Women’s rights rally set for Saturday

Posted on April 22, 2012

Tulsa World, April 22, 2012 by Barbara Hoberock

OKLAHOMA CITY – Critics of efforts to restrict reproductive rights will rally at the Capitol this month.

The Unite Against the War on Women march and rally is set for Saturday as part of an effort expected to take place across the country.

The state march begins at an Oklahoma City church with a rally scheduled for 1 p.m. on the north steps of the Capitol, said Brittany Mays Barger, a Norman woman who is the state coordinator for the Unite Women organization.

Barger said the issue is broader than some of the abortion bills that have been considered at the Capitol. The issue also involves things at the national level, like attempts to exclude birth control from health insurance, she said.

The Oklahoma House Republican Caucus on Thursday decided not to hear a bill, Senate Bill 1433, that would declare personhood at conception.

“It appears that the legislature is beginning to wake up to the reality that those pushing so-called right-to-life legislation are anti-family and anti-freedom,” said Martha Skeeters, president of the Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, which is currently challenging an abortion bill passed last session.

“We hope legislators will continue to stop and think before passing any more redundant legislation that only invites legal challenges that the taxpayers have to pay for.”

The House on Thursday sent Gov. Mary Fallin a measure, Senate Bill 1274, that would require doctors to offer women the opportunity to hear the fetal heartbeat prior to an abortion.

Meanwhile, Personhood Oklahoma is circulating an initiative petition to get the personhood issue on the November ballot. A legal challenge has been filed against it in the Oklahoma Supreme Court.

In February, hundreds of people gathered on the north steps of the Capitol to protest efforts to declare that personhood begins at conception.

“Efforts and assaults against reproductive freedom have become more and more extreme,” said Ryan Kiesel, ACLU of Oklahoma executive director.

“You are going to see more and more women and their families stand up to the action that would limit their health care options.”

Sen. Constance Johnson, D-Oklahoma City, is expected to be a speaker at the rally. Johnson has been a loud critic of efforts to regulate abortion.

She said her message will be to tell women to exercise their power in the voting booth.

She encourages women to ask politicians where they stand on women’s reproductive health issues.