July 4, 2005 -- While most people were busy getting hammered and shooting off bottle rockets, some conniving coward (or cowards) set fire to the Presidential Women's Center in West Palm Beach. But their mission failed. The center reopened five weeks later, the City Commission OK'd a 20-foot buffer at clinics to keep anti-abortion protesters at bay, and the whole episode inspired a group of local musicians and poets to organize the Choice Rocks! benefit show to raise funds for Planned Parenthood.
"It was really the arson that kind of jolted me out of my complacency," event co-organizer Marya Summers says. "I decided the time to do something about this is now."
So Summers and co-organizer Satu Oksanen pooled together a solid lineup of bands, singer/songwriters, and poets. Friendly Fire, the Remnants, and Summers' own band, Hunger-Thump, bring the rock, while Katie Foley, Stokeswood, Timb, and Summer Blanket's Keith Michaud kick it unplugged. Wordsmithery is provided by Poets Anonymous, the group formerly known as the Delray Beach poetry slam (which Summers used to organize). And amid the guitar solos and iambic pentameter, representatives from Planned Parenthood and Compass Gay and Lesbian Resource Center are on hand to dole out freebies (you know, like condoms and literature).
If there's one point Summers wants to drive home, it's that pro choicedoes not mean pro abortion. "I'd really like to make people aware that abortion is a small part of what Planned Parenthood is about," Summers says. "It has more to do with contraception and birth control."
Summers notes that the event is more celebration of our existing rights than protest against the anti-abortion crowd. And it's not especially geared toward women. "Pro choice is not just a women's issue," she says. "It's a human issue. This is a call to the entire community, both men and women, gay and straight, Democrats and Republicans." And rockers and poets, of course.