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Photo courtesy of Women's March / Twitter

Hundreds Gather in Franklin Park to Defend Abortion

As part of the nationwide Rally to Defend Abortion, the Massachusetts ACLU hosted hundreds of citizens from the greater Boston area on Saturday, October 2 to stand in protest against a new law in Texas that bans most abortions. 

Young and old, man and woman, and even dog and cat, attended the rally with signs, shirts, buttons, and hats that echoed words of the Pro-Choice movement. This rally was just one small part of the entire effort in the United States to speak out against Texas’ new law and spread awareness before a crucial Supreme Court hearing that may end Roe v. Wade.

Before the many speeches began, people assembled throughout the large lawn in Franklin Park. 

“We’re here to show girl power,” Rachel said next to her eleven-year-old daughter, Fiona. “As a young woman, it’s important to show her this.” Fiona, a sixth-grade student at a local all-girls school values the camaraderie within the school and realizes the importance of female empowerment.

Another protestor, Sarah Lazarus, from Concord implemented her dogs as part of the rally. “[I was] at the march in Washington,” she said, “… and Planned Parenthood and reproductive rights have always been important to me.” Her two dogs, Clementine and Reese, provided plenty of joy for fellow protestors while wearing Patriots jerseys and signs that read “Paws and Laws off Women.”

Ramon, Karl, and Ryan, residents of New Bedford and Providence, were some of the many men who stood in solidarity and shared their support with the hundreds of empowered women.

 “[I’m here] to show as much support as we can give,” Karl said after mentioning his close ties to female family and friends. 

“For me, it’s about the learning aspect... and all the crap that women have to go through,” said Ramon, who has received newfound knowledge thanks to his wife Erin. She runs the Women of America Heard Facebook page, which has recently grown traction in the past few years. It has amassed more than 80,000 followers while providing insight and links to various advocacy groups in need of support. 

Former residents of Texas, Annie and Cory, attended the rally with first-hand experience of the state that was the focus of all people that day. 

“[In Texas], a lot of people actually agree with me,” Annie said, “Most people support progressive policies… but there’s massive voter suppression.” Moving to Massachusetts proved to be less of a change than expected. Although met with much colder weather, the people and their needs seemed to be the same in both regions.

Just as the introductory speaker stepped onto the temporary stage, a megaphone sounded from behind the large crowd. A man began spewing quotes from the Bible in between words of condemnation, but he was immediately met with infuriated protestors.

“To see this man come here, preaching about something that does not affect his life in any way… is disgusting,” exclaimed Beth Crawford, a resident of Weymouth. 

The mother of two daughters, aged 18 and 20, Beth came to support their rights and condemn the decisions of “rich, white, male politicians in an office somewhere.” When Beth and her daughters saw the man with the megaphone, she quickly said to them, “Go do what you need to do to protect your rights as beautiful, young, intelligent, strong women.” 

Beth continued with her frank demeanor saying, “I’m glad that so many people showed up… but the fact that it has to be this way is very sad. We shouldn’t have to be speaking out to get basic healthcare.” She quickly left, looking out for her daughters who blocked the man from entering the rally.

On the stage, many influential people shared remarks regarding the new Texas legislation as well as the Pro-Choice movement as a whole. 

Massachusetts Attorney General, Maura Healey, took the stage in her slip-on Vans, echoing the words of hopeful democracy. “We’re in the courts!” became the refrain of her quick speech that afternoon.

A young poet stepped onto the stage, reading one of her own works titled, “In an Alternate Universe My Body is Mine.” Her poem revelled in this unknown alternate universe in which women control their own bodies. “What a beautiful it is… to take the pepper spray off of your keyring,” she said with conviction, “Don’t that sound lovely… like a sliver of heaven?” The crowd cheered with every powerful stanza.

Next, Ayanna Pressley, Massachusetts Congresswoman, addressed the crowd discussing legislative action taken against pro-life representatives across the aisle. 

“This is the first pro-choice majority congress in the history of congress. And I’m very proud to chair the Abortion Rights and Access Taskforce on our pro-choice caucus… and to codify Roe v. Wade on the federal level,” Pressley boasted. 

The bill she referenced was WHPA, the Women’s Health Protection Act, a landmark piece of legislation that will change the lives of millions of Americans. Before descending down the stage’s steps, Pressley left the audience with the theme of the day: “Abortion care is healthcare!”

The speeches continued with first-hand experiences of abortion. Pat Yuengling, an abortion counselor in the 1970s, implored a moment of silence upon the demonstrators “for needless abortion restrictions.” 

Kendra Hicks described her own abortion and the “organized attack” against abortion that is led by pro-life conservatives. 

Tenisha Sullivan, president of Boston’s NAACP, asserted that “freedom is our mission.” “We fight for reproductive justice not because we don’t value life but because we value life,” Sullivan powerfully conveyed to the cheering crowd. 

The final speaker was none other than Ed Markey, United States Senator from Massachusetts and a BC alum. Clearly a Boston native thanks to his accent, Markey discussed conservatives’ actions taken against abortion care. 

“Abortion rights are being made a pawn in the culture war of the right,” he stated “… and Donald Trump stole two supreme court seats. They packed the Supreme Court with conservative justices who are throwing open the door to overturn Roe v. Wade.”

He continued listing progressive policies that will be at the forefront of congress this upcoming year. “We are fighting for equality,” he said simply. 

Markey left the crowd with a quote from the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader-Ginsburg: “Fight for the things that you care about.” The crowd erupted into quaking applause and cheers.

The hour of speeches over, the crowd assembled to march around the park, and choruses of justice and freedom echoed throughout the demonstration. That afternoon proved impactful and powerful not only for the city of Boston but the nation as a whole. 

The crucial Supreme Court hearing that may overturn Roe v. Wade begins on December 1st.

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Spends too much time on crossword puzzles. Can make a mean chocolate chip pancake. Proponent of eating the casing on brie.