TIME Magazine revealed its ninth annual TIME 100, a list of what it considers the 100 most influential people in the world.
The list includes 38 women, more than any other previous year, and among the notable inclusions is Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood. Appropriately enough, Georgetown Law student Sandra Fluke offered this on Richards’ inclusion. “[Richards is] my advocate and that of every woman in America, as I learned firsthand when I was publicly disparaged for speaking out on an issue she has been working on every day for years…. As we look to inspire the next generation of women to join this fight, we’re fortunate to have Cecile as our mentor.”
I’ll be honest. It feels a little strange to celebrate Richards place on the list. It’s a well-deserved recognition of her leadership and the importance of reproductive health and justice in women’s push for economic equality. But the attention to Richards and Planned Parenthood has come because of a relentless assault on women’s access to affordable and reliable health care. Almost 40 years after Roe v. Wade women are not making progress, we are losing ground.
And it’s no coincidence that Fluke makes an appearance as well since she was thrown onto the public stage for having the audacity to ask Congress to hear her concerns over proposed blocks to contraception access. When she was given an opportunity the right crucified her as a “slut”. In 2012.
This is what’s remarkable about Richards and Fluke on the TIME list–the fact that in 2012 this country is having a political debate about whether or not women are entitled to the same human rights as men, including the right to make medical decisions on their own and free from government coercion. So, lets applaud the leadership of Richards and the recognition it is receiving but take careful note of why we’re here in the first place. Richards is not in the TIME 100 because equal rights for women is a foundational and universal political belief in this country. Just the opposite. She’s here because she represents the face of a strong and fierce opposition to a political movement intent on rolling back women’s autonomy.
Photo from david_shankbone via flickr.
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