Local community leaders rallied in Ferndale Tuesday night to speak out against what they called an attack on women’s rights.
Speakers at the demonstration organized by Fems for Dems decried efforts by President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans to defund Planned Parenthood.
“It’s very pivotable pivotal that we have organizations that are really working toward having and striving toward reproductive justice, social justice and economic justice,” Egypt Otis, Flint regional community organizer for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan, told the gathering on the steps of Ferndale City Hall.
The Trump administration in March issued a Title X “gag rule” making it illegal for Planned Parenthood and other providers in the federal family planning program to refer their patients for abortion.
Attorney General Dana Nessel announced in March that Michigan is one of the states challenging the rule. Last month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, based in San Francisco, issued a preliminary injunction to block the rule from taking effect while legal challenges across the nation work their way through lower courts.
“We believe all people should feel empowered and have the ability to make pregnancy decisions that are best for them and their families and that they should be supported in these decisions no matter what they are,” said Julie Lara Chelian of Northland Family Planning.
The rally, which was attended by many members of the gun control group Moms Demand action, also addressed racism and recent mass shootings.
Danielle Atkinson of Mothering Justice pointed out that women and other groups are under both political and societal attacks.
“White supremacy is a culture. And unless we are here to dismantle this culture, we’re not going to win, guys, because white supremacy first came for the Native Americans, then it came for the Black people, then it came for the women,” Atkinson said. “Now it’s coming for the poor white man. We are all in the same boat and until we realize what we are up against, we will all lose. It’s important to understand that this is the long arm of white supremacy. The NRA [National Rifle Association] is protected because the NRA is a part of white supremacy.”
U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-Southfield) added that far too many American women are victims of physical violence.
“Nearly 1 million women alive today report being shot or shot at by intimate partner,” Lawrence said. “More than 4.5 million women alive today report their intimate partner threatened them by using a gun. So when we talk about the rights of women, this gun control issue, it should be very personal to us. And then Black women are twice as likely as white women to be fatally shot by an intimate partner, so when you hear the crap that it was a good guy with a gun.”
State Sen. Jeremy Moss (D-Southfield) also attended the rally, which was held in his district in Oakland County, a big source of Democrats’ 2018 strength where Trump remains unpopular.
“There’s so much strife going on in the country right now,” he said. “People are looking for solutions because they’re not finding it in the White House. People in Oakland County are looking for something to do and how to push these issues forward, reducing gun violence, promoting women’s access to health care, stopping the attack on the LGBT community.”