When Louise (name changed to preserve anonymity) found out she was pregnant, the 29-year-old single mom in Cincinnati, Ohio, knew she could not afford to have another child. Without insurance and a steady income, she turned to Planned Parenthood, a national organization that provides general healthcare services for women, including access to abortion care. Louise wrestled with the decision, but in the end decided to end her pregnancy. Now living in Charleston, S.C., Louise supported Planned Parenthood at a Tuesday afternoon rally in front of the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
“After that experience [having an abortion], I felt bad about it,” she said, “but I had the choice to make and I made that choice.”
About a hundred women and men came to the rally — a lower number than expected due to credential security checks, even though organizers planned to make it a non-credentialed event for attendees. Speakers included comedian and Planned Parenthood board member Aisha Tyler, Georgetown University Law Center student Sandra Fluke, Wisconsin congresswoman Gwen Moore, Newark, New Jersey Mayor Cory Booker, and Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America since 2006. She encouraged the crowd to re-elect President Barack Obama instead of electing Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney and his vice-presidential running mate Paul Ryan.
“We have come too far to go back,” said Richards, who will be speaking at the Democratic National convention on Wednesday night.
Women’s healthcare, including abortion rights, has been at the forefront of the 2012 presidential election. Mitt Romney, who years ago was recorded on television as being pro-choice, was one of the members of his party to support the elimination of contraceptives from the health insurance of all employers except religious institutions. Romney’s vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, a U.S. House of Representatives member from Wisconsin, has voted to defund Planned Parenthood, while Romney supports ending federal funding to the organization.
Obama has voiced his support for women’s reproductive rights via Planned Parenthood. In May, he encouraged women to fight for their rights to equal pay and contraception during a speaking engagement at a college graduation in New York. He has also supported women’s access to healthcare services from Planned Parenthood in his slate of political ads.
Richards, whose mother Ann Richards was elected as the first pro-choice governor of Texas in 1991, landed in Charlotte on Monday. Although this is not her first visit in Charlotte, it will be her inaugural speech at at the Democratic National Convention. Her mother made the keynote address at the 1988 Democratic National Convention in Atlanta, famously saying that George Herbert Walker Bush was “born with a silver foot in his mouth” (see video below). Whether or not Cecile Richards can top that, we'll have to wait to see; however, she still has a powerful message for women and Obama supporters.
“We’re here in support of the president because he has been such an extraordinary leader for women and women’s health,” she said.