluh’s work to advance reproductive justice carries on the tradition of her mother, an attorney and who was a key player legalizing abortion in New York in 1970. Kornbluh chronicles her mother’s activism journey in a forthcoming book, “A Woman’s Life Is a Human Life: My Mother, Our Neighbor, and the Journey from Reproductive Rights to Reproductive Justice in New York and the Nation.”

The day after Politico leaked the Supreme Court draft opinion with the bombshell news that Roe v. Wade would likely be overturned, Kornbluh wrote an article for the American Prospect titled “Advice to Progressive Menfolk.” Kornbluh began her piece with the admonition, “Don’t you dare be surprised.”

Speaking of the forces that have aligned to make abortion illegal, Kornbluh told the Vermont Conversation, “This is a crowd of people who really just aren't that happy with the 20th century. … They want to incapacitate the federal government. They don't want to engage in federal taxation that takes money away from some people and gives it to other people. Those were 19th century legal ideas. I think that's very, very dangerous.”

As abortion rights hang precariously in the balance, Kornbluh sees an opportunity. 

“I don't want to sugarcoat the situation that we're in right now, but I'm optimistic in two ways,” she said. “One is that in the 1960s and 1970s, it was not easy to win abortion rights or other reproductive rights. It was a very hard fight, but it was an effective fight. And I think every time we look at a really ambitious social movement in American history, we see that the organizing really works. When people come together from diverse backgrounds, and they give it everything they got, they win.”

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David Goodman

About David

David Goodman is an award-winning journalist and the author of a dozen books, including four New York Times bestsellers that he co-authored with his sister, Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman. His work has appeared in Mother Jones, New York Times, Outside, Boston Globe and other publications. He is the host of The Vermont Conversation, a VTDigger podcast featuring in-depth interviews about local and national topics. The Vermont Conversation is also an hour-long weekly radio program that can be heard on Wednesday at 1 p.m. on WDEV/Radio Vermont.

Email: [email protected]

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