Some misrepresentations are more troubling than others. Pronounce my last name “Abra-hams” instead of “A-brums”? I’m probably going to let that slide. Make sweeping generalizations about my generation not caring about abortion rights because we’re not old enough to remember Roe v. Wade? You’re going to hear about it.
In this week’s Newsweek, writer Sarah Kliff writes about the aging leaders behind the pro-choice movement. She points out that most of the big-name abortions-rights groups are run by “baby-boomer activists now well into their 50s,” and asks not only who will step up when they retire, but “what might prompt the next generation to take up the cause?”
From her piece, you’d think the IWHC staffers resembled the Golden Girls, which couldn’t be further from the truth. We’re young—most of us in our 20s and 30s—and passionate about a woman’s right to choose. And this isn’t just true about IWHC, but at other organizations as well. What Kliff fails to see is that our organizations are staffed like almost any other organization or corporation in America—full of young people who are involved, poised, and ready to take the helm when needed—but grateful to have experienced leaders, like IWHC President Adrienne Germain, who have lessons to teach us from their decades in the field.
This oversight isn’t just an irritation, it’s the kind of misrepresentation that can hurt a movement. There’s no question that it’s easier to mobilize people around a thriving cause than a dying one, and in this article, Kliff makes us look like we’re about to start hospice care. Only after several anecdotes about young women who don’t support abortion access, or who don’t feel it’s a major issue to fight for does she include fact that 61 percent of young people identify as pro-choice. She never bothers to quote a single young person who advocates for abortion rights—something that would have been easy to get in the IWHC offices, at last month’s Commission on the Status of Women, on almost any college campus, or even in Hollywood where young actresses like Ellen Page proudly identify as pro-choice.
A reporter’s job isn’t just about getting quotes—it was NARAL’s President Nancy Keenan who coined the term “postmenopausal militia” in this article—but also verifying and balancing them with the facts. I don’t know Kliff or her politics, but as long as she’s writing misleading articles like this one, she’s no ally of mine.