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Women’s Strike Force Fights Back

Activists and legislators fight back against Virginia General Assembly’s legislation restricting reproductive rights.

The Women’s Strike Force PAC has gained momentum quickly since its inception two-and-a-half weeks ago.

The bipartisan organization was formed in response to the . In the first hour since its website went live on Feb. 27, Women’s Strike Force raised $1,600; the PAC has since raised $100,000.

Executive Director Rebecca Geller describes the Women’s Strike Force as “an organic grassroots movement.”

Geller, who hails from Fairfax Station, joined forces with 13 activists and former politicians from across Virginia to raise funds to recruit, train, and support candidates to run against the legislators who voted in favor of the mandatory ultrasound and "personhood" bills in February.

“It’s astounding to see how many Democrats, Republicans, and Independents have come together,” Geller said. “It affects women of all political walks of life.”

Fighting for Choice

Recently, former Delegate Kris Amundson (D-44) was in the locker room at her gym when a woman told her she was furious that the Women’s Strike Force was fighting against the legislation passed by the General Assembly.

“I replied, ‘That’s me,’ and people started cheering,” she recalled.

Amundson represented the Mount Vernon District for ten years and now serves on the board of the Women’s Strike Force. She says in the decade she has served as a politician, she has never seen an issue as “galvanizing” as reproductive rights.

“I know, in Mount Vernon, a number of Republican women who certainly are dismayed by how their party has chosen to focus on personal decisions like birth control,” said Amundson. “We have one purpose: if you voted for personhood, if you voted for ultrasound, we can find someone to run against you, and we’re going to try.”

 'Women aren’t going to be bullied anymore.'

Mame Reiley joined the Women’s Strike Force board after Amundson and Margie Vanderhyde told her about the PAC’s mission. Reiley served as the Chair of the Women’s Caucus for the Democratic National Convention and currently serves as the president of The Reiley Group, a consulting firm in Old Town Alexandria.

“We’re not going to take this anymore, and it’s a really foolish thing for Republican men to think they can control what women do to their bodies,” said Reiley, who divides her time between Old Town and Mount Vernon. “I think [legislators] really made a huge mistake this time.”

Reiley stressed that communication is essential in maintaining the mission of the Women’s Strike Force. She wants the Women’s Strike Force to keep Virginia women informed about what’s happening in the General Assembly regarding bills that jeopardize women’s reproductive rights.

“It’s not just giving money to candidates,” she said. “Obviously that’s important, but what’s important is this communication system where we can keep everybody updated with the latest information.”

Reiley is ready to fight back, joining the ranks of Amundson, Geller, Vanderhyde, and thousands of Virginians.

“It’s incredible that the men in the General Assembly think that we’re going to stand back and take this and that there are no repercussions,” Reiley said. “There are repercussions. Women are not going to be bullied anymore.”

Laura Shonerd Genuario March 25, 2012 at 12:17 PM
Wow! I just did the math and discovered I had personally though inadvertently "murdered" more than 300 people! No, I'm not really a serial killer, just one of the many women who used an IUD for many years. I had no idea what the "personhood" legislation would have meant for me, labeled me a killer and would have taken away my right to effective contraception. Intolerable!
Cathy Hosek March 25, 2012 at 03:25 PM
Well, one way to keep women out of the workforce is to force them to have every baby they conceive w/o access to birth control. Can you imagine how many unwanted pregnancies there will be if there is no available birth control? Think of all the funding that is getting cut on the planned parenthood side AND take away women's ability to earn a salary and you have got a real problem on your hands!
Christina Andrews March 26, 2012 at 01:20 AM
No one is denying women the right to contraception. It's simply a matter of who has to pay for it. It's the liberal democrats who are forcing their "values" on everyone else (including Catholic hospitals and charitable organizations) making them cover birth control under Obamacare. No one cares who uses birth control, it's simply a matter of who has to pay for it. What you do in your bedroom is your decision, but don't make me pay for it.
T Ailshire March 26, 2012 at 07:12 PM
But the Catholic church *DOES* care who uses birth control; they're trying to say they don't want the insurance plan they use to cover contraception for any woman who works for them, whether or not she is Catholic. I'm all for not paying for ANYONE's medical care except for major medical, but that ship has already sailed.
Laura Shonerd Genuario March 27, 2012 at 12:39 AM
As I understand it, insurance companies have agreed to pay for what the churches will not cover - it is a pretty small number of people really. And ALL of us who pay for private insurance pay for one another's medical care, whether it's high blood pressure meds, diabetes shots, pills, some guy's Viagra, or many women members' contraception. That's what happens in real life. We're not talking about the Catholic Church directly, but for some reason some of the presidential candidates are bowing to that particular sect's belief system. It's all pretense and posturing, and when Mitt Romney is eventually declared the Candidate, he will pretend that he never participated in any of this stuff, and we will all pretend to believe him and vote for him, hoping he won't try to take away women's rights.

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