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Boulder and Longmont march for reproductive health rights

Protestors gathered on Saturday to defend Americans' right to have an abortion. 

Protesters gathered in Boulder and Longmont on Saturday to defend every Americans’ right to reproductive healthcare — specifically, the right to have an abortion. 

At the beginning of May, news spread nationwide about the leak of a Supreme Court draft which would overturn Roe v. Wade, a landmark Supreme Court decision in 1973 in which the justicies ruled that the Constitution protects a pregnant woman’s right to choose to have an abortion without government restriction. 

According to Debbie Pope, the CEO of YWCA Boulder County, “when the leak from the Supreme Court came out, (YWCA Boulder County) immediately knew we needed to organize something quickly.” 

In partnership with local advocacy groups, YWCA Boulder County organized Saturday’s protest in Boulder, where people of all ages and backgrounds showed up.

“Event participants are mobilizing and marching in response to the recent leaked draft of the Supreme Court majority opinion that Roe v. Wade may be overturned, limiting the fundamental right of women today and future generations of women to make decisions about their own bodies, lives and futures,” Pope said. “The march has been organized to send a message to our elected officials and the Supreme Court.”

Pope predicted that around 1,000 people would show up to protest on Boulder’s Pearl Street Saturday morning.

To kick off the event, passionate speeches in defense of a person’s right to choose to have an abortion were delivered to the crowd by Dani Newsom from Cobalt; Erin Keeley, a Womxn’s March organizer and Julia Taylor, a junior at Fairview High School who helped organize the march. 

Starting off her speech, Newsom pointed out, “we’re lucky in Colorado.” 

Newsom’s statement was based on Colorado's passing of the Reproductive Health Equity Act on April 4 of this year. The piece of legislation “declares that every individual has a fundamental right to use or refuse contraception; every pregnant individual has a fundamental right to continue the pregnancy and give birth or to have an abortion; and a fertilized egg, embryo, or fetus does not have independent or derivative rights under the laws of the state,” the Colorado General Assembly website states.

Other states’ legislatures may harshen their current laws surrounding abortions to make them less accessible if Roe v. Wade is overturned federally.

Although concerned with all women’s rights, Newsom was particularly worried about access from women from marginalized groups.

“Women of color, especially Black women — with our history of enslavement, rape, forced breeding for white men’s profit, birthing children we cannot legally claim as our own, sadistic medical experimentation and forced sterilization — have for centuries been fighting for the right to control our own bodies,” Newsom said. 

Following the speeches, protestors were guided by event organizers around the 1300 block of Pearl Street. Event organizers led the crowd in chants, which included “my body, my choice,” “this is what democracy looks like,” “we must decide our fate; not the church, not the state,” “my right, my decision” and “my voice, my power.” 

“I was here doing this 50 years ago. I can’t believe I’m here again,” said Sarah Sharp, 80. 

“I don’t understand why every single woman in this country isn’t out here protesting,” Sharp added. “I hear people say ‘I’m with you in spirit,’ but this issue is about having boots on the ground — we want numbers, we want people to understand that they’re about to take away a constitutional right — and that it’s against women.

For Armani Searcy, a 26-year-old Black woman — although the issue at hand won’t necessarily impact her or others in Colorado — the event was about fighting for the rights of people who will be impacted if Roe v. Wade is overturned at the national level, she said. 

At the protest, Searcy was thinking about her friends, family and future children, all of whom she’d want to be able to have an abortion in a clean, sterile environment and to be taken care of if the situation arose for them, she said. 

In Longmont, protestors gathered on Sixth Avenue and Main Street on Saturday afternoon, holding signs on either side of the street while cars drove by, some of them honking their horns in encouragement for the protestors’ messages. 

Wayne Kocina, a middle-aged man, stood at the protest blaring a sign stating “No choice, no freedom, no USA!!!”

To Kocina, “choice is a bigger issue than just abortion,” he said. 

“Once they start legislating the loss of choice for one reason, the next thing they’ll say is that you can’t choose to own a gun, you can’t choose to buy a Chevrolet or Honda, you can’t choose what religion to belong to,” Kocina stated. “I think choice is fundamental to what our freedom is in the United States.”

At the protest in Longmont, Colorado Street Preachers Ed and Heather – who preferred to not disclose their last names to the Longmont Leader for fear for their safeties  – held a sign in the shape of the cross with the words “Abortion is murder.” 

“I preach righteousness and the word of God, and when someone is celebrating the death of an unborn child, and people think that it’s okay, they need to be confronted with the truth,” Ed said. “The people here may have a heavily one- sided vantage point which isn’t true just because society says it’s true. ‘My body, my choice’ is hypocritical’ – there’s another body involved (in pregnancies) that doesn’t have a choice.” 

“We weep not only over the murdered babies; we also weep over the deception that many people here have concerning abortions,” the pair added. 

For Pope, the goal of the march in Boulder was for people to leave with action steps in mind moving forward, which include reaching out to legislators and making their voices heard on the issue of abortion until it’s a permanent, civil right for all Americans, she said. 

“We’re in this for the long game,” Pope said. “My grandma fought this, I’m still fighting it and my daughter probably will be in the future.”