Posted: 08/15/2022 17:33:49
Modified: 08/15/2022 17:30:21
ATHOL — Just over a month ago, reproductive rights advocates gathered at Athol’s Uptown Common to protest the U.S. Supreme Court’s 6-3 vote reversing the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade affirming a woman’s right to abortion. On Saturday, many of the same activists who took part in the July event returned to the commune in an effort to ensure the issue does not fade from the memories of area residents.
Since the court ruling overturning Roe, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker has signed into law far-reaching abortion rights legislation protecting Commonwealth healthcare providers from lawsuits by other states where services are illegal, clarifies the circumstances under which abortions can be performed after 24 weeks and requires insurers to fully cover abortion-related costs. Additionally, on Tuesday, August 2, Kansas voters overwhelmingly (59 to 41%) rejected a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would have removed the right to abortion.
In light of these developments, which local activists view as positive, the Athol Daily News asked organizer Corey Malinoski why protesters felt it necessary to bring their message back to Uptown Common.
“We want to make our voices heard because we are here to promote everyone’s rights,” she said. “We want everyone to have the same rights, no matter what state they live in.”
While the Kansas vote received a lot of national – even global – attention, Malinoski said, “We still need to educate the masses so that some people don’t see us, unfortunately, as baby murderers, because we are truly here to support the rights of all of us, not just the people of this region.
“We want to spread the information and keep our cause there. We don’t want to be forgotten. So we come here to make our presence known.
While the Massachusetts congressional delegation is 100% pro-choice, Malinoski said it’s important voters don’t take that for granted.
“We like to make sure our voices are actually heard by our politicians; that it’s not just a small part of their own political agendas,” she continued. “They’ve shown us a lot of support, most definitely, and we hope they continue to push for those DC rights as well.”
Two of the protesters who showed up on Saturday were 15-year-old Julia Yelle from Balwinville and Yariana Rivera from Gardner.
When asked what made them give up part of a beautiful Saturday afternoon to demonstrate for reproductive rights, Julia said: ‘There are little girls who get raped and get pregnant , and in some states they can’t get abortions now. So they’re stuck with a situation they didn’t want.
Julia brought up the case of a 10-year-old girl from Ohio who was raped and had to travel to Indiana for an abortion. After the girl availed herself of the procedure, Indiana lawmakers passed a law imposing a near total ban on abortion.
“Now the rape victims there can be turned away because the old men have decided they have a right to our reproductive systems.”
“I think every girl should have a choice,” Yariana added. “If they don’t want to have a baby, they shouldn’t have to have one.”
Greg Vine can be contacted at [email protected]