As thousands gathered for the Women’s March on the steps of the Supreme Court in Washington, DC on Saturday, in Stamford a crowd of about 200 gathered outside Stamford Superior Court for a rally for reproductive rights.
The rally took place after Texas passed legislation last month that bans abortions after about six weeks, when most women do not know they are pregnant.
Some of the signs people carried said, “We won’t go back,” “pro-choice,” “Keep your rosaries off my ovaries,” “Protect legal safe abortion,” “Vulva la resistance,” “Ruth Sent Me,” “Abortion is healthcare,” and “Let’s talk about the elephant in the womb.”
About 650 rallies and marches took place in cities across the country ahead of Monday’s reconvening of the Supreme Court of the US for its next session. One of the cases before the Court could challenge the current standing of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that protects a woman’s choice to have an abortion.
US Senator Richard Blumenthal, the author of the Women’s Health Protection Act, said, “I want to take back to my colleagues the picture of these brave, strong women and men who are supporting the Women’s Health Protection Act because we are seeing an assault on women’s rights that is unprecedented in recent history and represents a really deep danger to all of our rights.”
“Women should have the right whether and when to have children. They should have control over their own bodies, and the state laws that would take away that right should be struck down, which would happen under the Women’s Health Protection act because it would enshrine all of the protections of Roe v Wade.”
As for those who might be complacent about abortion rights in Connecticut, Blumenthal had a warning.
“These Constitutional rights effect all of us. Rights that are taken away from women in Texas could also eventually be reversed in Connecticut, and we need to embody in federal law all of these reproductive rights because they would protect any effort in Connecticut to reverse the progress we’ve made here,” he continued.
“A state law like Connecticut’s that protects women’s rights could be reversed, and that’s why we need a federal law that will protect the people of Connecticut, as well as Texas,” Blumenthal added.
State Rep Caroline Simmons (D144) who is running for mayor of Stamford after holding off two term incumbent David Martin in a primary last month, spoke passionately to the crowd.
“What we saw in Texas, the oppressive law that prevents women from having an abortion after six weeks without any exceptions for rape an incest, is unacceptable. This is unjust. This is oppressive and barbaric and we will not tolerate this.”
Cheered on by the crowd, Simmons said, “We will stand up for our sisters in Texas, and we will stand up for the millions of women across our country. There were 500 pieces of legislation and attempts to roll back women’s reproductive rights.”
Simmons shared the advice from her own mother and women who fought for women’s rights in previous decades.
“She grew up in the 1960s and was a student at UC Berkeley during the women’s liberation movement, fighting for rights. She has often taught me and my sisters about what it was like to be a woman at that time. Women didn’t have equal pay. Women didn’t have the ability to play sports. Women didn’t have access to the same job and educational opportunities. Women faced sexual harassment in the workplace.”
She warned against complacency, saying that despite Roe v Wade being codified into CT state laws, the right to choose is under assault today, with amendments put on bills.
“My mom has has always taught me and my sisters to be grateful for the rights we have today, but to not take them for granted because they are still under attack and we still have to fight for justice, and we still have to fight for equality for women.”
State Rep Stephanie Thomas (D-143) whose district includes Norwalk, Wilton and Westport, started off by saying, “Ambitious, bossy, loud. These are all words I heard until I stopped listening.”
Thomas shared her opinion as the youngest child of a survivor of sexual assault.
“Being raised by someone who had to make the worst possible choice about whether to terminate a pregnancy or not, helped shape my understanding around the importance of choice.”
She said when she was growing up there was a clinic that performed abortions that opened nearby, opposite the bus stop where she waited with her mother where they watched as women arrived to signs and jeers of a spattering of protesters.
“Even at a young age, I thought how awful it was that these women were trying to go about their lives and there were these people outside being so mean, and I would say that to my mother. And many Saturday mornings she would say, ‘If you ever need to go to that clinic, do not be afraid of those people. Walk past them and make the best choice for you.'”
Thomas encouraged rally goers to vote in every election, including primaries, and to choose leaders very carefully.
Danielle Eason, board chair of Planned Parenthood Votes Connecticut, was the keynote speaker.
“We are here today in solidarity with people of Texas and across the country facing insurmountable barriers to abortion care,” she said. “Today we come together to rally for abortion access.”
She said she stood in solidarity with the nearly one in four women in this country who have had an abortion.
“It’s been a devastating month since SB-8, the Texas abortion ban, went into effect, leaving patients there scared and confused. This blatantly unconstitutional law bans abortion at six weeks, before many people even know they’re pregnant. And it ultimately means that many Texas patients simply won’t be able to access abortion.”
She said under that Texas law, people who help or intend to help someone get an abortion after six weeks can sued by a neighbor, distant relative, abusive partner, or even a stranger from out of state.
“Abortion providers across the state have been forced to stop services for fear of relentless, frivolous lawsuits brought under by this law. The most terrifying part, this law crates abortion bounty hunters to surveil and harass people, incentivized by the promise of at least $10,000 to anyone who wins their lawsuit against abortion providers and anyone who helps others get care.”
“It’s easy to think this is a Texas problem, or see abortion bans as something happening in states far away,” she said. “Connecticut has long stood as a leader in protecting and advancing reproductive health rights and access. Yet there is more work to be done. We must continue to fight for every person’s right to access.”
“Last week we celebrated the historic vote the US House took passing the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would protect the right to abortion throughout the US and guard against medically unnecessary abortion restrictions being pushed forward by state politicians.”
She thanked CT House members for their votes and called on the Senate to pass the legislation. She thanked Senator Blumenthal for his leadership on reproductive rights.