About 20 people gathered on the steps of Town Hall on Tuesday (5/3) afternoon to protest the US Supreme Court’s decision to strike down Roe vs. Wade which will clear the way for state bans on abortion. The protest was in response to a call from Women’s March, a national feminist organization, for protestors to show up at 5 p.m. on Tuesday at federal buildings, courthouses, city halls, and town squares to speak out in defense of abortion rights. (see e.g. here and here)
Amherst resident Rani Parker, said she was uncertain whether anyone else would show up, given the late timing of the announcement. She called her District 3 Town Councilor Dorothy Pam and asked her to attend with her. And she did. Parker said ” This is about women being forced into submission and denied our humanity. We need to send a strong message that we are NOT going to submit.” She added, “Thank you to the person who leaked this. It gives us a chance to speak out”. “But a small demonstration like ours is not sufficient. We need to think bigger, forge alliances and take a bigger, stronger stand on our fundamental human rights. We need to show leadership with thousands of our residents making big noise that the whole country will hear.”
The story broke Monday evening after the draft decision was leaked to and posted by Politico. Protesters in Washington D.C. quickly gathered at the Supreme Court Building to demonstrate their anger and dismay. The decision is expected to be formally adopted in June and following that adoption will put decisions about abortion into the hands of the states. , Abortion will become illegal immediately in 18 states, though the ban will vary from total bans from the moment of conception and with no exceptions to bans on abortions after up to 15 weeks of gestation with possible exceptions. While each state will now be free to determine the legality of abortion in that state, several Republican organizations announced their intention to seek a national ban of all abortions if Republicans re-take the House and Senate in November.
The 98 page draft decision, authored by Justice Samuel Alito, is expansive, singling out previous landmark decisions Lawrence vs. Texas (2003) which struck down sodomy laws and the criminalization of same-sex sexual relations among consenting adults, and Obergefell vs. Hodges (2015) which guaranteed same sex couples the right to marry, as granting “phony rights.” Alito deemed these rulings unconstitutional and requiring repeal. The legal right to an abortion would have been 50 years old this coming January and some commentators noted that this is the first time in American history that a long established civil right has been repealed. Several predicted that this is first of many rights that have long been the targets of right-wing opponents that are likely to be revoked in the coming years.