Activists lined the Church Street path of Honesdale's Central Park, Friday evening decrying the overturn of Roe V. Wade announced earlier that day. Local residents and representatives of Wayne County for Action organized as part of a "We Won't Go Back" protest in support of women's reproductive rights.Representing Wayne County for Action, Tierney Lyons stated, "We do see this as a slippery slope. Paul Thomas today said in his supporting argument that up next is rights for contraception, same sex marriage, same sex rights in the same vein, the way the Constitution is written, interracial marriage might be on the slate next.""Today, women have fewer rights than guns," she added, noting the protest hopes to inspire change and encourage voters to be mindful of women's rights come November.Also present, Heather Hogan-Spencer asked, "Why are we not regulating penises? If penises cause pregnancy, we are we only regulating women?"
"Abortion is healthcare. So are taking care of ectopic pregnancies so females don't die," she added, sharing that she has struggled with ectopic pregnancies in the past. "So my life doesn't matter. But the cells that were building in my fallopian tube that were never going to turn into a child three times over, to these people matter more than my living, breathing body."Hogan-Spencer noted she saw the protest was happening and decided to attend right then and there. "I'm here for my nieces," she said. "I'm here for everybody else's kids… I'm here for women and girls everywhere."Also standing among the activists, James Hamill stated, "I believe we should stand in solidarity with our family members, neighbors and friends who are trying to come to terms with the interpretation of the law and the changes in what has been precedent, and against the division we face as a society." Hamill, who is president of Honesdale's Borough Council, was present as a private citizen, and said his statements did not represent any official views of the borough. Hamill called for unity among people and increased civic engagement to "work towards a more perfect union."
After the United States Supreme Court released a ruling overturning Roe v. Wade, a 1973 case that established a constitutional right to abortion, leaders on both sides of the argument in northeastern Pennsylvania and the Poconos released the following statements:
Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA)
“The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization restores the American people’s ability to determine abortion laws through their elected representatives, as the Constitution requires. Precedents that are wrongly decided should be overturned, just as Brown v. Board of Education was right to overturn Plessy v. Ferguson. This ruling is a win for the unborn, the Constitution, and democratic governance.”
Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA)
“Today’s decision upends almost a half century of legal precedent and rips away a constitutional right that generations of women have known their entire lives. This dangerous ruling won’t end abortions in this country, but it will put women’s lives at risk. And make no mistake—this is not the end goal, it’s just the beginning. Republicans in Congress want to pass federal legislation to completely ban abortion. Our daughters and granddaughters should not grow up with fewer rights than their mothers.”
Rep. Maureen Madden (D-115)
"It's really a devastating day for women, for our independence, for our right to control our bodies. It moves all of the gains and all of the equality that we have worked for over half a century back to square one. And now we're at the mercy of whatever right wing governor is in office in any state, and it can change. If Doug Mastriano wins, then all of a sudden we outlaw abortion, and then in four years, if a Democratic wins, then we make abortion legal again. It's just going to be in this endless vicious cycle now. The devastating effects of Donald Trump's presidency are going to be felt for decades to come."
Monroe County Democratic candidates Maureen Madden, Hope Christman, Tarah Probst and Jennifer Shukaitis
"We are now mere minutes past the destructive Supreme Court decision in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson and the damage is immediately being felt across our country. The anger and dread that is being felt by so many families will only grow larger, but we cannot allow ourselves to sink into despair. We must channel our feelings into action. The only action we can perform to preserve and protect the right to choose, as well as the underlying right to privacy, is to get pro-choice candidates elected.
In Monroe County, our choices are quite clear. Each and every candidate on the Democratic side of your ballot this fall is pro-choice and supports pro-choice legislative leadership. The same cannot be said for the Republican ticket. A great number of their candidates have not only supported or voted for legislation that would roll back reproductive rights, but in some cases have attended marches or events to support such radical positions.The incumbent legislators running for re-election have consistently supported leadership that called votes on anti-choice legislation, despite unclear or muddled public statements on this crucial issue. This is why voters cannot not only consider an individual candidate’s position or voting record on the right to choose and privacy rights. You must ask whether the candidates would support legislative leaders and gubernatorial candidates who oppose the right to choose.
If our position is not abundantly clear already, we will make it so now. As Democratic nominees for the Pennsylvania General Assembly, we stand united to protect the right to choose, to protect the right to privacy, and to protect access to healthcare."
Michele Minor Wolf, Executive Director, Victims’ Intervention Program
"What I see—and from the eyes of the so many people that we serve—is I do not believe that this is actually going to stop abortions from happening. I think it's just going to stop them from happening safely. And I also think this will make it even harder for women in marginalized communities. It already is harder for them, but I think this is going to make it even worse."
