Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Young Women Waking Up to Threats to Abortion Rights

The coverage I've been reading about the massive abortion rights march in Washington, D.C., last Sunday -- like this one -- has emphasized the great numbers of young, college-aged women who participated ... something of a turn-around since the last big women's rights march 12 years ago when the predominate age group protesting the first Bush administration's abortion policies were women "of an age," that is, those who could remember what life was like in pre-Roe v. Wade America, especially in pre-Roe v. Wade North Carolina. (I remember at least one ASU student who was taken out of state in 1972 for an abortion that was positively, absolutely illegal in N.C. -- not to mention immoral enough to bust hell wide open!)

With El Presidente poised to replace a Supreme Court justice or two in his second term, more and more young women, for whom 1973 is not only ancient history but literally pre-history, are beginning to catch on to the fact that freedom of choice is NOT guaranteed in the Land of the Brave and the Formerly Free, and that the dark forces currently in charge of the Republican Party, and to whom El Presidente (but not his wife, God bless her!) owes his allegiance, are not only determined to outlaw ALL ABORTION but ALL BIRTH CONTROL as well, as soon as they can. This struggle is, and always has been, a war on women's freedom from the consequences of sex.

I grew up in pre-sexual revolution rural Texas where the Southern Baptist Church was supreme and where there simply was no such thing as abortion. Didn't exist. Wasn't even talked about. We were preached at constantly. Having sex would be like touching a downed powerline. You die instantly! And yet, you know, abstinence training was just -- how you say? -- inadequate. I knew plenty of teenage girls -- including one notorious one, aged 13 -- who turned up pregnant. First, they were escorted out of school, never to return. Couldn't have a pregnant girl in school, oh no! Then she was hastily married off to the young man, whether the young man was quite ready for that step or not. No question 'bout that. The fruits of total abstinence training were bitter. Adults told us all along that sex was death, and that's exactly how it turned out.

A few of those forced marriages actually lasted, though the notorious 13-year-old later put her enforced husband's pistol to her temple on her 30th birthday. I knew her. She was as smart as a whip and rebellious, and she had the patience to wait a full 17 years before taking her revenge on a system that enforced her unwilling servitude. Her body was not her own, and she resented the hell out of it.

George Bush is from Texas, and he seems very comfortable with the notion of returning us all to 1957, just like it was in Texas. You have sex, you die! Especially if you're a woman. (But not, naturally, if you happened to be the playboy rich kid of a rich daddy, but let that go!)

I've made some college-age males uncomfortable recently urging that we bring back the draft. I can understand their unease. But until college-age men, along with college-age women, wake up and begin to notice what's happening to the democracy they've taken for granted, the death-dealing of the Rovians is going to be on all our heads. The draft, I figure, just like the end of Roe v. Wade, is the clearest wake-up bell that can possibly ring.

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