Pro-Choice Rally in Salem Thursday
A pro-choice rally and lobbying effort happened in Salem on Thursday, April 20th, and this is one version of how it went.
This is not an official press release from Oregon NARAL or any of the other members of the Pro-Chice Coalition of Oregon, which organized the event. It was written by a NARAL volunteer who attended this event.
There was a protest at the capitol steps in Salem
today. This small town on the edge of Portland doesn't see too many of
those, really. Certainly such affairs have none of the flair and drama of
a Portland peace march, but then, I am not sure the peace marchers have
quite come to realise either the extent of their power or the proper
direction to focus it.
On this occasion, while a dutiful one-woman
peace-camp on the north steps went through the changing of the guards
(the replacement was a bedraggled, but duly resigned, man,) a body of
about 150 pro-choice protesters took up their chants.
Loud cheers mingled with shouts of "Legislators, hear our call: Women's rights protect us all!" and "Not the church, not the state - women must decide their fate!" Not coincidently, the governor responded to the call.
In a short speech, he renewed his vow to protect the women of Oregon in
their right to make their own medical decisions. He further pledged to
take up the offensive in the pro-choice cause, in the form of Senate Bill
236, which will require all Oregon health insurance plans that cover
prescription drugs, to cover prescription contraceptive drugs and devices.
Myself, I consider it to be absurd and unfair, that men's viagra is
covered, while the pill is not. That a birth-control patch that can save
at least $11,000 in unplanned birth costs is not covered while the smoking
patch is. That a woman spends over $500 a year in birth control, on
average, which is a clear and necessary health expense, which her
health-care plan can omit to pay.
Anyhow, the rally continued on through intermitent drizzle, while past and
current members of the Oregon legislature came forth to urge their
collegues to accept right and reason in the cause of the Pro-Choice
After only half-an-hour, the rally proceded inside the capitol building
where it proceded to pack first one hearing room and then a second in
order to hear the deliberations of the Senate Health Policy Committee.
The Committee, chaired by Bill Morrisette (D - Springfield) heard
testimony from a number of medical, social and religious leaders (yes
there are a great number of pro-choice religious leaders, duh) on the
advantages and justice of providing equitable health care to women.
After entertaining a few spurious questions (such as "Why didn't you
write the bill to just state that sex-discrimination is not allowed." or
"Did you mean to imply that those who disagree with you are not
reasonable?" Answer: "Well, no, I didn't mean it that way, sir." True
answer: "Well, yeah, duh!") a health-services advocate from Planned
Parenthood began to enter into the record her testimony on the many
differnt types of prescription contraceptive and the varios medical birth
control procedures that can be performed.
To begin with, she held proudly aloft a horse-pill of a losenge, which she
called the NuvaRing ( http://www.plannedparenthood.org/bc/030109_NuvaRing.html)
and mentioning that it is placed "in the vagina."
At this word, the face of anti-choice Republican John Minnis took on a
beet red color. As the testimony proceded, an array of patches, needles
and diaphragms were held aloft, until the pathetic prude rose and stalked
from the chambers. Needless to say the laughter was stifled, but
Following these deliberations, the organized protest broke into
small groups to continue into the offices of more than half of our
legislators. Democrat Carolyn Tomei (D - SE PDX) expressed overwhelmed
happiness at hearing from 15 of her constituents in person. Generally
she gets visits from groups of 4-5 lobbyists.
Overall, this event was uplifting, not merely for the attention we received
from media (who confirmed our presence at 140), the governor and the
legislature, but from the realization that had we brought 20,000 people to
Salem, it would have stunned every last one of those savvy politicians and
lobbyists into a long, thoughtful, silence. As they say, This is what
Democracy looks like.
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