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feminist wire | daily newsbriefs

September-24-98

Women Leaders Take Action to Stop Impeachment, Warn What's at Stake for Women and Who's on Third to Succeed

Washington DC -- A wide array of leaders of the women's movement have joined together today to make a united statement about the possible impeachment of President Clinton by the Congress and about what is at stake for women in this country.
We are appalled by the extremely partisan cast that this process has already taken. The rush to publish the Starr Report and to broadcast secret grand jury testimony -- before even a decision is made to proceed with impeachment hearings -- is a failure of fairness and has violated the fundamental value of due process.

We are witnessing a relentless campaign -- both inside and outside the government -- to hound President Clinton out of office. This is destabilizing for our country and our democracy. And some of those who are leading the charge against Mr. Clinton are among the worst foes of women's rights. The opponents of the President have a political agenda that will harm women long after the scandal has faded from the front pages.

We are here today to sound the alarm that if disgust with the current crisis depresses women's votes in November, we will see an anti-women's rights majority in Congress roll back the gains for women of the past 30 years.

While women are angry and do not condone his conduct, women want President Clinton to remain in office. We believe, and the women of the nation concur, that Mr. Clinton's actions are not impeachable. His misdeeds are not of the nature of high crimes and misdemeanors required by our Constitution for impeachment of the president.

Gender gaps in public opinion poll results persist, with more women than men opposing Mr. Clinton's impeachment, supporting his policies, and approving of his presidency and leadership.

As feminist leaders, we will not stand idly by while a Congress made up of nearly 90 percent men attempts to remove the first president elected by women voters. While President Clinton's record for women's rights is less than perfect, on balance women have had an ally in the White House. If this reactionary campaign succeeds, the unfinished agenda of women on equality in Social Security, pay equity, childcare, anti-poverty remedies, minimum wage, Medicare, real campaign finance reform which opens the system to women and people of color, and laws against violence against women will continue to languish in Congress.

Not only are we standing united, we are urging action. We are urging the women and men of this nation to call their members of the House of Representatives to urge them not to proceed with impeachment hearings and to call their Senators to oppose the removal of the President from office.

Most importantly, it is more crucial now than ever that women vote in the November elections. We must not let women's rights opponents sail to victory because women do not vote.

Women have much at stake in this election. If women's rights advocates lose three seats in the Senate, we could lose the ability to prevent the override of a presidential veto. President Clinton's veto is all that stands between Congress and women's right to abortion. If the presidential veto cannot be sustained after the election, it could mean open season not only on women's rights but also on affirmative action, Social Security, gun control, civil rights, and equal education opportunities.

Little has been said about the process of succession to the presidency. Many people ask us: "What does it matter if President Clinton leaves office? Wouldn't Vice President Gore simply assume the presidency?" We firmly believe that the ultra-conservatives will not stop at removing Mr. Clinton from office. Already Mr. Gore is under attack. Women should be asking the question, "Who's on 3rd?," -- who is next in the line of succession? Next in line is Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.

The Gingrich Congress has been an unmitigated disaster for women. The Gingrich Congress has voted 97 times this session to restrict abortion rights and is now

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