Program January 2011 – NARAL, Take Up the Song; Forget the Epitaph

January 13, 2011

Take Up The Song; Forget The Epitaph

Speaker: Pam Sumners, Esq. – Executive Director of NARAL-Pro-Choice Missouri

The words “Take up the song; forget the epitaph” were written by poet and social activist Edna St. Vincent Millay for the dedication of a suffragist monument. As executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri, Pamela Sumners relies on these words, although the song is pretty mournful these days. Consider:

  • The new speaker of the House of Representatives opposes abortion in all cases and wants to make abortion coverage impossible to buy in the new health care system—even when a woman pays with her own funds
  • For the first time, pro-choice numbers have dipped below 40 seats in the Missouri House
  • Only four of 34 Missouri state senators are pro-choice
  • Only two states in the union have enacted more restrictions on abortion than Missouri

No matter what your personal feeling about abortion are, it is legal. Women’s Voices has taken a position as a pro-choice organization and has endorsed and supported pro-choice activities since the organization was founded. Pamela Sumners firmly believes that only women and their doctors should make decisions about abortion, but we have a political process that will only give women their full share if we stand up, speak out, and make our politicians do it. We must “take up the song.”

Pamela Sumners is a constitutional and civil rights attorney whose practice has included nine Supreme Court cases. She is also the author of an employment-discrimination textbook. She received her BA from Stephens College in Columbia, MO, with dual majors in political science and English literature/creative writing. She received her MA in political science from Syracuse University as a Maxwell fellow and Harry S. Truman Scholar, and her law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law, where she served on the editorial board of the Virginia Law Review.

A native of Alabama, Sumners was a staff attorney for the Morris Dees’ Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery and a cooperating attorney for the ACLU of Alabama on its internationally noted religion cases. She litigated a school-prayer case that went to the Supreme Court three times, in which the governor claimed that the Bill of Rights did not apply to Alabama. Other cases involved the religious rights of the only four Jewish children in a rural Alabama school district, and cases challenging the right of a judge to hang a Ten Commandments plaque behind his bench.

Sumners served as staff counsel and director of the ACLU AIDS and Civil Liberties Project in Chicago before coming to NARAL Pro-choice Missouri in 2005. During her tenure NARAL’s board and budget have tripled and the organization has focused on grooming young pro-choice men and women for leadership in pro-choice causes.
Read the full text of Ms. Sumner’s address here.