MEDIA – Hundreds of people converged on the Delaware County courthouse on Saturday, joining hundreds of similar rallies across the country in support of reproductive rights.
These rallies come at a time when abortion and access to abortion are contested and limited by legislation like SB 8 in Texas, which bans most abortions in the state and directs citizens to transform providers. authorities who carry out the procedure or help women access it.
Similar restrictions are appearing in other states like Mississippi, which faces a Supreme Court challenge to ban abortions at 15 weeks or earlier.
Speakers at the media rally say Pennsylvania’s protections for women are on precarious ground, protected, they say, only by the pen of a pro-choice governor.
“As many of you know, the United States Supreme Court will meet for a new term on Monday,” said Cathy Spahr, one of the event’s organizers. “And, they will hear a case from Mississippi that could potentially overthrow Roe vs. Wade and could change the lives of millions of women for the worse and take away our destiny and our ability to write that destiny.
The media rally was organized by various organizations including the Bryn Mawr College Feminist Coalition, Haverford Community Action Network, Bowling Green Patriots, Delco PA Indivisible, Indivisible Main Line South, Indivisible Upper Darby, League of Women Voters of Central Delaware County, and PA NOW.
During the event, slogans were drawn on the steps of the courthouse: “My body = my choice”, “Reproductive rights = human rights”, “Abortions save lives” and ” women are powerful ”.
Many spectators held signs that were both professionally produced and homemade. One of them read “My vote is my voice for choice”. Another read: “He who is without ovaries will not make laws for those who have them. Another featured a bloody hanger with the words “Never again!”
A huge purple banner that stretched almost the entire length of the courthouse steps read “Keep abortion safe, legal and accessible.”
Delaware County obstetrician / gynecologist Dr Emily Cheston said hers was the only medical profession affected by the legislation.
“I fear for the future of health care for women,” she said. “Abortion care is essential health care.”
Cheston spoke about the parameters of the Pennsylvania Abortion Control Act, passed in 1982, moving from the mandatory 24-hour waiting period to the publication of documents describing the unborn child and offering alternatives.
“I don’t know of any other medical procedure where the state decides what language I use and how I counsel a patient,” she said, adding that the language of the law implies that women are unsure of it. that they do.
Cheston spoke of a patient who had been trying to conceive for years and found out her baby had anencephaly, a condition where the fetus would not survive outside the womb because there is a large defect in the skull. resulting in the absence of a large part of the brain.
She spoke about another patient who was unemployed during the pandemic as a former restaurant worker and has just found out that her husband has also lost his job. This pregnancy, she said, like 50 percent in the United States, is unplanned, and noted that her patient might want a child later, but is unable to care for it now. .
“This law,” Cheston said, “does not include full child care, early childhood education or housing assistance.”
Additionally, she said the Pennsylvania legislature has passed laws that dictate where abortion procedures can be performed – and that doesn’t include in her office.
“Not because of the equipment or the procedural difficulties, but because lawmakers have decided that their personal beliefs make these procedures different and that barriers need to be erected between my patient and the care she seeks,” Cheston said. . “Abortion is a medical procedure and not a political act. “
State Representative Jennifer O’Mara, D-165 from Springfield, addressed the fragile situation of women’s health care rights in Pennsylvania and urged voting as a way to protect that.
She noted that 15,000 men have served in the Pennsylvania legislature while there have not yet been 300 women.
“There is a huge, huge gap in the representation of women in Harrisburg,” O’Mara said, adding, “If you think Pennsylvania isn’t Texas, we’re only a pen away from the governor. to be Texas. “
President Kitty Kolbert underscored the urgency of women’s reproductive rights. The author of “Controlling Women: What We Must Do Now to Save Reproductive Freedom,” Kolbert explained Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey in the United States Supreme Court in 1992 in what organizers said saved Roe vs. Wade.
She said that women’s right to choose is “in grave and complete danger”.
Kolbert said this particular Supreme Court has shown it doesn’t care when states ban abortion.
“I think within a year and a half, at least 27 Republican-controlled states with three legislative and governing seats, those 27 states will ban abortion, if they haven’t already. , “she said.” We are in the most perilous state we have ever been in since Roe deer was successful. “
Kolbert encouraged spectators to help women who are going to be in need.
“Women from Texas already go to California and Oklahoma and call their friends and say, ‘What the hell am I supposed to do now, can’t go to a clinic? “” she said, adding that it would only intensify. “We all need to think about how we can help these women. “
U.S. Representative Mary Gay Scanlon, D-5 from Swarthmore, said voting is essential to preserve reproductive health.
“Reproductive health is on the ballot,” she said. “You have this feeling – why are we still talking about it here? “
Two weeks, she voted for the Women’s Health Protection Act to codify protections for Roe vs. Wade. She said that conservative extremists had launched an assault for decades to seize the Supreme Court.
“As a result, we need everyone on deck,” Scanlon said, asking why women have to share deeply personal and intimate stories to be heard. “It’s never someone else’s business… Politicians don’t belong in the doctor’s office. The decision to have a child or not is deeply personal and private and should be made by an individual, his or her loved ones, health professionals and religious leaders, if they so choose, but not politicians. “
She and Nina Ahmad, president of the Pennsylvania chapter of the National Organization for Women, explained how restrictions on access to abortion disproportionately impact women of color.
Ahmad said nearly 600 abortion restrictions were introduced in 47 states this year alone.
“No matter where you live, the fight is at your doorstep,” she said. “Remember, the fight is at your doorstep. This extreme and anti-choice program of reproductive control is fueled by misogyny, racism and a war on the poor. Abortion is an essential health care – just as the doctor said – essential for health equity, reproductive autonomy, racial, gender and economic justice. “
She noted that 75 percent of people who have abortions live below the poverty line or are in low income and more than half already have a child.
“Most people choose to have an abortion because they fear that they will not be able to care for a new child,” Ahmad added.
She said SB 8 in Texas upheld the intent of the Fugitive Slave Act when gangs of private white citizens beat and murdered black people for alleged crimes.
“Throughout our history, policies and laws have resulted in systemic racism in our health care system and beyond,” she said. “But, we have tools at our disposal to ensure equality… Vote for pro-choice candidates who work at the intersection of gender, race and economy class.
“Vote because our lives depend on it,” she said to applause. “Vote because our lives depend on it. “