Eleven women from Gainesville, FL joined 40 other women from New York, New Jersey, Washington D.C., and Philadelphia on Friday, January 7th, at the FDA headquarters in Rockville, Maryland. As many of you already know, we were there protesting to make the Morning-After Pill available over-the-counter for all women. The action was a great success, and we've gotten press across the country and even in Canada! CBS syndicated the story nationally and we got a great article in the Washington Post.
You can read the Washington Post article here:
After a short press conference in front of the building, nine of us staged a sit-in, blocking the entrance of the FDA building, just as the FDA has blocked women's access to the Morning-After Pill (MAP).
We were later arrested and charged with disorderly conduct. A court date is pending.
I want to say thank you to everyone who made calls to the FDA, and who encouraged others to make calls too. This really put additional pressure on Steven Galson, who will be making the MAP decision. One FDA representative told us that a lot of people called from Florida on Friday! Great job, you all, keep calling! We're obviously having an effect.
I also wanted to thank all the people who came with us to Maryland. As the nine of us sat blocking the entrance to the FDA building, it gave me enormous courage to see my sisters from the Florida NOW Young Feminist Task Force and Gainesville Area NOW cheering us on. The whole protest was amazing and beautiful. It reminded me of how powerful women are when we unite and fight for the things we want.
After being read our rights, our hands were tied and one-by-one we were dragged away by police from the Department of Homeland Security. My arms and knees are pretty sore from being dragged (and my shoes don't look too hot either), but we were treated rather civilly by the cops, due both to the presence of legal observers and to the sheer number of press.
At the action, I was especially inspired by New York activist Allison Guttu, from the Gainesville Women's Liberation/Redstockings Women of Color Caucus, who defiantly screamed, "Morning-After over-the-counter NOW!" as she was dragged along the pavement. There is a huge picture of her in the Washington Post, taken just before we were all thrown in the back of an armored car and driven away from the scene (where we were later processed and released).
I was also really inspired by (and grateful to) all the activists who helped by coordinating props, taking pictures, providing legal assistance, passing out literature, holding signs, singing loud, and
just generally being encouraging. These things were vital to making our action a success.
It was a little scary getting arrested, but I'm glad we did it and I'm glad we had so many protestors on the FDA's doorstep. I think we sent a powerful message to Steven Galson, and to other right-wing conservatives eager to block women's access to birth control.
So let's all keep calling Galson (at 301-594-5400) so he'll make the right decision and make the Morning-After Pill over-the-counter for all women.
Chair, Florida NOW Young Feminist Task Force
Vice-President, Gainesville Area (FL) NOW