Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Remembering Gov. Ann Richards

I was here for this speech and it was awe inspiring as we got ready to go march for our right, as women, to choose what happens to our bodies. Gov. Richards was a champion of women's rights and an example to us all. I still remember, as a young bride in Ft. Worth, that I could not cash a check at a bank without my husband's permission. There were many things that could not be done without a husband's permission at that time. Texas was truly backwards to me, a military kid, who had lived in many other states. Ann paved the way for us to have a fair share in Texas, and for that I will be forever grateful.

The speech:

On April 25th, 2004 more than 1.1 million men, women and children gathered in Washington, D.C. to speak out for reproductive choice. Governor Richards proudly led the Texas delegation in D.C. and gave an inspiring and moving speech to a sold-out, standing room-only rally for Texans before the March.

Thank you, Governor Richards. We honor and appreciate your outstanding leadership and all the doors you've opened for those who follow you. We follow humbly in your footsteps. The Staff and Board of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas

Remarks of
Ann W. Richards
to the
Texas Delegation
at the
March for Women's Lives
Washington, D.C.
April 25, 2004

Well, I don't think I have ever seen a better looking crowd.

If we had this kind of turnout ten years ago, George Bush would still be running a baseball team.

Good morning...and welcome to the March for Women's Lives.

I am proud of all of you for being here today...and I am proud to march with you.

You and I have fought a lot of battles together...but none is more important than the one that we commit ourselves to today.

We will not tolerate the right-wing politicians who want the government to make the most personal of choices in our lives.

And we have a message for them: Come November...You're fired!

For most of my lifetime, American women have been moving toward greater freedom and independence...and greater achievement in their professional lives.

And reproductive freedom is the basic right that made all our other successes possible.
It's been a little more than 40 years since we got the pill.

And on this very date 37 years ago, the Republican governor of Colorado signed a bill making abortions legal if three doctors recommended the procedure.

And then, Sarah Weddington argued Roe v. Wade...and for the first time in our history, women truly had the ability to determine their own future...to seek professional careers and earn money.

Two generations of American women have come of age with the freedom to plan their families, make decisions about their health - and about their lives - without government interference.

But those freedoms are threatened now.

Today we are marching against a tide of right-wing politicians and their propaganda machine.

A right-wing Congress and a right-wing President are hell-bent to limit the protection of Roe v. Wade.

From day one, this Congress and this President have led the assault on reproductive freedom.

And, when the cameras are rolling, they talk about abortion...but it is contraception and family planning that they are after.

You know what it is like when you are trying to drive somewhere and every intersection you hit has a red light?

Well, that's what these guys have done for women who want family planning.

They are like one big red light on the road to reproductive freedom.

In their first budget, they stopped federal employee's insurance coverage for contraceptives...but - and I want to be sure you hear this - they allowed continued coverage for Viagra.

They stopped Medicaid funding for family planning for many low-income women.

They stopped every effort to require insurance companies to cover contraceptive prescriptions.

They stopped legislation that would have allowed women in military service to have abortions...even if they paid for it with their own money.

They stopped funding to a Center for Disease Control sex education program because it urged parents to talk to their kids about contraception and protecting themselves from disease.

They stopped distributing public information about a study that showed the use of condoms did not increase promiscuity...and another that showed condoms were an effective way to prevent sexually transmitted diseases.

And they stopped family planning groups that oppose their policies...by threatening their funding if they speak out.

But while that traffic signal has been flashing red for the women of America...it has been bright green for the opponents of choice.

They green-lighted John Ashcroft as attorney general - a guy who is so anti-choice that he had to be shamed into protecting family planning clinics from bomb-throwers.

That green light stayed on while Ashcroft sent federal agents into hospitals to comb through women's medical records...looking for abortion cases to prosecute.

We all know about John Ashcroft and their anti-choice judicial nominees...but many of their other appointments speed right by under the radar.

They gave a green light to the head of the Center for Disease Control's Advisory Committee on HIV and Sexually Transmitted Diseases...who opposes the use of condoms.

They gave a green light to the "abstinence only" proponent who oversees the distribution of federal funding to family planning groups.

They gave a green light to doctors opposed to contraception who advise the Food and Drug Administration on reproductive health.

And, their first day in office, they gave a green light to a gag rule on every international organization that receives federal funding.

Basically, the rule says that if you even mention abortion when you talk to patients about their health, you lose your money.

Their bottom line is simple.

They want to outlaw abortion and contraception.

These same men declare grandly that they want to spread freedom all over the world.

So why do they want to restrict our freedom here at home?

The good news is that they cannot silence American women.

We are here today to say, once again, that no judge, no bureaucrat, no government official has the right to tell us whether or when we will have children.

We are not fighting for mere convenience or selfish ambition.

We are fighting for our sons and daughters who deserve medically sound advice about their sexual health.

We are fighting for the confidentiality of the doctor patient relationship.

We are fighting for the confidentiality of hospital and clinic records.

And we are fighting for the right of every child to be a loved and wanted child.

This is a crucial year.

And the march today is a beginning.

We must register our sisters...and we must vote.

Because when women vote, we win.

Tomorrow, we will go home and get to work.

Because we are fighting for our lives.

And we will not be stopped.


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