A Burlington women’s group holds a protest in response to the Supreme Court ruling overturning national abortion rights.
Of them Girls just want to have protests for basic rights will be held Tuesday in downtown Burlington, one at 10 a.m. and another at 6 p.m.
The first of the rallies will take place in front of the Des Moines County Courthouse. There, participants will be able to listen to a handful of speakers. Participants will also have the opportunity to express themselves.
The second protest will start at the bottom of Snake Alley. From there, attendees will walk to the riverfront, congregating behind the Memorial Auditorium, where a microphone will be open for those who wish to speak.
Speakers are encouraged to share their own stories, opinions and/or ideas on how to continue their efforts for access to safe abortions.
The event will be family-friendly, organizers said, and will last as long as necessary for anyone who wishes to speak to do so, as long as it remains peaceful.
Kelli Edwards, one of the event organizers, said signs are encouraged.
“I crave impact, it has to be more than your voice, and one of those things is waving,” Edwards said.
Edwards, 17, is the president of the Women’s Alliance Club at West Burlington High School, where she will be a senior this fall.
Edwards and other club members had planned to hold a smaller-scale event after the May 2 leak of the Supreme Court’s draft opinion.
“It was going to be a small family event, because at the time we didn’t know if it was going to be officially canceled,” Edwards said.
When the Supreme Court justices delivered their opinion on Friday, Edwards contacted Tenyshia Reddone of the organizers of June 2, 2020, march against racism in response to the death of George Floydlooking for advice to make the voice of his generation heard.
“All over the news, you’ve heard from adults, you’ve heard from Supreme Court justices, you’ve even heard from the president,” Edwards said. “But you haven’t really heard of teenagers, so it’s really nice to be the voice of our generation.
“People think we have no idea what we’re talking about or that we don’t know what’s going on outside of our own little world. But the fact is we do, and that’s what makes us makes us so excited – not even angrier, but excited – to do this because we know what we’re talking about. We know what rights are being taken away from us. And now is the time to use our voices to help solve this problem.
Redd was contacted by other women interested in hosting an event. Among them was Shelby Kuntzweiler, a mother of two who is studying to become a cosmetologist.
Kuntzweiler believes that the overturning of Roe v. Wade is a step backwards for women’s rights.
“It’s like we’ve come so far and come so close to being considered equal, and now all of a sudden our rights are taken away again, and who knows where we’ll end up,” said Kuntzweiler.
Kuntzweiler has been an admirer of women’s rights advocates throughout history. Now, she says, she’s proud to take on this role herself so she can show her daughter that she stands up for what she believes in.
Despite the leaked draft notice, Allison Reichert still felt shocked by the loss of a federal law that had been in place since 1973, especially at a time when so much of the federal government is under Democratic control.
She joined the Iowans for Body Self-Reliance Facebook Pagewhere she saw several people expressing interest in participating in a protest in Burlington and in rallies and protests across the state scheduled for July 5.
After a few days without an announcement of an event in Burlington, Reichert took it upon herself to organize one. Like Kuntzweiler and Edwards, she reached out to Redd, who connected organizers and offered advice and guidance.
“We were able to combine our efforts to make a more formal gathering time,” Reichert said. “It’s not even a pro-abortion issue. I think the vast majority of people who fight for bodily autonomy are pro-choice. It’s not for anyone else to tell an individual what ‘he can and cannot do with his body.
Reichert, Kuntzweiler and Edwards said the overturning of Roe v. Wade was not limited to abortion itself and even went beyond the loss of bodily autonomy for women. These are access to appropriate health care and concerns about the future of gay and minority rights.
So far, it doesn’t look like Iowa is moving toward a total abortion ban, though limits have been proposed.
Republican Governor Kim Reynolds called on a district court on Tuesday to lift an injunction on a so-called fetus heartbeat law she signed in 2018. This law, which would ban abortion after about six weeks of pregnancy, never came into force and was declared unconstitutional in 2019.
“We want to say it’s just going to be abortions, but really, we all know it’s going to be more than just abortions,” Edwards said. “It’s going to end up being about sexuality. It’s going to end up being about racism or gender or ethnicity. And that’s what’s really sad, and that’s just the beginning of a fall.”
Reichert, a youth services library assistant, pointed to proposed legislation in other states targeting the LGBTQ+ rights and indicated that she was concerned about the future of same-sex marriage and the continuation of an apparent tendency for religion to bleed into government.
“It’s just such a basic concept, regardless of someone’s religious or moral beliefs,” she said. “No matter what religious beliefs someone has, that does not allow them to dictate federal law to everyone who lives in our society.”
So far, none of the organizers have heard of a planned counter-protest. Kuntzweiler said the courthouse and the Burlington Police Department have been notified of the upcoming protests.
Michaele Niehaus covers business, development, environment and agriculture for The Hawk Eye. She can be reached at [email protected]