The Guardian November 12, 2003


US women urge big turnout for April march

Citing what she called an assault by the Bush administration 
on the rights of women, Kim Gandy, President of the National 
Organization for Women (NOW), told a standing-room-only crowd at 
New York University (NYU) on October 28, "We're here about a very 
real threat to a whole variety of rights under the Constitution 
from this administration, and more importantly, the judges who 
are appointed to lifetime positions on the federal courts".

Gandy led off a panel discussion at NYU called to mobilise for a 
national pro-choice rally on April 25, 2004, in Washington, DC. 
She warned, "Those courts are already taking on many of the gains 
that the civil rights, the women's rights, the human rights 
movements have fought for and won over the past 40 years".

For the first time, she said, all three branches of government 
are under the control of the far right, giving them unprecedented 
power.

Gandy emphasised that abortion issues are only a part of a 
sweeping attack on all rights associated with family planning. 
The ultra-right is also going after birth control and the rights 
of poor women to have children, by cutting welfare and day care 
programs.

"If you're a mom on welfare, and you're getting $282 a month in 
Mississippi, they're going to tell you, 'If you dare to have 
another child, we're going make sure you can't feed your other 
kids'. Because now, that welfare check is going to have to be 
split four ways instead of three."

Elizabeth Toledo, communications Vice President of Planned 
Parenthood, agreed: "What's happening now is best described as 
'death by 1,000 cuts'  a small attack here, a little bit bigger 
cut here, what seems like a different attack here, an attack over 
here, a stealth attack behind us. It isn't until you look at the 
aggregate that you realize just how far we've slid back in recent 
years."

Sylvia Enriquez, executive director of the National Latina 
Institute for Reproductive Health, said that while the Bush 
administration's attacks on women's rights hurt all women, women 
of colour are especially affected.

"We have the highest number of women without health insurance. 
Almost 28 percent of Latinas don't have access to pre-natal care, 
which is also an integral part of the broad spectrum of 
reproductive rights. We are disproportionately affected by 
sexually transmitted diseases.

"We do not have access to culturally sensitive, linguistically 
appropriate health care providers in our communities, and we also 
have limited access to safe and affordable abortions."

Mary Alice Carter, the advocacy programs director of the New York 
National Abortion Rights Action League, agreed that next April's 
march in Washington is imperative.

"We have to promise we're gong to be at the march", said Carter, 
"so there's a massive demonstration that we don't like where this 
country is going and we're not going to watch it go that way".

Organisers expect the rally to draw over a million participants, 
which Gandy said could have a major effect on the course of 
public policy, noting that these tactics were able to defend Roe 
v Wade in 1992, and to help sweep into Congress more women than 
ever before. "Well, we're gonna be back there again", she said.

"It's important that the groups that are usually vocal  
college-aged women, people who already call themselves 
'feminists'  are not the only people at this march", said 
Jessica Wakeman, President of NOW at NYU, which organised the 
event with Voices for Choice, another campus group.

Much emphasis was placed on the need for the rally to be as 
diverse as possible: "We need to organise the largest delegation 
of Latinas ever in Washington DC on April 25," said Enriquez. 
"It's not just about abortion. It 's about bringing social 
justice to our communities."

Meredith King, who works in the march office, told the People's 
Weekly World, "I'm here because as a young African American 
female I think it's tremendously important that other African 
American females are here, to show that African Americans are 
part of the pro-choice movement".

* * *
People's Weekly World

Back to index page