Women’s reproductive rights imperiled

No medical dictionary contains the phrase “partial birth abortion” because it is an invention of the anti-choice machine, a lurid phrase to whip up mass hysteria against reproductive choice for women, says Kim Gandy, president of the National Organization for Women.

The real goal, she warns, is to overturn the Supreme Court’s 1974 Roe v. Wade decision that made abortion legal. This was a huge step forward for women’s equality, especially for poor and working class women, who had been forced to resort to back alley abortions that killed millions.

Gandy denounced the Senate’s Oct. 21 vote to ban a medical procedure as a big step toward outlawing all abortions. The House has already approved the bill and George W. Bush promises to sign it.

The American Medical Association and the American Public Health Association warn that this bill is worded so vaguely that it could criminalize even the safest and most common abortion procedures.

Gandy accused the lawmakers of being “in the pocket” of right-wing extremists who are “using women’s health and lives as pawns to further a regressive agenda.”

Women’s equality organizations vow to challenge this legislation all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. In 2000, that court overturned a similar law enacted by the Nebraska state legislature. The narrow 5 to 4 majority by which the court overturned the Nebraska legislation underlines the urgency of defeating Bush and ultra-right Republican lawmakers in the 2004 election. Several Supreme Court justices are expected to retire in the next few years, and if Bush stays in office, he can be expected to name extreme, anti-women judges in the mold of Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.

Next April 25 a “Save Women’s Lives: March for Freedom of Choice” demonstration will sound the alarm and help mobilize a huge vote to defend women’s rights by ousting Bush Nov. 2, 2004.

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Bush’s ‘jobs & growth’ a bust

When George W. Bush unveiled his trillion dollar tax cut for the rich earlier this year, he trumpeted it as a “jobs and growth” program that would spur economic growth and job creation. Treasury Secretary John Snow took to the airwaves with promises of 5 million new jobs between mid-2003 and November 2004.

But it hasn’t happened that way. In the first increase in employment in eight months, only 57,000 jobs were created in September. Welcome as that was, it fell 287,000 jobs short of the 340,000 jobs per month needed to reach the administration’s promised 5 million new jobs by November 2004.

So it’s little wonder that Snow backtracked and came up with a promise of 2 million new jobs – fewer than 200,000 per month – between now and Election Day. But, given the fact that 170,000 new jobs are needed each month just to absorb new workers, creation of 200,000 jobs, even if achieved, will do little to lower an unemployment rate that has been above 6 percent for months.

We were told the “growth” part of the Bush tax cut would create jobs in two ways: investment by the wealthy in new factories, and increased demand for consumer goods as working families rushed to spend their “new riches.” But neither has happened.

The nation’s factories are operating at less than 73 percent of their capacity – hardly a situation calling for additional investment. Nor is $19 – the average tax reduction of nearly half of all taxpayers – going to do much to increase consumer demand.

The challenge is to make the jobs issue a defining issue in the 2004 elections. There are plenty of opportunities to do just that in the Democratic presidential primaries, the general election, and the races for 435 seats in the House of Representatives and 34 members of the U.S. Senate.