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She puts the Social in Social Activism

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Meet Nora Stein, a 28-year-old Californian by way of Texas, on a mission. Nora educates the public about reproductive issues and laws being debated in our country through social gatherings, house parties, and her grassroots campaign, the “Choice Lounges” which she has been directing in a partnership with Planned Parenthood of Los Angeles since February 2005. She puts the “social” in social activism.

The Choice Lounge was an idea that came to Nora after she found few opportunities to volunteer in the political realm of Planned Parenthood. Nora used her contacts and began to invite other like-minded people to her one bedroom apartment in West Hollywood in an effort to discuss relevant reproductive issues in a relaxed environment over food and wine. She believed that this relaxed atmosphere would lead to a solid group of both well-informed and well-bonded people. Meeting once a month, these activists, headed by Nora, shared information and news.

At the beginning of Choice Lounges, the group would bring relevant information to the table and write letters to editors, senators, and other key figures in the midst of the issue. Last year the Choice Lounges found themselves more specifically involved in the struggle to protect women’s rights.

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As California Proposition 73 was put on the ballot, a measure that would have forced doctors to inform a minor’s parents before performing an abortion, Nora and her Choice Lounges worked tirelessly to vote it down. They saw it as a safety issue- the twenty percent of minors that do not inform a parent or loved one about their decision are afraid for their safety or about getting kicked out of their homes.

Utilizing phone banks and an intense public information campaign with Planned Parenthood, Nora and the members of the Choice Lounge were successful in assisting in the vote to deny the passing of Proposition 73. But it was close. More recently, California faced another similar proposition being voted on in the November 7th election- Proposition 85 which was essentially the same as 73 and was coincidentally sponsored by the same man. Yes, that’s right -- a man.

Because the last election was tight, Nora increased the presence of the Choice Lounge by going back to the Choice Lounges' roots -- the social and practical venues that created this grassroots effort in the first place. Nora and her team have expanded into dispersing information in bars and house parties. Now instead of only one Choice Lounge, there are three simultaneous meetings in Los Angeles at once -- a Santa Monica meeting, a Hollywood meeting and an East Side meeting. This past June over thirty people attended Nora's Hollywood Choice Lounge and even more attended the last Lounge held closer to the upcoming election.

Currently the Choice Lounges are celebrating the November 7th California election where voters stated clear and resounding "no" on Proposition 85. Nora says, "I'm just so pleased that it was defeated by a greater margin than Proposition 73. I hope it sends a message to The Evangelicals for Social Life and the Traditional Values Coalition that California is a Pro-Choice state. These so-called "social" issues are really personal issues and California is tired of extremists forcing their personal beliefs on society."

Nora is really cool.

If you would like to contact Nora about the Choice Lounges or to discuss starting your own Choice Lounge in your city please email her at: nora.stein@usc.edu

OR you can check out the Planned Parenthood website at: http://www.plannedparenthood.org/los-angeles/index.htm

Or for more information on The Campaign for Real Teen Safety - No on Proposition 85, visit this website.