The time is ripe for such a gathering. At every level -- federal, state, and local -- anti-choice hardliners are attacking our reproductive rights.
Anti-choice legislators have passed dangerous and misleading abortion bans on the federal and the state levels, threatening the lives and health of women. They‘ve imposed biased counseling laws and obstructionist mandatory waiting periods. These laws are an especially hard burden on women who live in one of the 87% of U.S. counties without an abortion provider and who must travel hours or days to access safe reproductive health care.
At the same time that they restrict access to abortion, anti-choice hardliners restrict access to the health care and information that can reduce the need for abortion. They promote abstinence-only education, which keeps our children in the dark when it comes to the truth about sexuality, contraception, pregnancy, and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. And, they attempt to restrict access to contraception, including emergency contraception. In some stores, pharmacists can refuse to fill valid prescriptions for birth control, regardless of the difficulties it poses for the woman in need. Many women whose pharmacists will fill their prescriptions often can‘t afford to pay, because many states still do not mandate contraceptive equity. Meanwhile, Viagra is routinely covered by health insurance plans.
These are all formidable obstacles to the exercise of reproductive rights. To overcome them, pro-choice Americans must not just fight back; we must also fight forward.
One crucial step in this direction is the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA), recently introduced in Congress. FOCA will prevent governments at all levels from discriminating against women who use birth control, decide to give birth, or choose to end a pregnancy, and will overturn the 350 laws restricting choice that are already on the books at the state and municipal levels.
But passing legislation is not enough. We must also stand up for our goals of reproductive rights and self-determination for women, men, and teens all around the world. We want to advance the right to choose in the fullest sense, including, but not limited to, increasing access to family planning, safe and legal abortion, and providing the medically accurate and age-appropriate sexual health education our young people need.
On April 25, a million people of every age, race, ethnicity, and culture will come to our nation‘s capital in numbers so strong that they cannot be missed and with voices so impassioned that they cannot be ignored. Join us on this historic day, and add your voice to the sound of freedom.