The Bush Administration has made systematic and coordinated attacks on the 1971 Supreme Court decision on Roe v. Wade. This administration wants to implement nationwide abstinence only sex education. Funding has been taken from any organization that even mentions that abortion is an option. Bush has made a ban on partial-birth abortions. Bush recently signed a law that makes murdering a pregnant woman a double homicide, giving the fetus rights. Now is the time to make it clear to our government that we need choice. Our health is at risk. Our lives are at risk. Our freedom is at risk.

On Sunday April 25, 2004 in our Nation’s capital, we will march to uphold choice, justice, access, health, abortion, global and family planning. Seven leading national women’s rights groups have come together to organize this momentous event. The American Civil Liberties Union, Black Women's Health Imperative, Feminist Majority, NARAL Pro-Choice America, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, National Organization for Women and Planned Parenthood Federation of America are the principal organizers of the March for Women's Lives.

Assembly for the morning rally will begin at 10:00 AM, on the national mall between the Smithsonian museums (between 3rd St. and 14th). The march will begin at noon. After marching on Washington, a rally will be held from 1-4 p.m. on the National Mall.

I will be traveling 1,200 miles this weekend to be there. I decided that I wanted to tell my grandchildren I went to the protest that supported their right to choose, rather than say I almost went, but I didn’t have enough money or vacation time. This is important. Please come. Stand up for choice.

My mother had a wire hanger abortion before Roe v. Wade. That illegal procedure led to serious complications during my birth, and made it so she couldn't have more children. Women will still abort whether or not it is legal. Young women will still get pregnant whether or not their teachers told them to abstain from sex. Women will still be impregnated by their rapists. Women’s lives will still be jeopardized by the act of birth. Women will still want to have babies. Women will still give their babies up for adoption. Women will still need the right to choose what is best for them.

Keep choice legal

1.15 million people showed up to demand reproductive freedom. Bush stayed at Camp David for the day. Marchers vowed that abortion was here to stay, and that Bush had to go. My fear that the conservative republicans dominate the media was confirmed. The largest march in U.S. history was diminished, and the anti-abortion protest numbers and coverage was multiplied. I was proud to be there. To be contounted. To stand up for something I strongly believe in. To see my heros. To join with my friends. To demand my freedom.
Sore feet for Choice!

For a more detailed account of my experience there, and a personal opinion rant see April 25, 2004

www.marchforwomen.org
www.plannedparenthood.org
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A41997-2004Apr25.html

"You're just going to pick up girls, aren't you."

Why the issue of abortion, contraception, and reproductive rights is seen as exclusively a woman's or even a lesbian's issue baffles me, but it is certainly true. Before I left, many of my friends were convinced that I was doing it just to be close to as many girls as possible, because I am a guy. There were others, including people who attended, who thought that my alleged efforts would be thwarted by the fact that the girls were interested in other things. Considering that lesbians as a class are not quite the target market for abortions, and that both men and women are involved in the potential initiation of baby production, which one or both partners might be interested in engaging in while one or both might be trying to limit the aftermath, it should simply be the sort of issue that everyone would want to care about.

Yes, I was one of six men on the bus to Washington, D.C. for the March for Women's lives, and one of those men was the bus driver. Yes, there were lesbians making out in the seat behind me at one point. But these are not why I came (and frankly, while lesbians are erotic in the abstract, seeing them make out isn't that big of a deal unless the lesbians in question are particularly hot or interesting to you). I went because, for activities that humans will always perform, I prefer legalized control and proper education to marginalizing the activity, criminalizing it, and ignoring it or throwing into jail those who practice it, not because I am interested in such activities, but because the government has more possibility of positive control over a legal activity than an illegal one. I went because I oppose sloppy legislation, which in this case involves partial-birth abortion laws and George W. Bush's reinstatement of the Mexico City Policy. I went because I want every child that is born to be wanted. I went because abstinence-only sex education doesn't work in this country. Regardless of whether these ideas are right and good, they have nothing to do with wanting to get laid, and there is nothing about them that limits them to the female brain.

These are all of the things that I was insisting inside my head. But because of the fact that the issue is seen as a women's issue, an interesting thing happened to me when I got to the National Mall and saw the sheer quantity of people there. Estimates ranged from 500,000 to 1.1 million. One thing was sure: it was massive.

I was surrounded by women, but this did not affect me in the eye-popping sexually aggresive way you'd see in a movie, because I was not surrounded by girls, I was surrounded by female humanity. There is a difference. At first I did not notice. Then doubts began to creep in as I chanted chants meant for women to chant and heard about how this was a women's issue over and over. Do I really belong there? Does anyone think I'm just a really butch lesbian? I picked up a sign that said "US: GET OUT OF MY UTERUS" and carried it around in an effort to make myself feel less out of place by calling attention to how out of place I felt. I've felt out of place before, but this time it was impossible to just ignore it.

Throughout the weekend women said "thank you" for my coming. At first I thought that was ridiculous, because why shouldn't guys come? But after going through the entire weekend I started to appreciate it. I'm not trying to say that I learned so much, that I'll act differently, or anything like that. Even so, the experience affected me because it was not what I expected.

I, too, was one of the men at the march. Wearing a bright pink shirt with the phrase, "This is what a feminist looks like" emblazoned across the front, I was a little worried that a radical feminist would attack me for the insult (unlike the average feminist, radical feminists often claim that it is impossible for a man to be a feminist; we can only be "pro-feminist"). Instead, I was stopped by countless people telling me, "You look great in that shirt!" One pair of young women told me they were working on a photography project, and needed as many people wearing the shirt as possible. They were really excited to have finally found a man sporting the phrase. That was only the beginning: I can't count on both hands how many rolls of film (or memory cards) have me posing in the shirt. The thing that stuck with me the most was how incredibly friendly everyone is. Everyone was simply nice to each other. The love that spread among all of the possibly over a million attendees was almost tangible. It almost gives me hope for humanity.

I volunteered as a counter for the event. Our job was to get as many people as possible to sign a list of names, so the organizers would have some vague idea of the number of people in attendance. Once you were counted, we gave you a little green sticker. The entire march became a treasure hunt, looking for those few lapels in the crowd not adorned with the "Count me in!" stickers. A friend and I continued collecting names through the entire march. By the end, at 10 names per sheet, 10 sheets per pad, and about 10-15 pads, we had each collected over a thousand names. I read the next day on the Washington Post that there had been 2,500 counters. I realize that it's unlikely that all the counters were as dedicated as we were, but it is truly incredible to imagine that if the average was less than half of what I did, there would still have been over a million signatures.

Why did I go? I haven't been in any kind of protest since high school. I've never been a very active feminist activist, although I have always been decidedly pro-choice. A major reason I felt like I had to be there was that I fear for my country more than I ever have before. George W. Bush has been stripping away our rights faster than I ever thought possible. He has been merging church and state to a degree that I never would have imagined. The Christian right is well on its way to making the United States a nation of which I do not want to be a citizen. I want to believe that we can change things. I have a naive hope that maybe someone will notice if the largest single protest ever gathers on the Mall with a united voice. The underlying issue, which was on pins and signs all over the capital, is that women's rights are human rights. I don't feel like my presence as a man was in any way unexpected. Clearly, as a human, I should believe in human rights. Thus, how could I not be as strong a proponent of women's rights? I don't yet know if anything we did will matter, but, having been part of something so big, my outlook is optimistic.

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