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Ilyse Hogue, Influential Abortion Rights Advocate, Will Step Down as NARAL Chief

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Your book and podcast, “The Lie That Binds,” tracked the history of the anti-abortion movement and your view of its ties to white supremacy. Do you see connections between the siege on the Capitol and the anti-abortion movement?

Part of, as I say, steeling the spine and building the courage for elected officials is making sure that we own the accurate history of this movement. Clinic violence during the ’80s and into the ’90s was the precursor for the violent extremism we’re seeing now. Why that’s been allowed to continue is because society writ large — and certainly politics — has allowed them to wrap themselves in this faux religiosity and get away with stuff we would never allow in other parts of our culture.

If you talked to any abortion provider, they know what that feels like to be under siege. So really understanding that — and that goes back to the underlying ideology of the modern-day anti-choice movement, and this is not to say every person who identifies as pro-life — but the movement is one that believes in minority control to right Christian men. So there’s just immense symmetry between these ideologies.

Now that Democrats control the White House and both chambers of Congress again, is there a danger that Democratic voters and abortion rights advocates will slip into a sense of complacency around abortion, similar to what happened during the Obama administration?

I mean, that’s the question, right? When I came to NARAL, the Democratic consensus toward abortion rights was mostly check the box and move on, with some amazing exceptions. And if we have to let an anti-choice member sneak through, so be it. That’s just part of the play.

That’s not happening anymore. We had every single Democratic presidential candidate release a plan on how they’re going to address the crisis in reproductive freedom. We had them outcompeting each other in debates. We saw the largest day of action ever on abortion rights against the abortion ban in 2019. I think that politically it is not a salable point anymore that you can’t be an active champion.

So is there room in the party for Democrats who do not support abortion rights?

There always has been and there always will be room in the party for individuals who have all sorts of different feelings about everything, and abortion is no exception. What there is zero room in the party for is people who would oppose the seven in 10 Americans who don’t think politicians should be governing their decisions about pregnancy and family. The opposition to abortion never, never actually mapped onto faith as much as it mapped onto hostility to social progress, gender equity, racial equity.

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