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Why We Marched in Washington
Senta Erbe

Abortion is such a nasty topic for many people-particularly religious zealots who have tried time and again to impose their values on the whole population of the United States. The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment guarantees the division of the State from the Church. Why then, in 2004, are our rights as free-Americans being hindered by people whom feel that their value system of anti-abortion sentiment should be supported by the state? And why has the administration of George W. Bush taken it upon themselves to promote legislation that will over-rule the Supreme Court decision of Roe v. Wade, guaranteeing Americans the right to privacy, the right to choose? I don’t understand; what happened to my country? Where are my civil liberties? Where are my Rights?

On April 26, 2004, over one million women and men marched and assembled for the March for Women’s Lives, sponsored largely in part by the National Organization for Women (NOW). From an air-born perspective, one could see a sea of faces and banners starting from the Washington Memorial along a one mile stretch to Capitol Hill, in Washington D.C. It was the largest march for Women’s Lives in the history of the United States and perhaps one of the most neglected marches in media coverage. This does not awe me considering that the current affiliations of media conglomerations and our presidential administration are nicely intertwined with each other.
Yet, people went, and people marched because like me, they believe that a woman that becomes pregnant-regardless of the circumstance-should have the right to choose what to do with her life and with her body. As a woman, I find it ludicrous that people think they have the right to impose their will on my life through the State. I counterattack their views with one simple statement “You don’t believe in abortion? Don’t have one.” So I marched for me, I marched for you, and I marched for everyone that wanted to be there but couldn’t.

As an issue close to the hearts of many people, the Women’s College Student Association at Santa Monica College (WCSA) took it upon themselves to represent their friends, families, peers, and everyone that wanted to march for Pro-Choice but couldn’t, for we all hold the belief that the separation of State and Church should be honored and protected by us-the citizens-and all legislative bodies.
In October of 2003, WCSA President Ksenia Snylyk and Vice President Sara Falugo went to the Feminist Majority pro-choice assembly in Los Angeles where the March for Women’s Lives was brought to their attention. It didn’t take long before these women decided to organize a group representation of the WCSA and SMC to march for what they believe to be one of the most important civil rights accomplishments in our history. Together, along with four other SMC students founded the WCSA as an affiliation to the Women’s College. By establishing a living and working club, the WCSA was able to request funds from the Associated Students to help send them and any other person that wanted to go to our nation's capital.

I joined the WCSA in the spring of 2004 and took office as the treasurer after I found out that six WCSA members were planning to march for Pro-Choice in Washington. I wasn’t alone in joining, and before the spring semester started rolling ahead, eighteen women had committed themselves to go to Washington and participate in any fund-raising endeavors we needed to get the necessary money to go.

The organization of the March became a daunting process with numerous days of tedious work that was actively embraced by the WCSA. As poor students, we all knew the importance of supporting each other and doing our part to raise enough money to enable us to participate in a cause we all believe in. So, with our hearts filled with determination, we raised money by selling donuts, multiple car washes, fund-raising, t-shirt sales, and the generous donations of many pro-choice people. It didn’t take long before we had raised enough money to go, and thanks to the support of Associated Students at SMC, our hopes and dreams met their reality on April 26.

I have to say, our nation's capital is breathtaking. Walking the streets of Washington D.C, seeing the Lincoln Memorial, the Smithsonian, Capitol Hill, and the museum of Tolerance was an opportunity I didn’t expect to have anytime in the near future. But most importantly, the opportunity I would have the following day to voice my beliefs and to practice my political right to protest unlawful legislation overwhelmed me with satisfaction. As an activist, a humanist, a feminist, and a citizen of the United States, I will go to any length to ensure I use and protect the rights and civil liberties that every founder, every civil rights leader, every man, woman and child that fought and died, to give me these freedoms I now have the privilege to enjoy.

The march began at dawn. The District of Columbia hosted people from all over the country. The WCSA made the acquaintance of women and men from Hawaii, Florida, Nebraska, California, and almost every other state. The shared sentiment of complete disgust that our right to Choice and Privacy is on the brink of termination motivated thousands of people to leave the comfort of their lives and march for women’s lives.

I remember arriving at the march with the WCSA and forming an assembly line alongside the Feminist Majority. All around me, people of all ages and stations held banners of protest, banners of affirmative action, and banners contesting the Bush Administration’s views on a woman’s right to life. I admit I got star struck when I saw the famous faces of singer Anita Baker, actors Camryn Manheim, Susan Sarandon, Whoopi Goldberg, Ashley Judd (to name a few) and the political representation of U.S Senator Barbara Boxer, and countless others whose support of privacy and choice has presently helped keep unlawful legislation from passing. At times during the march I didn’t realize that I was surrounded by some of the most influential political and public voices of this century. But nonetheless, when I realized the company I was in, I was pleased beyond words that they too supported my beliefs.

The march was not just about Pro-Choice people assembling and demanding the protection of their rights. It was about people uniting together in a common cause that will protect everyone’s liberties. My friend and fellow WCSA colleague, Carla Garcia said, “I have personal issues with abortion. I wouldn’t have one. But I march today because I believe that every person should have the right to choose.” I respect her views, because she respects people’s right to choose, and she marched for them too.

There were many issues addressed at the march. For one, a demand for universal healthcare in which every man, woman, and child would have equal access to quality healthcare. This is an important issue to fight for. About one in every three Americans does not have adequate healthcare that will provide the proper insurance to cover the incredibly expensive privately, for-profit owned medical practice in the U.S. Secondly, a demand for insurance companies to cover the expense of birth control, considering that most insurances cover the expense of Viagra. Imagine if men got pregnant there would be an abortion clinic on every corner, in every town and city, and in all fifty states.

Senta Erbe is a Sociology and Women's Studies major. She will continue her studies at University of California, Irvine and hopes to earn a law degree.


 

 

 

 

 
The Women’s College Magazine at Santa Monica College
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