By Patrick B. McGuigan
A large crowd came to the Oklahoma state Capitol to oppose a wave of strong anti-abortion laws enacted in the Sooner State over recent years. Sponsoring and organizing the event were members of the Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, the American Civil Liberties Union, Trust Women PAC, National Advocates for Pregnant Women, Tulsa Reproductive Services, Sally’s List, the state Federation of Democratic Women and a religious coalition backing abortion services.
Speakers also expressed opposition to a legislative proposal, Senate Bill 709, that would defund Planned Parenthood’s provision of abortion procedures. Speakers at the rally contended the measure endangers provision of vital nutrition programs.
Speakers touting “Choice Now and Always” included Martha Skeeters and Joanna Wall of the Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, Tamya Cox of the ACLU, Kelley Jennings of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Justice, and the following legislators: State Rep. Emily Virgin of Norman, and state Sens. Jim Wilson of Tahlequah, Judy Eason-McIntyre of Tulsa and Connie Johnson of Oklahoma City.
The Planned Parenthood Federation of Arkansas and Eastern Oklahoma contends S.B. 709 would defund a nutrition program that services women and children in the Tulsa area.
Countering that, former state Rep. Kevin Calvey, now working with Oklahomans for Life, countered the legislation would allow continued WIC (Women, Infants and Children) services, but not through abortion providers.
The event supporting abortion choice and opposing S.B. 709 drew a few hundred people, both women and men, to the fourth floor rotunda of the state Capitol.
After the rally and enthusiastic response to the speakers, many participants dispersed to the offices of legislators to express opposition to this year’s wave of legislation from pro-life Republican lawmakers like Pam Peterson of Tulsa, Mike Ritze of Tulsa, Clark Jolley of Edmond and Anthony Sykes of Moore.