Wow. That was an incredible sight. LOTS of people. Loud. Raucous. Boisterous. Lively. Colorful. Cheerful. Empowering. Proactive. Challenging. Defiant. Inspiring.
First, a little picture action:
I've been to some demonstrations before, but this one was crazy. CSPAN showed some of it live, but I'm not sure when they started. I don't know if they caught only the tail end of it, when it didn't show on tv the massive numbers of people I saw out there. Supposed to be on again tonight at 2 am - prime time! Maybe I'll try to record that mess.
Definitely fun watching the pro-life, church people fight it out with the pro-choice people. Lots of pictures of mutilated fetuses out there. Lots of cops. Lots of celebs. Lots of Kerry signs. Lots of cameras.
All in all, a pretty massive display of power.
The whole pro-choice/pro-life debate is really about women's rights - that is, the larger issue of women's rights - not just whether or not women have the right to choose to have an abortion or not. That may seem obvious to some, but it wasn't obvious to me until I actually read something about it. I still can't articulate well, but the bottom line is this: Women, by the very nature of the fact that they coudl produce children, could be forced into a life of submissiveness, even near-slavery. If a woman was raped, for instance, she would have to take care of her child, which wouldn't leave time to work, which meant she was dependent on the government or a man to provide for her. Thus, she became beholden to either the government or a man to provide for her livelihood and the livelihood of her child - she gave up nearly all her rights as a free person. If she became dependent on a man, she surely couldn't cross that man in any way because she needed his financial assistance to live. If she chose, instead, to become beholden to the government, she'd have to follow all the government's rules, and more or less be confined to a life of near-poverty for the entirety of her future. Having a child could affect your life in myriad other ways. For instance, having a child that you have to raise by yourself would prevent you not only from not having a job, but from having a career. Shouldn't we all be entitled to have a career? To be able to work hard at some job and have the chance to move up in the world through dedicated hard work? Should women have to sacrifice their right to have a career because they have the ability to have children? By focusing our efforts on only the abortion issue, we miss the bigger issue - women's rights.
What could a possible solution to the abortion issue be, given that the country is so polarized on either side of the issue? Well, by focusing on the bigger issues of women's rights, I think we could make serious progress. For instance, I think we could drastically reduce the abortion rate in our country (currently, about 1.3 million abortions per year) by guaranteeing health and day care for all children in the United States from birth until such time as the mother and/or parents are able to provide care, or until that child is independent (i.e. 18 years old). By providing such case, would-be mothers would no longer be faced with the options of (i) giving their child up for adoption, (ii) having an abortion, (iii) or having and keeping the baby and essentially giving up their lives for the next 18 years. Is cutting the abortion rate in half something religious fundamentalists would consider worthwhile? Or would they still demand fully outlawing abortion? How many mothers would take the new option of having a baby now that they would be guaranteed health care and day care for the child until the child is 18? I like it.