Market Street lamp poles are generally reserved for ads from SFMOMA or the zoo. But this month, we have a feeling the silver banners reading, "U.S. Out of My Uterus" and "Reproductive Rights are Human Rights" might be a bit more eye-catching.
Through the end of the month, dozens of banners by the Silver Ribbon Campaign to Trust Women will be flying proudly over our main thoroughfare to bring attention to reproductive rights. The organization will celebrate the 28th anniversary of the historic Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion on January 22, and is aiming to draw attention to the country's continued struggle. The campaign marks the first time in San Francisco history that the city has displayed banners advocating reproductive rights.
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The group's Bay Area-based organizers, Director of the Center for Policy Analysis Ellen Shaffer and Doctor Sophia Yen, launched the campaign in response to recent crackdowns on reproductive rights on the state and federal levels.
"We saw a pro-choice president sign laws restricting access to abortion in at least three different ways," wrote Shaffer in her blog on The Huffington Post. "In health care reform law, an executive order and a regulation on state health plans." Shaffer argues that, even with a progressive administration in office, reproductive rights continue to be stifled. She points to provisions in the Affordable Care Act, the decision to keep the "morning after" pill prescription-only for minors and health care exclusions that prohibit abortion coverage as evidence.
"This year, we learned it is not enough to appoint and elect smart, progressive women and pro-choice men to government," she wrote. "They and we need to mobilize visibly and vocally to advocate for reproductive rights and justice." Shaffer's visual mobilization is evident in the banners, sporting phrases like "We trust women. Do you?"
The banners, including one reading "Catholics for choice," are sure to catch a few eyes on both sides of the debate. But that, argues Yen, is exactly the point.
"When the House of Representatives votes that it is okay for doctors to allow pregnant women to die in the emergency room rather than perform an abortion, it's time for women to wake up and fight back," added Yen in a statement. "As a mother and a pediatrician who specializes in adolescent medicine, I want to insure that my patients and my own daughters continue to enjoy the right to plan their families and pursue their career goals," she said. "For women, that means protecting and expanding reproductive rights."
The group plans to host an event to coincide with the January 22 anniversary in San Francisco. In the meantime, check out pictures of the Silver Ribbon banners on Market Street in our slideshow below: