Mother Jones Magazine, in conjunction with Ross MacDonald, a Newtown father of two children, and Tumblr have launched the website “Letters to Newtown“. In the days following the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, letters from around the world poured into the local post office. Some were simply addressed “To Sandy Hook”. Others bore the official seal of international governments. They all expressed profound sadness and hope for healing. As part of a proposed digital archives project, Letters From Newtown will be updated daily with images of the over half a million letters and drawings that made their way to Sandy Hook.
Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision which established a woman’s right to an abortion in the first three months of pregnancy as a private choice, turns forty years old today, January 22, 2013. The ruling has been under attack in recent years as opponents have sought new opportunities to undermine its authority. New data from the Pew Research Center shows that while a majority of Americans still support Roe v. Wade, the next generation of supporters will have to work harder to keep it intact.
First, the good news. The report is called “Roe v. Wade at 40: Most Oppose Overturning Abortion Decision.” All double negatives aside, a majority of Americans (63%) want to uphold a woman’s right to choose. This holds true across religious and party affiliations. Evangelical Protestants are the only major religious group that favors overturning the Roe v. Wade decision. Shocker. Even Republicans are divided over support for Roe v. Wade with a slim majority, 48% to 46%, saying it should not be overturned.
Here is the bad news. While support for Roe v. Wade has remained consistent over the last 20 years, less than half (44%) of those ages 18-29 know the case was about abortion. Younger generations are significantly less aware of the subject of the case than their elder counterparts. This begs the question: does a decline in our awareness matter?
Typically, it doesn’t matter if we know the legislation and legal precedents that govern our daily lives. Chances are you didn’t know the Calder Act established standard time in the United States in 1918, though it regularly makes you late for work. We take plenty for granted. That young people know less about Roe, and nothing about the horrors of life before abortion was legal, is disturbing when we look at other trends in the data.
No matter how you slice it, everyone polled thinks the issue of abortion is relatively unimportant. Hard to believe, considering hype generated by the media and anti-choice extremists. No majority of any demographic – not men, not women, not Democrats or Republicans, none of the age groups, and not a single religious group define the issue as a critical one facing the country. Among those who favor overturning Roe v. Wade, 38% consider it a critical issue. Twenty nine percent of Evangelicals, the demographic most likely to favor the case be completely overturned, view the issue as a critical one. For those who favor upholding the decision, a mere 9% consider it a critical issue. This means that those most committed to the destruction of Roe v. Wade are paying significantly more attention to the issue than those of us committed to preserving our rights.
What does this mean for the future of Roe v. Wade? Americans as a whole still recognize the importance of preserving the Supreme Court’s decision but its safety is in doubt. Republicans are already focused on other new and creative ways to undermine your ladyrights. Opponents of abortion will surely capitalize on the public’s increasing lack of awareness around the issue. They will revoke the hard earned right to control our own bodies like a magician snatching a table cloth without breaking the stemware. Its up to supporters of women’s rights not to let it fade into obscurity, so that future generations know as much about Roe v. Wade as they do about Tyson v. Holyfield.
Natasha Roland has provided critical infrastructure support and strategic assistance to feminist organizations like the Voices of Women Organizing Project and the Global Justice Center, served as a staff member in the district office of Congresswoman Grace F. Napolitano, interned for the Feminist Majority Foundation and is committed to advancing human rights, human happiness and the quality of life for as many people as possible. A Los Angeles native, she learned feminism from her mother who always changed the story to make sure that after marriage, Cinderella became a doctor.
Project Noise has a lot to celebrate as we look ahead to our 6th year of making change louder through video and social media. The influential blog Boing Boing recently named Project Noise as a charity worth giving to in their 2012 Charitable Giving Guide. Our A Is For reproductive rights project has reached over 2 million views on its YouTube channel and has 13,000+ Twitter followers. Just this month we’ve given out $3000 in direct support to other nonprofits. Please join us in celebrating a great year by giving a tax-deductible year end gift to Project Noise–and if you do it by midnight on December 31st, the Fredricksen Green Foundation and an anonymous donor will double your donation–up to $2013 for 2013! Let’s close out 2012 with a very loud bang!
What does a donation to Project Noise do? There are so many heart-wrenching headlines–many in just this month. You hear of injustices in the wake of the Newton shootings, or just reckless stupidity. You may feel helpless to make any impact–what can you possibly do that could make a difference? That’s where our weird little nonprofit comes in–sometimes through the side door.
Maybe you don’t see us behind the scenes because we’re working to get attention for a crucially timed reproductive rights campaign like A Is For, help jump start a new prison reform organization like Jail Guitar Doors, or breathe some life into an unsung organization for children like Get on the Bus by producing and gifting them an “About Us” video. But we are there. Our value comes in getting attention for others–which can be a big fundraising challenge for us. By creating traffic-attracting content that can be produced in agile response to stories and issues that strike a nerve, we can leverage videos and social media awareness campaigns when the public’s attention is most crucial.
Project Noise is unique in that we are not issue-specific. We can’t measure our impact by the number of kittens saved or names of diseases cured. Instead, we’re raising awareness, we’re acting as advocates, we’re building a discourse. But we can count our reach–through views, hits, shares, likes, donations, and followers–and these we have. Project Noise Executive Director Maureen Herman’s open letter to Todd Akin on the A Is For project blog went viral with 3.6K Facebook likes and over 900 tweets, bringing a whole new audience into the fold, and landed her a place as a HuffPost blogger, giving Project Noise yet another venue for illuminating crucial social issues.
Our biggest project to date was the A Is For reproductive rights campaign and video, (now growing into its own nonprofit). The A Is For project, with Martha Plimpton, Lizz Winstead and other dedicated founders, grew from just an idea to having 8500+ Facebook fans with a weekly total reach of 50,000+ users, including fans in 27 countries around the world. Also, A Is For was proud to have registered 1,283 new voters before the 2012 elections.
We hope you’ll see how your end of year gift to Project Noise will be meaningful and impactful. Now, more than ever, nonprofit organizations need a hand (and often a decent video). We hope you’ll join us and donate before midnight tonight–and get a head start on making a difference in 2013!
Wishing you an ear-splitting 2013,
The Project Noise Team
P.S. I’ve heard Senator Al Franken mention that extra asks in the P.S. section of a fundraising letter often make a big difference. Is he right? Is so, donate here!
Project Noise is honored to have made Boing Boing’s 2012 list of charities worth giving to in their annual Charitable Giving Guide. Thanks to our supporters for a very loud 2012 and looking forward to an ear-splitting 2013! To support Project Noise with a year-end tax-deductible donation, please go to projectnoise.org/donate.
Letters To Santa: The Second City That Never Sleeps 24-Hour Improv
Must. See. This. Steve Albini interviews Nate Silver. Jeff Tweedy from Wilco auctions off private show in your living room for you and 29 of your closest friends. Fred Armisen and Jason Sudeikis doing improv with Second City Chicago cast. All to make a Merry Christmas for needy families in Chicago. This is an event run with wit, heart, and generosity. Do. Not. Miss.