• Local ACLU chapter presents program on reproductive rights

    SARASOTA, FL – The Sarasota Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida continues its monthly discussion series, “Ask the ACLU,” with “How to Defend a Woman’s Reproductive Rights.” The forum, which takes place on Tuesday, April 4, 2017, 6:30-7:30 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Sarasota (3975 Fruitville Road), is free and open to the community.

    Discussion will focus on the legislation – state and national – that is continually chipping away at women’s reproductive rights; the ACLU’s current lawsuit filed in Florida against the 24-hour waiting period for an abortion; and what you can do to help in the battle to preserve reproductive access and rights.

    Panelists are: Barbara Zdravecky, who has served as the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida for more than 22 years, overseeing the launch of abortion services in Sarasota in 1998 and mergers that have stretched the affiliate’s boundaries from Orlando through Naples. Joyce Hamilton Henry is the West Florida Regional Director of the ACLU of Florida since 2008. She has worked with local, state, and national organizations to address a range of civil liberties and civil rights issues.

    The ACLU strongly believes that the decision about having a baby or having an abortion is a deeply personal, private decision best left to women, their families, and their doctors. In the 1920s, the organization defended Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger’s right to inform the public about birth control, and successfully appealed the obscenity conviction of one of its founders, sex educator Mary Ware Dennett. In the 1940s, it opposed bans on the sale and use of birth control devices and information. In 1974, the ACLU launched its Reproductive Freedom Project, which has fought to further the ACLU’s longstanding commitment to privacy rights and women’s equality by coordinating the nation’s most extensive program of litigation, advocacy, and public education on behalf of reproductive freedom.

    “The ACLU recognizes that personal privacy and reproductive rights are among our most important constitutional liberties,” said Pete Tannen, president of the Sarasota Chapter of the ACLU of Florida. “In recent years, states have enacted restrictions on abortion at a shocking pace. Extremist politicians continue to work to shut down women’s health centers, cut off access to affordable birth control, and find new and shocking ways to shame women who have abortions. We would like community members to leave our program armed with knowledge of what they can do to help preserve reproductive rights for women and families in our community, and across the country.”

    The Sarasota Chapter of the ACLU of Florida launched the “Ask the ACLU” discussion series in response to concerns over a slate of policies proposed by President-elect Trump during the presidential campaign, which the ACLU has stated would, if enacted, violate the constitutional rights of many people in America. Future programs are: “Protecting and Defending LGBT Rights” (May 4) and “Police, Community Relations, and Race-based Policing” (June 1). All programs are non-partisan; the goal is to inform and empower.

    For more information about the Sarasota Chapter of the ACLU of Florida and these programs, call Pete Tannen at (941) 306-1937 or go to sarasota.aclufl.org.

    About the Sarasota Chapter of the ACLU of Florida:
    The Sarasota Chapter of the ACLU of Florida serves Sarasota, Manatee and DeSoto counties. With almost 1,200 members, we are the fastest-growing ACLU chapter in all of Florida. The ACLU is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization — we welcome everyone to join us in our constant fight to protect your constitutional rights. Our only mission is to keep the promise of the Bill of Rights alive for every American. For more information, visit Sarasota.aclufl.org, the website of the Florida ACLU (ACLUFL.org) or the national ACLU (ACLU.org), or call (941) 306-1937.