The outspoken celebrity warns that if Republican George W. Bush is elected, abortion rights would disappear.
MITCH TOBIN Citizen Staff Writer
Actress, activist and aerobics guru Jane Fonda came to Tucson last night to blast abortion opponents and raise money for the local chapter of Planned Parenthood.
As dusk fell on the patio of philanthropist Joan Kaye Cauthorn’s home, Fonda delivered an impassioned 20minute speech that derided people who ”show so much concern for the fertilized egg growing in the womb and so little concern for the child once it’s born.”
”For people who oppose abortion, life begins with conception and ends at birth,” she said, noting that states with the most restrictive abortion laws spend the least on children’s programs.
Planned Parenthood officials declined to say how much money was raised, but admission was $125 per person, and about 300 people attended.
The event also celebrated the group’s 65th anniversary.
Fonda and other prochoice activists warned that if Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush is elected in November, his Supreme Court appointments would spell doom for abortion rights.
”I think this November it’s going to be decided one way or another. If Bush is elected we will lose Roe versus Wade for all intents and purposes,” Fonda said in an interview with the Tucson Citizen.
Roe vs. Wade is the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortions.
Known as much for her crusades as her screen roles, the 62-year-old Fonda also has championed environmental and human rights causes. Her visit to North Vietnam during the height of the Vietnam War enraged many Americans and earned her the nickname ”Hanoi Jane.”
Rumors have swirled that Fonda’s marriage to entertainment mogul Ted Turner is on the rocks, but Fonda assured the crowd they are still together.
”He’s my best friend,” she said.
Quoting from 19th century anti-women diatribes and modern works of conservative academics, Fonda stressed that sex education is the key to reducing abortions and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.
But she lamented that many programs are thwarted by ”theo-conservative” politicians or taught by ill-prepared teachers ”who think a vulva is a Swedish automobile.”
”Kids are going to find out one way or another about reproductive issues and sexuality, so it’s important that they get the right information. Nowadays it’s a matter of life and death,” she told the Citizen.
While the abortion debate usually focuses on health and ethics, a women’s right to choose is really about her ”economic, social, sexual and emotional life.”
”Reproduction and sexuality are key to women’s empowerment. If a woman is able to determine the reproductive and sexual aspects of her life, it means she can also control most of the other aspects of her life,” she said.
Planned Parenthood runs five clinics in southern Arizona. Besides performing abortion services, the group provides health care for women and education on contraception and sexually transmitted diseases.
Planned Parenthood also announced last night it is partnering with a likeminded organization in El Salvador.
Dr. Eric Schindler, Planned Parenthood’s secretary and treasurer, said the El Salvador group is ”more advanced and ahead of our own affiliates” in promoting its cause. The group has easy access to schools – something Planned Parenthood lacks – and is able to effectively combat unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases, he said.
”We’re learning from them about ways to improve our community outreach and education programs, and they’re learning from us about teen prevention programs,” he said.
The evening also included a tribute to Dr. Herbert Pollock, a local obstetrician and gynecologist who supported Planned Parenthood and who died last month.
Mitch Tobin’s e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
PHOTO CAPTION: XAVIER GALLEGOS/Tucson Citizen
Actress and celebrity Jane Fonda shares a moment with Joan Kaye Cauthorn, who hosted a 65th anniversary celebration for Planned Parenthood here.