Guest Post: We’re Never Too Old for a Civics Lesson!

A guest post from Karen:

Hi!  My son is married to Barbara’s daughter.  So does that make Barbara and me Mothers-in Law?  🙂

On April 28, 2012 I had the eye-opening experience of attending a Unite Women rally in Richmond, Virginia.  This organization was created February 19, 2012 in response to the more than 900 bills that have been proposed in General Assemblies all over the US; bills that may decrease women’s access to fertility and contraceptive health care.

The rally was peaceful, bi-partisan, and very informative.  This spring Virginia joined 11 other states by passing legislation that mandates a medically unnecessary pre-abortion ultrasound be performed 24 hours prior to the abortion, thus increasing the burden of travel, time, and expense for the patient.

The original bill required that a transvaginal ultrasound be performed. Can you imagine? As an endometrial cancer survivor, I’ve had several, and they are extremely invasive!   Other legislation has been introduced that would limit the rights of women to have abortions, even in cases of rape and incest.

I have to let you know that I’m not a flaming liberal; I’ve been a Republican my whole life and have worked for a Republican U.S. Congressman, as well as campaigned for other conservative Republicans.  I’ve never even attended a political protest rally up to this point.

I can no longer stand idly by.  Moderate political positions have disappeared, and the legislatures are showing disrespect for my gender.  I want equality, and I want to move forward.

Photo Above:  Karen (left) and her friend Chris at the rally. Photo Below:  A younger woman stands up for the rights of women.

24 thoughts on “Guest Post: We’re Never Too Old for a Civics Lesson!”

  1. Barbara, Thanks for this post. Karen, I’m with you. Women should have choices, not legislation! I REALLY appreciated President Obama taking a personal stand on gay marriage. There are enough problems in this country that need fixing–we do not need to increase our problems by discounting women and making us second class citizens.


    1. I also applaud Obama for taking that stand. I simply can’t understand why the Republican party is moving backwards.


  2. So glad you had a good experience, Karen. There will be another nonpartisan women’s rights rally in Sept. in Washington, D.C., this one national in scope and organized by We Are Woman (, which is a similar group to, the sponsors of the Richmond rally. I’ll be leading the effort to fill buses from Central Virginia to go to D.C. as soon as the date is announced. If you’d like information on that, email me at


  3. Thank you for sharing your feelings and thoughts here, Karen. This was a very important topic and one I can fully support. I am a flaming liberal when it comes to social topics and taking care of the ‘least among us.’ I’m a bit more conservative when it comes to economics. Sometimes it’s hard to blend the two, but not on this issue.

    I have never had an abortion, so I can only imagine the trauma a woman goes through reaching the point where she needs to make that decision. Even the priest in my church (yes, Catholic priest) would NOT condemn a woman for having an abortion. He believed that decision was painful enough and should only be between a woman, her God, and her doctor, and neither man nor the Church had any right to control or condemn. Rather progressive thinking for a priest, wouldn’t you say? That’s why I went to that church. He also lost a few with that thinking, too.

    That said, it’s important to speak up. I applaud you for taking a stand and being, as they say, on the right side of history. I was also happy to see the picture of the young woman at the rally. Many of these young women have to be quite puzzled with what’s going on. After all, they didn’t live through the years of struggle to get equal rights, health care and otherwise, in the first place. I can just image them thinking; “What the…? This makes no sense.”

    With these ridiculous bills, the powers-that-be are stripping away women’s rights to not only be treated humanely, but to be treated at all. To be personally personal here, I could not have gotten my last two mammograms or pap tests without tax payer funded programs. And, yes, I am a tax payer so I funded the program, too. But, I also have not been able to get health insurance, until now, so there was no way I could afford my annual exams. Now, for the first time in ten years I am able to purchase health insurance coverage. I am so grateful that the programs were in place when I needed them. But what’s going to happen if this madness continues?

    Thanks to people like you, Karen, maybe the madness will stop. Keep the conversation going with your Republican sisters and brothers and maybe they, too, will understand that this has to come to an end.

    Thank you, again, for sharing your story.


  4. I’ll say right up front that I’m a flaming liberal. I have always been in favor of a woman’s choice although my personal comfort level has changed some as research has shown a fetus’ development more clearly.

    Still and all, I firmly believe that this is a woman’s choice and if abortions are ever restricted legally, they will be performed illegally. The toll on women was horrible when backstreet abortions were the only recourse available. We cannot return to those times of maternal deaths and mutilation.

