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New Women’s Political Caucus Leader: Group Represents Real Pro- Family Agenda

August 7, 1989

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) _ People drawn to the National Women’s Political Caucus by the abortion issue should realize the group is working on a range of women’s and family issues, the organization’s new leader said..

″We are the real pro-family agenda in this country,″ Sharon Rodine of Reston, Va., said Sunday, shortly after being sworn in as the new chairwoman of the 77,000-member caucus.

In addition to launching a campaign to support candidates who favor abortion rights, Rodine said the group would push for pay equity for women and greater availability of child care.

On Saturday, caucus leaders announced their ″Empower America″ campaign, which will field pro-choice women candidates for legislative seats in 10 key states: Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Maryland, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

Irene Natividad, Rodine’s predecessor, said target states have legislatures that could swing in the pro-choice direction depending on the outcome of a small number of races.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s July 3 ruling in the Webster vs. Health Reproductive Services Inc., which broadened states’ powers in limiting abortion, has spurred many people to action, Rodine said.

″It’s the hot issue. People are seeing it’s relevant in their lives,″ she said. ″The timing is right to mobilize people. There’s no question about it.″

Rodine, 40, ran unopposed for caucus chair and was elected unanimously on the final day of a four-day convention. She has served as executive director of the National Organization on Adolescent Pregnancy and Parenting for the last five years, and was a founding member of the Tarrant County Women’s Political Caucus, in Fort Worth, Texas.

About 30 anti-abortion protesters picketed the convention site for about two hours Saturday.

″We believe the majority of women around the country are not pro-choice,″ said Georgeann McGarry of New Brighton, one of the protesters. ″They are pro- life and we are here to represent them.″

Inside, actress Cybill Shepherd told members they should work to ensure access to abortion for poor women.

″It will be a test of our commitment and political will whether the same rights will be available to an unemployed women in a New Orleans housing project, the 16-year-old daughter of a coal miner in the hills of Kentucky or a native American woman living in the far reaches of Utah,″ she said. ″Their plight must be our fight.″

Former Democratic vice presidential nominee Geraldine Ferraro told the group she expects abortion to affect political races around the country.

″The choice has to be left to women and it has to be a safe procedure,″ she said. ″I think that what this issue will do is mobilize people who care about human rights and civil rights.″

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