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Thousands Defend Wisconsin Unions, Planned Parenthood At L.A. Rallies

Phenia Hovsepyan |
February 26, 2011 | 6:04 p.m. PST

Staff Reporter

Hundreds of protestors gathered Saturday afternoon at Pershing Square in Downtown Los Angeles for the Walk for Choice 2011, part of nationwide rally to advocate for preserving a women's right to choice regarding abortions.

[For some of the best signs from the L.A. demonstrations, see Neon Tommy's Flickr album.]

Pro-choice advocates and women’s rights supporters marched down Spring Street to L.A. City Hall, chanting along the way, drawing the attention of passing traffic.

Men and women alike were speaking out against the U.S. House of Representatives recent cutting of Title X, federal funding for Planned Parenthood. The U.S. Senate may vote on the spending resolution which includes that cut next week, but a Democratic majority is not expected to adopt the cut.

“I am here for women’s rights," Jennie Cotterill said. "For secular humanist values and rational thought. Even if the government says that abortions cannot be federally funded, this issues if not about abortions, it is about overall healthcare. Planned Parenthood offers STD testing, counseling, cancer screenings, free contraceptives, and help for people like me who have no place else to turn.”

Beth Mereda and her supportive husband Collin Cunningham add, “They are trying to cut funding from a very important program. It may save money in the short term, but we will be paying for this down the road. Preventive care is much cheaper than the cost of welfare. Title X is one third of Planned Parenthood’s funding, and the services they provide have helped many in need. And of course there is the issue of women’s rights.”

Organizers of the event Jessica Roy and Joe Magdelena passionately lead the crowd in chants like, “Our bodies, our lives, our right to decide!” And Jessica stopped to note, “Abortion laws don’t save any babies, they just kill women. It is ridiculous that in this day and age the issue of women having jurisdiction over their own bodies is up for debate.

As the Walk for Choice protesters made their way to City Hall, they joined the Rally to Save the American Dream. That group included thousands of workers and union leaders who had shown up to display support for the people of Wisconsin as their governor aims to significantly weaken the power of public employee unions.

Guy Johnson, regional coordinator for the liberal organization that helped plan the event, Moveon.org, said, “My brothers and sisters, we must stand together and show the workers of Wisconsin our support. [Wisconsin Gov.] Scott Walker has launched an assault on the workers of America. He and Glenn Beck have forgotten that America was the first union! People died for these rights, we cannot let them take it away.”

The passionate crowd listened to provoking speeches, then erupted with chants of “Show me what democracy looks like! This is what democracy looks like!”

Denise Martinez added, “I just came from Wisconsin, and there is such solidarity there. [Governor] Walker is hurting people on a huge scale, but the passion of the people fighting for collective bargaining rights is still there. We must show them our support.”

To reach staff reporter Phenia Hovsepyan, click here.



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