"ABORT BUSH IN THE FIRST TERM." A group of women on the National Mall displayed a banner with these words during last Saturday's March for Women's Lives, while a throng of fellow abortion-rights demonstrators marched by, nodding their heads in approval. The banner's message couldn't have been more clear, or a more glaring example of sordid wordplay-unless you consider another sign displayed at the march: "KEEP BUSH OUT OF MY ..."
Led by the ACLU, the Black Women's Health Imperative, the Feminist Majority, NARAL Pro-Choice America, the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, the National Organization for Women, and the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the march featured a lengthy list of speakers. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, former secretary of state Madeleine Albright, Gloria Steinem, Whoopi Goldberg, and Ted Turner were just a few of the many proponents of abortion rights who urged the crowd to take back the country and elect John Kerry in November.
When actress Camryn Manheim took the stage during the afternoon portion of the rally, she joked, "CNN [is reporting that this] is the largest march in the history of the universe. Of course, Fox is saying there's no one here." News reports now say that the event drew about 500,000 people, making it one of the largest abortion-rights demonstrations ever held on the Mall. The March for Women's Lives website says the crowd numbered 1.15 million.
But unconfirmed numbers (the U.S. Park Police no longer provide estimates) don't tell the full story behind the marchers. In terms of age, race, and gender, the marchers were diverse, and some were scared. "I spend half my day in class, half doing activist work," Niva Kramek, a sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania and a member of the student group Penn for Choice, said. "I'm terrified of what's going to happen [if Bush is reelected]."
As I made my way through piles of hot pink Planned Parenthood signs and dodged the Texas Mamas for Choice, I stumbled into Brenda Beckett. A 52-year-old from Seattle, Beckett explained that in 1975 she had had an abortion as a 25-year-old married woman. "I haven't regretted it once," she said. What she does regret is the "eight hours of orientation"-doctor going over alternatives, such as adoption-she sat through beforehand. "I never had any children cause I never wanted any," she said. Her husband at the time supported her decision; they are no longer married.
"Even though Bush says he believes in non-intrusive government, he is being intrusive," protestor Priscilla Balch said. …