February 22, 2019

‘Rally to save Roe’ is an important first step

On the eve of the inauguration of Donald Trump and the 44th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the National Council of Jewish Women Los Angeles and the California Latinas for Reproductive Justice are co-hosting a “Rally to Save Roe,” a protest and young activist training intended to defend women’s reproductive rights in California. The rally will send a bold message to Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress that a broad coalition of women—including women of color and women of faith—are ready to protect and advance women’s access to reproductive health care during the next four years.

Given the level of vitriol and coordinated attacks on reproductive health care of young women already being waged by anti-choice politicians across the country, making space for young activists to fight back is more important than ever.

The rally, which will disrupt business as usual on Fairfax avenue[KM1] , will demonstrate women’s commitment to upholding the right to abortion  established 44 years ago in the historic 1973 supreme court case, Roe v. Wade. Amidst a political climate in which the President-Elect has pledged to overturn Roe, defending our basic Constitutional rights has become crucial.

But the election of Donald Trump is not the only thing the pro-choice movement has to worry about. Over the past five years, politicians who want to ban abortion outright have quietly passed hundreds—338 to be precise—of new restrictions that force women to delay care, shut down clinics, and even make doctors lie to their patients. All these restrictions have a disproportionate impact on young women’s ability to make [KM2] decisions about their own bodies.   

The intensity with which politicians have pursued legislation to restrict almost every facet of women’s health care has been devastating to abortion access in this country. One thing out of touch politicians [KM3] have failed to account for, however, is that their onslaught of attacks have awoken and politicized a new group of young activists.

Restricting women’s health care is an unpopular policy position to take. It affects the day to day lives of women, including young women, everywhere. And as they will soon find out, women who’ve been denied their basic rights and personal decisions have power, and we’ll use that power to make change happen.  

Like my fellow millennial women, I came of age during a time when it felt like all of the progress of our feminist foremothers was being rolled back. We watched as politicians used every trick in the book to deny us meaningful access to our right to an abortion, a right we’d been told was protected by the Constitution. We watched as politicians slut-shamed women using birth control, used racist rhetoric to shame women of color for having children and attacked Planned Parenthood, a health clinic that provides body-positive, inclusive health care to many low-income young women across the country.

Before the President-Elect has even taken office, the Republican-controlled Senate voted (again) to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which expanded access to Medicare and, crucially for young women, ensured they could remain on their parents’ health care until age 26.

These attacks have had material effects on all women, but have hurt young women, working class women, and women of color most. As a young, underemployed college graduate, I am worried about my own access to basic reproductive healthcare if Trump and Paul Ryan’s anti-woman Congress have their way.

To successfully fight back against the draconian policies being pursued by those in power, it’s important to galvanize the energy and rage of those, like me, who will be most affected. That’s why it’s so important that the Rally to Save Roe” is more than just a demonstration—it’s a training to equip the new generation of activists with the tools they need to resist Trump’s agenda to shame and punish women who need abortion care.

By welcoming young women—including young Latinas and young Jewish women—these organizations will help to build a powerful cadre of Californians who can lead the movement to defend our rights and health care.

Maybe more importantly, by listening to the diverse voices of young women from a variety of backgrounds, established movement leaders will learn what brings us to activism, and how we envision the future of the pro-choice movement, a future that is all the more precarious in the face of unrepentant misogynist Donald Trump.

The activist training following the “Rally to Save Roe” is just the first step in elevating the voices of young women. If you’re a millennial and you’re sick of politicians interfering with your decisions, make your voice heard. Speak out on social media, start conversations with friends and family members about how laws passed by politicians in Washington affect you personally, contact your local, state, and federal legislators, and don’t forget to vote in every election.

Trump wants to take us backward, but young women are fighting back. We want our country to continue moving forward, and we won’t let men in Congress or the White House stop us.

Carley Towne is a native Southern Californian and young feminist activist.