Lilith Fair, the popular celebration of women and music, appears to be rather selective about who and what they are celebrating. One of the stated purposes of the festival -- which begins July 8 in Vancouver before traveling across America throughout the summer -- is to give women a voice and to raise consciousness about issues that affect women's lives. (This is done in large part through contributions to various non-profit women's groups whose literature booths fill the "village" area of each show.) Yet Lilith Fair's deliberate exclusion of certain women's voices on the abortion issue seems very much at odds with the festival's stated spirit of inclusion.
Two national groups that defend abortion, Planned Parenthood and the National Organization for Women (NOW) have been granted sponsorship again this year, despite the fact that many Lilith Fair patrons disagree with that position on the issue. In their annual nationwide poll of incoming college students, the Higher Education Research Institute of UCLA found a dramatic decrease in support for abortion. And according to former Planned Parenthood president Faye Wattleton's Center for Gender Equity, a majority of women now oppose abortion and think it should be illegal except for rape, incest or life of the mother. But the majority's voice will not be represented at Lilith Fair.
National pro-life women's groups such as Feminist for Life of America (FFL) have not been granted boothspace at Lilith Fair, even though FFL's opposition to abortion is grounded in a firm commitment to women's equality and a feminist rejection of violence as a solution to social problems. FFL is dedicated to providing life-affirming reproductive choices -- especially to college-aged women (the group most at risk of experiencing the personal tragedy of abortion and a group that comprises a sizable portion of Lilith Fair's demographics). FFL's College Outreach Program advocates the development of progressive solutions such as on-campus housing and child care, and maternity coverage in student health care plans.
"It is a disservice to women to not allow them to hear both sides of this complex issue," stated Serrin Foster, FFL's executive director. "It is patronizing to censor information. We should trust women enough to think for themselves."
FFL has a solid track record on women's advocacy issues, having worked in coalition with, ironically, many Lilith Fair non-profit groups including NOW and Planned Parenthood on legislative efforts such as child support enforcement, opposing the child exclusion provisions in welfare reform, and the Violence Against Women Act (along with the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network -- RAINN). Like Amnesty International, FFL is also a member of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. More information can be found on-line at www.feministsforlife.org.
Source: Feminists for Life of America
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - July 2, 1999
Contact: Molly E. Pannell, Public Education Coordinator - 202-737-FFLA (3352)