By Nicole Linder, Spring 2015 Advocacy & Communications Intern. Connect with Nicole at @NALinder or email@example.com.
The 2015 Pro-Choice Coalition Day of Action marked the 42nd anniversary of Roe v. Wade and proved to be a successful day of women’s health lobbying. Participants met with legislators, took to the streets, and made phone calls in support of reproductive rights and Virginia women!
In Northern Virginia, activists received advocacy training and made phone calls to residents asking them to contact their representatives in support of critical pro-choice legislation. Over 80 legislators were also called and urged to vote in favor of SB 773 –a repeal of Virginia’s mandatory ultrasound requirement sponsored by Senator Mamie Locke.
In Richmond, activists put their training to the test and met with multiple legislators to lobby in support of reproductive rights. With approximately 50 lobbyists in attendance, Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam kicked off the day with breakfast at his office before supporters split up to meet with lawmakers and discuss pro-choice legislation. Thank you to LG Northam for hosting us!
Further south, activists in Hampton Roads and the surrounding area took to the streets to rally for women’s health. About a dozen volunteers gathered in front of Kimball Theatre in Williamsburg to hold signs and cheer for choice as passing cars honked in support of reproductive rights. Afterwards, volunteers met at Old Dominion University for a phone bank and made over 200 calls in favor of pro-choice legislation.
Hoping to start a conversation online as well, the Virginia Pro-Choice Coalition and Day of Action organizers also took to Twitter and hosted a live tweet chat. Organizers took turns asking and fielding choice-related questions and a discussed ways activists can make their voices heard and fight for reproductive freedom.
Finally, we were so thrilled to have student activists from across the Commonwealth also participate in the 2015 Day of Action! Students at the College of William and Mary and the University of Richmond tabled for the event, passing out NARAL Pro-Choice VA SWAG, engaging with students and petitioning for women’s rights and reproductive justice.
A small group of students at James Madison University hosted a coffee chat to discuss the impact of Roe and held their own tweet chat using the hashtag #JMURoe. Hokies at Virginia Tech recognized the event and collected signatures in support of the Virginia Women’s Equality Agenda. By the end of the day, over 100 students across the Commonwealth signed petitions in favor of women’s equality and her right to choose!
In the midst of our advocating, we were once again reminded why events like the 2015 Day of Action are so important.
As our advocates were making phone calls and reflecting on the anniversary of Roe, anti-choice legislators introduced HB 2321 in a late-night attempt to quiet our efforts and take away personal decision making from Virginia women and their families. This extreme bill would make performing abortions after 20 weeks a felony offense, with zero exception for severe fetal anomalies or for survivors of rape or incest.
It is because of bills like HB 2321 and the constant attack on reproductive rights that we take action in Richmond, call our lawmakers and stand up for Virginia women. It is because of these bills that advocates brave the cold, hold signs and speak out for choice. It is because of these bills that our presence on campuses throughout the Commonwealth continues to grow as more and more young people learn about their rights and stand up to protect them. T
he 2015 Day of Action was a success, but also a reminder of the work that needs to be done to protect choice and the reproductive rights of Virginia women. Although the battle is far from over, we are thankful for our advocates and supporters who helped us celebrate Roe and stand up for reproductive freedom.