Sad Anniversary: Cause for Contemplation, not Celebration

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Friday, January 11, 2002

Sad Anniversary: Cause for Contemplation, not Celebration
Tuesday, January 22, 2002 marks the 29th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ever-controversial decision in Roe v. Wade, which effectively swept away any meaningful legal restrictions on abortion in the United States. Those who question the wisdom of the Supreme Court’s decision will mark the event this year with the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., ending up with a gathering and prayer in front of the Supreme Court building. Churches and Christian organizations around the country will observe “Sanctity of Human Life Sunday” on January 20. Those on the other side of this issue, who regard Roe with something approaching religious devotion, will also mark the anniversary of Roe in various ways, including their own counter demonstration at the Supreme Court building. This year in particular, with potential Supreme Court vacancies looming, both sides are gearing up to influence the selection of their replacements.

In addition to the March for Life, a number of pro-life organizations-including Concerned Women for America (CWA)-are sponsoring the “Shake the Nation (Back to Life)” campaign, designed to encourage President Bush to appoint pro-life justices and to petition the U.S. Senate to confirm them. “Shake the Nation” is also encouraging citizens to order baby rattles for eventual delivery to members of the Senate, to remind them of the human toll of the Roe decision.

In a TV ad to be aired for the first time at a news conference on Monday, Jan. 14, three founders of the abortion movement-Sandra Cano, the “Doe” of Doe v. Bolton, Bernard Nathanson, a co-founder of the NARAL, one of the largest pro-abortion organizations, and Norma McCorvey, the “Roe” of Roe v. Wade-will appear together to repudiate their former positions on this issue and to support the right to life. The intent of the campaign, according to project developer Janet Folger, is to “Shake the Nation Back to Life not just by talking about the politics of abortion, but by letting people know the truth about how we got where we are today.”

The Feminist Majority Foundation, meanwhile, is sponsoring a six-day event, One Million Voices, as part of their Million4Roe campaign to maintain a Supreme Court majority in favor of abortion on demand. Billed as “a week of reproductive rights activism to raise awareness about the threat to legal abortion in the United States,” the goal of the event is to raise money for the Million4Roe project and to collect petition signatures to be sent to President George W. Bush to urge him to, in their words, “stop appointments of reactionary judges.” For every 250,000 signatures they collect, 5,000 metal coat hangers will be sent to the president with the message, “We Won’t Go Back.” The coat hangers are a reference to the supposedly preferred abortion instrument during the legendary dark days of “back-alley abortions” before Roe. The number refers to a statistic often cited by abortion advocates as the potential number of deaths from illegal abortions pre-Roe. Neither the coat hanger myth nor the 5,000 number stands up under scrutiny, however. Official statistics from the Centers for Disease Control indicate a steady decline in the numbers of abortion-related deaths prior to 1973. In fact, CDC figures estimate a mere 39 deaths from abortions in 1972. Furthermore, licensed physicians performed the vast majority of pre-1973 abortions, not the back-alley butchers cited so often by abortion advocates.

One Million Voices events are scheduled at college campuses and other locations across the country during the week of January 22-27. In Boston, where the project originated, organizers plan a benefit concert and celebration on January 27 featuring a variety of musicians, poets, and even a puppet show for adults. Workshops are scheduled during the day with titles like “History of Mifepristone [RU-486],” “Anatomy of a Hate Crime/Living a Transgender Lifestyle,” and “Sex-travaganza! Safer Sex with Sex Toys” (We are not making this up.) The One Million Voices website suggests “Action Ideas” for the week leading up to Jan. 27 such as showing the Feminist Majority’s new pro-abortion film, “Never Go Back: The Threat to Legal Abortion,” an education campaign to raise awareness of so-called “emergency contraception” and RU-486, a “Hanger Commemoration and Visibility Event,” which ties in the Million4Roe theme, or hosting a fundraiser or “festival” similar to the Boston event.

As a symbol of women’s preferred choice, we believe a baby rattle is much preferable to a coat hanger.

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