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
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
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
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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