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Morning Sun
  • Around 30 people march to protest 'war against women'

  • It might have been the 1960s all over again Saturday as a war protest march proceeded from the Pritchett Pavilion at Immigrant Park to 10th Street.

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  • It might have been the 1960s all over again Saturday as a war protest march proceeded from the Pritchett Pavilion at Immigrant Park to 10th Street.
    However, this march was held in protest of the “War Against Women,” one of numerous events held across the nation Saturday by Unite Women, a non-partisan organization of women and men which targets what it sees as ongoing legislative and political attacks on women’s rights from the extreme right.
    Around 30 people participated in the march.
    “They’re having a big shindig in Topeka and I think a lot of Pittsburg people went there, otherwise we’d have more here,” said Julie Menghini, Pittsburg, former Democrat state representative.
    Event organizer was LaStacia Hahn Ross.
    "I'm the organizer with a lot of help from Marianne Evans Lombe," Ross said. "Joy Leeper is wonderful to provide music, and there are some women behind the scenes who stepped up to help."
    Ross compared the women’s march to an earlier event in Crawford County history. Back in December of 1921 an “Amazon Army” of miners’ wives, sweethearts, daughters and sisters marched through the coalfields for three days in support of striking miners against injustice and unfair labor laws.
    “It’s time again for the women of southeast Kansas to unite and make our voices heard,” Ross said. “We want politicians to know that they have our attention and we vote.”
    A brief program was held before the march, including original songs by Leeper and remarks by Menghini.
    “When LaStacia invited me here to speak I was a little nervous,” Menghini said. “I felt like most of this was personal choice and not necessarily discussed in a public venue, but they’ve gone too far.”
    One of her concerns is the availability of contraceptives. In only 28 states does the law require that birth control expenses be covered by health insurance plans, though all 50 states require that Viagra be covered.
    “Ninety-nine percent of women are on contraceptives at some time in their life, and the average woman would pay $1,200 per year for birth control if insurance does not cover the expense,” she said.
    Menghini said that some consider it overly dramatic to say that there is a “war against women” in the United States.
    “This is the most threatened I’ve ever felt in my life for women’s reproductive rights,” she said. “It’s time for us of southeast Kansas to step up to the plate like our mothers and grandmothers did for us.”
    Leeper noted that the United States ranks 70th in the number of women holding positions in government.
    “No. 1 is Rwanda,” she said. “I hope we can catch up to Rwanda.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Leeper sent the marchers off with “We Shall Overcome,” anthem of the 1960s civil rights movement.
    Leading the procession was Marianne Evans Lombe, Pittsburg artist, wearing a bright green Statue of Liberty costume.
    “I’m a woman and I vote,” said Danielle Ferrell when asked why she was marching. “There are a lot of women who aren’t courageous enough to come out, but I am.”
    Timi Myers, Pittsburg State University student, said that she did not want the government to control her body.
    “They’re going to, unless we say something about it,” she added.
    There were several men in the march, including a small contingent from the Veterans for Peace.
    “We are for peace and justice,” said Robert Medford. “We’re out to expose the war machine, but we also support any group that seeks justice, and we’re here for women and justice.”
    Skip Tarrant drove over from Galena to take part.
    “I’m an ex-hippie and an ex-Marine, and that kind of makes me want to do something,” he said. “I’m not a woman, but I have a daughter and a granddaughter. I thought I’d show up and make the public statement that there are some men who are not determined to oppress women.”
    Many drivers honked their car horns as the marchers passed by, and at least one voiced her support.
    “I’m disabled or I’d be walking with you,” said Joi Hencey.
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