Christa Caceres, President, NAACP Monroe County Branch #2275
"Our democracy is absolutely on life support, and we have legislators pinching the oxygen tube. That's what's happening. Women will have no choice but to bear children of incest, sexual abuse and rape. Women will feel obligated to remain with their abusers, our bodies will become property of the U.S. government. And we have female legislators in the Pocono Mountains who refuse to respect the rights of women to make decisions for their own bodies.
But yet, they won't raise the minimum wage, so children that are forced to be born can't be properly cared for. They do nothing about the lack of affordable housing, so these children who will have to be born won't have a safe place or comfortable place to live. Education is being attacked, so that children who are forced to be born in this country will not know where their ancestors came from, and what this country was actually built upon.
We are really going into a place where our constitution is going to be rewritten. Our state legislatures are going to be stripped. We're already seeing now that some legislators are trying to take away power from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. We are really seeing a serious, serious erosion of what this country was built on, and I just don't know, if the electorate really recognizes what's happening."
Lauren Peterson, Executive Director, Women's Resources of Monroe County
"Reproductive choice must not be limited for anyone, regardless of who they are or what their story is. For victims of sexual violence and intimate partner violence, restricting their private healthcare decisions pending the trauma of disclosure is coercive and inappropriate. Privacy is fundamental to everyone, including survivors seeking safety and health care; they rely on this protection to feel safe seeking help and accessing services. The overturning of Roe vs Wade by the Supreme Court puts the constitutional right to privacy in jeopardy and puts survivors at risk of additional harm.
Reproductive coercion, forced pregnancies, forced abortions, and rape resulting in pregnancy are all risk factors that undermine victims’ physical and psychological safety and well-being. Options, choices, and empowerment help to restore a victim’s sense of control and safety after an assault. We do not support any actions that limit those options and allow government to dictate what choices a person can make about their personal lives and bodies.
Three million women experience rape-related pregnancy, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Carrying a pregnancy to term is not always a safe option for all people. Reasons include intimate partner violence, which can escalate during pregnancy; health disparities related to racial and economic inequalities; a person’s medical history or complications that elevate their risk for maternal morbidity; or other reasons."
Bishop Joseph C. Bambera, Diocese of Scranton
"One of the fundamental teachings of the Catholic Church is that all human life is sacred – fromthe moment of conception until natural death – and it must be respected and protected. In itsopinion for Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, issued on Friday, June 24, 2022, I amthankful that the majority of Justices on the U.S. Supreme Court have recognized and upheld thesanctity of human life.
“For Catholics, respecting life, especially the unborn, is intrinsic to our identity as people of faith. While political and ideological divisions often drive us apart, we must remember that the Sacred Scriptures call us to be one, reverencing every life that comes into our world. It is critical to note, however, that valuing human life is not simply confined to life in the womb. We must never dismiss or ignore our responsibility to care for, protect and defend our brothers and sisters from other serious threats to human life, including poverty, racism and oppression.
“While already the largest private provider of social services in the United States, the Catholic Church must redouble its efforts and always stand ready to assist young women and couples who are facing unexpected or difficult pregnancies...As we strive to build a true culture of life in our nation, the Gospel of Matthew reminds us that our welcome into God’s eternity will be determined by our willingness to reverence, respect and serve the most vulnerable among us in whom Christ is present: ‘Whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me’” (Matthew 18:5).
Alice Marchesani, Executive Director, Pregnancy Resource Center of the Poconos
"Whether Roe v. Wade would stand or fall, the Pregnancy Resource Center is here to help all moms, especially those that are facing unplanned pregnancies. We've been here for 37 years, and we're here to help with confidential and free services."
Jessica Brady, Monroe County activist
"It's such a huge decision for the Supreme Court to be making. I think there's going to be a lot of big reactions within the next few days and weeks, just because for a while nobody thought it would happen until the draft was leaked. And it happened. It's kind of crazy."
Reggie Shuford, executive director American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania
“This is a shameful day in the history of the Supreme Court. For 49 years, generations of Americans have relied on the constitutionally protected right to an abortion, but the court is ignoring its own precedent and the well-being of millions of women in the name of an extremist political agenda.
“People in Pennsylvania should be clear that abortion is still legal in our state. And it will remain legal as long as we continue to elect candidates to office who support access to abortion.
“Anti-abortion politicians are on notice that we will meet them wherever they are, from statehouses to courthouses to the streets to the campaign trail. A radical court will face the backlash of the majority of Americans who believe that people should have the right to an abortion.”
This article originally appeared on Pocono Record: Abortion in Pennsylvania: Poconos reacts to Roe v. Wade decision