my gripe about the march for choice name change
December 18, 2003 11:15 AM

The March for Choice folk put out a press release that they're changing the name to March for Women's Lives.

I don't like it. And I'm curious what the real reasons are behind the change.

I liked that the original name set it up as about choice rights. To me, a March for Choice title carries more weight - it becomes all about defending something already established as a logical, legal right. I think any citizen should consider that a responsibility.

Choice is an emotional issue for a lot of things, but I've always felt that the pro-choice camp was on the side of justice, that our job was to see past the emotional conflicts that might erupt around any one woman's decision about her own pregnancy, and to ensure that all women had the right to make those decisions. And, while "choice" is for many people a euphemism for support of abortion rights, it also carries the implication of all the varied ways a woman should be able to make choices about pregnancy - including birth control, abortion, and many other healthcare questions. That appeals to me.

There are probably a number of different reasons for the change in name - as the press release says:

The name change reflects the urgency of the issue and the huge diversity of the groups co-sponsoring the march.

" The March for Women's Lives" addresses the assaults on women's rights and lives, both nationally and globally, that restrict women's access to reproductive health services and limit women's ability to have a child or to end a pregnancy.

So, the former implies that some of the newer supporting groups took issue with "choice", perhaps because they don't want to be seen as about choice. Maybe those of us planning to attend the March haven't been sending NARAL, Planned Parenthood, etc. enough money this year, and they ended up toning down the message of choice in order to get more support. In which case, shame on us.

The latter rather implies that the March organizers have decided to market the whole thing in the emotional style that characterizes conservative anti-abortion tactics. It sets women's lives against what anti-abortion folk think of as babies lives. Which, I guess, does put us on more even footing in a way - but it also takes the question of choice out of law and logic and into emotion; it was wrong of anti-abortion rhetoric to go there, and it's wrong for us to follow.

I realize that the March name change is a minor issue in the grand scheme of things, but it touches on a hot button for me: I think we're entirely too apologetic in our defense of abortion rights, probably because we're afraid of being seen as cavalier about the complexity of the choice issue. It is, however, a simple issue - women have the legal and moral right to control their own bodies.

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your wicked thoughts

I see both sides, but I'm with ya on the cooping out of the choice thing. Since I'm doing a lot of organizing here in Chicago on it, I do sometimes focus on other choices women are losing to the current political climate because other orgs work on those other choices. Choice is too icky for some groups and I hate that.

these are the thoughts of Roni on December 18, 2003 12:07 PM

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