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Terry O'Neill
Terry O'Neill, a feminist attorney, professor and activist for social justice, was elected president of NOW in June 2009. She is also president of the NOW Foundation and chair of the NOW Political Action Committees, and serves as the principal spokesperson for all three entities. O'Neill oversees NOW's multi-issue agenda, which includes: advancing reproductive rights and justice, promoting diversity and ending racism, stopping violence against women, winning lesbian rights, ensuring economic justice, ending sex discrimination and achieving constitutional equality for women.

O'Neill's feminist activism began in the 1990s, fighting right-wing extremists in the Deep South, including David Duke. She has served as president of Louisiana NOW and New Orleans NOW and as a member of the National Racial Diversity Committee. She is a past president of Maryland NOW and served on the NOW National Board twice, first representing the Mid-South Region and later the Mid-Atlantic Region. O'Neill was NOW's membership vice president from 2001 to 2005, when she oversaw NOW's membership development program as well as finances and government relations.

A former law professor, O'Neill taught at Tulane in New Orleans and at the University of California at Davis, where her courses included feminist legal theory and international women's rights law, in addition to corporate law and legal ethics. She has testified before committees in the Maryland House of Delegates and has written federal amicus briefs on abortion rights for Louisiana NOW and the Louisiana affiliates of Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union.

O'Neill is a skilled political organizer, having worked on such historic campaigns as Hillary Clinton's campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, Barack Obama's presidential campaign, and the campaign leading to the election of Louisiana's first woman U.S. senator, Mary Landrieu.

O'Neill holds a bachelor's degree in French with distinction from Northwestern University and a law degree magna cum laude from Tulane University. She has one child, a daughter, who is a proud feminist.

Entries by Terry O'Neill

Why TPP Is a Feminist Issue

(71) Comments | Posted October 21, 2015 | 6:31 AM

Do you want your tax dollars to go to companies in countries like Brunei, where unmarried women who get pregnant are sent to prison and gays and lesbians are sentenced to death by stoning?

Do you believe the official trade policy of the U.S. should make it easier for corporations...

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Why the Attacks on Planned Parenthood Keep Failing

(620) Comments | Posted October 1, 2015 | 7:00 AM

When Republican leaders in Washington don't feel like governing, they attack women's health care and abortion rights. That's what happened this week, as a focus on defunding Planned Parenthood jumped to the head of the line in legislative priorities for the House of Representatives. That, and launching vicious personal attacks...

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One in Four Women

(37) Comments | Posted September 17, 2015 | 9:08 AM

Author's Note: The news this week that more than one-fourth of undergraduate women at a large group of leading universities report incidents of campus sexual assault sheds new light on this post I put up last week.

I've been hearing from a lot of women who are...

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Before Looking at Developing World's Gender-Equality Gap, U.S. Needs to Look at Own Backyard

(39) Comments | Posted September 8, 2015 | 9:21 AM

End extreme poverty. Fight inequality and injustice. Fix climate change. That's the vision behind the 17 global goals for sustainable development that world leaders will commit to later this month at the UN. The fifth of those 17 goals, to "achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls," is...

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One in Three Women?

(105) Comments | Posted August 3, 2015 | 6:01 AM

"One in three women?"

That's what guest moderator Frank Sesno asked me when I appeared on the Diane Rehm Show last week to talk about the recent outrageous and dangerous attacks on Planned Parenthood.

He was surprised to learn that one in three women in the...

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How Many More Sandra Blands?

(118) Comments | Posted July 24, 2015 | 6:39 AM

The abusive arrest and subsequent suspicious death of Sandra Bland is far -- tragically far -- from an isolated incident. In fact, on the same day that the facts started to emerge about Sandra Bland, Kindra Chapman, an 18-year-old African American girl reportedly took her own...

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Two Million Voices Ring Out for Social Security Expansion -- And That's Just the Beginning!

(0) Comments | Posted July 14, 2015 | 10:28 AM


Yesterday I stood in front of the White House along with Reps. John Conyers (D-MI) and Donna Edwards (D-MD), leaders of the Economic Policy Institute, MoveOn, Democracy for America and other allies to deliver a petition signed by over 2 million...

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Don't Throw Social Security Under the Bus!

