March 8 is International Women's Day and is celebrated in many parts of the world as a way to pay homage to women, our accomplishments, our struggles, how far we have come. In Europe there are parades, festivities and in Italy women are given mimosa flowers. It is a joyous celebration, and sometimes poignant, as you may imagine.
Here in the US it does not constitute a big occasion and is barely mentioned in the mainstream press, although it is celebrated in progressive and feminist circles, with special emphasis given to it on university campuses.
March 8 is all about women's rights, which are in essence human rights. In the US, reproductive freedom comprises one of the main arenas where these rights are constantly being challenged. There was a recent media frenzy concerning Nadia Suleman, a single mother who gave birth to eight babies because she had had eight embryos implanted from a fertility clinic. Nadia is also the mother of six small children; so she has 14 in all. One can strongly question her judgement, as well as that of the fertility clinic. She was, however, most undeserving of the vitriol and disdain hurled at her from every corner of the media. The outrage against this young woman was astonishing, and had all the marks of misogyny. I took note of the fact that the right to life proponents did not apparently rise up to defend Nadia's decision to not undergo any selective abortion of embryos.
The fact is Nadia Suleman chose to give birth to eight babies - one can agree or disagree - but she certainly had the right to make that decision.Because she is a woman of limited means, the focus now should be on helping her and her children; compassion is in order.
A woman's right to make reproductive choices is constantly being challenged, and is therefore always having to be defended. March 8 is a reminder that we still have a long way to go.