The official toll from 2011’s War on Women is in. According to the Guttmacher Institute, a record-breaking 92 new state-level restrictions on abortion were passed last year, the most ever.
In response, reproductive-rights groups hope to make 2012 the year that women fought back—and won.
To ring in 2012, the Silver Ribbon Campaign to Trust Women, a coalition of 42 national and local pro-choice organizations, has launched a high-profile campaign in the streets of San Francisco to build momentum among supporters of women’s rights.
Several banners advocating reproductive rights and justice are now flying on Market Street in San Francisco. The slogans vary but the message is the same: Women should have access to basic health care services and should be allowed to make their own decisions about reproductive health care, including family planning and abortion. Or put even more simply: Trust Women.
Anti-choice messages in public space abound, from “Choose Life” license plates to anti-abortion billboards (often with racist messaging). This campaign is a step towards creating equal visibility for pro-choice messaging, and it couldn’t come at a more critical time.
“When the House of Representatives votes that it is okay for doctors to allow pregnant women to die in the emergency room rather than perform an abortion, it’s time for women to wake up and fight back,” says Sophia Yen, M.D., a co-founder of the Silver Ribbon Campaign. She explains:
As a mother and a pediatrician who specializes in adolescent medicine, I want to insure that my patients and my own daughters continue to enjoy the right to plan their families and pursue their career goals. For women, that means protecting and expanding reproductive rights.
Loretta Ross, National Coordinator of SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective, notes:
Women of color are more likely to be adversely affected by policy and budget cuts to family planning. It is important for women of color to be trusted to make these private personal decisions for ourselves and our families. It is our human right to do so and we will not be shamed or silenced.
Ellen R. Shaffer, Ph.D., co-director of the Silver Ribbon Campaign, says,
Many women are angry that our health is being used as a political football, in attempts to divert attention away from the troubled economy as we enter an election year. We need the government to fix the economy and to fund vital basic health services, that are especially critical for low-income women, and to quit interfering with our private decisions about our reproductive health.
The 70 banners will wave throughout January. The group has declared the week of Jan. 22 (the anniversary of the historic Roe v. Wade decision) to be Trust Women Week, with celebratory events nationwide, including a virtual march in partnership with MoveOn.org.