Over 150 people attended a Capitol Hill briefing yesterday about the Save Women’s Lives: March for Freedom of Choice planned for April 25, 2004. “If we want to keep our rights, we need to speak up for them,” said Feminist Majority Foundation intern Erika Sabbath, addressing the many young women in the audience. Organized by the FMF interns, the March for Choice briefing featured four feminist leaders: Eleanor Smeal, president of FMF, Kim Gandy, president of the National Organization for Women, Kate Michelman, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, and Jatrice Martel Gaiter, president & CEO of Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington.
Each leader underscored the importance of marching, and the necessity of youth involvement. Reflecting on the abortion rights marches of 1989 and 1992, Gandy said, “Even more is at stake now than was at stake in 1992. Not just the Supreme Court, but all three branches of government…and the right to make private decisions privately.” Michelman spoke about the timeliness of the march. “We are at a point in history that if we do not do this, and if we don’t do it historically, because nothing short of that will stop this country from re-electing a president who would turn back women’s rights a century – we won’t lose the right to vote, but we’ll lose everything else,” she said. Gaiter talked about the struggles her DC-area clinics face daily. “Why can’t I provide contraception, EC and tests for STI’s in peace?…You should see the faces of the people who just want the dignity of equal health care,” she said.
Smeal closed by reflecting on the personal value of marching. “You know for sure on that day you’re not in the minority. You know for sure on that day how many people care as much as you,” she said. Brainstorming sessions about organizing, fundraising and travel followed the presentations, and attendees were given packets of information about organizing for the march.
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