“Not the church, not the state. Women must decide our fate,” chanted about 200 people, most of which were females and students, gathered on the steps of the Supreme Court on Saturday.
The rally featured speakers from Feminist Majority, the National Organization for Women, NARAL Pro-Choice America and Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The event served as a kickoff for the “Meet Up. Mobilize. March.” campaign to motivate pro-choice activists to participate in the “Save Women’s Lives: March for Freedom” on April 25, 2004, in D.C.
“This is your moment in time to send the most powerful message to every elected official: this is a right we will not lose,” said Kate Michelman, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America.
Speakers said they are concerned about the Bush administration’s stance on the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, granting women the right to have an abortion. Activists said they are worried about potential Bush nominees if some of the liberal justices retire in the next term.
“If George Bush gets a chance to put a couple new justices on that Supreme course, then it will not just be a new season: it will be open season on women,” said Kim Gandy, president of NOW.
“We look into the eyes of the patients who come to the clinics every day,” said Jatrice Martel Gaiter, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington. “We have truth and reality on our side. We don’t lie.”
Speakers and organizers said they were encouraged to see college students in attendance, noting part of the purpose of the march is to mobilize voting support in the 18 to 24 age group in an effort to avoid re-election of President Bush.
“We don’t want to leave any corner of this country unorganized,” said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority. “We believe the most important part will be the young people.”
Several student leaders in attendance said they are concerned about bringing awareness to the potential loss of reproductive rights
“Unless you’re taking time to keep track, you may not know,” said Emily Goodstein, president of GW’s Voices for Choices, who spoke at the rally. “I feel like right now the biggest threat is the chipping away at reproductive rights. The biggest threat isn’t one big thing, it’s a process.”