At his memorial service on Saturday, my old friend and distant cousin Bayard Storey was eulogized for both his scientific accomplishments and his political activism. Here’s a hint about the connection: Dr. Storey was Professor Emeritus of Reproductive Biology at the University of Pennsylvania – and precisely because he understood the science of reproduction so well, he did not understand its politics. “I know a little bit about this stuff,” he once told me, “and the woman’s body does 99% of the work, even for conception. It’s outrageous that a bunch of old men think they can tell her what to do about it.”
And so he became an activist, supporting political candidates who were both pro-choice and open to “evidence-based reasoning” and encouraging women to run for public office and to pursue scientific careers. He was a founder of 314 Action, a 501(c) 4 non-profit named after π (3.14) “because Pi is everywhere – used in virtually everything we encounter in our daily lives.” The organization seeks to elect political candidates who are sympathetic to science and to “combat the all-too-common attacks on basic scientific understanding.”
He thought it unconscionable – in the 21st century with a global population exceeding 7.5 billion – that the United States government would defund the UN Population Fund (as it did in January) or eliminate funding for international organizations that even appear to promote abortion (as it did in May) or that the Department of Health and Human Services’ strategic plan would declare that life begins at conception (as the proposed one does) or that in 2017 politicians were still trying to deny birth control to women.