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About fifteen ‘gray panthers,’ mostly older women known as the Sewing Circle, arrived unannounced for the House Judicary and Public Safety Committee Monday afternoon, March 5. They came to speak against five of the bills the committee planned to hear. The women felt these five measures give the state government control of womens’ bodies.
After delaying the meeting for more than an hour and apparently frustrated by this group of women who were talking with the press, Committee Chair Rep. Rex Duncan, (R-Sand Springs) cancelled the meeting. He said the meeting would be rescheduled after session, the next day, Tuesday.
Shortly before Tuesday’s committee meeting started, Chairman Duncan announced that anyone wishing to speak should sign up and could speak for one minute. This included all the original group of women and those who joined them for this meeting. Wanda Jo Stapleton, former House member and leader of the Sewing Circle, said as the meeting began Rep. Duncan “cut them off at the pass,” refusing to let them speak against each bill. Criticizing the bills, Ms. Stapleton said some legislation was based on hearsay. “I think we ought to have something other than a pool of ignorance out here.” Let’s have proof,” she said.”
All five measures passed with little opposition.