All posts by Roger Straw

Editor, owner, publisher of The Benicia Independent

Impromptu Benicia pro-choice protest draws cheers and honks of support

On the morning that the Supreme Court abolished women’s reproductive rights

By Dagmar Kuta, Benicia
Photos by Larnie Fox, Benicia, June 25, 2022

I woke up to the news and tried to find a nearby event to share in the collective sorrow and strength of the community. The nearest event I could find was in Napa in the afternoon, and I felt too anxious and upset to wait until then. I decided around 11:30 am to post the event via womensmarch.com, and figured if no one else showed up that was okay, but I couldn’t sit at home and fester in my feelings and doom scroll online.

Luckily Larnie and Bodil picked it up and shared it with their network of activists and we had a few drop ins too.

We know this decision by the Supreme Court is not representative of the desires of the people. Removing our constitutional right to self-govern our bodies is wrong.

There is more work to be done, and more to come.

Dagmar Kuta
Benicia

Solano Dems host fiery pro-choice rally to protest Supreme Court decision

[BenIndy Editor:  Benicia poets were present in spirit: the Fairfield crowd heard Benicia Poet Laureate Mary Susan Gast’s “Uncertain Inalienable Rights” and Roger Straw’s “The Nation I Used to Love.”  – R.S.]

Ana Petero speaks during a rally against the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade court ruling at the Government Center in Fairfield, Friday, June 24, 2022. (Aaron Rosenblatt/Daily Republic)

Fairfield Daily Republic, by Matt Miller, June 25, 2022

FAIRFIELD — Solano Democrats held a fiery and emotional rally Friday before a few dozen sign-waving supporters, showing anger and disgust over the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

“Thank you for showing up spur of the moment,” said Chairwoman Marjorie Olson of the Solano County Democratic Central Committee. “We need to see what we can do for women’s health because this is a decision subject to further victimization.”

Barbara Gaea of Vallejo said it is even a matter of suicide prevention.

“How many suicides can be linked back to pregnancy tests?” Gaea asked. “I’m so mad about this, my brain wants to explode.”

Demonstrators hold signs during a rally against the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade ruling at the Government Center in Fairfield, Fri., 6/24/22. (Aaron Rosenblatt/Daily Republic)

Gaea turned around and looked at the American flag in front of the Government Center and said it should be at half-staff for “all the women that have died and all the women that will die” from government intrusion into individual abortion decisions.

Supervisor Monica Brown told the crowd she was donating $500 to the National Abortion Federation to help those who need abortion care and help with travel expenses. Brown also announced a $500 contribution to Planned Parenthood and emphasized the organization provides many more services than abortions.

Brown said change is needed and the biggest way to do that is through the November election.

“They have reversed half a century of reproductive freedom,” Brown said of the Supreme Court’s decision. “I’m tired of this country taking five steps back. The only way to get it back is to vote. Every state should have equal access to what we have here in California.”

Fairfield-Suisun School Board Trustee Ana Petero said, “Women need to stick together as one.”

Ana Petero holds a sign with a pair of coat hangers during a rally against the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade ruling, at the Government Center in Fairfield, Friday, June 24, 2022. (Aaron Rosenblatt/Daily Republic)

Ana Petero holds a sign with a pair of coat hangers during a rally against the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade ruling, at the Government Center in Fairfield, Fri., 6/24/22. (Aaron Rosenblatt/Daily Republic)

Petero talked about her own personal struggles at a young age. She reiterated the ruling is an attack on all women.

N’dea Johnson, who is running for Fairfield City Council in District 1, said it is important to respect everyone’s choice.

“Whether it’s a sister, a cousin, a person you know that can bare children, (they) deserve the right to terminate their pregnancy if they choose,” Johnson said. “It’s important to respect everyone’s choice. This is just the beginning of what they are going to do to us.”

“We need to keep our government with the government and our bodies with our bodies,” Tara Beasley-Stansbury said. “We have the right to make our own decisions.”

Lerecia Evans wondered how this decision could be made in the middle of an infant formula crisis and during a teacher shortage.

“No one deserves the right to tell you what you should do,” Evans said. “How can you regulate such a personal thing? We’re still being told what to do and that abortion can be done easily. Men don’t understand what it’s like to have a uterus.”

Benicia Poet Laureate Mary Susan Gast: Uncertain Inalienable Rights

My poem draws from the vision and promise of our nation’s Declaration of Independence in contrast with the vision and threat presented by proposed total bans on abortion. – Mary Susan Gast

UNCERTAIN INALIENABLE RIGHTS

Inalienable rights
Endowed by our Creator
Inalienable rights
Inalienable—can’t be gotten rid of
Absolute
Sacrosanct
Unassailable
Life
Liberty
Pursuit of happiness.

Except, of course,
If you have likewise been endowed
With a functioning uterus.

In which case, your inalienable rights
Are up for alienation
Trumped and superseded
Any time
Any old time
Any young time
Egg and sperm meet
Within you.

If you should conceive,
Whatever the circumstances,
Nothing
Nothing in your life,
Neither loss of job,
Nor loss of mental health,
Neither exhaustion,
Nor damage to physical health
Nor neglect of children already born,
Neither commitments to vocation
Nor aging parents
Nor anything else in all creation,
Can keep you from becoming a birth mother—
Or die trying.

The sectarian parochial conviction
That a fertilized egg is a full human being,
That dogma,
Has powered up its wardrobe,
Dapper in judicial robes, and senatorial togas
Along with its usual ensemble of religious vestments
To propagate and promulgate itself most forcefully
As the law of the land
Mowing down
Devastating
Life, Liberty, Pursuit of Happiness
For those who are unhealthily, unwillingly, or unjoyously
Pregnant.
Bodies conscripted
For servitude.

Enforced birth, coerced procreation
Demeans, mocks, belittles, dismisses
The generous, arduous, courageous, dangerous, heroic
Labor of love
Entered into
By those who freely give of themselves
To give birth.

We hold these truths to be self-evident.

Inalienable rights
Endowed by our Creator
Inalienable rights
Can’t be gotten rid of
Absolute
Sacrosanct
Unassailable
[Say it with me, everyone]

Life
Liberty
Pursuit of happiness.


Mary Susan Gast
©2022
“Bans Off Our Bodies”
Benicia CA


 * Interesting note: ‘Inalienable’ or ‘Unalienable’?

The Nation I Used to Love

By Roger Straw, June 24, 2022

The nation I used to love
Has gone mad.
I’m living in a deadly spin,
A near-divorce state,
A whirlpool of Trumpian loathing
And marching orders of Supremes
That would take us back to the glory days
Of patriarchal authority
And martial powers
Of guns and guns and guns…
And babies blooming unchecked
In every womb.

The nation I used to love
Is broken.
And my love is lost for now.
Divorce impossible,
I’m trapped in a promise
Of decades of division,
Litigation that has an arc
That bends not toward justice
But is crushed or nearly so
Under the weight of Justices
Of right –
Of right and fight and loathsome might.

The nation I used to love
Is a memory
Held dear
Kept safe
For a century perhaps
A future for now unknown
And yet to come?
Yet to come.