    I respect others’ opinions on this subject and realize there is no easy way to resolve the differences. Still, I wish legislatures would stop trying to shame women into having a child that they cannot care for and/or afford. And it seems to me that some of the same legislators want to also restrict birth control options. This never made any sense to me.

    Thank you, Karen (and Barbara) for bringing up an important subject. Women have a lot to lose if they don’t carefully safeguard the rights that have been hard won.


  5. Patti, Thanks for your thoughts. We need to get women mobilized to vote out these extremely right-wing politicians. Karen


    1. Karen, I know many intelligent, thoughtful women who vote Republican out of habit. I suspect, when it gets personal, smart women stop and think. Rhetoric won’t win votes any longer.


  6. You go, Karen! I am with you 100%. We all need to become more active in protecting women’s rights from the extreme conservatives.


  7. I hope everyone commenting here will do what Karen has done–spread the word! If each of us will do what we can do–write a blog piece, organize an event, get active in your community, seek out ways to have meaningful persuasive conversations on women’s issues–we can effect change. Just seeing the effect my idea to put a bus together to go to this rally has had on Karen: going to the rally with her friend, and then writing about it, sharing her thoughts with others, is very inspiring! We are strong, individually, but even more powerful when we carry others along with us.


  8. What worries me is how little young woman (like my 21 year old daughter) appreciate how women have had to fight for what they have- in the workplace and in healh care. I think it’s a national embarrassment how women are treated regarding access to abortion, contraception, etc. This should not be a political issue. It’s a private decision.


    1. Precisely, Lisa. Can it be possible we’re having this discussion in 2012? What’s next? Repealing women’s right to vote? Unfortunately, young women may learn to appreciate all too well the struggles of fighting for access to proper health care if this political insanity goes on much longer.

      I’m also scratching my head trying to think of one area of male health care that is legislated? Anybody know of one?


  9. karen….thanks for being bold and writing this post. i think this issue has set us back, culturally speaking. and you are right…what happened to all the moderates. i applaud you for taking on this cause and we all need to fight to end this ridiculous injustice.

    at UNC’s graduation this past sunday, nyc mayor bloomberg addressed the ammendment issue and said we have a lot of work to do. he got great applause. he was also very bold and right!!


    1. Judy, I was delighted to hear Mayor Bloomberg address the amendment issue! I clapped as loudly as I could, making up for the guy next to me who did NOT seem pleased!


      1. karen ….the vote was on amendment one which defines “marriage in the state constitution as between one man and one woman, and bans any other type of “domestic legal union” such as civil unions and domestic partnerships. Same-sex marriage is already illegal in the state of North Carolina. The measure, however, added the ban to the state constitution.” the wording was such that to vote against the amendment was to vote against this restriction/ban. crazy and it passed in favor of. nc has a lot of work to do and this definitely set us back in yet another way. i could go on and on but i won’t because the topic of your post is soooo important!!!


  10. After being offline last night, this post and all of the comments are making my day. I have to thank Gail again for organizing the bus, and my friend Karen for riding along. I’m currently reading Outliers and think that for women, coming of age after Roe vs Wade is a threshold. Younger women don’t know others who have become infertile due to septic abortions, in fact they can’t imagine it. I marched 20 years ago in DC with my 12 year old daughter. She later volunteered at Planned Parenthood, and I was on their development committee – a legislator’s religious ideology has no place in such personal decisions, government has no place between a doctor and her patient. You are right Patti, it is hard to believe that we still need to march for our civil rights.

    There was a VA congresswoman who put forward a bill that would require men to have a rectal exam if they wanted an rx for erectile dysfunction – it was voted down, but just barely! And I think the amendment the Mayor was talking about may have been the general “personhood bill.” A very scary bill that would limit access to contraception and fertility treatment for women. With the advent of the morning after pill, abortions have been steadily decreasing in this country – a personhood bill would make such a pill illegal. These anti-women bills are chipping away at our freedom.

    One of my best friends, Lee, is a practicing Catholic (full disclosure, I am a lapsed Catholic, very very lapsed who married a Jewish man). She goes to church every Sunday and she is a lawyer, a former prosecutor. Lee would never have had an abortion herself, and yet she sees that this is OUR choice and so she is radically ProChoice. She is my daughter’s Godmother, and my daughter’s first baby is due the same day as Koop’s!


  11. Karen,

    Thanks for this post and thanks to all of your for your responses. Women unite and onward! And Karen, you know I’m nuts over that picture of you. It needs to be on the cover of MS Magazine.


Comment on this post

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s