Yesterday, some 500,000 women, or maybe 800,000 women, or maybe even (if you believe the organizers, which I don’t) 1 million women gathered in Washington, D.C. to march in a big NOW/NARAL/Planned Parenthood abortion-rights hoo-hah on the Mall.
I didn’t go down to the mall myself, because I didn’t have a press pass, and I didn’t want to be counted as a marcher–or actually sextuple-counted, in order to blow up the numbers, as Kathryn Jean Lopez of National Review Online reports almost happened to her when covered the march. But since my husband and I, movie buffs that we are, were on and off Metro trains all weekend attending the offerings of the D.C. Film Festival, we saw hundreds of female marchers wearing their “My Body Is Not Public Property” T-shirts. Several of them glared at me angrily because I was with–horrors!–a man. Sleeping with the enemy!
In a word, I saw the face of pro-choice America. And I hate to sound catty, gals, but, from the 70-year-old Gloria Steinem and the ancient Frances Kissling of Catholics for a Free Choice down to the grim gaggles of tongue-pierced, shaved-headed, Birkenstock-footed coeds, it’s one old, ugly, or old-and-ugly-both face. As The Other Charlotte, who was also on the street this weekend, e-mailed to me: “The most attractive marcher I’ve seen in the ‘hood was a pug dog wearing a sign that read, ‘Another pug for choice.'” The pro-choice movement is not a youth movement. The few teenage girls in evidence on the streets were in the firm tow of their activist mothers. Scarcely a single one of those hundreds of thousands of marchers was in the slightest danger of getting pregnant.
If truth be told, the rally, carefully scheduled (as was the last big Washington abortion event in 1992) to fall in a regime-change election year, wasn’t so much about reproductive rights as about G.W. Bush. It was a John Kerry rally. Nearly every T-shirt, next to the “Stand Up for Choice” slap-on, sported a “Women for Kerry” slap-on. Hence the voter-registration booths in prominent display. Hence the Democrat-pulling presence of Hillary Rodham Clinton. Hence the co-sponsorship of organizations such as the NAACP and the National Education Association, which traditionally haven’t had much to do with abortion but are sure part of the Democratic interest-groups infrastructure. And the the theme of the march was, as the IWF’s own Carrie Lukas points out in National Review, was choice for women in reproduction but not in where to send their kids to school or run a business to support them free of government red tape. This was the face of blue-state America. I hope that some Bush campaign officials were on hand to take note. (By the way, the IWF has no stand on abortion, and we welcome women on both sides of the issue in our ranks. We are, however, firm advocates of women being able to make such choices as where to send their children to school or to run a business–choices the so-called pro-choice lobby might like to curtail. )
The most refreshing event of the choice-rally in my book took place at the film-festival movie we saw last evening, which was also attended by many marchers before they left town. The movie, “Two Summers,” a Brazilian entry, was, as chance would have it, about abortion. Actually, it was about an abortion scam. A pretty blonde con-artist would pick up naive young men on the Rio beaches, seduce them, and then get them to chip in for her supposed abortion. Except that after many a comic turn involving one of the youths who falls in love with her, she actually gets pregnant, and–oh no!–she and her young swain get married and keep the baby! As the audience clapped appreciatively while the loving parents cooed over little Jasmin in her sun-hat, two scowling abortion-marchers in the seat in front of us marched dramatically out of the theater to show that they were Not Amused. My grin got all the wider.