Where are the Young Reproductive Rights Activists?

Maine Women's Day 2013Have you read the recent TIME magazine article by Kate Pickert about abortion rights in the United States?

Among other things, the article points out that anti-abortion forces have been successful in limiting access to abortion services all over the country.  This is not a surprise; Guttmacher recently released a disturbing report about the alarming number of abortion restrictions enacted into law in 2012. Although abortion is still legal, it has become increasingly less accessible to many, many women.

The issue of accessibility is complex and something I will address in future blog posts but today I want to talk about one focus of the TIME article that is personally bugging me.

I absolutely take exception with Pickert’s assertion that young people, specifically young activists, are not involved in reproductive rights activism. Millennials are interested. They have been, and continue to be, engaged in all sorts activism. The thing is — it’s not necessarily the same kind of activism that built and sustained the abortion rights movement.

Social media has changed the landscape of activism and young people are digital natives who can teach us boomers a thing or two about community organizing in the age of social media. Many of them also take a wider view of activism, making connections among issues rather than focusing on a single one. They are interested in reproductive rights and reproductive justice.

Living in the oldest state in the nation, we baby boomers in Maine tend to greatly outnumber younger activists at many events. Consequently, we may come to the (faulty) conclusion that young people just aren’t active in the reproductive rights movement.

Nothing could be further from the truth!  Look around and you’ll see them — in their awesome red tights and red floral dresses, with their tattoos and leather jackets, their fabulous curly hair and snazzy eyeglasses.

To Amy and Cara and Eric and Mattie and Jennifer and Abbie and Shelly and Ashley and Heather.  And to the young woman with the amazing red shoes with flowers on them (sorry we didn’t get to talk more).  To all the other young activists in Maine. Thank You!

You make me happy. You re-energize me for the battles ahead. You are an inspiration to me. You have a lot to teach me. You are my heroes.

And I hope to see many, many of you at the Roe v. Wade 40th Anniversary Celebration on January 23rd.

~ Nancy

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