Sunday, April 29, 2012

Pinellas Activists March Against the War Against Women

Posted by on Sun, Apr 29, 2012 at 8:25 AM

Women from every generation, old and young, and their male feminist counterparts gathered on the corner of Park Street Saturday morning. Outside Republican State Representative Larry Ahern's St. Petersburg office, about 30-40 activists held signs and chanted. Awake Pinellas organized the march as part of a national day against war on women.

"Larry Ahern is not a friend of women's rights," Dunedin attorney BJ Star said.

Star is the president of the West Pinellas National Organization for Women or NOW. She joined NOW in 1975 when she was a police officer.

"I was facing differential treatment from superior officers and the union wasn't sympathetic back then," Star said."So I went to law school so I would never have to have someone else explain the law to me. I will explain it to them now."

We arent trampling on anyone elses right to healthcare, Dunedin attorney BJ Star said.
  • Arielle Stevenson
  • "We aren't trampling on anyone else's right to healthcare," Dunedin attorney BJ Star said.

Star and the NOW organization are working hard against Amendment 6 slated for the ballot in November. The amendment would prohibit the use federal funding for an abortion unless it was under the conditions of rape, incest or if the woman's life was in danger. The ballot language goes further, involving possible changes to women's privacy rights. It passed last year in both the House and the Senate (Creative Loafing will have more on Amendment 6 in the coming weeks).

Wendy Grassi is the director of public affairs for Planned Parenthood in southwest central Florida.
"For women seeking abortions, if Roe v. Wade were to ever be overturned, those women would be at risk under Amendment 6," Grassi said. "If they really want to end abortion give women access to contraception and basic healthcare."

Grassi cited that over 1,000 anti-choice bills have been introduced across the United States, all potentially effecting women's rights or women's access to basic healthcare.

Kofi Hunt, of Awake Pinellas, organized Saturday morning's march. He was sporting a blue t-shirt reading "this is what a feminist looks like".

Awake Pinellass Kofi Hunt organized Saturdays march.

"State representative Larry Ahern is a regressive Republican who built his career on taking away women's rights," Hunt said. "And doing it at a time when we are facing a battle for economic security."

Patricia remembers protesting for women's rights in the 1980s in Washington, D.C.
"I'm truly amazed we have to fight this battle again," she said. "If they were really against abortion they'd do everything to support sex education and contraception."

Its not just about the future of my reproductive rights but it's about the future of my daughters reproductive rights, Maria Jose said.
  • Arielle Stevenson
  • "It's not just about my reproductive rights but it's about the future of my daughters reproductive rights," Maria Jose said.

Maria Jose brought her two daughters to Saturday's rally.

"It's important to show my daughters what women's rights looks like," Jose said. "It's not just about the future of my reproductive rights but the future of my daughters reproductive rights."

In a bad economy, Jose sees the emphasis on limiting access to women's rights by the right wing as a distraction. "People get scared in a downturn economy and need a scapegoat," Jose said. "It's ironic because America is supposed to set the standard for gender equality and we still dont have equal pay or a female president."

Sandy Oestreich is the president and founder of the Equal Rights Alliance, which seeks to establish legislation prohibiting denial of rights based on sex. She's worked on the campaign for everyday for 12 years. She's seen and participated in several women's movements over the years but says the recent rhetoric has her especially concerned.

"The war against women is markedly more vicious, markedly more illogical and markedly more more cruel," Oestreich said.

I could have saved so many if they had known they were slaves, Sandy Oestreich quotes Harriet Tubman. The war against women is markedly more vicious, markedly more illogical and markedly more more cruel.
  • Arielle Stevenson
  • "I could have saved so many if they had known they were slaves," Sandy Oestreich quotes Harriet Tubman. "The war against women is markedly more vicious, markedly more illogical and markedly more more cruel."

For women who don't realize there is an attack on their rights, she provided this analogy.
"It's like a biology experiment where you take two frogs and put one into an already boiling pot of water-that frog jumps out," Oestreich said. "The other frog is put into a pot of water and the flame starts slowly as the water begins to boil, cooking the frog before he can escape."

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