Rally Against the War on Women is this Saturday, April 28, 12-4pm at the State House (125 West State St, Trenton). Speakers include Blue Jersey’s own Sen. Loretta Weinberg, ACLU-NJ’s Deborah Jacobs, Planned Parenthood’s Michele Jaker, Marie Corfield and another Dem running in LD-16 Sue Nemeth, Michael McPhearson of United for Peace & Justice, Adrienne Sanders of NAACP and many others. – promoted by Rosi.
The conservative Right was swept into office two years ago on a platform of fixing the economy. Instead of focusing on our country’s economic crisis, the Right turned its attention to women’s private lives, seeking to govern nearly every aspect of women’s reproductive healthcare, employment, and voter status. Since 2010, over 1400 of pieces of legislation aimed at controlling women have been introduced across the United States: humiliating mandatory transvaginal ultrasounds for women seeking abortion, fetal personhood laws, the redefinition of rape, denial of coverage for birth control, defunding of women’s clinics, refusal to authorize the Violence Against Women Act, Voter ID acts, and more. Instead of creating jobs, the Right has created a War on Women.
One particular attack on women’s lives stood out to me, made me mad, and made me worried about my teenage daughter’s future. A February 2012 Congressional hearing on birth control did not include any women. I was outraged. Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke was viciously slandered by right-wing shock jock Rush Limbaugh, called a “slut” and a “prostitute” simply for speaking out in defense of birth control access. Fluke was denied the opportunity to speak on the all-male panel of theologians and clergy who testified against birth control, claiming that comprehensive healthcare coverage for paid employees of churches somehow damaged their religious freedom. Ridiculous. Religious freedom does not include the freedom to deny healthcare to paid employees, or to the entire country. But that’s the goal of the Religious Right and its ALEC-authored legislation: controlling women’s access to reproductive healthcare, and holding women down in every way possible. Is this the legacy we’re leaving to our daughters?
The War on Women has escalated. Several states are trying to criminalize late-term abortions, which are often medically necessary due to fetal deformity or risk to the mother’s life. Arizona has introduced a bill that would consider a woman pregnant two weeks before pregnancy begins. Tennessee now wants to criminalize natural miscarriages by defining embryos as “persons” whose deaths should be investigated. What’s next, government-forced gynecological exams every 28 days to make sure that if we’re pregnant, we stay that way? The Period Police? Hasn’t anyone read The Handmaid’s Tale?
As the assault on women’s lives worsened, a grassroots movement, Unite Women, sprung up on Facebook to speak out against these measures and to mobilize Americans, urging them to take action against the onrush of bills that seek to block women’s access to reproductive healthcare, equal pay, and the voting booth. As a concerned advocate of church-state separation, I joined the campaign to stage protests in cities nationwide on April 28, 2012. After just a few weeks of online organization, accomplished mostly through Facebook and email, rallies are being held in nearly every state. Thousands of women and men will descend upon their state capitols on April 28 to say “Enough is enough! End the war on women!”
Over 20 years ago I took took to the streets, chanting “Not the church, not the state, women will decide their fate!” I can barely believe that I have to dust off that old chant and teach it to a new generation. I shouldn’t have to go to a rally to defend women’s rights. I shouldn’t have to demand equality and privacy over my own personal reproductive choices. I should be spending April 28 with my 14-year-old daughter, who has three softball games on Saturday. The last thing I wanted to do was ditch my daughter for a day-trip to Trenton. But I’m not really ditching my daughter, I’m heading out to protect her, to protect her friends, to protect women of all ages, and from all walks of life, against the onslaught of anti-woman legislation. I’m not just going to the rally, I’m volunteering for it, and speaking for it on behalf of my group, Delaware Valley Chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State (DVAU).
I don’t do protests any more, but I must fight against the War on Women. I thought my rallying days were over; I didn’t think we’d have to take to the streets again to protect the rights we’ve taken for granted for years. I was wrong. The War on Women is very real, and new salvos are fired daily. We need you to help us push back against the efforts to control women’s lives. Ditch your Saturday plans and join me on the State House steps in Trenton from 12 noon to 4:00 pm, to learn how the onslaught of legislation aimed at forcing modern American women to conform to ancient Biblical laws is affecting different segments of society. Join me to show women that you stand strong in support of our choices and our lives. Join me, because anything less is ditching our daughters.