Roe decision sparks protest, much anger

Emilie Jacques of Calumet holds a sign to passing drivers during a protest for reproductive rights at Veterans Park in Houghton Saturday. (Houghton Daily Mining Gazette photo)

HOUGHTON — More than 100 people rallied in support of reproductive rights at Veterans Park in Houghton Saturday, a day after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that removed the federal right to an abortion.

The 6-3 ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization was substantially similar to a draft opinion that was leaked last month. But knowing it was coming didn’t soften the blow, protesters said.

Tiff DeGroot of Hancock heard about the ruling Friday while driving home.

“It was deeply upsetting,” she said. “I felt really overwhelmed with a lot of emotions and almost cried in my car. It’s just really scary. It sets a really, really scary precedent… I don’t feel like we can do nothing, even if it seems like there’s not a lot we can do right now.”

During Saturday’s protest, some demonstrators passed around a bullhorn to lead chants, or to talk about their experiences. In the days before Roe v. Wade, Beth Smock was a student at Ball State University when a woman on her floor became pregnant; in those days, she had to resort to traveling to Chicago for a backstreet abortion. When she came back, she was in such pain that the entire floor could hear her scream, Smock said.

“Thank God we have a choice that if you need to, you can,” she said. “Back then, you couldn’t.”

Daryn DuPont felt like many people who say those getting abortions treat it as a form of birth control. But when she made the decision to have her own abortion two months ago, it came after weeks of thinking about it.

“I’m still absolutely mourning and grieving, and it was the best decision I could have made for me and my fetus, and to have the best life for everyone involved,” she said. “I’m living in a motel room. I can’t have a child. Without having an abortion, my life would be absolutely different, and I would not be able to care for a child the way it needs to be cared for.”

Seeing the U.S. Supreme Court take away the possibility for other pregnant people to make that decision made DuPont “physically sick.” In the weeks after she learned she was pregnant, every day felt like waking up with a weight on her chest.

“I truly don’t understand why anyone would force a woman to carry a child,” she said. “I couldn’t even carry a child for six weeks … I felt like nobody understood me. It’s the most lonely I’ve ever felt in my life. I was severely depressed, and the thought of me having to do that for nine months, and watch my body change and be forced to have this child is absurd.”

More than 100 people attend the rally. (Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette)

Emilie Jacques of Calumet was fortunate enough to have birth control set for the next three years. But she wanted to stand up for people who were less fortunate, she said.

“I grew up here, so I understand what it’s like to hear the same things over and over from everyone who was older than me, teaching me things about life,” she said. “And some of those things just weren’t true. And to show younger generations that there’s a different way of doing things is really important to me.”

Jacques said people need to vote, share their voice and do in-depth reading on the subject from multiple reliable sources, she said.

“If we sit by and let it happen, more and more rights are going to be stripped away,” she said.

David Noller of Traverse City noted Justice Clarence Thomas’s concurring opinion, where he said the Court should reconsider the rulings that legalized contraception, same-sex relationships and same-sex marriage.

“If they’re not going to provide opportunities for contraception, if they’re going to ban abortion, it’s going to make it untenable for families to consider living in America, frankly,” he said.

Nationally, Noller would like to see a law passed codifying Roe v. Wade and an expansion of universal health care. On the individual level, he said Saturday’s protest and those like it are a good start.

“This obviously isn’t going to automatically change any laws,” he said. “But when you see multigenerational gatherings like this one, and you see truckers and people in cars honking their horns in support.”

In Michigan, a 1931 law bans abortion except when the mother’s life is in danger, making it one of nine states with pre-Roe bans still on the books. Thirteen other states had trigger laws that went into effect with Friday’s ruling.

For now, the Michigan law has not taken effect. In May, a state Court of Claims judge imposed a preliminary injunction against the law in response to a suit by Planned Parenthood, saying women could face “a serious danger of irreparable harm” if the law went into effect.

On Friday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer filed a motion asking the state Supreme Court to quickly consider her suit asking the state to recognize a constitutional right to abortion and to stop enforcement of the 1931 law.

“With today’s U.S. Supreme Court decision, Michigan’s extreme 1931 law banning abortion without exceptions for rape or incest and criminalizing doctors and nurses who provide reproductive care is poised to take effect,” she said in statement Friday. “If the 1931 law goes into effect, it will punish women and strip away their right to make decisions about their own bodies.”

People also signed petitions Saturday for a ballot initiative that would codify reproducwould codify reproductive rights in Michigan’s constitution. The drive would need signatures from 425,059 registered voters by July 11 to be added to the November ballot.


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