This past weekend was an exciting one for women’s rights. On Saturday, April 28th, people supportive of not only reproductive rights, but also an array of other issues affecting the lives of women, including fair pay, gathered across the country for the nationwide March to Unite against the War on Women.
Our organization’s own Julie Burkhart, Founder and Executive Director of Trust Women, spoke during the Oklahoma City March to Unite against the War on Women. Local press reported attendance to be over 400. Speakers addressed the increasingly scary and prevalent erosion of women’s rights – what is at stake and what we can do about it. You can see excerpts of the day on this video from Fox news.
Take a look at Julie’s speech, which is copied below, and let us know what you think by posting on our Facebook page.
Julie’s Speech from the Oklahoma City March to Unite against the War on Women:
Hello Oklahomans! My home state and a state that is dear to my heart!
I can’t tell you how good it is to see all of you here today – joined together, in sisterhood and brotherhood – for the sake of women’s autonomy over our own bodies.
I want to speak from the heart today. I just came from an abortion rights conference, so I’m pretty jazzed up about all of our work across this country. We are ALL doing amazing things! So, let’s review the bad news and then get on to the good.
The realm of reproductive rights is much more than abortion, much more than political talking points and sensationalized headlines. It’s about the worth of a woman and the continuum of fertility and pregnancy. This is what we fight for every day.
When thinking about legislating reproductive rights, whether contraception, birthing rights or abortion, the question central to the discussion should be this: does this show trust in the ability and right of a woman to make her own decision? Unfortunately, we know that most lawmakers do not consider women. And we applaud those who have the courage to consider women.
In many states, including right here in Oklahoma, women can be arrested while in labor and forced into a caesarian section if a doctor believes she needs one. A woman can be denied the morning after pill or lifesaving coagulants if a pharmacist has a moral objection to her need for them.
Proposed legislation in several states, as we’ve seen right here, has attempted to grant personhood to human eggs.
We’ve also seen bills that would allow for the murder of abortion providers as “justifiable homicide” and even scrutinize the circumstances of each and every miscarriage and make grieving women the subject of criminal investigations.
The universal theme here is clear, there is no trust and – - the worth of a woman disappears the second she becomes or even could potentially become pregnant.
We may live in the center of the United States – where it’s more traditional and conventional – however, that does not mean that our rights as women must be sacrificed in the name of that so-called tradition. This is America – and geographic location must not dictate the rights we all have.
I think we need to closely examine what it truly means to be “pro-life.” I want to be clear; the people who stand outside of clinics and harass patients are not pro-life. The people who write and sign legislation to limit our right to make personal medical decisions are not pro-life. The people who call themselves pro-life are anything but. They are anti-choice.
They have no interest in supporting the children who are born as a result of an unintended pregnancy. They refuse to concede that quality sex education and access to contraception will reduce the very thing they so fervently rail against. They are not pro-life, they are pro-control and anti-family planning.
I want to go back for a moment to 2009. After my boss and mentor, Dr. George Tiller was murdered; I took some giant steps back in order to assess my feelings and whether I could move on in this movement. I wanted to know if this was the place to be – with all the vitriol, hatred and violence.
What I finally came to was this – If we have no rights to our own bodies and are not treated equally under the law or by society, then nothing else matters in this world – our freedom is priceless.
Not much else matters if I, as a woman – or you, or our daughters or their daughters – do NOT have freedom and justice. That’s when I decided that there had to be a path – no matter how difficult it may be – to continue down – so women have access and control over their lives.
I am here to tell you that you are on the right path. As a fellow traveler who’s been in the movement since the late 80’s, I want to thank you for stepping forward, as our foremothers and forefathers have done over the generations. They have been inspirations and great teachers.
I’m sure you already know this, but I’m going to say it out loud – This is not an easy fight, but it’s the good fight and one worth having.
This is a fight that we must engage in collectively – this is not a struggle to be had in isolation or in a vacuum. We must embrace those who wish to join in and recognize how they only add to our goals. This is a fight that belongs to you and to me – to all of us across America and around the globe. I want you to know just how important your voice is in this movement.
Dr. Tiller had a saying posted on his office wall (along with the multitude of other axioms). It said – It’s never too late to do the next right thing.
There are days when we will all hit our walls – but tomorrow is a new day, a new opportunity – which we can own to advance our work. Tomorrow is a day filled with potential solutions and inspiration – so, it’s never too late to keep putting one foot in front of the other.
Thank you again for all of your work. The road is long, but we will prevail. As I said earlier – freedom is priceless – and we will settle for nothing less.
Click here to see photos from the Missouri March to Unite Against the War on Women in Jefferson City, MO.
Click here to see photos from the Oklahoma March to Unite Against the War on Women in Oklahoma City, OK.
Click here to see photos from the Kansas March to Unite Against the War on Women in Topeka, KS.