Amherst Residents Stand Out To Support Abortion Rights

Lynn Morgan and Jim Trostle at the stand out for abortion rights in Amherst Center on May 14, 2022. Photo: art Keene

Amherst residents joined people around the country on Saturday, May 14 in protests of the anticipated overturning by the U.S. Supreme Court ofof Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that legalized abortion in the United States. On Monday, May 2, Politico published a leaked draft of the Supreme Court majority opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that explicitly overturns Roe v. Wade. The decision would reverse nearly 50 years of precedent and explicitly end federal constitutional protections for abortion. Twenty-six states have stated that they will move quickly to ban abortion. This means that 36 million people might live without local access to abortion, denying them, according to Women’s March, one of the sponsors of the nationwide protests, the power and freedom to make their own personal reproductive healthcare decisions.

A coalition of national organizations, including Women’s March, MoveOn, NARLA, Planned Parenthood, SEIU, and UltraViolet, organized the demonstrations, under the title “Bans Off Our Bodies”. More than 470 protests were registered with the organizers, including large gatherings Washington D.C., New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. The Amherst event, like events in many small communities, was somewhat spontaneous and was not a registered event, so it was not considered in crowd estimates — Women’s March estimated that over one million people around the world turned out on May 14 to protest the anticipated repeal of abortion rights. Polls show that most Americans want to preserve access to abortion, at least in the earlier stages of pregnancy. 

Rani Parker (L) and Town Councilor Dorothy Pam (R) in handmaid garb at the standout for abortion rights in Amherst Center on May 14. Photo: Art Keene

In Amherst
In Amherst, about 60 people stood out on the corner of Main and East Pleasant Streets with signs protesting the court’s draft decision. The event had been quickly organized by Town Councilor Dorothy Pam (District 3) and District 3 resident Rani Parker, who made a few phone calls asking people to spread the word. Pam and Parker showed up at the event dressed in the red robes and white wimples worn by handmaids in Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel, The Handmaid’s Tale. Board Protestors stood along East Pleasant street and engaged each other in lively conversations about how banning abortion would impact women’s health, women’s personal freedom, and the overall state of democracy in this country. Some women shared stories of their own abortions. Some older women shared stories of what things were like when abortion was illegal and when birth control was not easy to come by. Passing cars honked and waved and cheered, mostly in support. Some protestors spoke of using this moment to rally the nation in the coming elections around the defense of democracy and the protection of civil rights. Several of the protestors marched through the Farmers Market with their signs decrying the repeal of Roe, chanting,”We won’t go back!” 

“It is unacceptable to me that our daughters will be less safe and less free than us. Together we will organize and mobilize, because we are not going back.”

State Representative Mindy Domb

State Representative Mindy Domb, who arrived after attending the demonstration in Northampton, spoke of the determination of people to fight back against the revocation of civil rights. She said, “Together we will fight to defend our reproductive rights and bodily autonomy, to protect the right for us to love who we choose, to marry who we choose, and to access gender affirming and appropriate health care. It is unacceptable to me that our daughters will be less safe and less free than us. Together we will organize and mobilize, because we are not going back. 

“We are not alone. Solidarity builds connection and hope. So we will continue to fight for expanded abortion care in Massachusetts, ensuring the safety of patients and providers. We will continue to support organizations like the Abortion Rights Fund of Western Massachusetts. We will continue to gather. And although I am disgusted and outraged that we have to have this fight, I am ready. We will not go back.”

Organizer Dorothy Pam commented, “The Woman’s Right to Choose motherhood is a basic foundation of a free society. The patriarchy prefers women voiceless and so busy doing domestic work in the home that they have no time to get in the way of the grand plans of the powerful. Having a voice in one’s own future, believing that children are a blessing, not a curse, that every child deserves to be wanted, loved, and cared for, and not a primal punishment for Eve’s dangerous quest of knowledge, underlies ALL democratic societies. Forced childbirth is an abomination.”

Lynn Morgan, a medical anthropologist who has studied women’s reproductive health in Latin America, said, “I’m outraged that the Supreme Court is subjecting us to the religious fanaticism of some of its members. Those justices are deluded if they think that a ban will stop abortions. My Aunt Bertha’s death (see photo above) is tragic proof that bans don’t prevent abortion from happening, they just prevent safe abortion.  We need to understand that if the Court revokes Roe, more people will die.”

In Northampton
Hundreds gathered in front of City Hall to hear local activists and elected officials condemn that anticipated repeal of abortion rights. For more on the Northampton demonstration look here.

At UMass
A rally and march for reproductive justice was planned at the Hagis Mall at UMass on Sunday (5/15). 

State Representative Mindy Domb (center) joined the protest for abortion rights in Amherst Center on May 14 after appearing at an abortion rights protest in Northampton. Photo: Art Keene

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