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March for Women's Lives

I think I was about 17 when I found out that my mom had had an abortion. She had just recovered from tuberculosis and was still taking massive doses of antibiotics to fight off the chronic bronchitis that had sprung up in its wake. She had been seriously dating somebody for the first time since her divorce. Despite protection, she got pregnant.
I think I was about 17 when I found out that my mom had had an abortion. She had just recovered from tuberculosis and was still taking massive doses of antibiotics to fight off the chronic bronchitis that had sprung up in its wake. She had been seriously dating somebody for the first time since her divorce. Despite protection, she got pregnant.

I must have been about five at the time. I have vague memories of accompanying her to the Ob/Gyn, not knowing what that was but being amazed at how many pregnant women there were in the waiting room.

It never occurred to me that if the same situation had arisen about 10 years earlier, my mom would have been facing a much more terrifying prospect. Being born after 1973’s Roe v. Wade decision, I’ve always had a certain set of reproductive rights. I’ve always had to take a side in the debate in which you’re either “pro-choice? or “pro-life,? but I always got to be on the winning side, fighting for the status quo. Growing up, it never occurred to me that if it were the other way around, if as pro-choice I was fighting against the status quo, my mom might very well have died when I was five. She would have been left with the choices of an illegal abortion or a pregnancy that she wouldn’t have been healthy enough to survive.

My mom was nothing special in what she went through. There are thousands upon thousands of women who have been in similar situations. Some went through it before Roe, others after; some made it out alive, others didn’t.

Last November, the same year Roe v. Wade turned 30, Congress and George W. Bush made the first legal ban against an abortion procedure. The blow against reproductive rights, called the “Partial-Birth Abortion Ban,? makes it illegal for doctors to perform, and therefore for women to undergo, a medical procedure, whether in the best interest of the woman’s health or not. For me, this is the first time in my life I’m coming face to face with the fear of generations before me.

For some who will be in Washington, DC April 25 at the March for Women’s Lives, it will be out of fear that this bill is just the first erosion of reproductive rights as a whole. For some it will be a fear that it signals the impending return of the bad old days. For everyone there, though, it will be a stand against such erosion of rights. Coming a few months before the November elections, the march will also serve as a reminder of exactly whose side George W. Bush is on.

The four groups calling the march – the Feminist Majority, the National Organization for Women (NOW), NARAL Pro-Choice America and Planned Parenthood Federation of America – and the many others that have signed on as co-sponsors are organizing a demonstration that will draw people from all walks of life and more than just one gender. The people at the march will be there to support reproductive rights, but they will also be there to support other rights.


In asking around about whether people will be at the march or not, it seemed that for everyone I talked to it was about far more than one issue. Stripping away a woman’s right to choose is one of many heinous actions of an unrestrained Bush administration. Destroying the environment, giving tax cuts to the rich, embarking on an unjust war – these are all issues of the same ilk.

Not all of those I spoke to easily identify themselves as “pro-choice.? For some, religion or other factors make them staunchly anti-abortion. But they support the right to choose. Though it might not be a choice they would make, they understand that if this right gets taken away, they will be quick to go after another one.

When I was out holiday shopping, I was taking a bus up Madison Avenue in New York City. A delivery-type truck pulled up next to the bus. On the sides of the truck were graphic photos of aborted fetuses, with dimes next to them to show scale. It was the second time I had seen this truck while riding the bus. Like it did the first time, the images turned my stomach.

I’ve never had an abortion, nor have I been faced with the decision, and I honestly don’t know how easily I’d be able to make it if I were. I’m not “anti-life,? even though I oppose what the “pro-life? drivers of that truck were trying to achieve.

In some ways, though, I’ll be in DC April 25 for the drivers of that truck, for their sisters and mothers and daughters. I’ll be there for the right of the debate to continue, for the disagreement to continue. I’ll be there to stand up for more than just reproductive rights, because there are more rights than that on the line.
 
 


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