by Iris Waichler, L.C.S.W.
The Chicago Tribune just released the results of a survey done by the independent,
non-partisan Kaiser Family Foundation. They polled approximately 1,200 women and asked them their views on reproductive programs in the United States.
The results of the survey offered some interesting themes. The first was “about one third of American women believe there is a broad effort under way to limit their access to reproductive services including contraception, family planning, and abortion.” The survey also reported, “42% of women have felt strongly enough about it to take some sort of action including trying to influence another’s opinions or donating money.” Another finding showed women think the job market and the economy are more important topics for our presidential contenders to be addressing.
The survey highlighted the ongoing, historical and philosophical differences between different political factions. Most conservatives continue to remain strong in their anti-abortion beliefs. Many liberals remain firm in their position that a woman has the right to choose what is done with her own body in terms of reproductive treatment decisions. This article reminds us of recent events in the news, such as the much-publicized decision, later recanted, by the Susan G. Komen Foundation to stop funding Planned Parenthood and President Obama’s position to require faith- based healthcare programs to cover the costs for female contraceptives. National stories like this tend to keep people talking and thinking and I believe that is good for all of us.
While researching this article, I couldn’t help but recall a demonstration I participated in in 1989, the March for Women's Lives sponsored by the National Organization for Women (NOW). Approximately 500,000-600,000 people from around the country who shared my beliefs about women’s rights marched past the White House. There were people as far as I could see behind me and in front of me. I remember feeling amazed that I was surrounded by that many people of all ages, religions and ethnic backgrounds, living in all 50 states, who were moved to action. Like me, they were so passionate about their values they came to Washington to make their position known on a national level. It was a very emotional and empowering experience. I remember thinking at the time that our march and our voices could make a difference on a national level in terms of policy and dialogue. Ronald Reagan was President then.
Many Presidents with opposing political views on reproductive rights have come and gone since that day I stood in front of the White House. I never could have imagined then that one day, the kindness of an egg donor would make me a parent today. Obviously the debate about reproductive rights continues. People remain firm and vocal in their own personal beliefs and values around this issue. The backlash against the Komen Foundation, and their ultimate decision to alter their policy, demonstrates our voices and the actions we take can indeed make a difference. I was encouraged by the survey statistic citing the “42% of women who felt strongly enough” to talk with others and lend their support in a variety of ways to their cause. Twelve hundred people is a relatively small sample. Does it reflect national trends? I am hopeful that we will continue to keep this critical discussion going and remain actively involved in this important national dialogue that directly affects so many of us. I truly believe your voice and actions can indeed make a difference. To me, it feels just as important today as it did when I marched in 1989. I hope your beliefs around reproductive rights and the fundamental issues associated with these rights will inspire you to keep this discussion alive and ongoing.
Iris Waichler, MSW, LCSW, has a Master’s Degree in Social Work and has been a licensed clinical social worker for over 30 years. She has done workshops, individual, and group counseling with people experiencing infertility. Ms. Waichler is the author of the award winning Riding the Infertility Roller Coaster: A Guide to Educate and Inspire. She currently writes freelance infertility and health related articles.