ROE V WADE LAWYER SPEAKS IN TAMPA by Roxanne Escobales

01/17/07
WMNF Drive-Time News Monday

Next Monday marks the 34th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court Ruling that legalized abortion. Lawyer Sarah Weddington was just 27 when she argued that case in Washington. Today in Tampa she spoke to supporters of Planned Parenthood about the historic Supreme Court decision in 1973. She also warned that work to protect the rights she fought for is not over.

 

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And then she showed the audience a picture of the ceremony that made that bill official.

 

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But in 1973, the state of women’s reproductive rights was nothing to laugh about. As part of the reams of briefs accompanying Roe vs Wade, Weddington some of the most harrowing were from medical doctors.

 

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So long ago was the specter of self-abortions or back alley abortions, that young women today sometimes need reminding of the past. Weddington says that women must “keep telling our story.”

 

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Working to educate students and legislators is Planned Parenthood, which hosted Sarah Weddington. Barbara Zdravecky is the family planning organization’s president and CEO for Southwest and Central Florida. She says the tide has turned in Tallahassee, where her organization is lobbying for more support and funding for family planning services and more comprehensive sexuality education. That includes more communication with parents about what’s being taught in schools.

 

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School board member April Griffin attended Weddington’s speech. Hillsborough County public schools teach abstinence. But Griffin says there’s room for improvement.

 

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Also at the Planned Parenthood luncheon was Becky Steele, the director of the ACLU’s West Central Florida office in Tampa. She said the most important issue challenging abortion rights in the state is requiring teenagers under 18 to notify their parents before getting an abortion. The teenager can go before a judge and request an exemption from this.

 

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The ACLU has a new program providing free legal counsel to teenagers who need to navigate the court system to either request an exemption to notify her parents or to appeal an unfavorable ruling.

 

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Planned Parenthood presented its annual Choice Award to former Tampa mayor Sandy Freedman for her public work on women’s health. Freedman said enough public officials don’t speak out on choice often enough.

 

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On January 22nd, 1973, the Supreme Court ruled that most laws against abortion violate a constitutional right to privacy as guaranteed by the 14th amendment. On Saturday, January 27th, the USF Feminist Student Alliance plans to demonstrate against anti-abortion group Silent No More which has an event scheduled at University Mall at noon.

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