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What Was the "March for Women's Lives"?

By John Perazzo
May 4, 2006

Held on April 25, 2004 at the National Mall in Washington, DC, the March for Women's Lives was a demonstration whose purpose was ostensibly to defend a constellation of women’s health-care issues, but which focused overwhelmingly on preserving and expanding the right to taxpayer-funded abortion-on-demand. March organizers estimated that 1.15 million people participated in the rally; lower estimates suggested that some 800,000 were in attendance. Either number would make it the largest protest in American history.

The rally was organized by seven major groups: NARAL Pro-Choice America; the Feminist Majority Foundation; the American Civil Liberties Union; Planned Parenthood; the National Organization for Women; the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health;
and the Black Women's Health Imperative.

In addition, more than 1,400 organizations co-sponsored the event, including: Alliance for Justice; the American Friends Service Committee; Bitch Magazine; Catholics for a Free Choice; the Center For Women's Policy Studies; Code PINK; the Communist Party USA; the Democratic National Committee; the Green Party USA; Women for Peace; the Democratic Socialists of America; Girls Incorporated; the International Action Center; the International Socialist Organization; the League of Women Voters; the Mexican American Legal Defense & Educational Fund; the National Abortion Federation; the National Abortion Federation; the National Women's Health Network; the National Women's Law Center; the National Women's Political Caucus; the People For the American Way Foundation; Progressive Majority; Radical Women; Refuse & Resist!; the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force; the Ladies' Misbehavior Society; the Socialists Workers Party; the Workers World Party; the Hillary Rodham Clinton Support Network; Socialist Alternative; Veteran Feminists of America; United for Peace and Justice; Veteran Feminists of America; Women's Action for New Directions; the Women's International League For Peace & Freedom; and numerous chapters of the YWCA. An "Honorary Congressional Co-Sponsor" was Congressman Barney Frank.

Prior to the rally, the National Organization for Women called the event “a wake up call to every person who does not realize that reproductive rights are in danger.” “We must demonstrate the depth and diversity of our support,” said NOW. “…We are prepared to protect our right to abortion, birth control and all reproductive health services, as well as our right to have children and plan our own families without government interference. We will never go back to the days before Roe v. Wade when women died from illegal abortions.”

Featured speakers at the March for Women's Lives included Planned Parenthood President Gloria Feldt; California Senator Barbara Boxer; Feminist Majority Foundation President Eleanor Smeal; Ms. Foundation for Women co-founder Gloria Steinem; Medea Benjamin, the longtime pro-Castro communist who founded Global Exchange and Code Pink for Peace; Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi; NOW President Kim Gandy; New York Senator Hillary Clinton; former NOW President Patricia Ireland; Catholics for a Free Choice founder Frances Kissling; former U.S. Secretary of State Madeline Albright; Congresswoman Maxine Waters; then-NARAL President Kate Michelman; Progressive Caucus member Eleanor Holmes Norton; former Illinois Senator Carol Moseley Braun; United Farm Workers of America co-founder Dolores Huerta; media mogul Ted Turner; and entertainers such Kathleen Turner, Whoopi Goldberg, Carole King, Cybill Shepherd, and Susan Sarandon.

After the rally's conclusion, Planned Parenthood President Gloria Feldt said, “We sent a message to Washington today: there is a war on choice in this country, but we're going to win this battle. … If this administration and Congress don't get the message after today, they are deaf to a growing wave of outrage. … Today was proof of a realignment — reproductive rights are human rights, and threats to them will result in potent and widespread reaction.”

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