Head of abortion-rights group NARAL to leave

May 11, 2012

(Reuters) – Nancy Keenan will step down as head of the abortion-rights advocacy group NARAL Pro-Choice America at the end of the year, a change she said on Thursday was timed to coincide with the rise of a new generation voters.

Keenan, 60, who has led NARAL for nearly eight years, has chosen not to renew her contract, which expires at the end of December.

Under Keenan’s tenure, NARAL has supported dozens of candidates elected to Congress and has earned a reputation for helping to sway close races. But there also has been a jump in new abortion restrictions enacted by states since 2010, the group said.

She has devoted energy most recently on reaching out to so-called Millennials, those mainly under 30 who are fast becoming an important voting bloc.

While independent research conducted in recent years has suggested some retreat on voter support for abortion rights, a study for NARAL in 2010 found solid support for those rights among young people. But the findings also noted more intensity over the issue among anti-abortion supporters in this age group.

“For me it’s about the future … to give that generation time to lead,” Keenan said in a telephone interview. “We’re in a strong place.”

Keenan also said she announced her decision to leave now to give the board sufficient time for a smooth transition. A search committee will identify a successor.

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