Skip to comments.The young take baton on abortion
Posted on 04/25/2004 11:37:30 AM PDT by qam1
A t times, I've had a fantasy about my generation as the last brigade parading for reproductive rights under a banner of "Post-Menopausal Women for Choice."
After all, those of us who remember when birth control was illegal and when 10,000 American women a year died from illegal abortions don't have to imagine a world without choices. We were there. And while we moved on to discussions about hormones and hot flashes, we remained the committed core of pro-choice voters.
From time to time, we would sigh to each other about how Gen X and Gen Y took it all for granted. Then we would blush a bit because we actually wanted our daughters to take the freedom to make their own moral and medical decisions as a given, not a struggle. But at the same time, we worried: What if they couldn't imagine losing freedoms until those freedoms were gone?
Now it looks as if the Bush administration's policies have done what we couldn't do. They're mobilizing a new generation.
About 1,600 buses are rolling into Washington for today's "March for Women's Lives." The first such gathering in a dozen years is expected to bring more than a half-million women onto the Mall. More to the point, a third of the marchers are expected to be under 30.
In a wonderful moment of role-reversal, Crystal Lander, the leader of the campus outreach and owner of a T-shirt that reads "This Is What a Feminist Looks Like," will be bringing her mother to the elder's first march.
But today is not just a march. It's pass-the-baton day. It's the day the next generation will be called on to make a commitment and a connection between, as their mothers called it, the personal and the political. And of course, it's about whether young women will or won't be able to make decisions about sex and health and pregnancy.
Kate Michelman, the retiring head of Naral Pro-Choice America, one of seven groups sponsoring this march, puts it this way: "We know that the pro-choice movement needs to speak to and activate a generation that doesn't remember life before Roe, and we need to do it before George Bush gives them a chance to experience it for the first time. I want to be the storyteller, not the one helping them through the horror of back-alley abortions."
But this is not their mothers' movement. The language of "rights" sounds stale to many, like a golden oldie, a blast from the past. Phrases like "take control of our bodies" do not roll off younger tongues.
As pollster Anna Greenberg reads the generational change, "When I think about people under 30, I think they're very individualistic. They feel very empowered."
Baby boomers talked about sex as liberation, but for the past 20 years, these women and men have had messages about sex and danger. The buzzword for them is "responsibility."
"Responsibility" cuts both ways in conversations and attitudes, especially about abortion. For some "responsibility" means women have the obligation to avoid unwanted pregnancy. For others, it suggests women need the access and information to make the right decisions.
The anti-abortion movement has had success not only in focusing on the fetus but also in associating unplanned pregnancy with irresponsibility. For two decades, access to women's health has been chipped away, especially for poor women. But as long as the right to choose exists, this generation has had the luxury of ambivalence about individual choices.
Now we have peeping John Ashcroft, who wants to rifle through clinic papers. We have a national policy to teach abstinence as the only sex education. And across the globe, the administration's "gag rule" against clinics that would even mention abortion has closed down women's health and birth control centers in the name of democracy.
Meanwhile, there are pharmacists refusing to fill prescriptions for emergency contraceptives and legislators who think that's fine. And of course there is the specter of four more years and one or two Supreme Court justices.
So there is a march, not just a meet-up, to jog the imagination of those who cannot imagine going backward. To jump-start the next wave of activists and show that, as organizer Alice Cohan says, "You are not alone, no matter what the Congress may enact or the press may say."
This one will be judged not just by the numbers on the Mall and on the news but by the next day, the next decade, the next election cycle, the next leaders.
As "Post-Menopausal Women for Choice," we expected to hand down a set of intact rights. Now we are handing down our history and our experience. And our baton.
Ping list for the discussion of the politics and social aspects that directly effects Generation-X (Those born from 1965-1981) including all the spending previous generations (i.e. The Baby Boomers) are doing that Gen-X and Y will end up paying for.
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I swear, if Mel Gibson wants to build on his legacy, he ought to make a movie about those who were terminated and how, had they been allowed to be born, they would have affected life as we know it, for good and for ill.
Ahem.....how OLD is Ellen Goodman.....I think I'm around her age, and I DO NOT remember birth control being ILLEGAL...
Offhand I know of no way to reach Mel, but if something of the sort is meant to be, someone will pick up on it or will get through to him.
Keep dreamin' Ellen.
Our young daughter marches with her young friends every year against abortions.
They certainly can't speak to millions who won't know life after Roe.
She is dreaming, I turned this thing on CSPAN and from the pans of the crowd it looks like it's 90% above 40 years old (not counting the the little kids dragged to it).
Here is the text of Sojourner Truth's speech, and it had nothing at all to do with reproductive rights. In fact, in it, she grieved over the loss of her children, most of whom were taken away from her and sold into slavery.
Sojourner walked to the podium and slowly took off her sunbonnet. Her six-foot frame towered over the audience. She began to speak in her deep, resonant voice: "Well, children, where there is so much racket, there must be something out of kilter, I think between the Negroes of the South and the women of the North - all talking about rights - the white men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what's all this talking about?"
Sojourner pointed to one of the ministers. "That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody helps me any best place. And ain't I a woman?"
Sojourner raised herself to her full height. "Look at me! Look at my arm." She bared her right arm and flexed her powerful muscles. "I have plowed, I have planted and I have gathered into barns. And no man could head me. And ain't I a woman?"
"I could work as much, and eat as much as man - when I could get it - and bear the lash as well! And ain't I a woman? I have borne children and seen most of them sold into slavery, and when I cried out with a mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me. And ain't I a woman?"
The women in the audience began to cheer wildly.
She pointed to another minister. "He talks about this thing in the head. What's that they call it?"
"Intellect," whispered a woman nearby.
"That's it, honey. What's intellect got to do with women's rights or black folks' rights? If my cup won't hold but a pint and yours holds a quart, wouldn't you be mean not to let me have my little half-measure full?"
"That little man in black there! He says women can't have as much rights as men. Cause Christ wasn't a woman. She stood with outstretched arms and eyes of fire. "Where did your Christ come from?"
"Where did your Christ come from?", she thundered again. "From God and a Woman! Man had nothing to do with him!"
The entire church now roared with deafening applause.
"If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back and get it right-side up again. And now that they are asking to do it the men better let them."
"Obliged to you for hearing me, and now old Sojourner ain't got nothing more to say."
Not a word in it about reproductive rights. Nope, not one.
And to Rand, the president of NOW, who had her daughter up on the podium (or whoever that little girl was), while she was speaking, what a liar! She said she wanted to make sure that when the girls of today grow up, that they would be able to marry whom they choose. Excuse me? Women don't have that freedom now? Frauds, one and all.
* I'm watching, with the sound off, reading the subtitles. I don't want to hear those shrill harridans speak.
At times, I've had a fantasy about going into psychiatric research so I could name a mental illness after Ellen Goodman.
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