(0) Comments | Posted March 19, 2015 | 9:18 AM

This is a big week for Republicans in Congress. They've been telling us for months what they're against -- anything that helps women and working families, and anything proposed by Barack Obama -- now, it's their turn to say what they're for as they unveil their new budget plan.


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Fraud and Betrayal Over the 20-Week Abortion Ban: Shame on These Women

(17) Comments | Posted January 23, 2015 | 5:54 AM

Madeleine Albright once said there is a special place in hell reserved for women who don't help other women. But what's going on in the U.S. House right now is even worse. There are women who are not only failing to help -- they are actually using their power to...

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Abortion Rights Are Human Rights

(143) Comments | Posted January 8, 2015 | 6:53 AM

As I've written here before, when I talk about abortion I call it abortion care -- because that's what it is. Abortion is essential, effective medical care.

During the debate over health care reform, we often heard that health care is a basic human right. That's true...

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The U.S. Isn't in the Business of Bigotry, Are We?

(0) Comments | Posted November 19, 2014 | 8:41 AM

I'm worried about what the next Congress will do do further discriminate against women and limit their reproductive rights.

We've already seen how religious conservatives will deny the facts and distort the law to advance their right-wing agenda.

For example, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA), which...

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The Perils of Politicizing Breast Cancer

(9) Comments | Posted October 22, 2014 | 11:08 AM

There's nothing to be gained by politicizing women's health, but there's a lot to lose.

Consider this: Two years ago, the Susan G. Komen Foundation walked into a hornet's nest when it did something that was fundamentally opposed to its mission. It jumped into a controversy that was all...

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Women's Votes Always Matter -- But They Matter More In 2014

(0) Comments | Posted October 15, 2014 | 7:59 AM

If the polls and pundits are right, voters who would likely support progressive, feminist candidates for U.S. Senate this year are more likely to stay home than right-wing conservatives.

We need to prove them wrong.

This election is critical -- we must put the brakes on destructive anti-women policies and...

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(2) Comments | Posted September 13, 2014 | 11:01 PM


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Why Transphobia Is a Feminist Issue

(21) Comments | Posted September 8, 2014 | 2:38 PM

We used to hear the saying, "As General Motors goes, so goes the nation," but to gauge where we stand and where we're going as a society, maybe we should substitute "Netflix" for the automaker's name.

Consider the case of transgender rights. This is a landscape that is rapidly changing,...

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The Vote -- A Right Worth Fighting For

(7) Comments | Posted August 26, 2014 | 11:22 AM

Today, August 26, marks Women's Equality Day. It is also a little more than two months from the 2014 midterm elections. In my mind, these two things are inextricably linked.

Some of you may be asking, "What is Women's Equality Day?" That's a pretty easy question to...

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What Does the Crisis in Ferguson Have to Do With Reproductive Justice?

(22) Comments | Posted August 22, 2014 | 7:24 AM

The crisis in Ferguson, Missouri is a watershed moment not only in civil rights, but in reproductive justice as well. Here's why.

The central tenet of reproductive justice is that every woman has the right to have children, not have children, and to parent the children we have...

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Am I Not Also My Sister's Keeper?

(1) Comments | Posted July 24, 2014 | 11:59 AM

The recent announcement that 60 of the nation's largest school districts are joining President Obama's initiative to improve the educational futures of young African-American and Hispanic boys is both welcome and troubling. Let me explain.

The initiative, called My Brother's Keeper, marks the President's first effort to focus...

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Why I'm Excited About the Future of Feminism

(1) Comments | Posted July 18, 2014 | 6:38 AM

Two and a half weeks ago, I was thrilled to open the annual conference of the National Organization for Women in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Albuquerque felt like the perfect place to meet up with activists and map out action plans to move the feminist agenda forward. Just a year ago,...

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Aborto, como a contracepção, é tratamento de saúde essencial que pode salvar vidas

(0) Comments | Posted May 16, 2014 | 3:50 PM

Quando falamos sobre os procedimentos e tratamentos que evitam infartos, os chamamos de tratamento cardíaco. As crianças recebem tratamento pediátrico, e qualquer pessoa que tome ibuprofeno está fazendo tratamento contra a dor.

Então por que alguém seria contra chamar de tratamento abortivo um procedimento médico legal que uma em...

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