MANCHESTER, NH – Hundreds of people, many carrying signs expressing their displeasure with the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, filled City Hall Plaza Friday afternoon in a pro-abortion rights rally.
The protest lasted for several hours, and was one of nine protests held in cities across the state after the justices voted 6 to 3 to strike down Roe v. Wade, the landmark ruling that established the constitutional right to abortion in the U.S. in 1973.
New Hampshire allows abortions up to 24 weeks. The Supreme Court’s decision does not change that, however, the ruling could lead to more restrictive laws being enacted.
“Regardless of this Supreme Court decision, access to these services will continue to remain safe, accessible, and legal in New Hampshire,” Gov. Chris Sununu said in a statement issued after the ruling.
People at the rally voiced concern that the court was not going to stop at that one ruling.
Sandra Gagnon, 65, of Manchester pointed out that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas wrote that the court should revisit other landmark decisions including ones concerning contraception and gay marriage.
She held a sign stating, “Stop Forced Pregnancy Abortion Access For All.”
She said she had two miscarriages before giving birth to two children after difficult pregnancies. She said now women who have miscarriages could face criminal charges because people suspect they did something to end the pregnancies.
“There are a great many questions,” she said.
Jeannine Gendron of Manchester said she came to the rally because she has two daughters and she also has concerns for rights of Trans kids. “There are a lot of reasons to be here today,” she said.
Kayla Turner, 29, of Manchester, is an attorney who clearly is a fan of the late Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The justice’s face appeared on her earrings and her cardboard sign declared “We Dissent.”
Isadora Crane, 17, of Wilton, who is entering her senior year at the High Mowing School, wore a T-shirt declaring, “My Body, My Choice.”
She said the ruling is not going to stop women from getting abortions. “It’s just going to make them unsafe,” she said.
Karin Cevasco, 46, of Milford, sported a black T-shirt, with pink lettering declaring, “Abortion Is Healthcare.” One T-shirt she made for a friend bore Ginsburg’s face and quoted her: “The decision whether or not to bear a child is central to a woman’s life, to her well-being and dignity. It is a decision she must make for herself.”
Cevasco also carried a sign with an image of Ginsburg’s famous “dissent collar” and the words, “I dissent.”
“We are Ruth-less right now but ready to go out and make her proud,” she said.
The crowd also heard from Congressman Chris Pappas (D-Manchester) Mayor Joyce Craig, State Sen. Donna Soucy, Alderman-at-Large June Trisciani, Grace Kindeke, program coordinator for the American Friends Service Committee, NH, among others.
Craig, with her two daughters by her side, said that as of Friday they have fewer reproductive rights than she did at their age. “And I fear that this is only the beginning,” she said. “It’s devastating and so, so wrong. No one should have the right to control anybody’s body.”
She said pregnancy is a deeply personal decision and one that should be made by a woman and her doctor. “Not judges, politicians or anyone else.”
Rep. Chris Pappas (D-Manchester) said Friday morning he felt like he “got hit by a ton of bricks” and believes advocates and women across the state are feeling the same way.
He said the vast majority of people support the right to choose and “that is exactly what we are going to demand this November and beyond,“ drawing cheers from the crowd.
Pappas said whether it’s a judge, a right-wing congressman or state legislator, “Those are the last people who should be making decisions for you or for your family about a really personal decision. How you start a family, when you have a family, about issues that pertain to bodily autonomy and basic health. That should be in the hands of women.”
He said for decades and decades in New Hampshire, there has been bi-partisan consensus on the issue and that hasn’t gone away overnight. “We fight and we move ahead because we can’t let the Supreme Court have the last word on this issue. You have to have the last word on this issue, right?” Again, the crowd cheered.
Roe v Wade has been the law of the land for 50 years in the U.S. “It is settled law, was settled law before today,” Pappas said. “It created a center of gravity for reproductive rights in this country. It struck a balance and allowed people to know they had the protection of the law and the constitution of the United States.”
If the Supreme Court is not going to stand up for that anymore then, he said, it “falls on all of us to demand that reproductive rights continue and move forward in this country because I’m often reminded of what my late colleague John Lewis used to tell us. The struggle is not just a day, a week, a month or a year. It’s really a struggle of a lifetime. This is a generational struggle.”
With Friday’s decision, individual states are now allowed to enact their own abortion laws including banning them. Roe had permitted abortions during the first two trimesters of pregnancy.
Within 30 days, abortions will be banned in 13 states that enacted “trigger ban” laws banning abortions when Roe was struck down.
Another seven to nine states are expected to enact a ban or severely restrict abortions.
All of those laws make exceptions for the life of the mother, but most do not include an exception for rape and incest.
It means access to a legal abortion could end for more than 100 million people, those living in nearly every state in the South and across the Midwest.
These articles are being shared by partners in The Granite State News Collaborative. For more information visit collaborativenh.org.