Naral Pro-Choice America
NARAL Pro-Choice America, founded in 1969 as the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League, is a nonprofit organization that was formed primarily to maintain a woman's legal right to have an abortion. The mission of NARAL, however, has broadened to include supporting policies that enable women and men to make responsible decisions about sexuality, contraception, pregnancy, childbirth, and abortion. NARAL is comprised of a network of 35 state affiliates and has 500,000 members. It has proven to be an effective organization, promoting pro-choice candidates for state and federal offices and LOBBYING for pro-choice legislation.
Since the U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion in ROE V. WADE, 410 U.S. 113, 93 S. Ct. 705, 35 L. Ed. 2d 147 (1973), opponents of abortion have sought to overturn or limit this decision. NARAL has vigorously defended Roe but has also encouraged better sex education and the use of BIRTH CONTROL to make abortion less often necessary. Through NARAL Pro-Choice America PAC, its POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE, NARAL has been a driving force behind the election of many pro-choice candidates. NARAL Pro-Choice America PAC mounts campaigns to elect pro-choice candidates and defeat candidates opposed to legalized abortion, using paid advertising and get-out-the-vote efforts.
The NARAL Pro-Choice America Foundation, a charitable organization founded in 1977, supports research and legal work, publishes substantive policy reports, mounts public education campaigns and other communications projects, and provides leadership training for grassroots activists. The NARAL Foundation and NARAL employ a computerized state-by-state database, NARAL*STAR (State Tracking of Abortion Rights), which provides up-to-the-minute information for NARAL staff, affiliates, policy makers, media, and coalition partners on state laws related to reproductive rights, pending legislation, state constitutions, and state executive branches.
NARAL and the NARAL Foundation regularly publish Who Decides? A State-by-State Review of Abortion Rights, a compilation of abortion-related information in each state, including the position on choice of elected officials, summaries of selected statutes and regulations, and recent legislative activity.
NARAL worked with the President BILL CLINTON administration to reverse policies of the RONALD REAGAN and GEORGE H.W. BUSH presidential administrations dealing with abortion. It helped remove bans on the testing of RU-486 (a nonsurgical abortion method), the use of fetal tissue in scientific research, and the provision of abortion services at military hospitals. NARAL also played a major role in the passage of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, which places certain restrictions on protestors' ability to obstruct or hinder persons seeking access to abortion services. Since 1996, when Congress enacted a bill banning the practice of partial-birth ABORTIONS, NARAL has been on the defensive. Though President Bill Clinton vetoed the bill, many states have since passed laws banning the procedure, and Congress continues to debate the issue.
The election of GEORGE W. BUSH as president in 2000 and the gain of Republican seats in both the House and Senate in 2002 strengthened the position of abortion opponents and gave increased urgency to the NARAL pro-choice mission. The organization continues to fight for increased access to federal funding of abortions for poor women, federal employees, and women in the military. It has mounted vigorous campaigns opposing President Bush's judicial nominees who are opposed to abortion. The organization also launched "Generation Pro-Choice," a Web site aimed at educating college students and younger women about their reproductive rights and encouraging them to become pro-choice advocates.
NARAL. Available online at <www.naral.org> (accessed July 28, 2003).
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