37th anniversary of Roe v. Wade observed in St. Pete

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Linda Darin, a social worker and president of Pinellas NOW, came out to spark interest in youth, as well as people of every age.  “Us older people remember what is was like, so it becomes personal to us. If they lost the right to choose, I think then they would be more active,” Darin said, on why younger people aren't usually seen at demonstrations such as pro-choice rallies. “The media helps with reaching younger people...I'm tired, I don't want to keep fighting.”

Darin also touched upon it being legal for pharmacies to deny women birth control in St. Petersburg, making it more difficult to access other options. “This doesn't provide many other alternatives,” she commented.  “Or, if you have cancer, you can't take birth control, what other options do you have?”

Darin said the Stupak Amendment, a provision in the health care reform bill passed in the House that denies coverage for abortions through federal funding, is trying to make abortion illegal. “Some people think that if it's illegal, then the issue disappears, but it will still occur.”

Edgar White, a passersby (pictured right), said he had a personal experience with abortion.[image-1]

“In college I got a girl pregnant, we were 18 and we weren't ready for a kid. Abortion was a great option, since she was for it.”

Noticing the lack of diversity at the rally, White, who is African American,  said that teenage pregnancy in black communities is rampant.

“There's not a lot of education, so you mimic what you see,” White said.

Lou Durham, a volunteer for Planned Parenthood, was also affected by abortion through a friend's experience.

“She had an illegal abortion, because the other alternative was suicide. And it gave her hell, I don't want other girls to experience the hell she did,” said Durham. “Now she's happily married with two kids, but she'll always have that traumatic experience, when it could have been easier on her.”

Farah Strokes and Peggy Goodale stood together at one corner, sharing their knowledge on abortion. Both are volunteers for Planned Parenthood and Pinellas NOW.

Strokes said she was there because she supports women's rights.

“I've attended other rallies supporting women, and I've donated money to these organizations, too.”

Strokes, who heard about the event through Facebook, said the anniversary lands on her daughter's birthday, which makes this day even more significant for her.  “It reminds me that I want my daughter to have the choice, just like I want everyone to have the choice,” she said.

Goodale, a concerned environmentalist, said this issue goes beyond women's rights.[image-2]

“It's a human rights issue. Overpopulation brings this to an environmental level,” she said.

Goodale, who also volunteers her time at Sierra Club Florida, an environmental organization, said she understands where “pro-lifers” are coming from.  She said, “I see the pro-life side. If you're a true believer, you stand by your beliefs.”

Peter Redfield, a college student visiting from New York, said he thinks abortion shouldn't be legal. “I'm Presbyterian, but that's not the reason why I feel abortion is wrong,” he said.  He recalled his time in high school when he was a part of a “pro-life” club, saying. “To me, abortion is murder.”

Tami Shadduck, a sexual health educator employed by Planned Parenthood, who is currently eight months pregnant, said she enjoys being a part of movements such as this rally, because it lets people know issues such as abortion rights are still important. (Pictured above, Tami Shadduck)

photos by Rebecca Wainright

Thirty-seven years ago today the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the seminal abortion rights case that a woman has the right to abort her pregnancy. (Pictured right: Gillian Dean and her two-year-old son Jaiden at the demonstration)

Since then, pro-choice rallies have been organized each year, to remind people that the fight to keep abortion legal is not over and must continue to be fought.

In St. Petersburg, a group of about 25 people  gathered on the corner of Central Avenue and 4th Street North today to observe the anniversary. The rally, which lasted from noon to 1 p.m., brought out two prominent organizations, Planned Parenthood and Pinellas NOW (National Organization for Women).

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