Speech at Unite Against the War on Women Rally 4/28/2012

“We speak out for those people who need someone to stand up for them without compromise. Those who need a champion cannot afford compromise, in the face of forces that are powerful, persistent and pernicious and greedy.”

My name is Laura Sabransky, and the words I just spoke and believe wholeheartedly are those of Elizabeth Edwards.

THANK YOU to the organizers of this event today, taking place around our country as we speak!

I have been a political organizer for reproductive choice – for National Audubon Society’s International Population program in Washington, D.C. and then in the early ‘90s, served on the board of the Illinois Pro-Choice Alliance and Illinois League of Women Voters.

In those days — before social media and even before e-mail — yes, I know, so hard to even remember now — we did grassroots organizing by sending letters, making phone calls, making personal visits and writing testimony. In those days, our passionate communications affected legislators and legislation. In those days, legislators — even those who had been re-elected many times, even those on the other side of the aisle — would visit with us, listen to us and sometimes changed their minds and their votes upon feeling the pressure from their constituents about preserving our fundamental right to reproductive choice.

By the way, how do you like my umbrella? It was given to me during a election day, 2004, in Cleveland, Ohio in while I was working for the Kerry campaign to defeat the Bush regime. Even during the heavy downpour that lasted all day, and we kept receiving word that there were lines of Democrats all around the state waiting hours to vote. We all know now this was the 2nd election within four years that the Republicans stole from us.

Is anyone really surprised that this party of criminals thinks they can steal what belongs to us as women?

I’ve heard some citizens claim that there is no “War on Women” — that the 1100 individual pieces of proposed legislation across the country in 2011 created to dismiss, diminish and degrade women — and the more than 300 bills that became laws AND the 435 already proposed this year — all by the same party that stole national elections, sent our nation’s children to die in a protracted war based on lies, and committed war crimes — do not constitute a “war on women.”

To them I say: I — like many of you — have personally experienced bullying, harassment, aggression and attacks, and every time I hear about another law that has the intent to — control our bodies, treat women as property, make us poorer, keep us out of public life and make us into 2nd class citizens — I feel personally assaulted.

Just yesterday, hearing about the proposed law in Kansas that would allow pharmacists on college campuses to not dispense birth control to students if they feel like it — I thought back to my college experience of me and my female classmates who were not sexually active but experienced men assaulting them and putting date rape drugs in their drinks.

We didn’t even know about those drugs at the time, and I didn’t realize until years later that’s what they were doing. College was a long time ago for me, but yesterday I thought about all the college women today who wouldn’t be able to get the morning after pill after passing out at a party at the hands of predatory males and waking up in a strange place wondering what happened to them. And I thought about those who would have to drop out of school and public life and the chance to earn a decent wage because they became pregnant — not by choice — but by force.

And when I thought about this, I felt bullied, threatened and attacked – all over again.

I think about too, that if we let them get away with this, they will decriminalize violence against women – using the Stand Your Ground laws to defend men who commit violent acts against women. And – they already have.

But here’s what I know, and I’m pretty sure many of you know too: Bullies don’t win when you fight back. Bullies CAN’T win when you fight back. So, every time I feel fearful, I immediately become ferocious. Every time I feel threatened, I fight back. We’re HERE today to fight back, right?

Within the last two years, I have realized that for now, the old days of only 20 years ago might as well be ancient history. Long gone are the days that elected officials — whom we used to refer to as “public servants” — listen to their constituents after they get their votes. Now they listen to their funders, and to the lobbyists and corporations that write the draconian legislation that they sponsor. They spend 50% of their time fundraising. They have no time to read the legislation they’re voting on, and they certainly do not spend what’s left of their time listening to us.

Within the six months, I would say that I have sent 100 pieces of communication to elected officials, whether those were letters, emails, phone calls, petitions or facebook posts. I started writing to President Obama in 2010, imploring him to not give into the bullies, knowing that they would just get worse if he caved and compromised. He did – and they did get worse. I have not seen any demonstrable effect of mine and millions of others’ imploring our elected officials to speak for us, to act on behalf of the majority of U.S. citizens. Some say us being ignored will change when more Democrats get in office, but that is a temporary fix. We must transform our greed-based system into one serves the common good – serves the majority of citizens.

Within only the last few months, when we started to go after the funders of the legislators and the legislation — boycotting the companies who helped get the Stand Your Ground laws in 16 states passed, and the advertisers of the talk show Republican Party mouthpieces, like Rush Limbaugh, and the Susan G. Koman Foundation, — by merely threatening to eliminate their funding sources by boycotting their products and services — we were hugely successful. When we mobilized as not only voters, but consumers – we were widely successful within a very short amount of time.

The Republican legislators conducting the war on women are the same ones who are taking the legislation that corporations create for them to serve their own self-interests — which is making money — and getting it passed in state houses across the country — to the detriment of our Democracy.

If we can cut off their funding sources — the companies that sit on the board of — that partner with right wing groups like ALEC – The American Legislative Exchange Council — we take away elected officials’ ability to not only sponsor anti-female/anti-American laws, but to get re-elected.

I have brought with me today a list of those companies that sit on the board of ALEC. Some of the huge companies we are very familiar with, like Kraft and Coca-Cola, have vowed to remove themselves as ALEC board members.

But, for those who refuse to leave ALEC, like State Farm Insurance – that are continuing to write legislation that affects — worker and consumer rights, education, the right of American injured or killed by corporations, taxes, health care, immigration, and the quality of the air we breathe and the water we drink AND of course, women — we must boycott their products and services — and tell them WHY we will no longer spend our hard-earned money on companies that are trying to harm us.

We can’t wait until we get to the ballot box in November, or in the mid-term elections two years later. We need to act EVERY DAY — when we’re deciding what to do buy — on which companies to spend our money on — to show the forces that are powerful, persistent and pernicious and greedy —that WE WILL NOT COMPROMISE and WE WILL FIGHT.

THANK YOU AGAIN to the Organizers & please circulate the flyers I brought.

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