The right to abortion remains protected in Massachusetts, but people came out in force Saturday to Falmouth’s Village Green to let women in other states know they had support.
“The other states where it’s not legal, they’re going to have to send people to places where it is," said Carol Strojny, who lives in Falmouth. "So, if we know anybody who lives in those states, we should get the word out, that we have an extra bedroom.”
Strojny was also one of several speakers at the protest , where around 300 people showed up to express their outrage at the recent Supreme Court decision which overturned Roe V. Wade, the case that made into law a woman's right to abortion.
Strojny talked about an abortion she had at a time in her life when her family was going through financial hardships, saying she wouldn’t have been able to afford another child.
Other speakers were unflinchingly candid.
The Rev. Deborah Warner told the crowd how she had been raped when she was younger, grateful that she didn't get pregnant.
“I shudder to think about how women and young girls who are being raped at this very moment are going through,” she said.
Some of the signs held up read: “Abortion care is healthcare,” and “Bans off our bodies.” Others compared the nation’s gun rights to abortion rights and asked why the government had stricter regulation on women’s bodies than weapons.
One sign read “Stop the war on women.”
Penelope Duby of the Upper Cape Women’s Coalition, who organized the gathering, read a quote urging people to transform their sadness into strength.
“Everybody standing here loves somebody who has had an abortion,” she said.
She spoke about the limitations in fighting for the cause, saying “talking to people that we don’t like” is what is truly necessary.
She called for “dialogue over disruption,” saying global change can happen as more people’s minds change.
Many of the speakers also urged listeners to exercise their democratic rights by voting and running for office. State Sen. Susan Moran said while abortion remains legal in the Bay State, the trajectory of the Supreme Court is a threat to Massachusetts as well.
“They’re not going to stop,” said Moran.
Others said the Supreme Court decision places America on a slippery slope, arguing that taking away women’s rights is just the beginning, and attacks on the rights of marginalized groups may soon follow.
At the Hyannis rotary, more than 40 demonstrators held multicolored signs and raised fists of solidarity.
“This isn't just about the right to be able to terminate a pregnancy," said organizer Erin Andrews of Centerville. "This is about me having control over my body. This is about knowing that I'm a person who has human rights and dignity, and that's being stripped."
Andrews had coordinated two previous “Bans off our Bodies” rallies in Hyannis in May and October, and sees the Supreme Court's ruling on abortion as detrimental to women across the country nationally.
The demonstrations over the past months have been a good opportunity for people to see that they’re not alone in their “sadness, grief and rage,” Andrews said.
“I'm a mom of two kids, both girls. And I got to choose to have them. And I just — pregnancy is really hard. Raising kids is really hard” she said. “I just, I can't even fathom the feeling that I would have in my body if I were forced to continue a pregnancy I didn't want. Apocalyptic. And I’m not hyperbolizing, I feel like it's apocalyptic.”
Hyannis resident Dr. Lindsay LaCorte, for whom reproductive health care is a career and life’s work, was on hand because the court's decision affects her personally and professionally.
“I am an OBGYN, and I am doing this because I know the scary and detrimental things that can happen to women in a society that doesn't protect them,” she said. “I’m a human, I’m a mom, I’m a woman that lives in a society that we think is safe, and when things like this happen and we start to question our safety and our protection — that’s when we have to fight.”
“I was in college when Roe passed in ‘73. And I just never, ever believed that we would have to be continuing to do this,” said Andrea Falzone, from West Barnstable. “My husband and I, since we moved here, we have participated in every one of these demonstrations.”
Falzone said that while those in Mass. are privileged, she feels like nothing is safe at this point in time. She thinks of her own daughters, and the impact this might have on them.
“It is just infuriating that women can be treated as non-human beings by having this decision," she said.
Families of multiple generations of women showed up Saturday, including 95-year-old Tillie Laverdiere, her daughter Linda Gregoire, and Gregoire’s daughter, Ashley Granger.
Laverdiere said she never thought she’d see Roe overturned, though she was happy to be there — all the way from South Hadley — in support.
“No white man should tell me what to do,” her daughter, Gregoire, said. “I don’t know that I would ever have an abortion, but my God, you have a right to choose.”
Just hours after the Supreme Court's decision was announced on Friday, a couple dozen protesters showed up at the Orleans Rotary. Protesters were greeted by supportive drivers honking their horns.
Brewster resident Annie Dugan is almost 80 years old, and suspects she will spend the rest of her life protesting at a rotary.
Dugan said she had a visceral reaction to the news of Roe's overturn.
“I felt like I went into a cold sweat, and then I actually felt like I was getting chest pain. I am just so distraught at the helplessness women everywhere feel right now,” she said. “I wish I could do something other than protest."
Grassroots activist organization Indivisible Outer Cape planned the event at the rotary as soon as it knew the court would rule on Roe, said member Laurie Veninger of Eastham.
The sign-carrying protestors mobilized in a few hours after the decision was announced.
The Supreme Court ruling was expected, and prepared for, opponents on Cape Cod said
Although upset, Veninger said she was not surprised.
"It's a day that we've been expecting and preparing for,” she said.
The vision the Supreme Court has for America is not one the majority the country supports or is ready for, she said.
Opinion/letters: Expand Supreme Court to protect rights
“It's a dark day because it proves that the Supreme Court is so extreme that it would take us back to the days of the Confederacy. The only states that seem to have rights now are red states," Veninger said.
Ashlie Laufer of Eastham was visiting Dennis when she heard about the court's decision and came out to the Orleans Rotary in support of the protest.
Like Dugan, Laufer spoke of the physical reaction she had when she heard the news and worries about the precedent the decision sets.
“My heart just sunk. This is just such a slippery slope, and that’s really what scares me,” she said. “What’s next? Contraceptives? This is a lot more about just abortion. This goes so much deeper.”
Dugan also voiced concerns about what's next for other causes now that Roe v. Wade has been overturned, like the LGBTQ community.
“I want people to know how every individual is so severely affected by this and how lives are changed forever," Dugan said. "This cannot continue to happen. The one thing I would say that we can all do is please vote."
A protest in Provincetown
When eight women approached Provincetown Town Hall late Friday afternoon with signs that read, “My body, my choice," “Abort the Supreme Court," and “Bans off our bodies," they were greeted with applause.
Michelle Axelson, owner of Provincetown feminist bookstore Womencrafts, led the charge, and what started as a group of eight soon ballooned to more than 100 people in front of town hall, including state Sen. Julian Cyr, D-Truro.
Anne Stott of Provincetown spoke through a megaphone.
“Stand up for a women’s right to choose. Join us as we protest the turning over of Roe v. Wade," Stott said. “Burn it all down."
She said It’s hard for her to even talk about court decision. “This decision relegates women back to second-class citizens.”
Axelson reminded the crowd of the frequency with which abortions happen.
“We are less safe than we have been my whole life,” she said. “One in four women have abortions. Everyone in this space loves someone who’s had an abortion."
Jennifer Van Dyck, originally from New York but working in Provincetown this summer, accompanied Axelson and Stott to the protest. She held a "My Body, My Choice" sign.
“I’m here to speak up about the miscarriage of justice,” Van Dyck said. “The law of the land for 50 years was swept away because former Trump appointees lied. They said they wouldn’t do what they’re doing right now. I thought we were beyond this nonsense of telling women what to do with their bodies."
Van Dyck looked to the future, though.
“We have to turn things around in November. We have to vote, get people in office who will make sure to take the fight as far as we can take it,” she said.
“Why should anyone tell us what to do with our bodies?"
This article originally appeared on Cape Cod Times: Roe v. Wade decision sparks protests on Cape Cod