Statement of Beverly Whipple in Olympia, WA, introducing Governor Gary Lock on the 30th Anniversary of Roe v Wade

30th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade
January 22, 2003, Olympia, Washington

Good afternoon. Thank you for coming. My name is Beverly Whipple. I am the Executive Director of the Feminist Women's Health Center with the Cedar River Clinic in Renton, Cascade Family Planning in Lakewood, A Woman's Choice Clinic in Yakima ... and once (back in 1983 and 84) a clinic in Everett that was firebombed three times before we were forced to shut our doors. Abortions are provided at all three clinic locations.

I am here today as chair of ProChoice Washington, a coalition of pro-choice organizations with the grassroots and voting power of hundreds of thousands of Washingtonians behind us. ProChoice Washington aspires for Washington State to be a pro-choice state, and for it's citizens, legislators and public officials to proudly support full reproductive health services for all women.

Thirty years after the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade, few Americans know what the decision actually said or the context in which it was decided. What Americans do know is that when Roe v. Wade became the law of the land on January 22, 1973, the lives of American women were forever changed. No longer would women be forced to risk their lives in order to have an abortion.

The death and devastation prior to the 1973 landmark decision were visible to many. Women who attempted self-induced or sought back-alley abortions filled hospital floors. The doctors and clergy who witnessed the tragedies became key activists in the move to make abortion legal.

In the years since 1973, over 30 million women have chosen abortion. Consider this fact: more than 40% of American women will choose to terminate a pregnancy at some point in their lives. Who are these women? There isn't one kind of woman who has an abortion and another kind of woman who has a baby. They are the same women at different points in their lives. They are our neighbors, friends, mothers, daughters, grandmothers and loved ones.

Today, on this 30th anniversary of the Roe decision, never before have women's right to safe, legal abortion been more threatened. Overturning Roe v. Wade and undermining a woman's fundamental right to make her own decision is a high priority for the current administration in Washington D.C. Just a few examples are:

  • Packing the judiciary, at all levels, with anti-choice judges.
  • Enacting policies that make "unborn children" rather than pregnant women eligible for coverage under the Children's Health Insurance Program.
  • Attempting to block access to contraceptives, the primary tool for preventing pregnancy.
  • Removing condom information about how condoms protect against HIV & STD from public information web sites that people depend on for reliable information.

We are here with our pro-choice Governor to say that we believe in a woman's right to make her own decision about a pregnancy, based on the conditions of her life, and include whomever she chooses to help her with that decision. We strongly object to government forcing their way into this critical and private decision-making process.

Maintaining rights in Washington has not been a cakewalk. Those rights have constantly been challenged. Governor Locke has been our last line of defense in some legislative challenges. However, pro-choice activists and legislators have done such a fine job, he has never had to exercise his veto power.

We are fortunate in Washington State - to have Governor Locke - and also citizens who have a respect for privacy and freedom. Referendum 20 passed in 1970 making abortion legal in our state, three years before Roe vs. Wade. Initiative 120 was passed by the voters in 1991, guaranteeing the rights of Roe v. Wade to Washington State Women. The people of Washington are saying that even if Roe is overturned, we want women here in Washington to continue to make reproductive decisions free from governmental interference.

We are honored that Governor Locke is here with us. We want you to know that we truly do appreciate your support. Thank you Governor Locke.

Beverly Whipple

"We're talking about freedom, and you can't take a picture of freedom."

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