SALISBURY — As news quickly spread on Friday that the Supreme Court had declared abortion no longer a constitutional right, calls were made in the community to rally on the steps of the County Administration Building. Rowan to protest the decision.
Alissa Redmond, owner of South Main Book Company on South Main Street, said people she had heard from “are in shock”. She herself said that she felt ill.
In January 1973, the Supreme Court ruled in a case known as Roe v. Wade that the Due Process Clause of the 14th Constitutional Amendment provided a “right to privacy” that protected a woman’s right to abortion.
In Friday’s opinion, widely expected after a recent leak, the court asserted that there is no inherent right to privacy in the Constitution, and therefore no right to abortion. The decision left governance to individual states. Currently, abortion is still legal in North Carolina.
It wasn’t the decision everyone wanted to see, and Redmond and about 130 others gathered on the steps of the county building to voice their objections.
Carrying signs that varied in messages ranging from “Dear ProLife Senators, protect the children born” and “abortion is a health care system and health care is a human right” to “We will not go back” and ” My indignation will not fit this sign,” the group of women and men alternately raged and cried.
“Who came here today after crying in the bathroom?” asked Redmond. “Who else feels like they’re going to vomit?”
Jorden Leahey and Larissa Ash said they couldn’t believe this decision actually happened.
“If I lose birth control and lose the right to an abortion, I have nothing,” Ash said. “I know people say I should be responsible for my relationships, but if I get pregnant and can’t take care of this baby, then what? Two lives destroyed.
“These lawmakers must protect the rights of children born,” Leahey added.
Samantha Haspel, a former midwife, said she couldn’t sit at home and not add her voice to others.
“There is hope, but ‘the other side’ is only 20% of the population of this country. They are not the majority. We need to make our voices heard. I don’t want to see women die because of this. And they will,” she said. “Men can impregnate thousands of women in a year, but a woman can only have one pregnancy a year. Why are they focusing only on women? And that’s not the end. Other questions , including same-sex marriage and contraception, will be next.”
Redmond said she, too, sees more protests in the future because she fears the move is just the start of more and more freedoms being lost.
“When I was 21 and got engaged, I had to go with my mom to my regular doctor to get a prescription for birth control,” Connie Byrne said, fighting back tears. When the wedding ultimately didn’t happen, her doctor “immediately called the pharmacy and canceled my prescription.” At that time, women had almost no control over their own bodies when it came to contraception and pregnancy.
“We can’t go back,” she said.
Haspel thanked the men in the group who came forward, to protest and support the women.
“Your power outweighs ours in some places, even more so right now, and we need you to stand up for us, to magnify our voices,” she said. “I’m afraid there’s a lot of blood in the streets coming back from this, but I also believe we’ll get there.”