by Maya Paley, NCJW LA Director of Legislative and Community Engagement
I spent this past Saturday at the first stop of the All Above All Be Bold Road Trip, a national campaign to speak out for reproductive justice and bring attention to the need to guarantee abortion coverage for low income women nationwide. NCJW is a partnering organization of All Above All, whose mission is to unite organizations and people to “build support for lifting the bans that deny abortion coverage.”
At 11 am, the Be Bold Bus parked at Plummer Park in West Hollywood, one of the more progressive cities in Los Angeles County, for its first rally of its tour across the country. Several of NCJW/LA’s members came to take part in the action.
One of our Board Members, Marilyn Szatmary, read the story of Anita from Florida, a full time student who felt that it was not the right time in her life to have a baby, as she would not be able to care for it. Another NCJW/LA member, Reina Martinez, read the story of a young woman who got pregnant while on the waiting list to receive birth control pills from Planned Parenthood. She was not ready to care for a child. A 13-year-old girl just beginning high school stepped up on the spot to read an abortion story. Her parents had brought her to the rally and were happy to have her read the story to the crowd. These stories illustrated the complexities of women’s lives and that every woman, regardless of her circumstances, should have the ability to make her own moral decision about abortion. A woman should not be treated differently just because she is poor or based on the insurance card in her wallet.
State Senator Holly Mitchell, who authored a bill in California that NCJW is championing, spoke at the rally about the separate but related issue of safeguarding birth control coverage, the Contraceptive Coverage Equity Act. This state legislation would ensure that all insured women in California can access the full range of FDA approved methods of birth control without cost sharing, delays, or denial of coverage, clarifying the contraceptive coverage requirement in the ACA for health insurance companies. Whether it’s about abortion, birth control, or other reproductive health care, women should not be forced to overcome political interference to access the care they need.
Other speakers included representatives from the ACLU of Southern California, California Women’s Law Center, Brown Boi, the National Health Law Program, and of course, NCJW/LA. Our Director of Advocacy, Ruth Williams, introduced elected officials, and I spoke about NCJW’s 120 years of social and reproductive justice advocacy. Here is a piece of what I said on Saturday:
NCJW is committed to ending federal restrictions that unjustly withhold coverage of abortion, like the Hyde Amendment. As a community and as a movement, we cannot let Hyde, Hobby Lobby, anything, or anyone get away with restricting coverage for our health. It is unjust for lawmakers to privilege the religious views of those who oppose abortion over everyone else’s right.
We are here today at Plummer Park so that this country knows that we in Los Angeles will always stand up for women’s rights and for reproductive and economic justice. …We will not back down until all women truly can access, afford, and receive the healthcare they need, including abortions and contraception.
The Be Bold bus is charismatic in itself—with its bright green colors and Be Bold slogan. It will stand out in any park or on any highway. People will look at it with wonder and hopefully look it up and learn all about the campaign and its goals. However, the Be Bold Road Trip cannot be successful without our active participation. This campaign needs us — the movement, the community, women, men, and families — to BE BOLD. We must demand that our government guarantee that all women in this country have the ability to make their own reproductive decisions without having to worry about affordability or accessibility. The campaign cannot succeed without our presence at each rally, without our promotion for each tour stop, and without our voice on the tour and in the media. And even after the bus reaches its final destination, we must not stop pursuing change on this critical reproductive justice issue. It is not the bus with slogans that will actually make the difference: IT IS US!
To find out where the upcoming Be Bold Road Trip stops are, visit www.allaboveall.org.