Well, I'm just back from the March and what with all the activities leading up to it, I have been kind of quiet, so sorry about that. This was not my first March on Washington, for one cause or another, but I was really struck by the diversity and friendly "chaos" of it all. Of course, the idea was that each delegation would march together in some kind of unit and you could see that there was such an effort to coordinate outfits and signs and so forth.
I was marching with a bunch of providers who carried We Trust Women signs. Code Pink was behind us and were designated as our "security" which we all loved and were touched by--the pink netting was comically comforting somehow. But as soon as we marched off whatever order we started with was completely lost, so there was this kaleidoscope of colors and people and signs. We were all together, picking up on each other's chants and appreciating a good sign (FREE MARTHA..... Belly Dancers for Choice....Another white feminist man for choice). One of the slogans that we invoked when confronted with some anti-abortion protesters was "This is what democracy looks like!" The Abortion Debate seems to bring out the Monotheists so it was a nice reminder that we are a pluralistic country where there should be room for all kinds of opinion and belief.
One of the younger providers I was walking next to said, "I am really uncomfortable with this--and she waved toward the anti's.." She didn't mean the anti-abortion protesters, whom she sees everyday, she meant the angry exchanges the pro choice marchers were having with them. One thing that I think some providers have evolved over the years is an inner peace about what we are doing. When you sit with women, hold their hand during surgery, do ultrasounds, check pregnancy tissue to be sure the abortion was complete, etc. and know that you have truly helped someone have their future, the presence of anti's can't throw you off.
One of the tricks to that evolution is staying focused on your positive agenda. My young fellow marcher didn't want to feel all that hate and anger at the protesters--it took too much of her valuable energy that she wouldn't then have for her positive work with women. When I read some of the comments to this blog (thanks for writing, everyone, it's nice to hear from you...) I caught Jennifer's story about the March from the "other side", and I thought, "both realities can be true." I am happy she didn't have an abortion in 2000 and that she has a 3.5 y.o. (that's my favorite age). If you read these journal entries, you know that we really don't want to do an abortion for a woman who does not want one, and we try to check that out with her. Pro-life folks need to know that some abortions really are right for the women that choose them. They need to remember that pregnancy decisions are really complicated and women do the best that they can.
We should make a more compassionate place for women and their families to consider their options. It's really a tough place to consider such life and death stuff. I felt that the marchers were angry at the judgmental attitude of the protesters and were trying to affirm the necessity of having an abortion and not feeling stigmatized by it. Understandable, but call me pollyanna, what if we all worked on our positive agendas and stopped giving our energy to judgment and hate? Jennifer could make the world better for young mothers, single or otherwise. We could help women make the best decisions they can, and help them not feel so alone. Isn't that what democracy looks like?
--Bon (ok, pollyanna)