In the 1970s, Wanda Webb Schrader marched in Washington, D.C., to support abortion rights. It didn't occur to her that she'd have to renew her efforts some 40 years later.
But the retired junior high school teacher and counselor was back at it Wednesday. She spoke at a rally to oppose a bill requiring doctors who provide abortions to have admitting privileges at a local hospital. The bill also would require any physician performing an abortion to remain with the patient through the entire procedure and recovery period.
"It's just awful to me to see things get turned back like they're doing it," said Schrader, 67, of Raleigh, after the rally at Halifax Mall near the Legislative Building. "It kind of frightens me what's happening to women in this world right now. And we think that's going on in the Third World countries. Well, guess what? Not even. It's right here in America."
About 200 women, and a few men, attended the "Not in Her Shoes" rally. It got its name because organizers said they want to tell politicians they should stay out of a woman's personal health decisions because they do not "walk in every woman's shoes."
Shoes donated at the event as a symbol will be distributed to a local women's organization.
Schrader said she was heartened to see so many young women at the rally, including fellow speaker Hannah Osborne, 21. The N.C. State University student is the campus representative for NARAL-North Carolina.
"Choosing birth control, abstinence, abortion, pregnancy or adoption should be my choice," Osborne told the crowd. "To say someone else is better fit to make decisions concerning my body and my life undermines my education, insults my intelligence and mocks my citizenship."
Several legislators who spoke said the abortion bill is part of a larger war on women and families in North Carolina that includes rejection of federal dollars to expand Medicaid and a proposal to require photo identification for voting. Both issues affect women disproportionately, said Rep. Deborah Ross, D-Wake, adding that the photo ID especially affects older women who are less likely to drive.
"Why are they afraid of these older women?" she asked. "It's because they are the women who have fought for rights. They are the women who care about family issues. ... They're doing everything they can to keep us quiet. But we're not going to be quiet."
The sponsor of the abortion bill, Sen. Warren Daniel, R-Burke, has said patient safety is its goal.
"We just want to make sure that, if we're having abortion procedures in North Carolina, they're as safe as any other type of surgery," he told WRAL-TV last week. "I think it's reasonable."
Abortion rights supporters say the restrictions in Daniel's bill could close clinics across North Carolina.
The bill "is really just a fig leaf covering the ability to eliminate any woman's right to have an abortion for any reason in North Carolina... " Rep. Rick Glazier, D-Cumberland, said at the rally.
Republican Gov. Pat McCrory has said he doesn't support more restrictions on abortions. Two years ago, legislators approved new restrictions, requiring women to receive counseling and to wait 24 hours before an abortion. A physician also must describe images on an ultrasound to the woman.
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