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March for Women's Lives

05/01/04 12:00AM By Lois Eby
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(Host) Last weekend, commentator Lois Eby was one of the million or so women in the March for Women's Lives. Here are some of her reflections on that experience.


(Eby) One week ago today my daughter and her friend Marya from New York, and I from Vermont met friends in Washington, D.C., to join the March for Women's Lives. The following day was cloudy and cool as more than a million women by some estimates - close to a million by others - gathered on the Mall for an event that The Washington Post declared to be one of the largest ever to be held there.

I met women from San Francisco, Texas and Nevada. Hundreds of Vermont women were there. There were many signs: hot pink signs supporting Choice; Pro-Faith, Pro-Family, Pro-Choice signs; signs calling for Justice, Health Care and Dignity. Many signs emphasized the importance of family and children, alongside the right to a safe, legal abortion.

Speakers and participants expressed their awareness that both fundamentalist Islam and fundamentalist Christianity now threaten the long-fought for rights of women, before many women worldwide have even had access to rights of any kind.

When people ask me what I hoped this March might accomplish, I tell them that I hope women and men will recognize the threat to contraceptive rights, see how important the coming election is, and go to work on getting out the vote for pro-choice candidates next fall.

What was most stirring for me? the many young women who were there and the multiple generations of families of women, including my own. Also the procession of people representing the $34 million campaign to replace the $34 million that the current administration has withheld from the UN Population Fund. These people carried flags representing many of the countries in the UN - it was a stirring and heartbreaking moment, to see these flags waving, from countries whose women have lost our support.

We marched alongside a group of Catholics for Choice. They had a small band of African drummers leading them who gave energy to our steps. Many people who support choice understand that it s not about whether you believe abortion is a good thing, or whether you would have one yourself. It's about whether in desperate circumstances, a woman has access to safe, informed medical care. It s about a better future for women and children. And, it s about women controlling one of the most fundamental aspects of their lives, not men in power, neither governments nor priests.

For me, the March was a re-affirmation of women, our needs, and our rights. Whether or not governments acknowledge us or understand our needs and rights, we will fight for them. It felt like that. I am still cheering inside, cheering us on, in the face of what seems - at best - an uncertain future.

This is Lois Eby.

Lois Eby is a painter who comments on the arts, women's issues, and civil rights.
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