Monday, November 30, 2009

I can’t believe we are still fighting for abortion rights.

I can’t believe we are still fighting for abortion rights. In 1973 after the Roe decision, I thought the battle had been won. How wrong I was.

When I went to a pro-choice demonstration in DC in the early 90’s, I couldn’t quite believe that we were still fighting this battle. But I was heartened to see so many young women there and thought that soon this would be settled and we wouldn't be wasting our energy fighting for this basic right. Wrong again.

When I dragged myself to DC for the 2004 March for Women’s Lives I began to worry that I might be fighting this battle until my dying day. Bush was president and had the power to shape the Supreme Court for years to come.

Now we have a Democratic president and a Democratic congress, yet we’re still fighting an energized anti-choice movement. But supporters of abortion rights are energized as well. According to NY Times , Nancy Keenan, Executive director of NARAL describes us old folks as “a menopausal militia”—women who can remember a world without access to safe, legal abortion. (Most women my age know someone, either directly or indirectly, who died from or suffered serious complications from an illegal abortion.)

Young women may lack this direct experience, but many see access to safe, legal abortion as a right and they don’t want health care reform to endanger that right. So I expect to see at a lot of young women at the rally/lobby day for abortion rights in DC on Dec. 2.

One concession to age: I no longer take the bus. There is no way I can get to Center City Philly by 6:00 and then return to Philly at 9:00 for a 17 hour day. I plan to drive down the night before, stay in DC overnight, and get up at a reasonable hour in the morning. I’ve paid my dues—40+ years of taking the bus to marches in DC. Unlike so many of my friends, I’ve never enjoyed the experience. I went out of a sense of obligation. I’ve always been a little phobic about crowds and was never really comfortable marching around with like-minded folks chanting slogans in unison. My politics may have collectivist tinge, but temperamentally I’m an individualist.

But there are times when you just have to stand up and be counted.

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