Signs, cheers and honking horns as locals come together to protest Supreme Court’s draft opinion
EDWARDS — Around 200 people showed up to Saturday afternoon’s rally for reproductive rights at the main Edwards roundabout on a day marked by other demonstrations around the country. From 1-2 p.m., the sidewalks were filled with energetic protesters raising signs and chants in support of reproductive rights, and generating a constant stream of supportive honks from passing cars.
Handmade signs reading “Bans off my body,“ “Supremely wrong” and “We won’t go back” reflected the thoughts and emotions of a passionate and indignant crowd. Rounds of chanting were bolstered by car horns, and a broad spectrum of ages, genders and orientations showed up in unity for the cause.
For many protesters, the common feeling was one of shock that a protest of this nature is even called for in the year 2022. Older protesters spoke about how they remember what it was like before Roe v. Wade, and that they never imagined that they would once again need to fight for a right that they had already earned. As more than one protester put it, “I can’t believe we have to go through this again.”
“I’m 68, and I know how terrible it was when women didn’t have access to safe, legal abortion,” said protester Annie Goodman. “What are we going to do with all these women that have unwanted pregnancies and no health care to support them through a pregnancy? What if they have a terrible pregnancy where they need extensive medical care? I respect people who have their religious beliefs, but they have to respect everyone else’s religious beliefs too, and my beliefs are you don’t bring a child into this world unless you have a support system and the resources to take care of that child.”
For younger participants, the idea of losing a right that has been guaranteed to them their entire lives incited strong emotions. Sisters Kiki and Bella Modlan, ages 14 and 18, enthusiastically engaged in chants at the center of the rally.
“It’s not the 1970s anymore, and it’s really (expletive) stupid how they’re going back to this, because it’s disgusting, and it’s also not their (expletive) choice,” said Kiki Modlan. “I don’t think it’s that crazy to want your own body and have a choice to do what you want with it. I don’t think it should even be up for discussion.”
“Listen to how many people have the same opinion,” said Bella Modlan, motioning to the drivers honking their horns and passengers cheering their support through the windows. “We all just want our own bodies. It’s not men’s choice, it’s not their bodies.”
Orlando Ortiz, who is the vice president Mountain Pride, the regional LGBTQ support and advocacy group, said he emphasized how a threat to women’s rights is a threat to the rights of all marginalized communities.
“If this law is revoked, eventually we are next — the LGBTQ community is next,” Ortiz said. “We have to stand together. We feel that this movement against women’s rights does not represent the majority of this country’s beliefs. This is an amazing turnout, and it’s very inspiring to be a part of this.”
Though the majority of protesters at the rally were women, a number of men turned out to show their support. Protester Steven Kershner held up a big sign saying “I’m with her,“ with arrows pointing to the many female friends and family members that surrounded him.
“I’m here to support all of the women in my life,” Kershner said. “Women’s rights are human rights. Women make up more than half of this country, and to eliminate health care choices for half of the country is criminal, without a doubt.”
His father-in-law, a retired physician, was right by his side.
“It’s crazy that a court should dictate personal health,” Paul Milloy said. “I spent 30 years in medicine — we don’t need a panel of nine old people telling women what to do.”
Protester Nursine Jackson shared that she served for many years on a maternal mortality review committee, where her team was responsible for going over every instance of maternal mortality in the nation to determine the cause and identify mitigation methods.
“The incredible impact of reversing Roe v. Wade can’t even be assessed,” Jackson said. “All we know is that people are going to die, and that there are going to be victims that could be you, or my children, or me. It’s so distressing, it’s so disturbing, and anybody who thinks otherwise has their head in the sand.”
The largest sign at the roundabout — which had the words, “No woman can call herself free who doesn’t control her own body!!” painted on a bedsheet in large purple letters — was held up by rally organizer Lisa Lewis. This was the first time that Lewis had organized a protest, but she said that she could not sit back and do nothing. It seems she’s not the only one.
“I cannot believe the turnout,” Lewis said. “It’s obviously something people care deeply about, and I hope that this calls people to activism and gets them out to vote, and gets them to donate to pro-choice organizations and vote for pro-choice politicians. We cannot let five people steal our rights. I just don’t see how we can go backwards.”