February 4, 2004

NOW Calls for Action

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Yesterday afternoon, Olga Vives, vice president for action of the National Organization for Women (NOW), spoke in HEC auditorium in Goldwin Smith Hall to mobilize participation in the March for Women’s Lives. The march will take place in April in Washington, DC.

Yesterday’s rally was co-sponsored by Tompkins County NOW and SAGE. The upcoming march is co-sponsored by Planned Parenthood, NARAL, NOW, and the Feminist Majority Foundation.

“The rally is a way to get Cornell students involved for the March for Choice. Students are affected, but most are not politically active,” said Maura Kennedy ’04, who organized the event. “We want to start to make an effort proactively.”

The afternoon began with a welcome from Laurie Gardner of Tompkins County NOW. She urged people to sign the petitions in the front of the room, one of which was a chain petition that may be able to affect Supreme Court appointments. “Each signature is a link in the chain to protect choice,” Gardner said.

Vives then took the podium, “I want to talk about what’s happening in our country today. I want to alert you to things happened in the last two and a half years,” she said.

She said that under the Bush administration, there has been regressive, anti-women sentiment. “Since the selection of George Bush, this country has embarked on a dangerous road. There is less access to abortion rights, and abortions are less affordable. For the first time, abortion has been criminalized at the Federal level” said Vives.

Vives said, “Never before in the last thirty one years have we seen such a hostile political environment. We are under the peril of losing our right.”

Vives then discussed the goals of NOW and other organizations to work towards sustaining women’s right to choose. Vives explained that the march is not only about abortion rights, but about civil rights for women.

“It is a multi-issue. We seek change. We are taking action to make changes,” she said.

The Washington demonstration is expected to attract over a million participants. “It has to be massive and it has to be diverse,” said Vives.

According to its supporters, the goal of the march is to empower people, to show support and solidarity, and to register voters.

Women should have the option to “terminate pregnancy, the right to use contraceptives, the right to determine the timing and size of their family, the right to emergency contraceptives, and the right to bear children,” said Vives.

The march also supports fighting for comprehensive sexual education in schools, restored Medicaid and Medicare abortion funding, and healthcare for all regardless of status.

“Commit yourselves to being there. Bush has turned back the clock. The march will serve as a springboard for the elections,” said Vives.

Vives concluded, “The march is about the right to haven children, and the right not to have children. This is the time to get involved.”

Archived article by Jessica Liebman