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October 15, 2008

NARAL Pro-Choice America Outlines Efforts to Help Elect Barack Obama

New York, NY –Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, today delivered a speech highlighting her organization's efforts to elect Sen. Barack Obama and outlining the multiple threats John McCain poses for women's freedom and privacy.

Keenan spoke at the organization's 17th annual Power of Choice Luncheon in the Rainbow Room at Rockefeller Plaza. The program also included remarks from Caroline Kennedy, a senior adviser and surrogate for Sen. Obama's campaign, and Anna Quindlen, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author. In addition, civic leader and commentator Julie Menin served as the event's emcee and community leader Joan Tisch received the Anne E. Fisher Champion of Choice Award.

Keenan's remarks, as prepared for delivery, follow:

Thanks to Julie Menin, our mistress of ceremonies—and my thanks to the other co-chairs of this terrific event, Jenny Brorsen, Jackie Shear, and Judith Zarin.

It is great that after eight long years, this is the last New York Power of Choice Luncheon with George W. Bush in the White House. 

So…what are we doing to make sure Barack Obama is our next president?  For the next 21 days we're strategically campaigning in swing states all across this country.

With your financial support, NARAL Pro-Choice America will contact more than 300,000 pro-choice households in eight battleground states:  Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.

We send voters in suburban and exurban districts direct mail contrasting Barack Obama's record with John McCain's, we contact them by phone, and we get them out to vote on Election Day.

NARAL plays a unique role in targeting pro-choice Independent and Republican women. These voters will cross party lines to vote for a pro-choice candidate if we talk with them about the candidate's position on choice and how this affects their everyday lives.

This is especially true in the last 10 days before an election, when, for many Americans, it seems that every candidate sounds the same on everything – but the one issue that cuts through the noise is choice. 

Pro-choice Independent and Republican women won't listen to political parties or candidates, but they do listen to us because they trust us. 

We communicate with these voters about choice, but we also don't operate in a vacuum.  We know that the economy is dominating the political landscape—as it should be.

So I imagine some of you wonder, "How does choice fit into this political environment?"

Just as there are clear differences between Sen. Obama and John McCain on the economy, there is a clear contrast on a woman's right to choose.

We have a health-care crisis in this country, yet McCain voted to eliminate the family-planning program that provides low-income women with access to birth control and cancer screenings.

Sen. Obama, on the other hand, is the author of legislation that would bring down the cost of birth control on college campuses and at family-planning clinics.

McCain also voted against requiring insurance companies to cover birth control in the same way they pay for Viagra.

Sen. Obama supports insurance coverage for contraception.

McCain has threatened to nominate judges who are in the mold of Scalia and Clarence Thomas, the judges who share his belief that Roe v. Wade should be overturned.

Sen. Obama opposed both of Bush's nominees to the Supreme Court and supports upholding Roe.

McCain's anti-choice policies are out of touch with women's lives. 

The same woman who wants a president to address the difficulty of paying to put gas in the car while other bills pile up on the kitchen counter also wants a president who respects her ability to make the personal, private medical decisions that are best for her and her family.

You know…that's what I hear when I have been on the road as a surrogate for the Obama campaign in battleground states like New Hampshire and Wisconsin.

I was visiting with voters in a small bookstore in Peterborough, New Hampshire.

The crowd included younger couples, a couple of older guys, the wife of a former Republican governor of New Hampshire.

The event was billed as a roundtable, but the little bookstore had just a couple of small square tables. People sat in a few chairs and leaned against the bookshelves for almost 45 minutes as we talked about the differences between the two candidates' records on choice and answered the crowd's questions.

They were angry about the path this country has taken over the last eight years—and they are paying closer attention to a presidential election than ever before.

That same day more than 1,400 people in cities and small towns across New Hampshire were inspired to volunteer and go door to door for Senator Obama.

These scenes from New Hampshire only underscore how Americans are tired of the kind of divisive politics that the McCain-Palin ticket represents.  They have lived through the Bush years, and they see no need for a sequel.

This is it, folks. If you don't want a sequel, what are you willing to do?

Will you take one weekend to go door to door in the Philadelphia suburbs to make sure a woman who is undecided gets that knock on her door that reminds her why voting for Obama is the right thing to do for her future?

Will you go to a phone bank where they are calling newly registered voters?

Will you go to, where you will find our list of endorsed pro-choice candidates and forward that list to your friends and family?

You can take all or even just one of these actions—because every one of them makes a difference.

It is, quite honestly, the difference the between winning and losing this election.


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