Roe v. Wade turns 31

By
January 29, 2004

Mills College Weekly

Abortion rights organizations converged in San Francisco to
rally supporters for a woman’s right to choose on the 31st
anniversary of Roe v. Wade which organizers say, is threatened now
more than ever, due to anti-abortion government officials wielding
their power.

Over 150 supporters turned out at the San Francisco Civic Center
on Jan. 22 for a peaceful demonstration that was endorsed by 15 Bay
Area abortion rights organizations. Activists donned sequined
costumes, walked on stilts, and wore hats that read “Happy Birthday
Roe v. Wade,” while chanting, “we won’t go back.” They held signs
that said “Abort Bush in the first term” and “Keep your Bush off my
muff.” The event was void of anti-abortion protestors and the crowd
diverse, closing the gap between age, ethnicity, and even
gender.

“Tonight has been amazing,” said state director of NARAL Amy
Everitt. “It reminds me of what former Gov. Gray Davis said about
how the younger generation of women is standing on the shoulders of
their mothers, who are standing on the shoulders of their mothers,
who are standing on the shoulders of their grandmothers, who fought
to bring Roe v. Wade into reality 31 years ago.”

Organizers and supporters alike say that the key to protecting
women’s reproductive health rights is through education and
mobilization. A march at the nation’s capitol is being organized
for April 25.

“Our goal is to have a large turnout for the march in April in
Washington, D.C.,” said Northern CA. director for Sen. Barbara
Boxer, Adrienne Bousian.

Some activists at the rally fought for women’s rights before Roe
v. Wade and feel strongly about protecting it, especially at a time
like this.

“I have supported abortion rights since the 1970s, and we worked
hard for mobilization,” said Scott Smathers of San Francisco. “It
is such a fundamental right; it’s fundamental to privacy and civil
rights; men are involved as well.”

Organizers of the rally emphasized that while Roe v. Wade has
been in effect for 31 years, anti-abortion supporters have had that
much time to gain momentum, resulting in the current attack on
women’s reproductive rights.

“Right now, we are living in a country with a government who is
working to take away our reproductive rights, we are out here to
tell them we won’t go back,” said director of ACCESS Oakland
Jennifer Parker.

Last November, President Bush signed the partial-birth abortion
ban that would prevent a woman from having a late term abortion
with no health exception. Two weeks later, federal judges in New
York, California, and Nebraska blocked the ban and an appellate
review is scheduled to begin March 29.

While the Senate has successfully blocked five of the most
extreme anti-abortion judges that the President has proposed, Bush
has appointed 169 anti-abortion judges so far. This poses an
extreme threat to women’s reproductive health rights and could
ultimately reverse the Roe v. Wade ruling, according to abortion
rights leaders.

“We are only one vote away from the partial-birth abortion ban
becoming reality and two votes away from overturning Roe v. Wade,”
said Executive Director of Law Students for Choice Cari
Sitstra.

The Mills community echoed the concerns raised by abortion
rights leaders.

“The Bush Administration is threatening a woman’s right to
choose,” said Kira Garcia, Mills Alumna. “I think what is happening
is really scary. Roe v. Wade is at risk for the first time.”

“I feel very, very privileged to have grown up with Roe v. Wade
in place, and never had to worry about it, now I do,” said senior
Sara Dawn Patt. “I want to be an abortion provider and it would be
nice to know that what I am doing is legal.”

Although 558 anti-abortion measures were considered by state
legislatures last year, and 226 currently sit at the federal level,
a new piece of legislation designed to protect women’s civil
liberties was introduced during one of the many abortion rights
rallies on the Roe v. Wade anniversary.

Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Representative Jerrold Nadler
(D-NY), introduced the Federal Freedom of Choice Act which
“supercedes any law, regulation, or local ordinance that impinges
on a woman’s right to choose,” according to a statement issued by
Boxer. The bill protects women from being discriminated against by
the government based on her reproductive decisions, forbids the
government interference in a woman’s right to make her own family
planning and reproductive health decisions and would invalidate
current restrictions on access to abortion and family planning
health care services.

While celebrations took place all over the country commemorating
the landmark Supreme Court ruling, thousands of anti-abortion
activists gathered at the nation’s capitol for a demonstration,
“The March for Life.” President Bush addressed the crowd via
telephone from New Mexico thanking them for “their devotion to such
a noble cause.” He said, “Above all we must continue with civility
and respect to remind our fellow citizens that all life is sacred
and worthy of protection.”

For more information on the march in April visit the web site
below or call 202-628-8669.


Roe v. Wade turns 31 was published on January 29, 2004 in News

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