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Internet initiative goes viral, triggers for multi-state “Walk for Choice”

By Danniel Parker

Staff Writer

The internet’s offers life at the speed of thought. Type in a few paragraphs on Tumblr, Twitter or Facebook, click send, and within days you are responsible for a nationwide grassroots rally.

That is what 21-year-old Chicago Medicaid recipient Raven Geary did in response to HR 3. The bill eliminates taxpayer funding for abortions, except in the case of the incest of a minor and “forcible” rape.

Therefore, Geary founded the Walk for Choice and acts as the events nationwide representative.

Soon, two Oklahoma City women, Jennifer Spivey and Lindsey Culpepper-Davies read Geary’s posts and became inspired. With the help of Geary, they organized the local Walk for Choice.

Oklahoma City’s Walk for Choice will occur at noon Feb. 26. Protestors plan to meet at Coffee’s Café at 1739 NW 16 St, in the plaza district.

“Walk for Choice” events will be seen on the streets of 26 cities across the U.S.

Jennifer Spivey sent a mass Facebook message out on Feb 18, giving her walkers ideas for signs like “H.R 3 – Not for me.”

Geary admits to having no permit for her protests, but said she believes that if a large group of sign-holding citizens take a casual walk around the city, they are not breaking any ordinances unless they start blocking traffic. That’s why they call it Walk For Choice and not “March For Choice,” she said.

That may be true for municipal code in Chicago, but Lt. Don Holland of the police department says that in Oklahoma, the activists may be putting themselves at legal risk.

“There are certain stipulations to what is defined as a protest. If they are holding signs and walking without a permit, it depends a lot on what’s on the sign,” said Holland.

“If a group of people are walking and holding up signs that say God Bless America, they don’t need a permit. But if people are protesting something specific, then they need a permit,” he said.

“We do not support abortion,” said Matt Pinnell, the chairman for the Oklahoma Republican party.

“The issue isn’t even abortions, it’s using tax payer funds for abortions. If a tax payer finds abortion morally reprehensible, then a tax payer shouldn’t have to pay for someone else’s abortion,” said Pinnell.

Geary counters that morals shouldn’t be an issue in what medical procedures are covered by insurance.

“Our tax money goes to all kinds of things that people find morally objectionable, like war. We can’t make bills to refuse people medical care because other people don’t like a subject,” she said.

Another issue opponents of HR 3 have, is the wording of the bill.

“The term ‘forcible rape’ is ambiguous. Any rape is forcible by nature,” said Geary. “If a woman is drunk and falls asleep, or doesn’t fight back, Congress is deciding that this woman’s abortion won’t be covered by Medicare.”

Pinnell agreed, the wording is too vague.

Geary is not wanting the bill reworded or revised, she wants it thrown out entirely.

“This issue directly targets poor women and it keeps them in a cycle of poverty by having to finance raising a child. This is class war,” said Geary.

Pinnell said H.R. 3 was proposed for economic reasons, as well as pro-life ones.

“Tax payers are furious with all the spending going on in Washington D.C. and this is one issue that is being addressed. It’s something that’s needed to change for a long time,” Pinnell said.

Janice Francis-Smith, owns Coffy’s Café, the headquarters for OKC’s Walk For Choice, said that people should be allowed to say what they need to say, whether they are pro-choice marchers or pro-life picketers.

“You have to get involved in politics for government to work. That’s what we are doing, getting involved,” said Francis-Smith.

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