Pro-abortion rights group sees its mission beyond “pro-choice,” so it has a new name | ET REALITY


NARAL Pro-Choice America, one of the nation’s largest abortion rights advocacy groups, announced Wednesday that it had changed its name, a change that illustrates the changing politics of the issue after the Supreme Court struck down the federal right to abortion.

For decades, abortion rights activists presented their mission as a fight for health care and women’s rights. NARAL’s new name, Reproductive Freedom for All, is intended to align the group’s goals with a different argument: in the post-Roe era, the battle over abortion access is a fight for fundamental freedoms.

For abortion rights supporters, the term “pro-choice” — once widely used by Democrats — seems particularly outdated in a country where abortion laws are now determined by individual states and jurisdictions, leaders said. of the group.

“Pro-choice” doesn’t resonate with moderate, young, male voters who have become more engaged since the Supreme Court ended the nation’s abortion right last year, said Mini Timmaraju, president of NARAL. He said the group’s former name also did not reflect the work of Black and Hispanic women who have long been on the front lines of the fight for abortion access.

“NARAL has incredible resonance in the political world, but we are no longer necessarily in the business of simply winning political opinion among elected officials and policymakers,” Ms. Timmaraju said. “We are now in a much bigger fight for the hearts and souls of the American people and those are people who are completely new to the abortion debate.”

Along with the new name, the group plans to increase its focus on state organizing and take a broader approach, joining causes such as eliminating the Senate filibuster, supporting voting rights and expanding the Supreme Court.

Both supporters and opponents of abortion rights have begun to reposition themselves as the contours of the political battle rapidly shift. Some Republicans have urged their party to move away from the term “pro-life,” arguing that the label has become politically damaging to their candidates. Others have leaned in: a few weeks before the ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade, Susan B. Anthony List, the anti-abortion advocacy group, changed its name to Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America.

But NARAL’s name change underscores how sharply abortion policy has changed since the Supreme Court’s decision last year in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

For years, polls showed that abortion opponents were most enthusiastic about the issue, seeing it as a litmus test for candidates. After the ruling, politics changed: those who supported abortion rights became more motivated by the issue, while those who opposed them were less so.

The abortion rights movement has shifted its message from talking about abortion as medical care to presenting the legality of the procedure as an American freedom. It’s a message NARAL has been pushing since 2018, when an internal research project found the argument to be the most persuasive.

It was a message that many Democrats adopted in the 2022 midterm elections, casting abortion restrictions as a kind of government overreach. Meanwhile, Republicans used similar arguments during the pandemic, often invoking the word “freedom.” to criticize mask mandates and other public health measures.

Reproductive Freedom for All is the fourth name change for the organization, which began as the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws in 1969. After Roe was decided in 1973, it became the National Rights Action League to Abortion. Reproductive Rights was added to its name in 1993. Then, in 2003, the group became NARAL Pro-Choice America, a change that coincided with a multimillion-dollar effort to make abortion a central issue in the 2004 presidential election.

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