The Women’s Strike Force PAC has gained momentum quickly since its inception two-and-a-half weeks ago.
The bipartisan organization was formed in response to the Virginia Senate passing the mandatory ultrasound bill in February. In the first hour since its website went live on Feb. 27, Women’s Strike Force raised $1,600; the PAC has since raised $100,000.
Executive Director Rebecca Geller describes the Women’s Strike Force as “an organic grassroots movement.”
Geller, who hails from Fairfax Station, joined forces with 13 activists and former politicians from across Virginia to raise funds to recruit, train, and support candidates to run against the legislators who voted in favor of the mandatory ultrasound and "personhood" bills in February.
“It’s astounding to see how many Democrats, Republicans, and Independents have come together,” Geller said. “It affects women of all political walks of life.”
Fighting for Choice
Recently, former Delegate Kris Amundson (D-44) was in the locker room at her gym when a woman told her she was furious that the Women’s Strike Force was fighting against the legislation passed by the General Assembly.
“I replied, ‘That’s me,’ and people started cheering,” she recalled.
Amundson represented the Mount Vernon District for ten years and now serves on the board of the Women’s Strike Force. She says in the decade she has served as a politician, she has never seen an issue as “galvanizing” as reproductive rights.
“I know, in Mount Vernon, a number of Republican women who certainly are dismayed by how their party has chosen to focus on personal decisions like birth control,” said Amundson. “We have one purpose: if you voted for personhood, if you voted for ultrasound, we can find someone to run against you, and we’re going to try.”
'Women aren’t going to be bullied anymore.'
Mame Reiley joined the Women’s Strike Force board after Amundson and Margie Vanderhyde told her about the PAC’s mission. Reiley served as the Chair of the Women’s Caucus for the Democratic National Convention and currently serves as the president of The Reiley Group, a consulting firm in Old Town Alexandria.
“We’re not going to take this anymore, and it’s a really foolish thing for Republican men to think they can control what women do to their bodies,” said Reiley, who divides her time between Old Town and Mount Vernon. “I think [legislators] really made a huge mistake this time.”
Reiley stressed that communication is essential in maintaining the mission of the Women’s Strike Force. She wants the Women’s Strike Force to keep Virginia women informed about what’s happening in the General Assembly regarding bills that jeopardize women’s reproductive rights.
“It’s not just giving money to candidates,” she said. “Obviously that’s important, but what’s important is this communication system where we can keep everybody updated with the latest information.”
Reiley is ready to fight back, joining the ranks of Amundson, Geller, Vanderhyde, and thousands of Virginians.
“It’s incredible that the men in the General Assembly think that we’re going to stand back and take this and that there are no repercussions,” Reiley said. “There are repercussions. Women are not going to be bullied anymore.”