By Kirby Neumann-Rea • Of the News-Register • 

Reproductive rights rally in Mac draws numerous supporters

Marcus Larson/News-Register##Women’s March organizer Elaine Yorks leads chants as marchers make their way north from the municipal plaza at Second and Baker streets. Organizers were prepared for counter-protesters, but none appeared.
Marcus Larson/News-Register##Women’s March organizer Elaine Yorks leads chants as marchers make their way north from the municipal plaza at Second and Baker streets. Organizers were prepared for counter-protesters, but none appeared.

Saturday’s “women’s march” in McMinnville was a short walk to begin what supporters describe as a long journey to support a human’s right to choose.

A crowd of 225 people met at noon at Edward Gormley Civic Plaza next to McMinnville City Hall and took to the streets calling attention to the growing threat to a woman’s right to access safe and legal abortion. 

“This is a marathon, right? We just joined the marathon,” said speaker Elaine Yorks of McMinnville. “It’s not a sprint, we’re not going to solve anything today but we will combine our energies and make our voices heard, one way or another. But at least McMinnville will maybe get the hint there are a lot of like-minded individuals who are not going to put up with this ... much longer.”

An estimated 600 similar events were planned throughout the U.S. during the weekend prior to Oct. 4 and the formal start of the U.S. Supreme Court's 2021 session.

A man held a sign Saturday reading “Ruth Sent Me,” one of several invoking the memory of the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, aka RBG, who for years was a bulwark on the court in defense of reproductive rights.

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The Texas Legislature last month passed SB 8, the nation’s most restrictive law on abortion, an action that speakers said effectively kills the landmark 1973 law Roe v. Wade decision entitling women to choose to have an abortion without excessive government interference.

SB 8 would prohibit an abortion as early as six weeks, and give citizens the right to sue abortion providers and clients.

The federal Department of Justice has sued the state of Texas over SB8, arguing among other things that it violates the U.S. Constitution by giving state law precedence over federal.

“All the marches have been planned as a direct response to what happened in Texas,” speaker Lisa Harrington said. “I’m sure we all know how important that is, but I want to talk about the bigger picture. Abortion is really critical to a woman’s health and personal life, but it also has repercussions that go out and out from there.

"The right wing extremists in my lifetime have been going about this for 40 years. They are in this for the long haul," Harrington said. "I can speak for myself and others that there has been a tendency on our side to be complacent, we had Roe v. Wade, we had it in the bag: ‘that will never happen,’ and they chipped away here and there, and we said ‘it will never happen,’ but, well, it has happened."

"We don’t have RBG anymore and we don’t have the Supreme Court anymore. They have abdicated that responsibility once again. We are once again pre-'72, on our own, and that is why this is so important.”

Yorks said the DOJ suit is cause for hope, "until the Supreme Court — RBG, fix it, please, until the Supreme Court decides to step down off their cloud and change something and not for the worse,” Yorks said.

“But I’m not holding my breath. Roe v. Wade might go down. We’ve all been talking about it for a long time," Yorks said. "We knew when the power structure in this country turned that it would go down. They’ve been designing this a long time."

Terming abortion restrictions, “forced birth,” Harrington said SB8 advocates have portrayed their purpose as protection of unborn children.

“In actuality, the law in Texas explains it better, it sheds true light on their agenda. They don’t care about unborn children. They don’t care about the children once they get here. What they do care about is controlling women’s reproductive choices because if they can control that they can control everything about you and keep you in and oppressive state. It’s oppression, flat-out,” Harrington said.

“We’ve been fighting a long time. There’s a lot folks here who probably graduated from high school about the time I did in 1972, before Roe v. Wade,” Yorks said. That drew large applause, and Yorks said, “Yes, let’s hear it for the gray hairs but let’s also hear it for the young women and men who inherited this mess.

“Our minds are on freedom,” she said. “We need freedom over our own bodies, for crying out loud. Do not tell me not to have a baby because it makes you uncomfortable if I get an abortion. And what happens to that child, that unwanted child, or that child we’d much rather wait five more years until we can afford to have a baby?”

Yorks said “abortion is not easy and no one takes it lightly. We don’t take it lightly, we take it very seriously, but we also take seriously our choice of having a child or not having a child, and if we can keep it legal and keep it safe, in a regular medical clinic.”

“You know people who have been through it, and maybe that’s why this issue is so important to you,” she said.

