Chris Anderson, Curator
TED Conferences LLC
250 Hudson St. Suite 1002
New York, NY 10013
I was shocked and disappointed to learn of TED’s policy of prohibiting talks that cover abortion rights from Jessica Valenti’s article in The Nation today. I was even more dismayed when the article further revealed that you believe opinions on reproductive rights do not fit into your core mission of “wider issues of justice, inequality and human rights.”
Given the wealth of evidence that access to abortion care is a core human right, and closely related to issues of inequality and justice, I am concerned your organization has fallen prey to the insidious campaign by an extreme minority to silence conversation about the role reproductive freedom plays in building healthy families, healthy communities and a healthy world.
Look at the evidence:
- Just last year, the United Nations special rapporteur on torture, Juan E. Méndez, issued a report declaring that denying women access to abortion amounts to torture.
- A Council on Foreign Relations report shows that socioeconomic indicators in countries where women have access to family planning outperform those in countries where women do not.
- Research from the Guttmacher Institute consistently shows that banning abortion does not reduce abortion rates, but does lead to unsafe conditions for women and increased maternal deaths.
It is precisely because an honest conversation about reproductive freedom and access to all methods of family planning explores core issues of autonomy, self-determination and sovereignty that we feel it fits squarely within TED's mission of spreading ideas with the power to change attitudes, lives and ultimately the world.
The intersection of abortion access and human rights is at the forefront of the cultural conversation. Just last year, the whole world watched as a young mother and wife was almost allowed to die in El Salvador while being denied a life-saving procedure to terminate her pregnancy. And this discussion governs our ability to do cutting-edge research using state-of-the-art methods to treat chronic diseases; look at how opposition to abortion has fueled attacks on and even limited funding for critical stem-cell research.
In fact, the hesitation to discuss these issues among inspired thinkers, writers, scientists and advocates prevents us from moving forward into an enlightened future.
We are TED fans. We believe in your institution as a beacon of free thought. We know that an honest, nuanced conversation about these issues would bring great benefit to the TED audience and the world you inform.
As a response to The Nation article, we are posting this letter on NARAL Pro-Choice America's website so that our members – who are supportive of TED's mission and avid consumers of TED Talks – will be apprised of our communication with you and be able to engage in the discussion.
Please feel free to contact me at your earliest convenience. We look forward to discussing our perspective with you at greater length.
Ilyse G. Hogue
NARAL Pro-Choice America