By Darla Shelden
Pink was the color of the day as the Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice (OCRJ) gathered with supporting organizations and activists during Pink Wave 2013 at the State Capitol.
The rally drew women and men, young and old, who shared stories of anger, enthusiasm, heartbreak and inspiration.
State Rep. Emily Virgin, (D-District 44) who introduced a comprehensive sex education bill this year that was not heard in committee said drawing a large round of applause, “I can tell we are making a difference here and the reason why I know that is that a Personhood bill was introduced this year, but it didn’t go anywhere.”
Recalling one of his own family’s experiences, Ryan Kiesel, Executive Director of ACLU-OK said, “Let’s ask our representatives to put themselves in the position of one of their constituents.
“A constituent in a doctor’s office, making an important medical decision. One that has an immediate impact on their body. Who would she want in that room with her? A loved one, a trusted family member, her best friend, or her state representative.”
Bruce Prescott, Executive Director, Mainstream Oklahoma Baptists said, “This movement will not be successful unless you go back and occupy your churches. Tell conservative women and men that you believe that God is mad as hell about what they’re doing.”
Martha Skeeters, president of the Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice said, “The state legislature needs encouragement to support reproductive justice. This means creating policies that support the responsible planning of families and that give support to all families.”
Skeeters added, “The state legislature has passed 14 bills restricting or regulating women’s reproductive rights in the last three legislative sessions, and is currently considering three more. Two of these laws have been ruled unconstitutional by the Oklahoma Supreme Court.
“Our state ranks 5th in teen pregnancy, yet the legislature refuses to mandate statewide comprehensive health education or sexual education.”
Amanda Armstrong, Oklahoma Amnesty International Area Coordinator said, “Governments have the obligation to protect, respect and fulfill sexual and reproductive rights for every individual.”
James Cooper, with The Equality Network (TEN) said, “Forces against protection of women’s rights have made access to abortion so inaccessible that we are putting women in less and less safe places.”
Christie Breedlove, President, Oklahoma Federation of Democratic Women said raising the minimum wage is the most important thing to help women in Oklahoma.
State Senator Constance N. Johnson (D-District 99) said, “We are only hearing one perspective in our legislation today. It is anti abortion. We are talking about pro life, helping people, educating people so they can make the right choices and avoid some unintended outcomes.”
Longtime women’s rights activist Barbara Santee told how she risked her life to have an illegal abortion before Roe v. Wade. She said, “If we lose abortion, birth control cannot be far behind. You are the ones that take on the awesome responsibility of this precious right for your generation and for generations to come.”
Rep Jeannie McDaniel (D -District 78) said, “Just passing laws doesn’t mean it passes in people’s hearts and minds. That’s up to us to do. We’re the educators.”
Kelly Jennings, Co-President of the Oklahoma Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, had words for Gov. Fallin regarding her rejection of Medicaid Expansion saying, “It might hurt her political expansion in the future.
“If your party plus any mindless Democrat want these women to pop out every possible baby, then you better be willing to do everything possible to support life, because aren’t you pro-life? Oh, I forgot – only when it’s in the womb.”
Maya Torralba, with the National Indigenous Women’s Roundtable/Native American Women’s Health Education Resource Center, said, “One in three Native American women will be raped in their lifetime. We’re now working with Congress to make sure that Native American women can access Plan B over the counter at Indian health clinics and hospitals.”
For more information, visit www.ocrj.org
Pink Wave carries state leaders and citizens seeking reproductive justice
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