Reading Nicolas Kristoff’s column in this morning’s New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/09/opinion/09kristof.html?_r=1&th&emc=th&oref=slogin, took me back to the 2004 March for Women’s Lives on the Washington Mall. I went to Washington as a volunteer to sign people up to go back to their hometowns to register people to vote. At one point, I ran out of steam, overwhelmed by the size of the task and by the size of the crowd, so I sat on a park bench to take a break.
A young Black woman was also sitting on the bench and we starting talking. She spoke with an accent, so I asked her where she was from. She said she was from Eritrea and was visiting relatives in the D.C. area. She came to the March, she said, because she said she was so angry at George Bush, her anger growing from the Bush administration policy of cutting off funding for any group giving birth control information that also mentioned abortion as an option. She related in graphic detail the story of one of her relatives who was severely maimed as the result of an illegal abortion. This illegal abortion was the direct result of the Bush administration family planning funding cuts.
As Kristoff points out in his OpEd column, denying funding to family groups only increases the danger for women who are trying to space their childbearing so that they will be able to provide good care to their children.
There’s something sick and evil in a mentality that dictates that women are good for only one thing, childbearing, and it’s even worse when these anti-choice types, mostly men, claim that women don’t want to have control over their childbearing.
Women around the world want control over the number and the timing of children that they give birth to. This is especially crucial in developing countries where women are often raped by their partners and are often the sole support of their families. When they are cut off from access to contraception and family planning information and from legal abortions, they and their families suffer the consequences. Voters should take this information to the polls when they cast their votes this November. We cannot afford the Religious Right agenda fueled by the zealots to continue. We must elect a president and other office holders who believe that women have the ability to figure out for themselves what to do about having and raising children. We need people in office who believe that government has business making these decisions for individuals.