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Kate Michelman is one of the most respected and influential women leaders in America today.
For nearly 20 years, she served as President of NARAL Pro-Choice America, catapulting the organization to prominence as the nation's premier reproductive rights group--an achievement that has earned her a reputation as a nationally recognized expert not only on women's issues but also on grassroots organizing and strategic organizational development. Under Kate's leadership, NARAL Pro-Choice America transformed the political debate and positioned a woman's right to choose as a fundamental American liberty. She has also been an academic, consultant and author.
Since retiring from NARAL, Kate has written her well received memoir -- With Liberty and Justice for All, published by Penguin Books -- authored op-eds that have appeared in major national publications including The New York Times and the Washington Post, lectured at universities and other venues nationwide and been a sought-after consultant and campaigner for advocacy organizations as well as candidates at all levels of government, from Congress to President. In 2004, she directed the Democratic National Committee's "Campaign to Save the Court." In 2008, she served as senior advisor on women's issues for John Edwards' presidential campaign, after which she endorsed and campaigned nationwide for Barack Obama. She has consulted for candidates for Congress and United States Senate as well. Kate assisted Advocates for Youth on a project to use her personal story to inspire young people to act on their beliefs. Currently she is a senior advisor on women's health policy for the Women's Law Project in Philadelphia.
During her time at NARAL, Kate was a frequent advisor to former President Bill Clinton. She worked closely with -- and her counsel has been sought by -- many of the most powerful leaders in America, from Senators to Cabinet Secretaries.
Vanity Fair Magazine named Kate one of America's 200 Women Legends, Leaders. Washingtonian magazine named Michelman--a seasoned lobbyist and skilled political strategist--one of the capital's 100 most powerful women and The Hill named her one of the top grassroots/non-profit lobbyists. While serving as NARAL's President, Kate 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."
Early in her professional career, Michelman was a specialist in early childhood development, with a discipline in developmental disabilities. 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.
Michelman, who first honed her organizing skills in the civil-rights movement, dedicated her life to women's equality and health with a focus on reproductive freedom after her own humiliating experience with a pre-Roe v. Wade abortion in 1969 when abortion was largely illegal. In order to obtain a hospital "therapeutic" abortion to avoid injury and possible death in a back alley procedure she was required by law to obtain the consent of the husband who had deserted their family as well as a hospital panel comprised entirely of men.
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. She has also been a Fellow at the Institute of Politics at Harvard University.
Michelman was married for nearly 40 years to the late Fred Michelman. She has three daughters and six grandchildren.
(18 comments) SHARE Wednesday, April 30, 2014 To Hell and Back in Just 45 Years
Forty-five years ago, I was alone in a society that placed little value on my dignity, my freedom, my children and my choice. Here we are, and here we have been. This is, once again, our moment and our responsibility. Our freedom belongs to us; it is our right, and it is our responsibility to protect it; and we have the power to do so. We must embrace this responsibility, in order to protect the freedoms that define America.
(2 comments) SHARE Monday, June 10, 2013 How Long Will Equal Pay Take to Achieve?
The Equal Pay Act became law fifty years ago today, yet we are not close to achieving the goal of the law. U.S. women are paid 77 cents for every dollar paid to men, a gap of over $10,000 per year. These pay disparities have real-life negative consequences for women and their families. Pew Research Center reports that women are the sole or primary source of income in 40% of U.S. households with children under age 18.
(2 comments) SHARE Monday, March 25, 2013 Why women chose Gosnell: Pa. politicians continue to make it harder for women to get safe abortions
Politicians continue to make it harder for women to get safe abortions. Pennsylvania lawmakers are not alone in developing strategies to regulate abortion care right out of existence. In fact, state legislatures have enacted 135 abortion restrictions in just the last two years, according to the Guttmacher Institute. It's important that women know that abortion is a legal, safe medical procedure.
(3 comments) SHARE Thursday, March 7, 2013 Trading Women's Rights for Partisan Politics
Sex discrimination and gender bias are deeply embedded in the legal framework of institutions designed to protect us all from harm. We see the impact of these inequities in our work on behalf of women in Pennsylvania and across America each day. But we cannot allow ourselves to become complacent -- not now; not ever. We must call to account elected officials who trade women's rights for partisan allegiances.
(2 comments) SHARE Thursday, November 29, 2012 The Election Is Over, but the Fight Goes On
We had a great day. We won a solid & lasting protection against discrimination & political harassment. The national vote said it all.
The national vote, while worthy of high-fives all round, is hardly the end of our struggle for women's rights. When conservatives lose a decisive battle at the federal level, they don't go home and sulk. They redouble their efforts to force their cause at the state and local levels
(48 comments) SHARE Monday, March 19, 2012 Bob Casey versus the Rights of Women
women's rights came under attack in the U.S. Senate recently when the "Respect for Rights of Conscience Act" sought to allow any employer to opt out of abortion, contraceptive and other health treatment coverage based solely on the undefined determination of the employer's religious and moral beliefs. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid denounced the bill as an extreme ideological amendment." Pa. Senator Bob Casey disagreed.