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Many regard the Supreme Court decision Roe vs. Wade as a significant step forward in women’s reproductive rights. The decision, handed down in 1971, affirmatively answered the question of whether women had the right to terminate their pregnancies through abortions.
However, as the case celebrates its 39th anniversary, there are concerns that the progress made in granting women full control of their bodies will soon be for naught.
“Despite the fact that the majority of Americans believe that women have the right to make deeply personal decisions about their health care, the attacks on abortion have been unrelenting,” said Lillian Tamayo, the CEO of Planned Parenthood.
Tamayo firmly contends that this progress must not see hindrance, an opinion that she made known outside the Federal Building in Broward, Fl. on January 22 at 3 p.m. Tamayo was one of an estimated 100 attendees at a Pro-Choice Rally held at the courthouse to not only recognize the impact of Roe v. Wade on women’s rights, but to encourage those present to not allow their leaders to take those rights away.
Other persons who turned out at the Rally included additional members of Planned Parenthood, representatives from the Pro-Choice Coalition of Broward County, as well as a group of medical students from Nova. Each of these individuals spent equal amounts of time waving their signs on the sides of the street, to appreciative honks and waves from drivers, as well as listening to individuals make their opinions known about the tenuous state of women’s reproductive rights.
Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a senator from Florida and Chairperson of the Democratic National Committee, also appeared at this rally, along with Patrick Murphy and Lois Frankel – two people who are aiming to join Mrs. Schultz in the Congressional halls. Frankel and Murphy are both aiming for the seat occupied by Rep. Allen West. Frankel expressed particular disgust at his obstinate attitude:
“He is uncompromising and bombastic at a time where we need to roll up our sleeves and work together,” Frankel said. Frankel chose to attend this rally to continue her fight for women’s rights. She thought it was important for women to have the tools necessary to make key life decisions concerning their pregnancies.
She was quick to point out that West has used his time in Congress to regress the rights of women. “He voted for the Ryan bill, a proposal that would have limited a woman’s access to maternity care. He has also voted to defund Planned Parenthood and has chastised women who support Planned Parenthood’s values,” she said.
Murphy also expressed revulsion at West’s actions and attitude, mentioning that voters deem his style of leadership unacceptable. “Voters want an individual who will move the country forward, as well as someone who is qualified enough to understand the issues of the day,” he said. Murphy expressed confidence that he could be that person; jobs are what voters are thinking about, and should he win, that issue will be top priority.
“The first action I would take should I be elected is to promote the President’s American Jobs Act,” he said. Wasserman Schultz also took the time to reference the President when it was time for her to address the audience; she noted his bravery in standing up to anti-choice groups by protecting the birth control coverage benefit portion of the Affordable Care Act.
“Having a president that will stand up for women and their rights is crucial,” she noted. As she continued speaking to the audience, she pointed out that legal abortion actually helps in keeping women safe, stating that in 1965, 20 percent of all reported maternal deaths were due to illegal abortions.
Moreover, she encouraged abortion detractors to find common ground with abortion supporters, rather than undermine their efforts. “Instead of working against us by voting to defund Title X Family Planning programs for women who need them most, work with us to make abortion safe, legal and rare,” she said.
Wasserman Schultz remarked on how the Republicans in the House of Representatives have addressed bills that aim to defund Planned Parenthood and redefine rape to where it only included “forcible” actions. “This is what we are up against,” she said, and used this point to emphasize the importance of speaking out to make sure that women are able to retain their reproductive rights.
The DNC Chairwoman’s speech brought cheers from the audience upon its completion. Lauren Bello, part of the Broward Youth Council, found Wasserman Schultz’s words “inspiring”. “It is a good eye opener for young people to vote on these issues, which are far more important than people give them credit for,” she said.
Estee Rosenberg Paviled, a realtor and artist, hoped that the DNC Chairwoman’s message would resonate with members of Congress and make them cease their assault on women’s rights. “I think it is terrible how they are trying to turn the clocks back on a woman’s right to choose. We need to keep government out of our bedrooms,” she said.
As a new Congressional session progresses, each of the attendees at the rally made it clear that they were going to keep a close eye on how members of Congress vote on women’s rights. “Women are going to be watching them closely and taking names,” said Tamayo.
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