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by Serrin M. Foster

[written prior to the 25 April 2004 pro-abortion march in Washington D.C.]

Perhaps as many as 1 million men and women will march on Washington on Sunday in support of "women's lives." Yet you can be sure this support won't include addressing the health risks from abortion, or the root causes that drive women to abortion.

Women continue to die from legal and lethal abortion, just as they did before Roe vs. Wade. In 2003, California teen Holly Patterson, age 18, died after taking RU-486. Who will mourn her…? This march won't bring her back.

Women are also rendered infertile and risk future miscarriages. A Montana woman, Lorraine Thul, had a hysterectomy after her uterus was nicked during an abortion in 2002. How will this march help Lorraine?

Twenty-nine of the 38 worldwide epidemiological studies show increased risk of breast cancer after an abortion, including 13 of 15 studies on American women. Will march organizers continue to deny medical research?

Kate Michelman, retiring president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, had an abortion after her husband left her pregnant with three children, no car, no job and no money. She quickly was forced onto welfare.

Didn't Kate deserve better than abortion? Women need to know there are perfect strangers who will help when those she counts on most let her down. The decision should not be left to those who would abandon pregnant women.

Another march co-sponsor, Planned Parenthood President Gloria Feldt, has said, "Roe v. Wade enabled women to participate in the social, financial and political life of this country."

Abortion does not "enable" women. Women need housing, child care, health care that includes maternity benefits, maternity leave, the ability to telecommute, a living wage and a supportive family for themselves and their children. A woman needs and deserves support — both emotional and financial — from the father of the child. The lack of support and resources is what concerns women the most. Addressing these unmet needs must become our priority — not abortion.

Abortion just masks the problems — and creates new ones. This march is misdirected energy.

According to the Center for the Advancement of Women, founded by former Planned Parenthood President Faye Wattleton, 51 percent of U.S. women of all ages oppose abortion in all or most cases, for the first time since the Roe vs. Wade decision in 1973. Perhaps that is because so many women know the gut-wrenching truth about abortion — as many as 25 million to 30 million American women.

In fact, every 38 seconds in America, a woman lays her body down or swallows a pill because she doesn't feel she has the resources and support she needs and deserves.

Those who screamed "it's our body, it's our choice" are back. Rhetoric left over from the '70s has not solved the problems women face. This time abortion advocates are bringing along those who have never known a day without legalized abortion.

But it may be a hard sell. According to the Polling Co., 63 percent of people aged 18 to 24 are pro-life, making them the most pro-life generation since those now aged 70 and over.

It is instructional for those under age 31 to learn that attorney Sarah Weddington argued Roe on the basis that a woman could not complete her education if she were pregnant. Why not? Women are not suddenly stupid because they are pregnant or parenting. Education is essential to combat the feminization of poverty.

NARAL founders convinced the leadership of the '70s women's movement that women needed to control their fertility in order to achieve equality in the workplace. They wrongly assumed that the workplace would never accommodate mothers. For the past three decades, women have proven we can make it in a man's world. Now it is time for women to be accepted as women.

We need to focus on systematically eliminating the root causes of abortion.

We need our leaders to know that women deserve better than abortion.

Susan B. Anthony and other early American feminists who celebrated women's life-giving capacity, opposed abortion and sought to address the root causes that drove women to abortion.

Abortion advocates continue to pit women against their unborn children.

Today two-time Emmy winner and Feminists for Life Honorary Chair Patricia Heaton, Honorary Co-Chair Margaret Colin and other FFL members refuse to choose between women and children. Equally important, women and men in ever-increasing numbers refuse to choose between sacrificing our education and career plans — or sacrificing our children.

[At the April march], abortion advocates will once again be marching in the wrong direction. To turn things around, we need to challenge the status quo and redirect energy of those on both sides of the debate toward woman-centered solutions.

Abortion is a reflection that we have failed to meet the needs of women. Abortion is not the best we can do. Women deserve better.

Serrin Foster is president of Washington-based Feminists for Life of America;

 [23 April 2004, The Washington Times]