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    Reproductive rights not open to negotiation




    The Portland Alliance, April 2004


    I once read a factoid claiming that if enough people on Earth stomped their feet on the ground at exactly the same time, the accumulated seismic vibrations would be enough to blow the planet apart. This is the image that lingers my head as I consider the enormous preparations being undertaken for April 25th's March For Women's Lives in Washington DC. Massive organizational cross pollenization the likes of which the pro-choice movement has never seen before have come together to put on this event. The march is being organized by an amazing number of organizations including the American Civil Liberties Union, Black WoMen's Health Imperative, Feminist Majority, NARAL Pro-Choice America, and the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health. The National Organization for Women and the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and co-sponsoring organizations are too numerous to list with about 400 organizations officially on board at the time of this writing. Persons interested in attending or volunteering can contact local affiliations of these groups for more information and check out the website www.marchforwomen.org for a complete list of co-sponsors as well as oodles of other 'choice' information. April 25 looks like it will easily break the record set on April 5, 1992, when the National Organization for Women brought 750,000 abortion rights supporters together in Washington, D.C. for womens' rights the largest march and rally ever held in the nation's capital. Originally titled March for Choice, feedback from participants led to broadening the aim of the demonstration to encompass all reproductive rights in addition to choice, though the embattled issue of the right to choose abortion is of paramount interest to many attendees. Last November, in the year Roe v. Wade turned 30, Congress and George W. Bush made the first legal ban against a medical procedure in the history of the United States. The "Partial-Birth Abortion Ban," makes it illegal for doctors to perform a medical procedure sometimes required to save women's lives and health. This unprecedented violation of patients’ rights has spurred many people to action, including many who have never been politically active in the past. Virginia Somes is one such woman. "I can't think of another issue that would make me, go to D.C.", she explains of her decision to attend the march with her friend, Elizabeth Coleman, and Elizabeth's mother-in-law Jean Herron. A math teacher who describes herself as "not very active" politically, Virginia reached the tipping point when the Bush Administration's displayed open hostility towards women's right to choose by passing the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban. "They passed it without a caveat that if a woman's life is in danger that it's an appropriate situation. It's about women being secondary." When Planned Parenthood activist Elizabeth invited Virginia to come back in October, Virginia's first thoughts were of her profession's annual conference happening the same weekend. She decided to attend the Oregon Mathematical Association of Two-Year Colleges conference on Friday and leave partway through Saturday to make the flight to Washington, D.C. "I almost said no, but then I thought that this is important enough. For me, the issue of choice has to do with controlling your life." Rallies, demonstrations and marches can start enthusiastic but inexperienced activists down the path of community leadership while energizing active movement members who have been facing the storm against women's reproductive rights for many years. Author and poet Muriel Rukeyser once said, "What would happen if one woman told the truth about herself? The world would split open." While I don't believe the stomping feet in Washington, D.C. on April 25 will be enough to shatter the world, let's hope it will be enough to knock some sense into legislators who think women's reproductive rights are negotiating tools instead of an inherent liberty. I will be attending the March' for Women's Lives and will share my account with Portland Alliance readers in the June edition.


    S.M.Berg is an activist, bicyclist, and writist in Portland








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    Published on: 2005-02-20 (908 reads)

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