During his first week in office, Dubya may have single-handedly reinvigorated the pro-choice movement, now gathering force online, when he came down -- hard -- on the side of anti-abortionists.
In a move that should have shocked no one, but managed to anyhow, the new leader of the free world signed an executive order reinstating the "Mexico City Policy," which halts government funding for international family planning groups that provide abortion services. The prohibition extends even to groups that use only private funds, not government money, to terminate unwanted pregnancies.
Next, the man who soft-pedaled his position on abortion during debates sent a pointed, terrifyingly clear message to anti-abortion protesters gathered outside the U.S. Supreme Court on the 28th anniversary of Roe v. Wade.
"In so many ways, you make our society more compassionate and welcoming," Bush told the pro-lifers. "We share a great goal: to work toward a day when every child is welcomed in life and protected in law -- affirming that every person, at every stage and season of life, is created equal in God's image."
The pro-choice forces are responding to Bush and hard-line conservatives with a massive campaign to harness the majority of Americans who believe in a woman's right to choose. If you're wondering how to climb on board the choice wagon, visit these Web sites.
The National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (www.naral.org) is packed with information about Bush and attorney general pick John Ashcroft's "assaults" on abortion. The site also provides plenty of evidence to put in front of your friends who think it's acceptable to return to the states the decision of whether to keep abortion legal. (Boo, hiss. Might work if you live in New York; God help you if you live in Mississippi.) Through NARAL's "Ten Minute Activist" page, you can write Congress, check congressional voting records, e-mail reports to friends, sign up for e-mail action alerts, and donate to the group's pro-choice efforts. You can also download a "Stop Ashcroft" campaign action kit.
Join a dynamic pro-choice community at RoevBush.com. Designed by John Aravosis, the gay activist behind the successful StopDrLaura.com, this snappy Planned Parenthood site begs to be visited daily to see the latest abortion news, or which new celebrity has signed on to the cause. (The site's gallery of celebrities and clergy currently includes actress Julianne Moore, singer Joan Osborne, actor Stanley Tucci, and playwright Eve Ensler.) RoevBush also provides regular news updates and links to outside articles. The site allows you to forward a message to five friends or write letters to the editors of major newspapers.
In contrast to RoevBush.com, the National Organization for Women site (www.now.org) is dull and rather static. However, you can still get information on feminist causes, including a list of reasons NOW is just saying no to Dubya and a (poorly designed) "Roe v. Wade v. Bush" message from president Patricia Ireland. (Ladies, we're with you, but polish up this site a bit. It looks so 1975.)
Pro-choice Democrats are looking to the midterm congressional elections as their next big chance to take back some power. Visit www.emilyslist.org for information about women candidates and representatives who fought the Ashcroft nomination, rather than taking the civil, cowardly middle ground.
The Web is home to scores of personal abortion rights sites. To tie into a "Pro-Choice Webring," head to ProChoiceChick's site (roni.terrashare.com/prochoice/). Need a pro-choice banner for your Web site? Visit www.geocities.com/
ronigoddess/prochoice/pcbuttons.html and download one for free.
Looking for humor in these grim times? Read Bust Magazine's (www.bust.com) take on Ashcroft and Laura Bush's support of Roe v. Wade (and abstinence). "What a way to celebrate the 28th anniversary of Roe v. Wade -- with the declaration of Bush v. Women's Rights," say the nouveau feminist Bust editors. And: "Maybe we should all get married to men like W. -- then we'd be inclined to be abstinent, too." Ouch.
If you're jonesing to post your own abortion info site, you might consider nabbing the domain name "abortion.com." You can visit the site, currently displaying an illustration of a baby, and bid to buy the domain from JKG Enterprises of Chatsworth, Calif. And don't miss the National Right to Life Committee site (www.nrlc.org), where you can keep up with the latest anti-choice strategies. Just be prepared for a bit of right-wing glee; this site has long heralded Bush as their pro-life candidate. It seems they get the last laugh. For now.
Donna Ladd writes from New York City. This piece first appeared in The Village Voice.