By Pat Reuss December 12, 2016
Even though I have spent the last 44 years in the women’s movement working for many issues including economic and racial justice, fighting against poverty and violence against women and promoting older women’s issues, the ERA, Title IX and work/family issues, I know that the fight of our lives in the months and years ahead will be to demand and defend reproductive justice. If we lose the constitutional and political gains we’ve made in reproductive justice, our cogency as a movement and a voice for girls and women will certainly be in question and girls and women’s lives will be at greater risk. If we go back to treating women as disposable rather than self-determining, whole, autonomous members of humanity, then we lose standing to demand fair pay, safe homes, and equal treatment under the law in all other arenas of life.
So we have to march and speak out and tell the truths about girls and women’s lives and the daily challenges of making health care and family formation decisions. But while we’re uplifting our supporters and educating the undecideds at the national level, we also need to address the reality that our work must be local and political. We have to change the minds of our state and local elected officials or defeat them at the polls. This is really hard work but we have allies in this effort. So let’s support our champions, work on our detractors and round up and support candidates who will defend and promote the rights of ALL girls and women as they face the barriers and challenges, fulfill their obligations and make their life’s choices. Through our tears, fears and fatigue, we at least know that we’re all in this together and we daily gain more “troops.” Love. pat
For the past 37 years, Pat Reuss has worked in Washington, D.C., on behalf of women’s rights and equality. In 1991, she was hired by NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund (now Legal Momentum) to set up their D.C. policy office and work to get the Violence Against Women Act passed.
Reuss built and coordinated the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence and led the effort to pass VAWA in 1994 and get it reauthorized in 2000. She is currently working as a feminist consultant, much of the time at NOW and the NOW PAC promoting grassroots advocacy on women’s rights issues and legislation.
Before coming to D.C., Reuss was an activist in Colorado, Montana and Indiana. She is a single mother of three adult sons.