Last Saturday, I boarded a Greyhound bus from downtown Baltimore, heading to New York City’s Foley Square, where I joined 6,000 feminists and reproductive rights activists in a rally to support Planned Parenthood. I was one of thousands of Americans who gathered in city streets and squares on Feb. 26 and participated in diverse rallies across the country to demonstrate outrage at the proposed budget cuts passed by the Republican-led House or to show solidarity with Wisconsin public workers. In nearby Boston, Massachusetts Peace Action rallied in support of Wisconsin union workers and carried a large, colorful banner with the words, “Fund Our Communities, Cut Military Spending 25%.” And more than 900 miles to the west, Peace Action members have been marching in solidarity with Wisconsin union members, holding banners with the words, “Move the Money!” and “Bring Our War $$ Home.”
In the thick of the Planned Parenthood rally, I heard only one speaker make the connection between the need to end the war in Afghanistan, cut the $761 billion military budget and fund human needs so that American women of all economic means can lead healthy lives and plan the size of their family. The Pence amendment in the Republican-led House’s proposal to cut the deficit eliminates Title X funds to Planned Parenthood and other clinics that provide basic gynecological care, birth control and screening for HIV, cancer and STIs to low-income women. (Planned Parenthood serves more than 5 million women, men and teens worldwide with sexual and reproductive healthcare.) Meanwhile, proposed amendments to cut funding for war in Afghanistan, reduce the military budget to fiscal year 2008 levels and prohibit funding for the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle and V-22 Osprey aircraft failed. The House budget bill only cuts $450 million in funding for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter alternate engine.
The failure to cut military expenditures and the successful passage of the Pence amendment perfectly underscores the urgency to “Move the Money” and fund human needs, which are women’s needs. Concrete connections must be made between the peace movement’s goal of reducing military spending and feminist goals of equal, affordable access to women’s reproductive healthcare and family planning. The Pence amendment is forcing American women to pay the price of war by sacrificing their access to quality healthcare. We must stand in solidarity and support with Wisconsin public workers as they fight to keep their right to collective bargaining and health clinics, which provide much-needed, basic healthcare to women.