More than 100 people gathered at Buckley Park on Saturday afternoon for a rally and a women’s march in support of abortion rights. The march was organized by 11th grader Leo Stritikus, 17, and several of his classmates.
Protesters rallied in Buckley Park before they marched down Main Avenue and then on East Second Avenue past the courthouse. Many carried signs with phrases such as “Mind your own uterus,” “Public cervix announcement: Hands off” and “Women’s rights are human rights.”
Stritikus, his classmates and several other speakers, including Rep. Barbara McLachlan, advocated for women’s control over their own bodies and for solidarity with transgender women and the LGBTQ community.
“Even though I don’t have a uterus, abortion rights affect everyone,” Stritikus said. “It’s so crucial that (in) our country, the land of the free, that people have the freedom to control their own bodies.”
The rally and march were in response to a draft U.S. Supreme Court opinion that was leaked to the public in early May. The opinion rejected the notion that abortion was constitutionally protected and suggested that states should choose for themselves whether to protect abortion or to criminalize or limit it through law.
Lisa Self, rally attendee, said she is “enraged” that her rights could possibly be taken away. She said women have the right to choose whether to go through with a pregnancy.
“It’s just not right,” she said, referring to the Supreme Court’s leaked opinion.
Her husband, Steve Self, said the “astounding lack of respect for women and the feminine in our society” is what brought him and his wife to Buckley Park on Saturday.
“It’s stunning and it’s time to stand up and show that they don’t get to do that (restrict access to abortions),” he said.
Melanie Dunn, another protester, said she grew up in the 1970s and knows people who died trying to get an abortion when they couldn’t get one legally.
“It’s a woman’s right to choose what she wants to do with her body and her life,” Dunn said.
She said it is “simply indefensible” that the Supreme Court, the majority of which consists of men, can decide what women can do with their own bodies.
Mimi Fountain said laws and proposed laws against abortion are supported mostly by men. She said in cases of rape, one can’t blame a mother for not loving a child they were forced to have.
“Well, a mamma is a human and they may not love that baby,” she said. “You can’t blame them.”