....Senator Hilary Clinton was one of many Democratic Party politicians who spoke. "The last march helped elect a pro-choice president," she said. "If all we do is march today that will not change the direction this country is headed under this administration…. We have to vote."
"We didn't have to march for 12 long years because we had a government that respected the rights of women," Hillary Clinton said, boasting about her husband's presidency. "The only way we're going to be able to avoid having to march again and again and again is to elect John Kerry." The New York Times and other liberal dailies highlighted this remark.
The last major mobilization for abortion rights took place in April 1992, seven months before the election of William Clinton. No such national march was called during the Clinton presidency.
The claims by Democratic politicians notwithstanding, attacks on women's right to choose abortion—especially restricting access for working-class and farm women—have been pushed through by both Democratic and Republican administrations (see article in this issue).
While organizers pushed hard for mobilizing to elect Kerry, there was no enthusiasm among a sizeable number of demonstrators, especially youth, for the Democratic presidential candidate. "Kerry sucks less," was a typical comment, comparing Kerry to Bush, and expressing an attitude widespread among thousands.
There was no perspective offered by the organizers on what to do next to fight for women's rights, other than registering to vote and "pushing Bush out" in November. But the size and spirit of the demonstration showed the massive character of the support for a woman's right to choose abortion, indicating the immense difficulty all those trying to make abortion a crime once again will have to reach that goal....
The Militant - May 11, 2004 -- Mass march in D.C. backs women's right to choose
....The New York march was one of the larger protest actions being organized around the Republican National Convention. Most of the speakers focused on opposing the Bush administration at the polls, implicitly backing Democrat John Kerry. Among the speakers were Kerry's sister, Peggy Kerry, and Democratic congressman Major Owens of New York. "This is the most important election in 50 years," asserted Owens, a Kerry supporter. "If Bush is reelected, we will be smothered by a fascist, totalitarian government."
Many of the marchers favored Kerry, believing his election will make a difference in protecting reproductive rights. Although there was an abundance of anti-Bush signs, only a handful of pro-Kerry signs were visible, and support for the Democratic candidate was mostly lukewarm.
Abhas Gupta, 23, a first-year student at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, was part of a contingent of youth called South Asians for Women's Lives. "Our platform is to mobilize against the global gag rule," he said.
He was referring to a U.S. government policy that denies U.S. funding to any organization that engages directly or indirectly in offering abortion services or counseling in other countries. The 1984 rule was restored by the Bush administration in January 2001. The Clinton administration had rescinded the measure in 1993, but then approved a limited "gag rule" in 1999.
Others expressed reservations about the Kerry campaign. "I'm protesting the Bush administration and the political war on women," said Justine Davies, a student from Sarah Lawrence College in New York. "But this is not just about Bush. This is a march for abortion rights and expanding our rights.
"At first I thought Kerry was better than Bush," she said, "but I don't think Kerry thinks the right to choose is a priority. He said abortion is wrong, but supports the right to choose. He doesn't have a strong line on it. And on Iraq, Kerry is more like Bush."
The Militant - September 14, 2004 -- N.Y. march: 'defend women's right to choose!'
....Speaking April 23 to pro-Democrat organizers of the March for Women's Lives, Kerry—who presents himself as better qualified to lead the so-called war on terror than President George Bush—identified women's rights with a "stronger America…. We are going to have a change in leadership in this country to protect the right of choice," he said. The 20-year senator said that abortion should be "safe, legal, and rare."
The presidential candidate did not appear at the march, which drew around a million people.
The Militant - May 25, 2004 -- Bishop chastises New Jersey governor
How abortion was decriminalized: Lessons of abortion rights struggle
Democrats' record on abortion
BY MICHAEL ITALIE
From the stage of the massive April 25 march to defend women's right to choose, Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York told the hundreds of thousands of protesters, "We didn't have to march for 12 long years because we had a government that respected the rights of women."
The record proves this a lie. In the last 30 years, the right of a woman to choose abortion and other women's rights have suffered as many blows under Democratic administrations as under Republican presidents.
In 1977 Democratic president James Carter signed into law the Hyde Amendment, the first major assault on the right to choose following the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision decriminalizing abortion. This reactionary piece of legislation shut off Medicaid funding for abortions. In the following two years 1.5 million women were unable to obtain an abortion because of a lack of facilities or an inability to pay. As a result of the Hyde Amendment, to a large degree, only 21 of the 50 U.S. states provide any funding for abortions today.
The Clinton-Gore 1992 presidential ticket's position on abortion was that it should be "safe, legal, and rare." This has been the mantra for John Kerry as well. Kerry adds that he is "personally pro-life," the term used widely by the anti-choice movement.
On the 25th anniversary of Roe, Gore called for pro- and anti-choice forces to "work together on a common goal: reducing the number of abortions."
During the Clinton presidency the number of U.S. counties with an abortion provider declined from 16 percent to 14 percent. Today it is 13 percent.
Under Clinton's watch, Congress in 1999 extended the Hyde Amendment to ban Medicare funding for abortions. Hillary Clinton's husband signed that into law. Medicare today covers nearly 700,000 disabled women of child-bearing age, many of whom have medical conditions in which carrying a pregnancy to term could cause serious complications, or even death.
Perhaps the greatest blow Clinton delivered to women's rights was the 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, in which he fulfilled his pledge to "end welfare as we know it." This eliminated Aid for Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) and cut off food stamps and Medicaid for many working people. The consequences of this law are especially devastating for the 10 million women raising children on their own.
Clinton's eight-year broadside on women's rights is often papered over by those who urge support for Democrats by citing his veto of bills attempting to ban certain late-term abortion procedures. At the same time, however, these liberals never mention how Clinton used even this veto to pave the way for the future passage of such bills.
Clinton said he vetoed the bills because they did not include exceptions for when the mother's health is at risk. In December 1996, he said that if sponsors of the bill "will help me with language here and do it in good faith, I will happily sign this bill."
There is one other related myth that needs to be debunked. A number of speakers at the massive April 25 rally in Washington, D.C., said that "the next president to appoint a Supreme Court justice must be John Kerry," alleging that another high court judge appointed by a Republican president will mean the death of Roe v. Wade. Consider these facts, however: three of the seven judges in the Supreme Court that issued the Roe ruling had been appointed by Republican Richard Nixon, including Harold Blackmun who authored the majority opinion; five of the seven who formed the majority were Republican appointees; and one of the two dissenting votes in that decision was cast by a justice appointed by liberal icon John F. Kennedy.
The Militant - May 11, 2004 -- Democrats' record on abortion