A new Grand Valley women's group staged a "die-in" Tuesday in front of Grand Junction City Hall to protest what activists across the nation are calling a "war on women."
About 20 women and men gathered at 250 N. Fifth St. holding signs bearing messages like "Died - lack of prenatal and childbirth care," "My Uterus, My business," and "Respect Women."
Grand Junction wife and mother Robyn Parker, who holds a degree in women's studies, founded the group "Women Helping Others Resist Exploitation and Sexism" earlier this spring after she become increasingly concerned about contemporary women's issues such as Planned Parenthood de-funding.
"This year, in 2012, 1,100 bills, in state legislatures throughout the country, would reduce women's access to health care and reproductive choices. Three-hundred of those have passed," Parker, 44, said.
"One of the things I want to emphasize it's not just pro-choice versus pro-life. (The war on women) goes beyond that," she said.
The reauthorization of the 1994 Violence Against Women Act passed in May, but with fewer protections for Native American women, undocumented immigrant women and victims of domestic violence. Lesbian women receive no protections under the act.
This month, Senate Republicans blocked consideration of a bill that calls for equal pay for women for equal work.
Cindy Clark was one of those who attended Tuesday's protest and is a member of Women Helping Others Resist Exploitation and Sexism. The name, whose acronym, WHORES, was first considered as a joke, was embraced by women in light of conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh's use of the word "slut" to describe a young women with whom he disagreed.
"The womens' issues we're facing today are of paramount importance," Clark said. "I have a daughter, and a granddaughter. I think of them, and other young people who may have taken their rights for granted.
"And it's frustrating to know so many women who feel this way and are afraid to make their voice known. It's tragic."
Brenda St. John has also joined the newly formed women's group and came out for the rally.
"I feel very strongly about women's rights," she said. "It's my body, my business. I have a daughter. It's her body, her business."
About a dozen women momentarily "played dead" on the sidewalk as their male supporters traced outlines of their bodies on the sidewalk with chalk.
Kathryn Christian said she was attending the protest in solidarity with women in Michigan where a package of bills would limit access to safe, legal abortions and force health care centers that provide pap smears, birth control, annual breast exams and routine gynecology care to close.
Protester Sally Matchett is a retired college professor who said she's concerned not only about a "war on women," but the growing income disparity in the U.S., and democracy in general.
"I'm retired. I think there should be more of us retired here because the younger ones are busy working three or four jobs," she said.
For more information about Women Helping Others Resist Exploitation and Sexism, email firstname.lastname@example.org.