Pro­test­ers de­cry anti-abor­tion leg­is­la­tion

The Norwalk Hour - - FRONT PAGE - By So­phie Vaughan

STAM­FORD — Women, and some men, from across gen­er­a­tions filled the plaza of the Stam­ford Gov­ern­ment Cen­ter Fri­day evening to protest the wave of anti-abor­tion leg­is­la­tion sweep­ing the coun­try.

Many held signs declar­ing “We Won’t Go Back,” which is the name of a Stam­ford-based pro-choice or­ga­ni­za­tion that formed Thurs­day in re­sponse to the pas­sage of an Alabama law pro­hibit­ing abor­tion at ev­ery stage of preg­nancy, even in cases of rape or in­cest, af­ter a baby’s heart­beat is de­tected.

Or­ga­niz­ers passed out wire hang­ers to more than 50 pro­test­ers in recog­ni­tion of the ob­jects that many women had used to end preg­nan­cies be­fore the Supreme Court le­gal­ized abor­tion in 1973 in the case of Roe v. Wade.

A com­mon theme pre­vailed among the pro­test­ers: Women should have the power to make their own de­ci­sions about their bod­ies and re­pro­duc­tive health, with­out in­ter­fer­ence from politi­cians.

“I don’t think any­body should choose what’s right for any­one else,” Stam­ford res­i­dent Wendi Hoak said. If politi­cians want to pre­vent abor­tion, they should im­prove sex ed­u­ca­tion and ac­cess to birth con­trol, Hoak said.

“There is no cer­tainty on when life be­gins, and there­fore you have to leave it up to the woman who’s bear­ing the preg­nancy to de­cide,” Stam­ford res­i­dent Au­drey Apfel said.

Protest or­ga­nizer Shira Tarantino, of Stam­ford, said she was heart­ened by the large crowd but scared by the se­ries of new anti-abor­tion laws passed, such as the one signed into law just the hour be­fore in Mis­souri crim­i­nal­iz­ing abor­tion af­ter eight weeks of preg­nancy.

Pro­tester Ann Reed, of Darien, said abor­tion was il­le­gal when she was in col­lege, and many of her friends had il­le­gal abor­tions or were forced to carry un­wanted preg­nan­cies.

“Now maybe young women will fi­nally re­al­ize their rights are threat­ened,” Reed said.

The young women at the protest said they’re well aware of the threat to abor­tion and women’s re­pro­duc­tive free­dom.

“It’s funny when pro-life peo­ple are for the life of an un­born fe­tus but not the lives of stu­dents killed at school to guns,” said Isabella Gar­cia, a ju­nior at Stam­ford High School.

Sam Hamil­ton, founder of the Westhill Fem­i­nist Club, is now a fresh­man at Amer­i­can Univer­sity. “I’m be­gin­ning to see I was naive in think­ing the il­le­gal­iza­tion of abor­tion was an is­sue my gen­er­a­tion didn’t have to face,” Hamil­ton said at the rally.

Hamil­ton called for im­proved and med­i­cally ac­cu­rate sex ed­u­ca­tion in schools, as well as ac­cess to re­pro­duc­tive health care re­sources for women across all in­come lev­els.

The law takes ef­fect in Novem­ber in Alabama, but it is ex­pected to be chal­lenged in court be­cause it con­flicts with Roe v. Wade.

A group of about 10 counter-pro­test­ers stood along the side­walk near the Gov­ern­ment Cen­ter. “We’re pray­ing for the pro­tec­tion of all life,” said Darien res­i­dent MaryAnne Knag, one of the counter-pro­test­ers.

At the edge of the protest, Stam­ford res­i­dent Anel Dzafic, one of the dozen or so men in the crowd, en­ter­tained his young daugh­ter. “I’m here for her rights and her fu­ture,” Dzafic said.

State Reps. Caro­line Sim­mons, D-144, and Matt Blu­men­thal, D-147, also spoke at the rally, as did state At­tor­ney Gen­eral Wil­liam Tong.

The law in Alabama would force a woman who was sex­u­ally as­saulted to de­liver her rapist’s baby, Sim­mons said. “This is sick and un­just and not who we are as a coun­try,” she said.

“This isn’t just a de­bate about abor­tion. This is a war on Amer­i­can women and their free­dom,” Tong said.

Danielle Ea­son, a board mem­ber of Planned Par­ent­hood Votes CT, said abor­tion is a med­i­cal de­ci­sion that should be a woman’s choice. “Re­pro­duc­tive health care is health care — and health care is a hu­man right,” Ea­son said.

Matthew Brown / Hearst Con­necti­cut Me­dia

At right, Kristin O’Neil, of Stam­ford, passes out fliers dur­ing a rally out­side the Stam­ford Gov­ern­ment Cen­ter on Fri­day. Over 100 par­tic­i­pants stood in sol­i­dar­ity protest­ing re­cent anti-abor­tion leg­is­la­tion in other states.

Matthew Brown / Hearst Con­necti­cut Me­dia

Par­tic­i­pants with the We Won’t Go Back move­ment hold a rally out­side the Stam­ford Gov­ern­ment Cen­ter on Fri­day. Over 100 par­tic­i­pants stood in sol­i­dar­ity protest­ing re­cent anti-abor­tion leg­is­la­tion in other states.

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