Nearly 50 years ago, six month before the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark Roe v. Wade decision, a young delegate from Teaneck went to the 1972 Democratic National Convention in Miami Beach to fight for the inclusion a reproductive freedom plank in the party’s platform.
Even liberal Democrats preparing to nominate George McGovern as their presidential candidate weren’t ready to highlight abortion in their platform, but that didn’t stop the Bergen County woman, 37-year-old Loretta Weinberg, from advocating for it.
Weinberg and her friend, Barbara Werber, a Ridgewood Democrat who chaired the McGovern campaign in Bergen County, were among the strongest voices in the New Jersey caucus in support of the reproductive freedom amendment.
New Jersey cast 55 ½ votes in support of the plank, with 43 no votes and 10 ½ abstentions.
McGovern, concerned that the reproductive freedom amendment might impair his chances to unseat Richard Nixon in the general election, eventually made sure it didn’t pass. It was defeated, 1,429 to 1,555.
For Weinberg, the former Senate Majority Leader who retired from public office in January, the fight continues.
On Friday, Weinberg organized a demonstration at a senior living community in Teaneck so that grandmothers and great-grandmothers – including a 106-year-old woman — could voice their opposition to an expected top court decision that would overturn Roe v. Wade as a show of comradery with their granddaughters.
“This is the generation that fought for reproductive rights and women’s health before we had the Roe v Wade decision,” Weinberg said. “We know what life was like for women before this right existed and we know the physical and emotional trauma that will come if we lose it.”
Weinberg said that the “idea that five people on the United States Supreme Court are poised to set the clock back fifty years on women’s rights is heartbreaking, enraging and enough to get our community – in our 80s, 90s and 100s – to dust off our protest signs and put on our marching shoes.”
One of Weinberg’s final accomplishments of a 28-year career in the legislature was a law that codified Roe v. Wade into law. She’s spent her final year in the Trenton pushing for approval.
“Roe v. Wade contains within it so much more than access to a medical procedure. It acknowledges that women are equal humans with freedom of choice and control over our own bodies,” said Weinberg. “It is a fundamental pillar of women’s empowerment and no one who believes in women’s equality can afford to sit this one out – not even if you are 106 years old.”