Ann Friedman

Ann Friedman is a columnist for New York magazine's website and for the Columbia Journalism Review. She also makes pie charts for The Hairpin and Los Angeles magazine. Her work has appeared in ELLE, Esquire, Newsweek, The Observer, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and many other outlets. She lives in Los Angeles, but travels so often the best place to find her is online at

Recent Articles

Compromised Rights

Recent, radical attacks on abortion rights are the legacy of decades of compromise.

Rep. Bart Stupak, co-author of the infamous Stupak-Pitts Amendment to the health-care bill (AP/Carlos Osorio)
For those of us concerned about women's health, the first few months of the 112th Congress have felt a lot like the early days of the George W. Bush administration. Republicans have introduced a cascade of anti-choice bills, each more appalling than the last. Far from stemming the tide of radical legislation, the Democrats' years of seeking the "middle ground" on this issue have only emboldened social conservatives. Rep. Joe Pitts, a Republican from Pennsylvania, recently declared, "This House is more pro-life than it's ever been." Coming from Pitts, this is quite the statement. After all, he was responsible for the most prominent piece of anti-choice legislation in the last Congress -- an amendment to the health-care bill that he co-authored with Michigan Democrat Bart Stupak -- which would have ensured that federal funds could not be used "to pay for any abortion or to cover any part of the costs of any health plan that includes coverage of abortion." Generously, the amendment made...

What's Civility Worth?

It's not that the political conversation is poisoned with violent rhetoric. It's that it's not a conversation at all.

(AP Photo/Sandra Chereb)
For me, going home for the holidays every year is a reminder of the limits of rational political discourse. It's not that I descend into arguments with my family -- which is, on the whole, much more conservative than I am -- it's that we've long since learned to not even bother. We're coming from such different places, armed with totally different sets of facts, that arguing is pointless. They say that the health-care reform bill is too expensive. I point out that Republicans' proposed repeals will actually increase the deficit. They say that's not true. And we're back to square one. Best for all of us if we just tuck into the mashed potatoes and make friendly small talk. A few weeks after I declined to have a heated political debate with my relatives, Jared Loughner opened fire on a Democratic member of Congress, a federal judge, and others in a supermarket parking lot in Tucson. In the wake of the shootings, seemingly everyone issued a plea for more civility and rationality in our...

Choice Rankings

We pushed back against Republicans' attempt to create a hierarchy of rape. So why are we OK with a hierarchy of abortion?

Rep. Christopher Smith, R-N.J., introduced a bill that would ban federal funding of abortions. (AP Photo/Harry Hamburg)
In the public conversation about rape, the loudest voices tend to be those describing what it isn't. It's not rape if she was drunk. It's not rape if they were on a date. It's not rape if she was wearing a short skirt. It's not rape if the accused is her husband or someone she previously called a friend. In its latest iteration, it's not rape if she isn't sufficiently bruised from fighting back. This extremely narrow definition nearly became law. After a concerted digital effort by pro-choice activists -- and some ribbing from The Daily Show -- the GOP announced Thursday it would strip the term "forcible rape" from HR3, the so-called No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act. The purpose of the bill is to prevent taxpayer subsidies from funding health-care plans that offer abortion, and while it will now make exceptions for "rape, incest, and the life of the mother," it still codifies the Hyde Amendment, which has denied abortion access to poor women almost as long as Roe has granted the...

Year of the Same

Women's representation in Congress has actually decreased for the first time in the past three decades.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
I'll admit it: I thought Sarah Palin might be right. When she and other conservative leaders declared 2010 the Year of the Republican Woman -- and media outlets followed suit -- it seemed plausible. Although I disagreed with the politics of the "mama grizzlies," I was happy to see that a record number of Republican women filed to run for office, even if many were defeated in the primaries. Forty-seven GOP women ran for House seats, and five ran for Senate. (It looked like Democratic women might fare even better than their Republican counterparts; 91 were on the final ballot in House races and nine ran for Senate.) As I wrote in the Prospect in 2008 after Hillary Clinton dropped out of the Democratic primary, it takes more than a couple of powerful women to change the gender dynamic of U.S. politics. It takes a groundswell, a group of women elected together. That's what made 1992 such a breakthrough election year -- and what made me want to believe the headlines about 2010. If...

Straight Talk

We shouldn't assure gay teens that their lives will get better without also pledging to make equality a reality.

New Jersey State Sen. Barbara Buono, left, and parent David Zimmer, who holds up a copy of a photograph with the words, "Gay Must Die" that he said his son took at Ridgewood High School (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
After a rash of suicides by gay (or perceived to be gay) teenagers made national news this fall, sex columnist Dan Savage responded with an online video, recorded with his husband, telling gay teens that "It Gets Better." Savage encouraged other gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender adults to make videos about how they struggled as teens and howtheir lives improved. "Why are we waiting for permission to talk to these kids?" Savage asked. "We have the ability to talk directly to them right now." Thousands of people turned on their webcams and recorded responses. Personal narratives are powerful, and the videos are compelling. I watched submissions from gay friends of mine and learned for the first time about their battles with depression. In a video that has been viewed more than 2 million times, Fort Worth City Council Member Joel Burns describes, at a Council meeting, the violence he endured as a teenager. In one of many submissions by celebrities, Project Runway 's Tim Gunn...