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Groups

In the United States today, demands for women’s rights are the business of a strong and permanent network sometimes called the “women’s lobby” of national feminist and women’s advocacy organizations. The foundation of this network was built during the countless campaigns for equality and liberation conducted since the 1970s (Costain and Fraizer 2003; Springer 1999). The diversity and expertise of the groups in the network has grown as their members have toted up impressive successes in policy reforms (Hartman 1989; Ferree and Martin 1995). The solidarity weathered the difficult environment brought on by the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations. Eachof the following chapters in this book describes their activities in areas such as reproductive rights, health, education, labor, social welfare, and criminal justice.8 The network of groups, with strong support in state and local organizations, is built on a long tradition of lobbying by women. This tradition resulted from the chronic refusal of most states to give women the vote. Without the franchise, women were driven to petitioning legislatures, testifying before committees, and lobbying. Sophonisba Breckinridge (1933) termed lobbying a “natural” channel for women. She claimed it has been such a channel ever since in 1837, when “John Quincy Adams introduced their antislavery petition in the House of Representatives as a part of his campaign to establish the right of petition for all, a right which had been hitherto believed to belong only to electors” (p. 257). Women’s right to associate and to address legislatures came to them as part of the general trend toward democratization in the young Republic.