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Fired-up pro-choice supporters rally at the Capitol against "personhood" bill

Andrew W. Griffin / Red Dirt Report
Hundreds gathered at the Capitol Tuesday to rally against proposed "personhood" legislation.
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OKLAHOMA CITY – The signs held by people at the pro-choice, anti-"personhood" bill rally Tuesday afternoon were full of anger and outrage – aimed at the men and women legislators seeking to turn back the clock, according to those in attendance.

“Political bodies have no business making medical decisions!

“Not going back to the back alley.”

“Keep your laws off my vagina.”

“Why are we going backward?”

“Forcing your agenda between my legs is RAPE!”

“Pro-life means keeping abortion Safe & Legal!”

One pro-choice prankster held a sign which said “Every sperm is sacred,” a response to Sen. Constance Johnson’s (D-Holdenville) failed amendment that would note that it was “against unborn children for men to waste sperm.”

And there were T-shirts too, like the popular pink-colored tee which simply read: “Trust Oklahoma women.” And it was hard to miss the dozens and dozens of pairs of shoes on the Capitol steps, left by the female attendees to send the message to legislators that this “Personhood” legislation is another effort to keep women “barefoot and pregnant.”

It was clear that the several hundred people gathered around the north steps of the Oklahoma State Capitol were focusing their ire on Sen. Brian Crain (R-Tulsa), Rep. Mike Reynolds and the other pro-life legislators pushing for the passage of a “Personhood bill” which would have the state officially recognize life beginning at conception.

Crain’s bill, SB 1433, would be “symbolic” and modeled after a two-decade old Missouri law while Reynolds’ bill, HJR 1067, would take things a step further where “rape and incest victims would be forced to bear the child of the predator,” according to the activist group Oklahomans Against the Personhood Act.

OATPA states that they are against the state bestowing “full personhood rights to unborn, pre-implantation blastocysts,” which would adversely affect birth control usage and other reproductive choices, especially with so many medical doctors saying that it would lead to all sorts of unintended consequences.

Also in attendance were groups like the Young Democrats of Oklahoma, Planned Parenthood and the Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice.

Among those to speak at the rally was Dr. Eli Reshef, an Oklahoma City physician who specializes in helping women bear children with in vitro fertilization (IVF) procedures. He had an editorial printed in The Oklahoman this past weekend

Reshef said he thought legislators were elected to “represent constituents, not special interest groups,” like Personhood USA, the Colorado-based group pushing for personhood legislation in states across the country.

“Stay out of my medical practice. Stay out of my daughter’s uterus and stay out of our bedrooms,” Reshef said.

The Rev. Bruce Prescott, with the Mainstream Oklahoma Baptists and the Norman chapter of Americans for the Separation of Church and State, also spoke and said the sorts of issues that the “personhood” initiative tend to cross over into personal “matters of conscience.” Plus, it was an issue of government overstepping its boundaries.

“Government has no business inserting itself in these personal matters,” Prescott said.

Some legislators spoke, including Sen. Johnson who reminded the legislators that “these are our bodies, these are our choices”and then there was mild-mannered, outgoing Sen. Jim Wilson (D-Tahlequah) who informed the crowd that he and other pro-choice legislators were hearing the OATPA and those in the crowd loud and clear, with Wilson saying, “Thank you for letting us know.”

And towards the end, women (and a few men) took to the microphone to share their personal stories.

A middle-aged woman and self-described Republican said she was ashamed of her party and how they now insist on involving themselves in “our personal lives.”

She said her daughter had complications with her baby and had to have a “life-saving abortion” so her daughter didn’t die in childbirth.

An older woman said her mother had to have an abortion many years ago, when she was a child, because the doctor said she might die otherwise.

“And I was the recipient of a wonderful life with a mother,” the woman said, as she held a rolling pin in one hand.

A younger woman spoke, her voice shaking at times, telling the group that she had been raped by her boyfriend when she was 17.

After explaining what she faced at that age, she said, virtually shouting: “We cannot let this happen, cannot let these men decide for us or tell us what to do with our bodies,”

That elicited a lot of cheers. Later, a woman came up saying how before Roe v. Wade she had to go to Mexico and get an abortion after her father raped her. She and her male companion said with “personhood” legislation, “an underground railroad” may form again.

Another speaker explained that countries that have strict anti-abortion laws also have higher incidents of abortion.

They talked about unplanned pregnancies, being raped by family members or choosing to have their baby and doing their best to raise the child while working or going to school. Many argued that the state wants you to have the baby but does little to help once its born.

And regarding IVF, another woman, holding a sign which read “This IVF mom says No to Personhood,” said 12 percent of women in Oklahoma suffer from infertility and that when you get down to the science of conceiving, it’s more complicated than some fuzzy, warm image of a baby.

Statements were made repeatedly, aimed at the legislature. Among them were: “The Oklahoma legislature is anti-women!” and “Get these people out of office!”

And Occupy OKC made their presence known with fired-up speaker Jay Fox telling the assembled group that laws like the “Personhood Act” is just part of a greater plan to crack down on the American people, noting President Obama’s support of the National Defense Authorization Act, the government’s desire to put dissidents in “FEMA camps” and how the criminalization of abortion in Romania led to all sorts of problems with abandoned children on the streets and higher crime rates.

And Fox said that with all these problems facing America and Oklahoma, officials want to end affirmative action, and not give rights to gays, such as himself.

 “They want to talk about morality? Where was Mary Fallin when she was sleeping with that trooper,” Fox bellowed.

Asked Fox: “Is this America anymore?”

Copyright 2012 West Marie Media

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Andrew W. Griffin

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Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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