Protesters for abortion rights buoyed by public support
Roughly 70 people gathered outside Town Hall on Sunday in protest of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
That decision removed the federal right to abortion. Some states have old laws on the books or newer abortion bans written to go into effect when Roe fell.
In Massachusetts, state law allows abortions up to 24 weeks, and after that point in certain circumstances, including when necessary to protect the parent’s life.
Governor Charlie Baker signed an executive order that would protect Massachusetts health-care providers who perform abortions from out-of-state investigations and penalties.
Mother and daughter Krystina and Kaya Savaria of Rochester attended Wareham’s protest together on Sunday.
“I don’t think it’s right that women’s rights are being taken away,” said Kaya. Krystina said she was proud of her daughter for coming out to the protest, and said that while she was a young mother herself, women should make their own decisions.
“I just think it’s wrong to take away rights that people have had for all these years,” said Bob Blaha of Wareham. He said he’s especially frustrated by the fact that political maneuvering kept Democratic president Barack Obama from appointing his Supreme Court Justice-pick Merrick Garland. He urged people to get involved in politics, and advocated for politicians to act in good faith and work respectfully together.
“It’s time to come out and stand out for our rights,” said Mary Pflaumer of Carver, who said she valued the camaraderie of the women at the protest. She said she’s concerned about the threat to contraception like Plan B, and wants to show support for women in states with less legal protection than women in Massachusetts.
“We have to fight for this,” said Natasha Falke of Pocasset. “Freedom isn’t free.”
She said she’d been heartened by the many honks, waves and shouts of support from passing drivers.
“It’s been uplifting to see all the people that genuinely support us,” said Aimee Erickson of New Bedford, noting that male drivers showed support, too. “The majority of people are on our side.”
Still, she said, she’s scared. Erickson is a lesbian in an interracial relationship, so she said she’s very concerned about Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ comments advocating for the court to revisit cases that allowed gay marriage, birth control and same-sex intimacy.
“Obviously we’re here today because we’re outraged,” Erickson said. “It’s very frustrating… We’re a lesbian couple so we know this is only the beginning.”
She urged people to stay involved and make sure to vote.
Jess, a protester from Connecticut, said she’s not sure what to do and she’s scared, too. But she advocated for people to take the action that feels manageable — reaching out, giving someone a ride, donating, protesting or volunteering.
She said she, like Erickson, is worried that this decision will be the first in a “domino effect” rolling back rights.
Wareham resident Judy Grassi also recommended staying in touch with activists and helping others as one is able. For example, she has given friends rides to the doctor or to get medication.
“Walk the walk,” she said.
Kate Furler — one of the Blue Crew who organized this march and prior protests — said she was horrified when the Supreme Court released their decision. She said she’s had friends who were harmed by illegal abortions.
“We have to do the same job over and over and over,” she said. She later noted she was thrilled by the number of young participants who took part in the protest.
Emily Tripp, a college student at the protest, said it’s ironic that conservatives pushing for abortion bans won’t take action to curtail the spate of school shootings, as people will be forced to have children who politicians won’t take action to prevent.
“We shouldn’t be forced to be fighting for a basic right,” said Sarah Tripp.
Allie Redding, who attended the protest with the Tripps, said that she was terrified by the decision, so she immediately went to find a nearby protest.
The group noted that they were joining people who’d been fighting for abortion rights for decades.
For information about abortion access in the wake of the Supreme Court decision, go to prochoice.org.