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After Yorks and Harrington spoke, Saturday’s assemblage marched up Adams Street to Eighth and back via Baker Street, many carrying signs with messages including, “Future voter," “Women’s rights are human rights,” “She Persisted," “I love someone who had an abortion” and “Honk if you love gender equality.”

The need to resume the fight inspired some to join the rally, including Mary Martin, 85.

“I have already done his once and I am devastated I have to do this again,” said Martin, a 60-year resident of McMinnville who walked with her daughter, Cheryl.

“It may wake up a few people who are sleeping. I hope,” Martin said.

Charlie Price of McMinnville said, “I am supporting women’s right to choose, whatever decision they make about an unborn child. I dislike anyone telling someone what to do about their bodies.”

Asked about the impact of marches such as McMinnville’s, Price said, “I think unless you show up and say what you believe, there’s no impact whatsoever. In doing this, we stand up for what we believe is important. You can never predict the outcome of events, as the last five years has shown us.”

Just before the march, organizer Mandi White thanked “the men in our lives, the allies that we have.” She walked carrying her son, Alaska, 3 months, and with daughter, Snow, and husband Braden.

White said she saw what was planned around the country, “so I kind of threw out there, ‘what do we have going in McMinnville?’ and I made an event page on Facebook and it caught on.”

Comments

Joel R

Odd that this article only presented one side of the abortion issue. It seemed more like an advertisement for the pro-choice viewpoint than a newspaper article. There are some very powerful arguments for letting unborn babies live, surely the author could have referenced one or two of them just for a little balance.
And I may be wrong on this, but I think that in recent years opinions have changed and the majority of Americans now oppose abortion. What's driving the change is that younger women aren't buying the old "it's just a bunch of cells" argument any more. They've seen the incredibly vivid ultrasound images and have realized that there is no doubt about it, it's a baby in there!

Joel R

The little slight of hand in the title of this article should have tipped me off as to what would be inside. "Reproductive rights" sounds so much more palatable than "abortion rights". But playing games with the wording doesn't change what it is about. And what it is about is ugly.
Nobody has passed any laws that I know of that interfere with adults reproducing. Abortion laws aren't about stopping people from reproducing. Once there is a baby in there, the reproducing has already been done. Laws banning abortion are about protecting the life of a baby girl (or boy) floating around in her mom's uterus with a beating heart and a cute face and sometimes even sucking her little thumb. Who could ever be in favor of killing her?

madmacs

Joel R- You are indeed wrong; polls show about 75% of Americans support reproductive rights. This article wasn't covering a bunch of knuckle draggers harassing women outside a clinic or attempting to firebomb clinics, it was covering women out protecting their constitutional right. It's strange, the people who oppose abortion also seem to oppose sex education and contraception, the most effective ways to prevent abortion in the first place.

CubFan

What about the "rights" of an unborn baby? People say "my body , my choice", but who stands up for the rights of the unborn? Joel R, I completely agree... who could look at an ultrasound image, or even hear a beating heart and not say this is a living being? Abortion is murder, pure and simple.

TTT

I think abortion is wrong but I also think we need to fight for the children in foster care as hard as we fight for the unborn. Politicians seem to forget about a child once it's been born into our world and the foster system needs support. If we don't want abortion as an option then create a system which supports mothers and their children even when the father isn't present, and also foster children. We're missing parts of a total solution.

Lulu

Joel, FYI, the phrase is actually "sleight of hand," only one example of your numerous ridiculous pontifications regarding "what women want."

Hibb

Since "abortion" is such an appalling term, thought, and action these misguided souls seek to defuse the situation by implementing the innocuous term of "reproductive rights" but even then it is still the murder of the innocent that continues to be their real desire. Shame on all of us!

Lulu

How about if we introduce retroactive abortion procedures?

Lulu

Well, (un)Flex, I doubt if you'll see emptier eyes than those on a corpse. After three weeks in ICU, you're left with someone to bury plus a $500,000 hospital bill.
I consider COVID-19 just another culling process--not unlike the Black Plague in Europe erasing almost three-fourths of the population. The survivors are heartier and stronger while the weaker have gone bottom-up. Think of it as a Darwinian Noah's ark: the ones smart enough to board will be far safer than their acquaintances too silly to buy a ticket.

Lulu

My comment should have appeared below the masking article; I was too disgusted to pay attention.

Hibb

I propose we start a GoFundMe account for Lulu so they can afford to pay attention in the future.

Lulu

Cash only.