40th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade Celebrated, Protested Downtown
Supporters and opponents of abortion rights took to the sidewalks Tuesday to voice their opinion on the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade
Much like the national conversation on abortion, there were mixed signs and feelings in downtown St. Petersburg Tuesday as dozens of people gathered to support and oppose abortion rights in America — On the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision.
Planned Parenthood of Southwest & Central Florida said they organized the rally, which was held on the four corners of 3rd Street and Central Avenue, to not only commemorate the historic decision but also to bring attention to new attacks on abortion rights.
"Obviously this was a landmark decision in our country, and we do speak out for that anniversary, but we also speak out against politicians who are still trying to continue to decide women’s personal medical decisions," said Caitlyn Miller, a grassroots organizer for Planned Parenthood of Southwest & Central Florida.
"(Abortions) are a needed service and we think it’s important that politicians and a small group of activists don’t have the say in a woman's decision," Miller added.
A newly released NBC/Wall Street Journal poll said for the first time ever, a majority of Americans (54 percent) want abortion to remain legal. According to the poll, "a whopping 70 percent of Americans oppose the Roe v. Wade decision being overturned."
Local activist Michael Brennan said once he heard Planned Parenthood would be holding a rally commemorating the 40th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade, he felt compelled to protest.
For nearly 25 years Brennan has been fighting a guilty conscious after he and his wife decided to abort their child in the late 80s.
"All the years since, we deeply regretted it," Brennan said of his wife getting an abortion. "And we also began to realize that we murdered a child.
"When she came to me and said she was going to have an abortion, I just clamed up and said nothing," he added. "I should have said something. At least my conscious would be clean."
Brennan, who was holding a 'Men Regret Lost Fatherhood' sign Tuesday, said there is not a day goes by where he doesn't think about their decision.
"In reality, on a personal basis, one day I’ve got to meet my child," Brennan said. "That’s going to happen."
Standing proudly, Dr. Ruth Whitney said she came out to the rally Tuesday to speak up for continued access to abortion services.
"It’s our body and we should be able to decide what will happen to it," Whitney said. "No one else, the legislature, has no right to tell me what I can do with my body.
"Roe v Wade means we can have safe legal abortions," Whitney added. "And I think they should be rare, but that is a woman’s choice."