Defending Women: The Birth of a Surprising Coalition

Photo by Giacomo Ferroni | Unsplash

Coalitions have long been a powerful tool for creating change in America. In 2008, for example, Barack Obama’s path to The White House was paved by a coalition of several voting blocs, including progressives, white working-class voters, racial minorities, women, and young voters. The “Obama Coalition” enabled Obama to win 53% of the vote, the largest victory for a Democrat since Jimmy Carter in 1972. In 2012, he won 51% of the vote with a similar coalition.


For a more recent example, in 2020, Joe Biden won the presidency by assembling a coalition of voting blocs that included college-educated liberals, young people, and Black voters. According to reporting at the time, he also attracted progressives, the white working class, especially women, and pulled in some Latinos as well. The result was a record-setting victory in the popular vote and enough success in battleground states to win the Electoral College.

The point is: Coalitions work.


And now, women in America appear to be positioned to benefit from one of the largest and strongest coalitions the country has ever seen. The coalition coming to the defense of women writ large is comprised of members of the medical profession, including practitioners of fertility medicine, the leaders of giant pharmaceutical companies, and well, most women. And it’s forming in response to blatant efforts, primarily by white men and Christian nationalists, to control women.


Several events that we’re all keenly aware of have combined to create this growing, if somewhat unlikely, activist alliance. First, of course, was the Supreme Court tossing out Roe v. Wade and 50 years of women having the right to determine what happens to their bodies. That triggered an enormous nationwide groundswell of opposition to the high court’s decision, including a surprisingly decisive statewide vote in Kansas in 2022 in favor of abortion rights in what has always been a decidedly conservative state.


Additionally, according to reporting by CNN journalists Jessica Schneider and Tierney Sneed, fertility medicine suddenly found itself in the crosshairs of anti-abortion forces spread across a disturbing number of states. Doctors who practice in vitro fertilization and other fertility procedures whereby sperm and eggs are collected, sometimes combined outside the body, and, at times, discarded are being universally intimidated and threatened.


Full disclosure: In my memoir, Not Your Father’s America, I write about how my wife, Barbara, and I are the parents of triplets – three sons who are the lights of our lives and were conceived using In Vitro Fertilization (IVF).


I say much more about our emotional, at times terrifying, and ultimately joyous adventure with IVF and raising triplets in my book.  Suffice it to say here that data published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that approximately two in every 100 children born in the U.S. are conceived through In Vitro Fertilization or Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART).


Now, experts say that the elimination of the right to choose allows states to seriously interfere with the practice of fertility medicine and, therefore, fertility doctors.


Moreover, now that the right to choose has been overturned, reducing a pregnancy involving an embryo or nascent fetus could also be considered an abortion — and a crime — even though it’s intended to protect the mother’s life or assure the safe development and delivery of other fetuses. To be safe, according to CNN reporters, those already using fertility medicine may want to move their embryos out of states hostile to a woman’s right to determine what’s best for her body and her family.


Back to the coalition. In a further attempt to control women and their ability to determine their futures, a judge in Amarillo, Texas, ruled in April that Mifepristone, the so-called “abortion pill,” must be taken off the market and denied to women everywhere as a treatment. He did this despite Federal Drug Administration (FDA) approval for 20 years and a track record of being one of the safest drugs on the market, bar none, and one of the safest and most effective ways to end an early pregnancy. For whatever reason, by the way, including rape or incest.


The very fact that an appointed member of the judiciary would attempt to overrule the scientific judgment of the FDA and 20 years of medication abortions came as an affront, not only to women but to the nation’s entire medical and pharmaceutical establishment. And guess who didn’t want some unelected judge determining what approved medications they can and can’t sell – Big Pharma. So, now those who oppose a woman’s right to choose can experience the enormous clout of the pharmaceutical industry. So, whether anti-abortionists wanted a fight or not, they’ve got one.


Contributing to enrollment in the growing movement are decisions by state lawmakers, like the one in Florida, to outlaw abortions after six weeks when a woman may not even know she’s pregnant.


Finally, add to the mix that every woman in America who doesn’t think state legislators and judges, who aren’t doctors, should be telling them what to do with their bodies and, by extension, their lives, and you have a behemoth political tsunami with the power to make significant changes.


Weighing in at a rally outside City Hall in downtown Los Angeles on April 16th, Vice President Kamala Harris said, “When you attack the rights of women in America, you’re attacking America.”  


Of course, it remains to be seen how America’s newest and likely largest coalition in defense of women will impact change. But I’d put my money on medical professionals, Big Pharma, and women everywhere.


Cort Casady

Cort Casady has won two Emmy Awards and three NAACP Image Awards for his work as a television & documentary writer-producer. His memoir, Not Your Father’s America: An Adventure Raising Triplets in a Country Being Changed by Greed, is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and independent bookstores nationwide.

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