Friday, February 27, 2004

The March For Women's Lives

I received an email from NARAL asking for my support of the March For Women's Lives to be held in Washington, DC, on April 25, 2004.

I love these big marches on Washington. It is amazing to see so many people gather to fight for an issue. The media shows its right-wing bias during these marches, and always has used these events to diminish the importance of social change.

When an unpopular group marches, the national Park Service reduces their estimate of the numbers so that it appears that the demonstrators are so far out of the norm that they should be ignored. Then the media happily obliges them by printing the untruths. "25,000 Homosexuals March On Washington" read a headline after the first gay march. They might as well have said "Eleven Fags Disrupt Traffic," which is what you know Reagan wanted them to publish at the time. I was there. I know there were more than 25,000 because the organizers use the same equation as the National Park Service to estimate the size of the crowd. There were more than 25,000 people there!

The mail I received from NARAL was actually a letter from Ann Richards, the former governor of Texas. Richards was one of my favorite politicians of the 1980s. She was loud and aggressive and sassy and liberal, a spectacular combination that has gone the way of bell-bottoms and common sense. Richards wrote:

"On April 25th, every major organization in the nation that works on behalf of a woman's right to choose when or whether to bear children, will march in Washington, D.C. Initially, I was reluctant to go. I thought, "been there, done that"... "time for the next generation to take up the battle"... etc.

Then I watched "Iron Jawed Angels", the HBO movie about the women's suffrage movement, and I was so moved by the tenacity and commitment of those women that I realized that I have not been doing enough in recent years for the Choice cause. Sure, I have written checks and made a few speeches... but I have not REALLY been fighting.

We cannot allow ourselves to think that we can rest: we must continue fighting for the rights of women, and we must be in Washington, D.C. on April 25th. Please put it on your calendar. Make hotel and plane reservations now. This is a crucial year for women. Our rights and freedoms are under attack as never before. Pass on this email or your own message to your email list. I will see you at the March on April 25th. --Ann"

I think she hits the nail on the head when she admits her reluctance and rationalizes why she needn't participate. As we get older, it is easier to become complacent. As we earn more money, it is easy to get sedated by sloth. The problem is: if we don't do something about the problems, who will?!?!?!

Abortion is a very difficult issue, it is the most divisive issue in our culture. The right-, er wrong-wing wants the argument to be: "If you are not against abortion, you are for abortion." That is patently absurd. I don't know anybody who is FOR abortion, or wants to promote abortion. So what is the argument? What are the ground rules for the debate?

I am a man, so it is very easy for me to have a position on abortion because I can't get pregnant. My position is a typical noble stance taken by someone who cannot really be directly impacted by the legal battle: "If I were a woman, it is unlikely I would choose an abortion; but, I think everybody should be able to decide for themselves." I am pro-choice.

I think people should make their own choices: tattoos, private schools, marriage, piercings, diet, botox, fundamentalism, plastic surgery, MTV, termination of unwanted pregnancy . . . these are all decisions we live with and we should each be allowed to make those decisions without interference from the government. It sounds crass and insensitive to have compared pregnancy to botox, and I don't mean to sound that way; but, I think we lose focus when the argument is presented as "If you are not against abortion, you are for abortion."

The argument is really: "If you are against abortion, don't have one."

I hope a million women march to Washington in April. It might be cold and wet, and it's possible the police could attack the crowd, but I hope people will join Ann Richards in this battle.

Please consider helping to defend reproductive rights by being more vocal about it, by supporting NARAL, and by marching on Washington in April.

The links below provide more information.

Remember, the argument is: "If you are against abortion, don't have one."


Explanation of the Women's March

NARAL Pro-Choice America

News about the March