Position Papers

Winning More Women's Rights

April 13. 2006

Stephanie Seguin is President of Gainesville Area NOW. Liz Albelo is an active member.

Last month, South Dakota Gov. Michael Rounds signed into law a bill banning abortion in virtually all cases. About ten additional states, including Florida's neighbors (Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia) are currently in the process of passing similar bills.

How does this affect women in Florida? Proponents of these bills hope to challenge and eventually overturn Roe v. Wade, which would make abortion illegal in every state.

Ever since we won the right to abortion in 1973, our rights have been restricted at a steady pace. Lack of clinics, waiting periods, high costs, parental notification, insufficient providers, and mandatory counseling sessions all contribute to a mounting wall that obstructs a woman's right to an abortion.

The freedom to decide when and if we bear children is critical to our liberation as women. We can't be on equal footing with men if we can't make life-altering decisions, like whether to carry a pregnancy to term. Childbearing is physically dangerous and hard work, and we should be able to decide whether or not we want to do it.

These attacks on abortion are part of a larger attack on birth control. The Food and Drug Administration continues to delay its decision to make the morning after pill available over-the-counter, and some states are introducing "conscience clauses" into law, which allow pharmacists to refuse to distribute birth control.

Also, the South Dakota bill contains dangerous language declaring that life begins when an egg is fertilized. This language puts methods of birth control that can work after fertilization in jeopardy (like regular birth control pills and the morning after pill).

How can we prevent these attacks on our rights? History has shown us that when women get together they are capable of outstanding victories.

In 1989, after the Supreme Court's Webster decision, which allowed states to restrict abortion, then Florida Gov. Bob Martinez called a special legislative session to be the first state to impose restrictions on abortion. Over 10,000 women showed up at the capitol, demanding abortion rights not be touched. No restrictions were passed, and Martinez was defeated in the next election. States around the country who were watching Florida before imposing their own restrictions on abortion held off.

The way we won the right to an abortion in the first place was by women getting organized. Together we have been able to beat back some of the restrictions and efforts to take away our hard won rights, and together we will push forward for more.

We demand complete control in making the decision whether to have a child, as well as programs that make raising a child easier, like paid parental leave and universal child care. We can go forward again.

If you want to get involved in winning more rights for women, join Gainesville Area National Organization for Women on April 14th, at 7 p.m. Contact Stephanie at 380-9934 or e-mail ga_now@juno.com for more information and directions to the meeting. For more information visit www.gainesvillenow.org.

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