Feature: Pro-Choice Supporters Lead March in Los Altos
In response to pro-life demonstrations sponsored by members of St. Nicholas Church, Vicki Reeder, a member of the Los Altos/Mountain View Association of American University Women (AAUW) chapter, held her thirteenth annual pro-choice march on January 22nd, the anniversary of Roe v. Wade.
The Los Altos/Mountain View chapter of AAUW, led by Myra Orta, has sponsered the pro-choice march for the past five years. This rally aims to educate participants about women’s rights. The march goes down State Street, 1st Street, and Main Street. This year the rally was held at the Los Altos Youth Center, and featured speakers Dr. Sophia Yen, Dr. Ellen Shaffer, and Joseph Brenner. Before the speakers, a local chapter of The Raging Grannies, an international organization of elderly women adorned in outrageous hats dedicated to performing songs conveying messages of political activism set to popular tunes, performed.
In recent years, the AAUW has expanded the scope of the rally to include both locally and nationally relevant issues, including the pro-life movements in San Francisco and controversy surrounding the Affordable Care Act. The AAUW also formed a partnership with the Silver Ribbon Campaign, founded by speaker Dr. Sophia Yen.
In her speech on teen health, Yen outlined some of the major principles of the organization, which emphasizes the health and safety of abortion procedures, the right to choose, and free access to birth control. She pointed out that “abortion is fourteen times safer than carrying a pregnancy to term.” Dr. Yen also confirmed that despite the claims of the pro-life protesters who have recently taken to the streets of San Francisco, that abortion does not have any connection to the development of breast cancer or mental health problems. She revealed the questionable practices of crisis-pregnancy centers, which do not offer patients emergency contraceptive care and instead instruct them to return in a few weeks for a pregnancy test. Dr. Yen also confirmed that only 3% of Planned Parenthood’s activities are abortion-related, the other 97% are preventative care. These facts, along with several others, served to prove her main point that women should be educated about all possible options, and that we should “leave medicine to the physicians,” who supply unbiased information.
Dr. Yen identifies herself as “pro-life” in contradiction to the traditional definition, as she prioritizes the welfare of women and potential mothers. She claims that conventional “pro-life” followers are “actually anti-choice and anti-life” because they restrict women’s rights and jeopardize the health and safety of women.
Similarly, Brenner, the national coordinator of the “Men Who Trust Women” faction of the Silver Ribbon Campaign, argued that “reproductive rights are women’s rights, [and] they’re also human rights.” His speech reflected the views of the faction, which aims to encourage the empowerment of women through male support. He stressed that “if its an injury to women, its an injury to all of us.”
In her speech, Dr. Ellen Shaffer brought to light that many “reputable” universities have actually been acting illegally by denying coverage of birth control for faculty members and employees.
She noted that those opposed to abortion are “trying to make it seem as though they’re sympathetic to [women].” Earlier, Myra Orta also revealed that traditional pro-life activists, in addition to the false implications they perpetuate, often paste images of monkey fetuses on their signs in place of human fetuses to dissuade women from abortion.
The Silver Ribbon Campaign will host its own march for women’s rights in San Francisco on Saturday, January 25th. In the past this event has garnered a crowd of over 1,000 people, and the organization predicts a similar turnout this year. The main goal of the Silver Ribbon’s march parallels that of the AAUW’s: to educate women about all possible options, and to recognize that “it’s not an abortion issue, it’s a choice issue.”