A couple of weeks ago, I had the “privilege” of covering the annual Right to Life march in Washington, D.C. I thought it might be interesting to see some of the people who were there to protest the 40 year anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade.
What I found is that the anti-abortion movement hasn’t changed much since I was in middle school. If anything, it has expanded and become more far-reaching into schools, youth groups, and families.
My day started at a press conference at the Family Research Council, where I had to sit and listen through three hours of conservative rhetoric, including Pannell from Life United who urged the conservative movement to “prevent women from entering the death halls of Planned Parenthood.”
More of the speakers at the press conference included a reverend who complained about Planned Parenthood clinics being built in urban neighborhoods, a “pro-life blogger,” and an “economist” who said that Planned Parenthood lied in the 1970s about abortion preventing rates of domestic violence. Maybe the most disgusting part was listening to a young woman not much older than myself give a speech about how abortion is the genocide of our generation and that by bringing “pregnancy council centers” onto college campuses we can prevent the murders of thousands of babies.
Maybe the most frightening part was Jeannie Monohan, president of the March for Life Education and Defense Fund, who exclaimed that rather than the pro-life movement shrinking, their numbers are actually growing. Monohan might have exaggerated the exact numbers, but in essence she’s right; where were the pro-choice feminists in D.C. that day that should have been there celebrating Roe v. Wade’s victory?
We know that the pro-life movement is alive and well … according to a report from The Guttmacher Institute, 135 anti-abortion measures were passed across state legislatures in 2011. These measures included waiting periods, personhood bills (such as Ohio’s “Heartbeat Bill”), forced trans-vaginal ultrasounds and other restrictions.
However, a recent NBC and Wall Street Journal poll found that 70 percent of adults wanted abortion rights preserved in the first three months of pregnancy. So why does it look like the pro-life movement is kicking our ass?
Maybe it’s because 8th graders from across the country are being brainwashed with religious indoctrination and screaming chants like “Let me see your pro-life spirit!” Maybe its because Students for Life of America has organized pro-life chapters on over 750 college campuses in the U.S. Maybe it’s because politicians like John Boehner and Rick Santorum have added their vocal support to the cause.
But I think what it comes down to is that women today are taking Roe v. Wade for granted. The women of my generation, especially, don’t remember a time when we couldn’t get our birth control pills or abortions from Planned Parenthood. Many of us don’t know what it feels like to watch 400,000 extreme, fanatical religious pro-liferes walking down the street protesting the right of American women to have a choice over their own reproductive health. Trust me, it’s a gut-wrenching feeling.
Feminists need to get up and fight again. Roe v. Wade hasn’t been overturned, and it’s not clear whether the current Supreme Court would overturn the decision, but what is clear is that women’s reproductive rights are being slowly chipped away at the state level.
I urge women everywhere to not remain silent. That’s exactly what the pro-life movement wants. Find ways to get involved on campus … VOX at Ohio University and the Women’s Center are great places to start! (Full disclosure; I’m a member of both.)
I don’t want to have to tell my children someday that Roe v. Wade was overturned, or basically rendered useless. Don’t let your uterus get trampled. Fight back now.
Jess Miller is a Student Outreach Coordinator at the Ohio University Women’s Center, temporarily dislocated in Washington, D.C. You can read her full coverage of protestors here.