Comments for March for Women's Lives

Gary Bailey
April 25, 2004

Today, the National Association of Social Workers is extremely proud to be a co-sponsoring partner of this historic event. Thank you so much to the March coordinators and partners. It's our pleasure to be here.

Since the inception of the profession, social workers have steadily fought for people's rights. Social workers help people make decisions based on an understanding of their own strengths. They help them navigate and choose among the complex systems that are in place to support them in times of crisis. When it comes to family planning, reproductive health services, and access to health care, social workers value self-determination.

Social work is based on the principle that each individual has a right to quality of life. People have a right to make their own decisions about how to meet the challenges, overcome the obstacles, and grasp the opportunities that are so much a part of life. This is what this March is all about. Making choices about reproductive health services, or any other health service, is not a government responsibility. There should be no restrictions from public agencies or insurance companies on what services you can choose for your own personal health. No one should make those choices but you.

As a son, uncle, nephew, cousin, friend, and social worker, I know that reproductive freedom is not just a woman's issue. It's a human issue. There are many social workers here today, speaking out in support of people's rights to make choices about who they are and who they love, where they live, how they live, and what they do.

It is far too easy to forget history. After fighting for, and finally enjoying, our hard-won personal freedoms, it is too easy to become complacent.

In Regarding the Pain of Others , Susan Sontag wrote, “Compassion is an unstable emotion, it needs to be translated into action, or it withers. Otherwise, one starts to get bored, apathetic, or cynical.” The right — and the responsibility — to have choices and make decisions is not only a woman's right. It is the right of ALL Americans. Thank you for joining us here today to fight for this right.