Sara Librandi burst onto the Utah political scene as organizer of the local Unite Against the War on Women protest, part of a 50-state event. Protesters will gather April 28, from noon to 2 p.m., at the south stairs of the Utah Capitol at 350 N. State. A graduate of Alta High School, 26-year-old Librandi claims to have no prior experience organizing political events.
How did you become involved in Unite Against the War on Women?
Early this year, there were a lot of big strides forward for the gay-rights movement, which I was thrilled about. But, very soon after that, the news stories started to change: Suddenly we have personhood bills, transvaginal-ultrasound bills, 72-hour waiting periods on abortion, contraception bans—I couldn’t believe what I was hearing! I was pissed off. And then I found the Unite Against the War on Women page on Facebook and immediately joined.
What is the War on Women?
The War on Women is the attack on women’s rights through legislative bills, proposals and political rhetoric aimed to take away a woman’s choice in regards to reproduction and family planning. It is the extremists’ attempt to impose their morality on the rest of us by saying, “Women don’t know how to make their own responsible choices, so the government needs to step in and make those decisions for them.”
The contraception debate supposedly ended in the ’60s. Why has birth control emerged as an issue in 2012?
It seems like the last-ditch attempt of a dying breed to take America back to the 1950s, when women “stuck an aspirin between their knees” for birth control, and sex was something to be hidden away and never discussed in the media or in polite society. Today’s society is becoming ever more progressive and forward thinking, and that scares the religious zealots. It appears that those opposing birth control want to stop the imagined promiscuity of the 2012 woman. They believe that hormonal forms of birth control (the pill, patch, ring, shot, IUD) are abortifacient. Why are those things bad? Because their religion tells them so. And that is the underlying issue: They think freedom of religion means that they have the freedom to impose their religious and moral beliefs on everyone else.
Many states have recently adopted laws (transvaginal ultrasounds, etc.) intended to heap shame upon women seeking legal abortions. How do Utah’s laws compare to other states’?
Utah is one of the worst offenders. Gov. Herbert recently signed House Bill 461—the 72-hour waiting period for abortions. That means any woman in Utah seeking an abortion must have her legally required consultation with the doctor—and then wait three days before she can come back for the procedure. Our legislature passed this in the hopes that giving women more time to think about their actions will make them change their minds.
First of all, how stupid and irrational do they think we are? This is a hugely emotional and difficult decision; do they really think that women don’t spend days agonizing about it before they even call the clinic? Secondly, there are only two abortion clinics in the entire state, and both of them are here in the Salt Lake Valley. We’re not a small state, and women outside of Salt Lake City would have to drive up to six hours to have their consultation, and then drive all the way home just to drive all the way back three days later. What is the point of this? It’s a punishment because the legislators that run our government think women should be punished for not following their beliefs—that is, women should be punished for being “sluts.”
What really kills me about this bill is that the state Senate took only 53 seconds to approve it. Um, excuse me? You want women to spend three days thinking about the consequences of their actions, but you took less than a minute to consider the consequences of this bill? The hypocrisy astounds me.
What can we do locally to fight against the War on Women and to show our support for women’s rights?
First and foremost: Vote! Make sure you get out there on Election Day and vote for candidates who value and uphold your rights. Voting records are easily found online, so if you’re not sure where a legislator stands on a certain issue, look it up! Second: Write letters to your local representatives when an issue or proposed bill comes up that you don’t agree with. And, on the flip side, you can write a letter of support when you see something you do agree with. Stand up and make your voice heard! As we all just witnessed with the sex-education bill, when we join together and shout loudly enough, our legislators will listen.
What experience do you have in political organizing?
None! I volunteer for phone banks during election years—calling newly registered voters and reminding them to get out and vote—but I don’t think that counts. I go to civil-rights rallies when I hear about them. When I originally signed on to this event, I wasn’t planning on leading or organizing. But, early on, when I saw that no one else was stepping up to the plate, I decided to just go for it.