By Liza Doubossarskaia, NOW Communications Intern
Last weekend feminist activists watched in distress as, one by one, 240 members of Congress, many of whom were Democrats, voted to pass the Stupak Amendment, which severely interferes with a woman’s right to choose. If the Stupak Amendment is included in the final version of the health care reform bill, it will: prevent women receiving tax subsidies from using their own money to purchase private insurance that covers abortion; prevent women participating in the public health insurance exchange from using 100 percent of their own money to purchase private insurance that covers abortion; and make it next to impossible for low-income women to obtain an abortion.
The Democratic leadership might have decided to compromise women’s rights in order to push through the health care bill, but women whose lives are directly affected by Stupak’s draconian measures will not stay silent.
Just this Monday, activists from NOW and the Feminist Majority gathered to express their discontent by staging a rally in front of the Russell Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C. I was there and am happy to report that the rally was a smashing success. There were about 30 of us altogether — an impressive number considering we only had 24 hours to organize the event. We proudly marched around the block, letting our voices be heard, so that our representatives would know how ardently we disapprove of their actions. All of the activists present had great energy, and everyone around us was definitely paying attention.
As we walked, other women stopped to cheer us on and state their displeasure with the Stupak Amendment. Quite a few of them asked for our NOW stickers, so we gladly passed them out.
Our rally also attracted a couple of anti-choice protestors. One of them followed us around, shouting at us from a megaphone. His intent was clear: he was trying to intimidate us, to make us go away. However, his megaphone proved to be no match for the combined power of our voices, and we easily drowned him out.
NOW encourages you to join us and other activists Monday, Nov. 16 and 23, from 12:00 noon to 1:00 pm in front of the Russell Senate Office Building. This is a great opportunity to network with your fellow women’s rights activists and get some fresh air while you’re at it.
Women are 51 percent of the population, yet we are continuously subjected to discriminatory laws. It is time we let our politicians know that their disregard for reproductive health care is unacceptable and that we will not idly stand by and watch as our rights are being taken away.