‘Just really angry’: Hundreds rally in Northampton to decry leaked Supreme Court opinion

  • Shoshana Marchand, a radio commentator and psychiatric nurse practitioner from Northampton, rallies a chant: “When we fight, we win!” STAFF PHOTO/EMILY THURLOW

  • Hundreds of people gathered in front of Northampton’s City Hall for a Bans Off Our Bodies rally, organized by Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund and Valley Women’s March on Saturday, May 14.  STAFF PHOTO/EMILY THURLOW

  • Faith Richardson, a student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, performs by spoken-word poem under her stage name is Lyrical Faith during the Bans Off Our Bodies rally in Northampton on Saturday, May 14. STAFF PHOTO/EMILY THURLOW

  • Hundreds of people gathered in front of Northampton’s City Hall for a Bans Off Our Bodies rally, organized by Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund and Valley Women’s March on Saturday, May 14.  STAFF PHOTO/EMILY THURLOW

  • Williamstown residents Annie Art, center, stands beside Molly Sullivan, right, were amongst those gathered in front of Northampton’s City Hall for a Bans Off Our Bodies rally, organized by Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund and Valley Women’s March on Saturday, May 14.  STAFF PHOTO/EMILY THURLOW

  • State Rep. Lindsay Sabadosa, D-Northampton, speaks at the Bans Off Our Bodies rally, organized by Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund and Valley Women’s March on Saturday, May 14. Sabadosa is the co-founder of the Pioneer Valley Women’s March. STAFF PHOTO/EMILY THURLOW

  • Tanisha Arena, executive director of Springfield nonprofit Arise for Social Justice, speaks at the Bans Off Our Bodies rally, organized by Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund and Valley Women’s March on Saturday, May 14.  STAFF PHOTO/EMILY THURLOW

  • Cora Fernandez Anderson, assistant professor of politics at Mount Holyoke College, hoists a green handkerchief in the air as she speaks at the Bans Off Our Bodies rally, organized by Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund and Valley Women’s March on Saturday, May 14. The handkerchief is representative of the “Marea Verde,” or Green Wave, women’s movement, which has helped deliver reforms on reproductive health and rights in Latin America. STAFF PHOTO/EMILY THURLOW

  • Hundreds of people gathered in front of City Hall in Northampton as part of the Bans Off Our Bodies rally on Saturday, May 14.  STAFF PHOTO/EMILY THURLOW

  •  Taneisha Mings, western Massachusetts organizer at Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund and co-organizer of the Bans Off Our Bodies rally in Northampton, addresses the need to take action to protect and expand access to abortion across the country. STAFF PHOTO/EMILY THURLOW

Staff Writer
Published: 5/15/2022 2:14:48 PM
Modified: 5/15/2022 2:13:00 PM

NORTHAMPTON — Angry and disgusted.

One after another, activists, students, politicians, doctors, lawyers and professors took to the steps in front of City Hall in Northampton on Saturday, and voiced their opposition to the possibility that the Supreme Court could overturn Roe v. Wade, thus dismantling federal constitutional protections that guarantees a person’s right to an abortion.

“I’m sorry that I’m not super-smiley, I’m just really angry,” Shoshana Marchand, a psychiatric nurse practitioner from Northampton, said to a crowd of hundreds that had amassed in the downtown. “We’re fighting something big here. We’re fighting a national history of chattel slavery of state-sanctioned violence against indigenous and immigrant people and a legacy of frontier violence that’s with us today in the fundamentalist desire for control of our bodies and our lives.”

The Northampton event, organized by Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund and the Pioneer Valley Women’s March, was part of a nationwide Bans Off Our Bodies protest for abortion rights sparked in response to a leaked draft of an opinion by the Supreme Court that would reverse decades-old protection of abortion rights.

Northampton Police closed off part of the downtown to vehicular access as crowds spread out into the street. In addition to the local contingent, Planned Parenthood had provided a shuttle for people from Springfield to Northampton, according to Rezwana Huq, communications manager for Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts.

Bans Off Our Bodies rallies took place all over the country, including in Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Washington and Chicago.

“We’re back here again to defend reproductive freedom, but things are much more dire this time,” said Deborah Pastrich-Klemer, a co-organizer of Saturday’s event and a volunteer with Valley Women’s March. “We are taking to the streets today and will continue to do so as long as our rights and reproductive freedoms are under attack.”

Hoisting up a sign that said, “We aren’t ovary-acting,” Molly Sullivan of Williamstown said she attended the rally because it’s “the most important cause there is.” She was joined in Northampton by fellow Williamstown residents Childsy Art and her daughter, Annie Art.

“I have a right to my own body,” said Annie Art.

In Massachusetts, abortions can be performed up until 24 weeks after the last menstrual period. In cases where there is a health risk or risk of death or lethal fetal anomaly, an abortion can be performed at 24 or more weeks.

Abortion rights allies like Tanisha Arena, executive director of Springfield nonprofit Arise for Social Justice, feel that the fight doesn’t end at state lines.

“Even though we’re OK here in progressive Massachusetts … and somebody is not OK in the next state, we are not OK,” said Arena. “And it doesn’t sit well with me that we’re hearing cozy in progressive Massachusetts like ‘we’re fine’ and the rest of the country is on fire … we’re all on fire.”

U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Worcester, state Sen. Jo Comerford, D-Northampton, and State Rep. Lindsay Sabadosa, D-Northampton, all spoke at the rally, indicating the backing that constituents throughout the state had from their elected representatives.

“I feel that it is important that no American is silent about an attempt to strip away basic human rights,” said McGovern. “Before I’m a member of Congress, I’m a father. And I’m ashamed if we become a country where my daughter may have fewer rights and autonomy over her own body than a previous generation.”

If Roe v. Wade is overturned, abortion will remain legal in Massachusetts.

But advocates believe that the state can still do better.

Comerford noted at the rally that there were efforts being put forward at the state level to protect abortion providers and patients traveling to Massachusetts to avoid legal repercussions in other states.

“We can draw a line in the sand here and say, ‘Not in Massachusetts will a woman lose a right to choose,’ and we can pass legislation like the Roe Act and go further,” she said.

Sabadosa, who co-founded the Pioneer Valley Women’s March, urged rallygoers to pull out their phones and visit massbeyondroe.com. She explained that the website has recommendations for legislative action, budget investments and regulatory solutions that they could help urge lawmakers to adopt.

“Don’t. Give. Up. Because I promise they will pass a federal ban on abortion before you can blink, and that is why we can’t give up,” she said. “You cannot let them win. You cannot let them take away our rights to our own bodies, to our children’s bodies. We owe it to everyone to keep up the fight. We don’t despair. We organize.”

Emily Thurlow can be reached at ethurlow@gazettenet.com.

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