Thirty-three years ago the Supreme Court upheld a woman's right to choose in the landmark case Roe v. Wade. At that point, many believed that those of us born after Jan. 22, 1973, would never have to experience the horror of unsafe back-alley abortions. Yet, the fear is still alive.
A Rally for Women's Lives was held on Sunday, Jan. 22, to honor and support Roe. About 150 people attended the rally at City Hall, where representatives from the community, university, and local government spoke. Each speaker shared a different perspective. Mayor Mark Kruzan and City Council member Andy Ruff spoke about the importance of privacy, while Alisa Brown from the Democratic Women's Caucus and State Senator Vi Simpson shared personal stories.
As a representative of the student population and president of the IU Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance, I spoke as well, targeting specifically those born after Roe. Our rights are at stake, and unfortunately most of us are unaware of the rights we are likely to lose.
I want to say to my peers, "WAKE UP! The personal is political!"
President Bush and his cronies are poised to take away our right to choose. Despite skirting the issue, Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito supports reversing Roe and ending the use of birth control. As a justice department attorney, he wrote a memo outlining the eventual overturning of Roe. In Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey (1991), Alito argued that the Constitution says a state can require a woman to notify her husband before she can have an abortion.
Alito and his conservative allies claim that "certain methods of birth control are 'abortifacients,' i.e., that they do not prevent fertilization but terminate the development of the fetus after conception. ..." These methods include the Intrauterine Device (IUD) and The Pill. The Bush Administration is influencing the FDA to not approve Emergency Contraception for over-the-counter status.
A woman's fundamental right to control her own body will be in grave danger if Sandra Day O'Connor is replaced with a Supreme Court justice with such hatred and disregard for women. Alito is likely be that fifth vote to reverse Roe v. Wade.
I obviously have a problem with this current political climate, but what troubles me more is the fact that my generation doesn't think it can do anything about it. Yet what many of us don't realize is that everyone is relying on us to do something about it. And, as one of last Sunday's speakers reminded those gathered on the Showers common with the words of Margaret Mead: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."
Here are a few ways to get involved.
The need to stay informed cannot be stressed enough. Keeping up on current news stories is a way to get both sides of the issue. Joining a political organization is a great way to gain insight, and to become an activist. The Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance and Women's Student Association are two student organizations working to protect women's rights locally, nationally, and globally. The Bloomington Democratic Women's Caucus meets regularly to discuss local politics, and to encourage and help women enter the political arena.
It is also important to take advantage of our democratic system of government by signing petitions and calling or e-mailing representatives. Lobbying is also an adventure that can be effective.
The most important duty of every U.S. citizen, especially women, is to vote.
Generations that preceded mine also play an important role. It is important for them to encourage children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, and students to speak their minds. We need an environment where we feel comfortable to express ourselves.
So let's continue to fight. Never lose hope, no matter how grim the future may seem. If we work together and work hard, we can count on celebrating the anniversary of Roe v. Wade for years to come.
And if Samuel Alito and John Roberts succeed in temporarily taking away our right to choose, we will have to take it back. As Margaret Mead also said, "It may be necessary temporarily to accept a lesser evil, but one must never label a necessary evil as good."
Megan Sharkey is president of the Feminist Majority Alliance at IU and a contributor to The Bloomington Alternative. She can be reached at .