Vineyarders rally to protect reproductive rights 

With abortion restrictions being passed across America, advocates stand against them. 


Vineyarders young and old gathered to rally against legislation restricting reproductive rights being passed across the country.

Signs stating “Support Roe vs. Wade,” “Abortion Rrights Are Human Rights,” and other similar messages were waved by the ralliers. A banner that read “Hands Off our body: Reproductive freedom is our right” was signed by those in attendance. It will be sent to U.S. Rep. Bill Keating, D-Bourne.

Cars honked and drivers supportively waved their hands in the air as they passed through Five Corners in Vineyard Haven late Saturday morning.

Jennie Driesen, a member of Indivisible Martha’s Vineyard, led the crowd in a chant in which she shouted, “Whose body? Whose choice?” and the crowd earnestly responded with, “My body! My choice!”

The rally was organized by Indivisible Martha’s Vineyard, a grassroots activist group. It was one of more than 600 events occurring across America as a “national day of action,” with the U.S. Supreme Court set to begin oral arguments on Oct. 4 “that will determine the future of abortion rights for all Americans,” according to a press release previously released by Indivisible Martha’s Vineyard. Rallies happened in many places across the country, such as California, Ohio, and Washington, D.C. 

“Just on the Cape and Islands alone, there are seven organized events like this, as well as one in Boston,” Cathy Walthers, an Indivisible Martha’s Vineyard member, said. 

“Everybody is here because we’re outraged,” Carla Cooper, Indivisible Martha’s Vineyard member, said. “We can’t believe that we’re still doing this, and that we will still have to do this for the foreseeable future.” 

The rally featured two guest speakers: state Rep. Dylan Fernandes, D-Falmouth, and Elizabeth Barnes, president of the Women’s Centers. 

Fernandes said a message must be sent to Republicans nationwide that all women have a right to accessible and affordable abortion care in the U.S. Fernandes said Republicans are “trying to strip women of that right.” New Hampshire banned abortions after the 24th week, Montana banned abortions starting at the 20th week, and Texas banned abortions starting after the sixth week, according to U.S. News and World Report. Barnes said most abortion clinics are run independently, and were forced to close their doors because of these types of legislation. 

“Most women don’t even know they’re pregnant at six weeks,” Fernandes said to the crowd. “The conservative Supreme Court’s failure to strike that down just shows that Roe v. Wade is dead in this country, and we need to do everything we can do to take it back.”

Fernandes continued by saying the Republican politicians’ opposition to abortions is not about protecting children, bringing up how they are against paid family leave. “They don’t give a damn about children,” Fernandes said. “What they care about is controlling women’s bodies. That’s all they care about, and that is wrong.”

Barnes said residents of Martha’s Vineyard are living in a very special place. “We are called upon to do special things in this special place,” Barnes said. “It’s really important we remember our sisters in Texas, in South Dakota, in Mississippi, in Alabama, and Arkansas, because they are not different from us.”

Barnes brought up how the stigma surrounding abortions has made people avoid the issue. She encourages people not to shy away from discussing abortions, but to instead share their stories, and not to shame those who do. Barnes also said that restricting access to abortions has a direct link with infant mortality, particularly affecting women from underserved communities. She recommends reading “The Turnaway Study” by Diana Greene Foster to gain a better grasp of the situation. 

“Pregnant people and women know when and when they cannot bring a child to the world,” Barnes told The Times. “When we in any way stigmatize that choice, it doesn’t value them as human beings, and treats women as third-class citizens and less than fully human, because it fundamentally defines you.”

Despite being located in a primarily Democratic state, Martha’s Vineyard does not have access to an abortion clinic on-Island. Instead, Island women need to travel to the mainland for abortion services. The closest abortion clinic to Martha’s Vineyard is located in Providence, R.I

“That is completely unacceptable. Women on-Island have to take a ferry, they have to spend hundreds of dollars for car transportation, and they have to go to another state just to get basic care,” Fernandes said. 

Both Fernandes and Barnes hope an effort can be made to push healthcare providers on the Island, such as Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, to provide abortion care. 

“It’s definitely going to need to be a community effort, like everything that makes the Vineyard great,” Barnes said.

Massachusetts codified the 1973 Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade with the passage of the ROE Act in 2020, which provides better access and care for women who need abortions and other types of care. A difficulty state Democrats faced in passing the bill was a veto by Gov. Charlie Baker, who is a Republican. Fernandes said Baker “repeatedly stood against access for women,” but the state legislature was able to overturn the veto since it is two-thirds Democratic. 

“Democrats had to do this without Charlie Baker’s support,” Cooper said. “Charlie Baker is not our friend.” She made a call for voters who were present to bring in a Democratic governor during the next election, which will be on Nov. 8, 2022. 



  1. I am a lifelong supporter in choice. I believe the cornerstone of women’s freedom centers on reproductive freedom. And I believe that when each of us choose to live on an island with a rural hospital we must accept the consequences of that choice.

    Abortion isn’t the only medical procedure that Islanders have to travel for. Instead of beating the same old drum complaining about the hospital why not highlight that Friends of Family Planning will reimburse for vasectomies and abortion services?

  2. Hope there were at least a few who were protesting for the rights of those who choose to not vaccine. Same concept.

    • Greg– that’s the way I feel about people who refuse to be vaccinated and don’t wear a mask while indoors.

    • Greg you are right, it is sad. What is even sadder is the fact that you are judging another persons personal choices when they have nothing to do with you. In fact thats the worst part of it all.

        • You have judged that women must not be allowed to remove what they want from their bodies.
          Should women judge what men should be allowed to remove from their bodies?

    • You are so right. So many women trying to convince themselves, in my opinion, that killing their baby is ok. They are carrying a living human being in their womb. Sorry, that is murder. Shame on those women!!

    • Mr. Weiss, you’ve never found yourself at 16 years of age, suddenly pregnant, with absolutely no support: angry parent(s), an equally scared, about-to-vanish “boyfriend,” no money, no education, and no job skills. You have to quit your minimum-wage job because your morning sickness has turned into most-of-the-day sickness. Your parents have thrown you out of the house, so now you have nowhere to live. No friends to help. You don’t have the wherewithal to navigate the governmental support systems, (you know, the ones that some people in this country think should be abolished or severely curtailed?), and you have no idea how to take care of yourself and the growing child inside you, in order to ensure that it comes into this world strong and healthy. If you have this child, it’s likely that you will just start on the wheel of poverty that will just keep rolling on, and the people who rail against abortion won’t offer you a hand up. They won’t be interested in adopting your child, especially if it’s a child of color. They will look down their noses at you, and preach that single parenthood is one of the things destroying this country.
      Keep your damn laws off of my body!

  3. Correct, