PORTSMOUTH – Michelle Anderson on Friday tried to explain to her 6-year-old daughter, Claire, life in a post-Roe v. Wade world.
“We explained it in age-appropriate terms that it was a loss of rights for only a certain part of our population,” said Portsmouth resident Anderson. “I was disappointed, sad and felt a bit hopeless.”
Hours later on Friday evening, Michelle Anderson and her daughter stood in the Market Square in the city’s downtown, mobilizing for abortion rights.
Hundreds of people took to the Market Square to protest the US Supreme Court’s decision on Friday morning to end 49 years of abortion as a constitutional right. Drivers along Congress Street honked their horns in support of rally attendees, many of whom held homemade signs in support of abortion rights.
The “Bans Off Our Bodies” event was one of many across New Hampshire, including Dover and Exeter on the Seacoast. Speakers from Portsmouth noted the multiple generations of women present. A show of hands showed that many participants were alive before abortion was legalized across the country, and they have returned to fight for access to abortion for a younger generation. Abortion remains legal in New Hampshire up to 24 weeks pregnant, although more than 20 states are expected to ban it altogether.
‘It’s a dark day’:Seacoast, NH and Maine executives react to cancellation of Roe v. wade
Dressed in a white shirt with “1973”, the year Roe v. Wade was decided, New Hampshire Women’s Foundation Executive Director Tanna Clews spoke about the impact of the decision on different age groups of women.
“We were born in a time when Roe was a no-brainer,” Clews said of his generation. “And now you have these young people here who, frankly, are coming of age and looking for less access to safe reproductive and sexual health care. What are they going to do about it? What are we all going to do about it? So I really think this is a wake-up call for this next generation of activists.
Eighteen-year-old twins Lane and Rory Joslin stood near a bus stop during Friday’s “Ban Off Our Bodies” rally.
The Erasure of Roe c. Wade and “privacy rights,” said Rory Joslin, inspiring to take action to vote, attend more rallies in the future and raise awareness on social media.
“There are a lot of young people here,” said Rory Joslin. “Knowing that we are coming together to fight against this is very empowering.”
Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-New Hampshire, who faces a battle for re-election this year, said reproductive rights were on the ballot, in addition to “the full freedom and inclusion of women” in the United States.
“As devastating as today is, as difficult as today is, let’s all dig in and find what drives us, which is our understanding that in the Live Free or Die State, we believe that everyone is free – and that includes women,” Hassan said.
Portsmouth Deputy Mayor Joanna Kelley said she believed the Supreme Court would not stop at the dismantling of Roe v. Wade.
“This is our country. They don’t tell us what to do with our bodies. They can’t tell us who we marry, who we love and who we are,” Kelley said.
The annulment of Roe v. Wade has the greatest impact on low-income women and people of color without easier access to contraception.
Asking mob members born after the creation of Roe v. Wade to raise his hand, Kelley said the younger generation would be elected and draft abortion rights legislation.
“Get angry, educate yourself and wear it as a badge of honor,” she told the crowd.
Dover Abortion Rights Rally at Henry Law Park
DOVER – “Abortion is a human right – fight, fight, fight!” The chant echoed through an impassioned crowd of hundreds accompanied by music from the left-wing marching band at Friday night’s “Bans Off Our Bodies” rally at Henry Law Park.
“We knew this day was coming for a long time,” said Josie Pinto, founder and executive director of the Reproductive Freedom Fund of New Hampshire. “I think in many ways maybe I was logically prepared but not emotionally. And I can’t help but think about half the country right now who have just had their rights taken away completely.
Quincy Abramson, executive director of the New Hampshire Youth Movement, spoke about the impact of the overturning of Roe v. Wade.
“I think we’re seeing the results of a really antiquated system that shouldn’t exist anymore, because it’s clearly not doing what it’s supposed to do, which is representing the people of this country,” Abramson said. “We are not going to stand for this. This will result in people being harmed, people remaining with violent partners, people committing suicide, people dying of non-viable pregnancies and survivors of assaults women will have to carry their rapist’s baby to term All of these things are exactly why I’m here.
Rochester City Councilwoman Ashley Desrochers shared her reaction to the news.
“My body started hurting. I couldn’t speak. There was nothing left. I had nothing to say. And then I started crying,” she said, speaking in his role with the activist group 603 Forward. “It’s normal to be angry. I did it. I got really angry. But do something with that energy, because if you hold it back, it will devour you.”
Dover Councilor Linnea Nemeth also called for activism.
“I want everyone to know that holding their elected officials accountable is important to them,” Nemeth said. “It has an impact on your daily life. This has an impact on everyone’s future.
Opposite the large crowd of pro-abortion rights attendees were a small group of people opposed to abortion, including Phyllis Woods, a Dover resident and former Republican state representative. She shared her reaction to the Supreme Court’s decision.
“I was thrilled because I think it was decided badly at the start,” Woods said. “Of course now people have multiple multiple abortions. I believe that all life is precious. I thought that should have been a problem for feminists back then, and it should have been from the beginning, because half the babies we abort are women.”
— Rhianwen Watkins fromGranite State News Collaborative reported from Dover.
Exeter Abortion Rights Rally at City Hall
EXETER — “I believe abortion is health care,” said Kari Stephens, who attended the Bans Off Our Bodies Rally outside Towh Hall on Friday night. “Abortion is an act of self-determination, the self-determination is a human right.”
Stephens said she was a teenage mother and had her first child when she was 16. Years later, she faced a nightmare most parents dare not think about: losing a baby.
She was pregnant again six months later, but due to her financial situation among many others, Stephens made the decision on November 11, 1991 in Merrillville, Indiana, to have an abortion.
“It has been decided with my healthcare professionals that I should not continue with this pregnancy,” she said. “I had just buried a baby, I was in no way in shape to carry a pregnancy at that time.”
In Exeter, hundreds of community members gathered at City Hall to fight for the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. Signs were held and passing drivers honking their horns in support.
Liz Canada, advocacy manager for the Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund, said the organization has been preparing for the day since the Supreme Court took up the case last fall.
“We knew from the makeup of the tribunal what was coming,” Canada said. “We have been preparing for this decision for months, even years. People are legitimately outraged, they are genuinely angry. The Supreme Court has taken away people’s power over their own bodies.
Reverend Heidi Heath, a local minister, said there are two core values to being a Christian: loving your neighbor and protecting the vulnerable.
“This Supreme Court ruling today is a direct blow to both of those things,” Heath said. “The reality is that the majority of religious traditions around the world support safe and legal abortion. Very often we hear a different story from religious voices – but we are extending the autonomy of others, it’s not about God.
As a mother, Linda Morrison said she felt “devastated for her daughter and all young girls” when the news broke on Friday morning. She said the overturning of Roe v. Wade is a Supreme Court pushback.
“Men have been in power since colonial times,” Morrison said, referring to laws made by men to women. “Women have been fighting since the time we created the United States of America – fighting for the right to vote, fighting for equal pay – because most people in power are men.”
Morrison said the court ruling will force women to abort unwanted pregnancies in unsafe, life-threatening ways.
— Seacoastonline’s Aqeel HIsham reported from Exeter.