By Jerin Arifa, Co-Chair, Young Feminist Task Force
It was a brutally cold day in New York on the 38th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, but the subzero temperatures could not deter members of the NOW-New York State Young Feminist Task Force from attending two separate pro-choice events.
First, we attended the clinic defense and speak out at Dr. Emily’s Clinic in the Bronx. The event brought out a broad coalition of groups: NOW sisters and brothers from our task force, the NOW-NYC and Brooklyn/Queens NOW chapters, organizing groups Radical Women and NY Coalition for Abortion Clinic Defense, and other feminist groups from the South Bronx. We outnumbered the antis ten to one – with about 50 of us and five of them – and received press coverage on cable news station NY1 and in newspaper El Diario.
On behalf of NOW-NYS, I spoke of the need for the pro-choice movement to reclaim the term “pro-life” as our own. The anti-choicers could care less about life, lying to women with promises of financial help to make them go through an unwanted pregnancy — only to abandon them once the children are born. The anti-life movement should put its resources where its mouth is — providing economic and other resources to women and babies, instead of funding violent anti-choicers (with apartments and other necessities) to terrorize abortion clinics.
In addition, the struggle for reproductive justice has always been one for racial and economic equality. Women of color and poor women are more likely to lack the resources to prevent an unwanted pregnancy, and have fewer options to terminate it when it happens. This is why NOW has always opposed the Hyde Amendment.
After the rally, we attended “Rock out for Roe,” organized by task force member Steph Herold and activist Shelby Knox. The fundraiser for NY Abortion Access Fund was a success, with about 150 in attendance. The iconic “Keep Abortion Legal” NOW rounds were a huge hit with the attendees, with many taking photos with the rounds.
It was refreshing to see the presence of men at both events. As the task force often discusses with our male members, our movement cannot sustain itself without half of the human race. The anti-choice “Crisis Pregnancy Centers” would have us believe that men have no responsibility in sex — with leaflets that target only women, and tell them, “women do not really enjoy sex.” Pro-choicers understand that it must always be a woman’s decision, but it also affects men; men cannot be free if the women in their lives cannot control their own bodies.