WOMEN'S SHOW - KATE MICHELMAN, March for Choice

04/24/04

The March for Women's Lives will take place in Washington, DC tomorrow, Sunday, April 25 at noon.

For more than 18 years, Kate Michelman has served as President of NARAL Pro-Choice America, catapulting the organization to prominence as the nation's premier reproductive rights group. Under Kate's leadership, NARAL Pro-Choice America has transformed the political debate and positioned a woman's freedom to choose as a fundamental American liberty. Kate herself coined the question that now defines the pro-choice movement: Who Decides? Politicians or women themselves?

Michelman is widely credited with helping the pro-choice movement to defend legal abortion against attack while developing a proactive agenda focused on defining the freedom to choose as a fundamental American value. She worked to broaden the conversation of choice to encompass the full range of reproductive options, including choosing legal abortion, preventing unwanted pregnancy and bearing healthy children.

Early in her professional career, Michelman was a specialist in early childhood development, with a particular emphasis on developmentally disabled children. Building on her work with special-needs children in rural Pennsylvania on the edge of Appalachia, she developed a model multi-disciplinary diagnostic treatment program for developmentally disabled preschool children and their families that now serves as a model across the nation.

Michelman, who first honed her organizing skills in the civil-rights movement, became concerned about reproductive freedom after her own humiliating experience with a pre-Roe v. Wade abortion in 1970, which required her to obtain the consent of the husband who had deserted their family as well as a hospital panel comprised entirely of men.

Under Michelman's leadership, NARAL Pro-Choice America has positioned a woman's freedom to choose as integral to the most fundamental of American liberties: dominion over one's own life. Vanity Fair Magazine has named Kate one of America's 200 Women Legends, Leaders, A seasoned lobbyist and skilled political strategist — Washingtonian magazine named Michelman one of the capital's 100 most powerful women and The Hill named her one of the top grassroots/non-profit lobbyists — she has pursued a legislative agenda to keep abortion legal while making it less necessary and built NARAL Pro-Choice America into a dominant force in electoral politics at the state and federal levels. Fortune Magazine has described NARAL Pro-Choice America as "one of the top 10 advocacy groups in America."

Now — with reproductive rights threatened at every level of government and Roe v. Wade hanging by the barest of majorities on the Supreme Court — Michelman is guiding the pro-choice movement through what may be its most perilous period in a generation. In addition to defending against those threats, Michelman continues to pursue her vision of a society that respects women's lives, health and freedom.

Prior to joining NARAL Pro-Choice America in 1985, Michelman was executive director of Planned Parenthood in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where she expanded the range of reproductive health services available in the area. She also trained medical students and residents in child development as a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Pennsylvania State University School of Medicine.

Michelman is married and has three daughters and five grandchildren.

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