If you don’t know who Kate Looby is at this point, I’d be worried you might have incurred a head injury. Kate, immortalized in the annals of national abortion political history forever as the anti-Leslee, pretty much singlehandedly held the South Dakota women’s issue reigns for years leading up to the ’06 ban and beyond. She ran for Secretary of State, served as the State Director of South Dakota Planned Parenthood, was involved in her community and church, and all while being a mother of four. She was the public face of reproductive health and rights, target of the crazies, and the impetus for a lot of us getting involved. Kate kicked ass, took names, and made us all feel incredibly short and out of shape in the process. And for the past few years, another state’s been capitalizing on those Kate Looby talents. I’m frequently asked “So, what’s Kate up to these days?” Now — a la “Where Are They Now?” — she answers.
That was when I lived in South Dakota. When I moved to the Bay Area two and a half years ago, I realized that being a progressive in SD is akin to being a pretty conservative Democrat in San Francisco. Who would have ever thought I could be considered conservative? The funny thing about San Francisco politics is that there are no Republicans in elected office. The political battles aren’t between Democrats and Republicans but rather between Progressive Dems and Moderate Dems. It’s true. That’s the distinction. I’m obviously a long way fromSouth Dakota.
I can’t believe it’s been over two years since I left the extreme weather and extreme conservative politics of South Dakota to relocate in the bastion of progressive thought, the Bay Area of California. I miss my family and friends terribly but I’m very happy to report back that there truly is life after SD abortion politics.
I learned so many valuable lessons from working in a conservative state on a fundamentally basic human rights issue while I had the privilege of working for Planned Parenthood for over five years.
I learned to roll with the punches and not to take things too personally. I learned that fighting the bad guys for things you believe in is well worth the costs because it means you are protecting the good things in life for future generations.
Many of the readers of this blog are doing exactly that every day and you understand how fulfilling that work can be. When I was battling to protect the ability for women and families to make basic decisions about their reproductive lives without government interference, I got up every single day and knew I was making a difference. Today, I have the privilege of working for a different cause but one which is equally as important and relevant to future generations.
I currently have the honor of serving as the Chapter Director for the San Francisco Bay Chapter of the Sierra Club. My office is in Berkeley and I recently moved from San Francisco to Oakland. I’m so fortunate to help lead the clean energy revolution, protect open space, preserve habitat, develop our public transit systems and keep our air and water clean and safe. We are doing all of that and so much more.
Abortion is not a major issue on anyone’s mind here. It’s not even a blip on the screen as far as I can tell. Rather than worrying about controlling the private reproductive decisions of women and families, people are working to protect the environment and build a clean energy economy to put people back to work. It’s exciting and challenging and fun and rewarding. And I’m proud to be a part of this movement.