MARCH ON WASHINGTON SET TO DEFEND WOMEN'S RIGHTS. By Naomi Cohen

MARCH ON WASHINGTON SET TO DEFEND WOMEN'S RIGHTS.
By Naomi Cohen

The National Organization for Women has called an important 
"Rally for Women's Lives" for April 9 in Washington. The rally's 
theme is "We Won't Go Back!"

The activity was originally planned as a march against violence 
against women. Now--in response to the right-wing agenda of 
attacks on women in the "Contract with America" and the murders 
of two health-care workers in Brookline, Mass.,--the agenda has 
been broadened.

Literature promoting the action calls for an end to 
anti-abortion violence, and to stop the war on poor women, the 
Contract "ON" America and all violence against women.

In addition to the rally on April 9, the organizers are planning 
a whole weekend of activities, including a Young Feminist Summit 
on Violence, April 7-8.

In light of the broad attacks on women and children that are the 
focus of the Gingrich-inspired "Contract with America," the NOW 
activity has the potential to bring together a broad array of 
organizations and individuals who want to fight back.

The Dec. 30 assassinations of Shannon Lowney and Leanne Nichols 
have  galvanized outrage over the right-wing organizing of 
violence against women's health-care clinics that has sharply 
curtailed access to abortion for women across the country.

Gingrich and his ilk would deny that they incite violence 
against women. But the fact is that the non-stop racist, 
anti-woman rhetoric against welfare is part of the climate of 
woman hating that has been created.

ORGANIZE AN INDEPENDENT STRUGGLE

At a Jan. 4 Capitol Hill news conference held by NOW leaders, 
Workers World Party members distributed a statement supporting 
the call to rally. It pointed out that "those who call 
themselves 'pro-life' are often in the lead when it comes to 
cutting child vaccination, nutrition, prenatal and birth control 
programs."

The statement went on: "No longer having to compete with 
socialism for the allegiance of the population, but in ever more 
desperate competition among corporations and nations, the 
capitalist ruling class has an updated program: Take back the 
gains made by labor, women, civil rights, lesbian and gay, and 
other progressive movements. Transfer wealth as never before to 
the very rich.

"Slash the most minimal social safety net. Allow extra-legal 
terror and assassination to implement this program."

The statement also pointed out, "The firing of Surgeon General 
Dr. Joycelyn Elders, an African American woman and advocate for 
women and children, shows that the Clinton administration has 
completely caved in to this racist, sexist, anti-gay onslaught."

In fact, the violence against women's health-care centers has 
dramatically escalated during the tenure of Democratic President 
Bill Clinton and Attorney General Janet Reno. Both are supposed 
to be advocates for reproductive choice. Yet the federal 
government has done little to enforce even the laws on the books 
that are supposed to protect women's constitutional right to 
abortion.

Thus, the prescription for women to concentrate on electing 
Democratic candidates in 1996 has a hollow ring. In fact, in the 
last election, the Democratic Party program was often 
indistinguishable from the Republican position. Many believe 
this explains why so few people even bothered to vote at all.

Rather than rely on one or another capitalist politician, women 
need to organize an independent struggle for  fundamental rights 
like health care, equal pay for work of equal value, housing, 
education, and security from battering, rape, anti-lesbian 
attacks and all forms of violence.

Precisely because women have been targeted for vicious assault 
by the current gang in Congress, women will be among the first 
to fight back. The April 9 march will afford a good opportunity 
to raise demands, gather strength and move forward.

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