By Caitlin Bancroft, Legal Intern
Earlier this week NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia held our third annual Power of Choice event. It was a great evening and a wonderful chance reflect, celebrate, and enjoy the company of fellow reproductive rights activists! We were very excited to have many pro-choice elected officials in attendance including: Delegate Mark Kean, Delegate Bob Brink, Senator Barbara Favola, Delegate Herring, Congresswomen Louise Slaughter, and Congresswoman Gwen Moore. It was also great to see three of our pro-choice candidates also came out to celebrate, including John Bell for the 87th, Ed Dietch for the 42nd, and Jennifer Boysko for the 86th. For those of you who were not able to make it – don’t worry! We have lots of photos and videos of the marvelous speeches.
To our delight, both Congresswomen Louis Slaughter and Gwen Moore came to speak with us about their tireless work for reproductive healthcare. Congresswoman Slaughter spoke about the radical and illogical anti-choice tactics being employed by many extremist politicians. She reminded us that it is our job as advocates is to show the extremists that there are still people who care about women’s rights and reproductive health. You can watch her eloquent speech here.
Congresswoman Moore also gave s great speech about the need to continue the fight for reproductive justice – even after decades of tireless advocacy. She encouraged all of us to remember that the longer our rights are attacked, the more young women are growing into pro-choice activists eager to join the cause. Her passionate talk can be heard here.
One of our favorite parts of Power of Choice is the presentation of the awards. This year we recognized two remarkable and inspirational reproductive justice advocates. The “Aggie Wolf Defender of Choice Award” was presented to Dr. Karen Remley, who served as the Virginia’s Health Commissioner under Governors Kaine and McDonnell. In 2012, Dr. Remley resigned in protest over the unethical implementation of TRAP regulations designed to eliminate abortion access. Dr. Remley embodies genuine conviction to justice and righteousness — listen to her speak about the sources of her inspiration and strength here!
We were also thrilled to honor Ms. Rosemary Codding with the “Outstanding Advocate for Choice Award.” As the director of patient services at Falls Church Healthcare Center, Rosemary is on the front line of the war to protect reproductive rights and health care.. Yet despite the danger that comes with visibility, Rosemary has spent the last eleven years working as an outspoken advocate for her patients and for all women. Her work is a testament to human resilience and compassion. Check out her moving message to other advocates here.
As many of you know, it hasn’t been the easiest couple years in Virginia — and even the best of us are a little tired and frustrated. In times like these it is so important to remember the rejuvenating powers of community. The 3rd annual Power of Choice gave us the opportunity to celebrate the successes of the last year with so many committed reproductive justice supporters. Here at NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, we are very blessed to be surrounded by incredible, brilliant spirits who constantly recharge and re-inspire us. Thank you very much to all of the powerful and dedicated people who have come out in the last year to support us. You are our strength and our inspiration. We look forward to another year of fighting for all of our rights!