New Choice

Wildman, Sarah
May 2004
New Republic;5/10/2004, Vol. 230 Issue 17, p12
The author compares the recent pro-choice demonstration in Washington, D.C. with the last major abortion-rights rally in 1992. The last time the pro-choice movement converged on the capital for a major abortion-rights rally, in 1992, the scene was very different from Sunday's March for Women's Lives. Then, the crowd that filled the Mall was primarily white, female, and baby-boomer. And the event was spearheaded by the National Organization for Women (NOW), which, after the disappearance of the Equal Rights Amendment as a national issue in 1983, made abortion a raison d'être. At last weekend's march, by contrast, you had to look hard to even find the word "abortion." Since the first Bush administration, the threat to legalized abortion has not lessened, but it has become less obvious, making it harder for the pro-choice movement to mobilize. The change in tactics extended to the legislative arena. Instead of directly attacking Roe, conservatives pursued poll-tested initiatives that drew moderates to their cause while furthering the long-term goal of a ban on abortion. Such subtle rollbacks may be as frightening to Planned Parenthood, naral Pro-Choice America, and NOW as earlier Supreme Court cases, but they are far more difficult to challenge. So the pro-choice movement has taken a page from the right's playbook. The message at Sunday's march was carefully crafted to appeal to an audience beyond traditional abortion supporters, while reminding them that conservatives continue to undermine reproductive rights.


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