The Rachel Maddow Show | May 14, 2012
>>> we know we are better off when women are treated fairly and equally in every aspect of american life whether it's the salary you earn or the health decisions you make. [ applause ]
>> president obama being very well received today giving the commencement address in new york. politics around women's health have been more of battleground over the last couple of years since abortion rights were supposedly guaranteed nationwide in this country in 1973 . amid a record number of new laws in the states. look at this. we did not make this up. more restrictions passed last year with republican lawmakers unrelenting priority of pushing back women's rights and even contraception has become essential to even president level politics. the president one of the most vocal and active rights in the country has announced after eight years she is stepping down at tend of this year. she says roe versus wade is 40 in january. it's time for a new leader to come in and be the next person in reproductive choice . she's president of pro-choice america. thank you for being here.
>> my pleasure. thanks for having me.
>> tell me more about the decision to step down now. you're giving people a lot of notice. why have you decided to do it and to do it with this message?
>> there's two things a leader can give an organization. one is the hard work, the dedication, the passion, the commitment and the heart and soul in doing the job. the second thing is to know when it's time for someone else to build on the accomplishments of the organization and for the next generations to tell their stories of choice for the next five, ten, 15 years. like you said i'm going to be around for the 2012 election. i wouldn't miss that to help reelect barack obama and build on our pro-choice champions that we have in the house and senate.
>> in terms of that generational divide, i am the same age as roe versus wade . i'm three months younger. do you feel like having somebody of my generation and younger is going to make a material difference in how this fight is fought?
>> i think it's about the future. my generation was the generation that fought that our daughters and granddaughters would not have to fight about this. what we have learned is you always have to be individuvigilant. for me, the next generation will tell their own stories. their own stories about their lives, their experiences, not looking back at the anniversary of roe being 40, but looking forward and saying what is it about our generation that had to lead to protect this right. i think it all came home around the fight on contraception where it became real. for me, it's a wonderful opportunity to connect to the generation . these are the 18 to 30 year old who is are by 2020 going to be 40% of the voting population. it's a tipping point of this issue to talk about the stories of that generation moving forward.
>> i feel like the sunny side of this is for you to be stepping aside from this position specifically to make room for younger women lead eership in this field is selfless and farsighted and i think is right about the politics in terms of where your advocacy policy is. on the other hand, we're in the middle of the greatest abortion rights since roe versus wade . you are the most experienced leader in the country on this issue. is it a good time for fresh blood?
>> we have wonderful new leaders there now. it's not like waking up now expecting somebody to wake up. there are young women poised onds having been fighting and poised to that i can that reign of leadership in a different capacity. i want to go back to the stories because it couldn't be me sitting in front of me in ta panel talking about birth control and making the impact that sandra fluke did. it is the face of the future. it is the face of the next generation and the stories that have to been told about the impact on their lives now. not on the lives 40 years ago. their lives today and the importance of being vigilant.
>> do you think the next year is going to be as successful for the aennti-choice, anti-abortion side? i know you from montana . there's small libertarian in montana . do you see the republican side dividing?
>> i think the american public is going to speak. i don't care if it's at the courthouse to the white house level. i think the american public shares the values of freedom and privacy. i think they have seen the assault on women this past year. they have said enough. that voice is going to be heard at the ballot box , i think, in november. whether it's the importance of having a pro-choice president in barack obama . whether it's the importance of having leaders in the house in the senate that have stopped some of this insanity that came out having a governor like we do in montana who vetoed this obnoxious legislation. that's the importance of connecting the personal to the political. we have to vote our values. i have great faith in the next generation of millennials that they will connect the personal to the political.
>> the president of pro choice america through the end of this year. a lot of people have been curious about your decision and it's nice to hear it from you.
>> up next, a political convention in oklahoma and a fist fight broke out and maybe it was a fist fight and a convention broke out. it was kind of hard to tell. we have the videotape next. [ laughing ]