Times Chronicle & Public Spirit

Advocates for abortion rights rally in Montco

Rally held after a draft U.S. Supreme Court opinion regarding Roe v. Wade was leaked to the public

- By Carl Hessler Jr. chessler@pottsmerc.com

NORRISTOWN » Advocates for abortion rights and women’s health carried signs, sang protest anthems and shouted ”we will not go back” at a rally outside the Montgomery County Courthouse, making clear they are prepared to fight to keep abortion a legal option for women.

“We are in a fight to make sure that every person has the power to control their own bodies, their own lives and their own futures,” Valerie Arkoosh, Democratic chairwoman of the board of county commission­ers, addressed a crowd of more than 200 that gathered Monday at an event dubbed the “Montco Rally For Abortion Rights.”

“No judge, no politician, should ever block you from the health care that you need or set the course for your life. Abortion access should not be based on your zip code, your income level or your immigratio­n status,” Arkoosh said as the crowd cheered and applauded.

“That’s right!” one woman attending the rally shouted back. “We will not go back!” others began to chant.

The rally came one week after a draft U.S. Supreme Court opinion was leaked to the public, signaling that the high court may be preparing to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 case that legalized abortion nationwide. The move would return abortion rights to the states.

“The stakes could not be higher. As a mom of a 20-year-old daughter, it sickens me to think that she is facing a life with fewer constituti­onal rights than I have had,” Arkoosh continued. “As a doctor who has sat at the bedside of women making incredibly difficult decisions about their pregnancie­s, I know there is no place in those decisions for any politician in Harrisburg or Washington, D.C.”

Energized men and women, young and old, combined forces as they stood on the marble courthouse steps during the rally for reproducti­ve freedom, many waving pink and white signs that blared “Together We Fight for All.” Other demonstrat­ors held signs that said “Reproducti­ve Rights are Human Rights,” “Pro-Life Is Anti-Women! We Won’t Go Back!” and “I Believe in Choice.”

Attendees and speakers included county, state and federal Democratic elected officials who showed up to express they were allies in the fight to keep nearly 50 years of federal abortion protection­s intact.

“We will not stand for becoming second class citizens,” U.S. Congresswo­man Madeleine Dean, the Democrat who represents the 4th District that includes most of Montgomery County and parts of Berks. “This is about choice. This is about privacy and a very powerful and important right that is enshrined in the Constituti­on.”

Dean specifical­ly called attention to the leaked draft opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito who wrote that the decision on Roe v. Wade was “egregiousl­y wrong from the start.”

“What’s egregiousl­y wrong is how Justice Alito misled the Senate and misled all of us as to what he would do regarding Roe. And if Roe can be taken away after 50 years what else will be considered ‘egregiousl­y wrong from the start?’” said Dean, expressing her concern for the ripple effect on other precedent in cases that protect same-sex marriage, interracia­l marriage and access to contracept­ion.

“It is no one’s damned business what I do with my body or what other women and girls do with theirs and it’s certainly not Justice Alito’s,” Dean added. “We will not stop. We will keep rallying. We will not go back.”

U.S. Congresswo­man Mary Gay Scanlon, a Democrat who represents the 5th District that includes Delaware County and a portion of Montgomery County, said last week’s leaked opinion “made clear that we’re right to be worried.”

“The fall of Roe makes government-mandated pregnancy a reality and that is as creepy as it sounds,” Scanlon said.

As a yellow school bus passed the courthouse and children on board excitedly waved and shouted “Hi” to the crowd, some rally attendees remarked, “This is for them, we’re doing this for them.”

Members of Voices Rising Philly led the crowd in the singing of a version of the civil rights anthem, “Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me ‘Round.”

“We’re gonna keep on walkin’, keep on talkin’, gonna build a brand new day,” attendees proudly lifted their voices.

Other speakers at the rally included Signe Espinoza, executive director of Planned Parenthood Pennsylvan­ia Advocates, Beulah Osueke of New Voices for Reproducti­ve Justice, State Rep. Nancy Guenst (D152nd Dist.) and State Sen. Maria Collett (D-12th Dist.).

In Pennsylvan­ia, speakers said, the only thing that has stood between the constituti­onal right to abortion and the “Texas-style bans” being proposed by Republican­s who control the legislatur­e has been the veto pen of Democratic Governor Tom Wolf.

With Pennsylvan­ia elections looming this year for governor and the U.S. Senate, speakers urged attendees to elect leaders who will defend abortion rights.

“It is our votes that will make the difference,” Arkoosh said. “Pennsylvan­ia is the best opportunit­y Democrats

have to gain a seat in the United States Senate.”

Arkoosh closed her remarks by praising the “tireless work of those staunch advocates” who fought for reproducti­ve rights more than 50 years ago.

“Our job is to pick up that fight and it’s our turn to fight like hell on behalf of our sisters and our children and our grandchild­ren,” said Arkoosh, whose remarks were greeted with thunderous applause from the crowd.

There were no signs of counter-demonstrat­ions by abortion opponents during the hour-long event.

 ?? PHOTO BY CARL HESSLER JR. ?? Advocates for abortion rights and women’s health carried signs, sang protest anthems and shouted “we will not go back” at a rally outside the Montgomery County Courthouse on May 9, 2022.
PHOTO BY CARL HESSLER JR. Advocates for abortion rights and women’s health carried signs, sang protest anthems and shouted “we will not go back” at a rally outside the Montgomery County Courthouse on May 9, 2022.
 ?? PHOTO BY CARL HESSLER JR. ?? Advocates for abortion rights and women’s health carried signs and shouted “we will not go back” at a rally for abortion rights outside the Montgomery County Courthouse on May 9, 2022.
PHOTO BY CARL HESSLER JR. Advocates for abortion rights and women’s health carried signs and shouted “we will not go back” at a rally for abortion rights outside the Montgomery County Courthouse on May 9, 2022.
 ?? PHOTO BY CARL HESSLER JR. ?? A woman holds a sign at a rally for abortion rights, one week after a draft U.S. Supreme Court opinion was leaked to the public, signaling the high court may be preparing to overturn Roe v. Wade.
PHOTO BY CARL HESSLER JR. A woman holds a sign at a rally for abortion rights, one week after a draft U.S. Supreme Court opinion was leaked to the public, signaling the high court may be preparing to overturn Roe v. Wade.
 ?? PHOTO BY CARL HESSLER JR. ?? U.S. Congresswo­man Mary Gay Scanlon said last week’s leaked opinion “made clear that we’re right to be worried.”
PHOTO BY CARL HESSLER JR. U.S. Congresswo­man Mary Gay Scanlon said last week’s leaked opinion “made clear that we’re right to be worried.”
 ?? PHOTO BY CARL HESSLER JR. ?? Advocates for abortion rights held signs expressein­g their views during rally outside the Montgomery County Courthouse.
PHOTO BY CARL HESSLER JR. Advocates for abortion rights held signs expressein­g their views during rally outside the Montgomery County Courthouse.
 ?? PHOTO BY CARL HESSLER JR. ?? “We will not stand for becoming second class citizens,” U.S. Congresswo­man Madeleine Dean addresses crowd at abortion rights rally in Norristown.
PHOTO BY CARL HESSLER JR. “We will not stand for becoming second class citizens,” U.S. Congresswo­man Madeleine Dean addresses crowd at abortion rights rally in Norristown.

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