ANN ARBOR- From October 10-14, the Ann Arbor Pro-Choice Coalition sponsored its flrst annual Reproductíve Rights Awareness Week. This year 's theme focused on the current abortion crisis and demanded women's right to control our own bodies. The week's events consisted of three educational forums, an aftemoon of workshops, and a prochoice speak-out and rally. Over 500 supporters attended these events, sending a clear message to everyone that Arm Arbor is pro-choice. Tuesday's forum discussed religious and philosophical issues surrounding abortion rights. While those who oppose a woman's right to control her own body imply that they have a monopoly on religious faith, both Arm Marie Coleman of the Religious Coalition for Abortion Rights and Sandra Damesworth of Catholics for Free Choice emphasized that abortion can be a positive moral decisión. "In order to live productive and meaningful lives, women must be able to plan their reproduction. I do not find moral those who see women merely as incubators and not as valuable participan ts in society," argued Damesworth. Wednesday's keynote speaker. Dr. Ethelene Crockett-Jones - an obstetrican-gynecologist at Detroit's Hutzel Hospital - echoed these sentiments when she recounted one of her first experiences with a patiënt who was literally dying from pregnancy. The patiënt, a young woman of 26 or 27, only in her first few months of pregnancy, had a severe case of toxemia. Because toxemia increases in severity as a pregnancy progresses, the woman would likely die if she did not receive an abortion. This incident occurred in a Catholic hospital before abortion was legal in the U.S. "Imagine my shock," recalled Jones, "when the hospitai's medical review board denied the patiënt' s request. Every doctor in that institution knew that the patiënt and her unbom child would die if she were forced to carry that pregnancy to term. 'How can anyone cali such people 'pro-life'"? Similar questions were asked throughout the week, especially at Thursday night's panel on productive Rights and Women of Color." Christina José-Kampfher from U-M's Women's Studies Program discussed the sterilization abuse that Latina women and other women of color face regularly. While the govemment refuses to fund medicaid abortions - and thus pro vide poor women some reproductive control - it continúes to pay 90% of all sterilization costs. Many women are misinformed about the irreversibility of sterilization, or they are granted abortions only if they accept the so-called "package plan" - abortionplus sterilization, Kamfner said. Sterilization abuse was one of several issues panelists mentioned, during the evening, that they said the women's movement must address if it is to reach out to poor and working-class women, and especially to women of color. Barbara Ransby of the United Coalition Against Racism emphasized that a woman who has an abortion because she cannot afford another child does not really have "choice." Only when society provides childcare, health care, education and fulñlling career options to everyone will women really control our reproductive lives, she said. As Sharon Holland declared to the over 250 participants at Saturday 's pro-choice rally at the Ann Arbor Federal Building, "The struggle for women's right to reproductive freedom is intrinsically linked to issues of sexism, heterosexism and racism. The same forces who wish to deny women access to abortion are also those who object to sex outside of marriage, who oppose AIDS funding and research, and who seek to overtum affirmative action laws. We must all join together to fight our common enemy." For an injury to one is an injury to all. The Arm Arbor Pro-Choice Coalition is made up of the Ann Arbor Committee to Defend Abortion Rights (CDAR), the National Organization for Women (NOW) and Planned Parenthood.
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