The Boston Women's Abortion Coalition is sponsoring a rally today in support of a woman convicted of manslaughter in Florida for having an abortion.
Shirley Wheeler, 23, was arraigned under the homicide section of an 1868 abortion law and was sentenced to two years probation on October 15.
Speakers at the rally--scheduled for noon in front of the State House--will include Sherry Smith, staff member of the Women's National Abortion Action Coalition (WONAAC); Matilde J. Zimmermann '64, co-ordinator of the Boston coalition: and Jeanne Lafferty, Socialist Workers Party candidate for Cambridge City Council.
Under the terms of her probation Wheeler must legally marry her common-law husband or return to her parents' home in North Carolina. She may not stay out overnight, enter a bar, or associate with people "of harmful character or bad reputation."
Wheeler refuses to marry. "I don't believe in marriage" and "I am not a criminal, the state is," she said. Denied permission to live with a woman friend in Florida, she has decided to return to North Carolina to avoid being jailed.
Wheeler has asked WONAAC for financial and legal help to appeal her case to the Florida Supreme Court. WONAAC has been assisting her since her conviction in July and has called for nationwide demonstrations in her support.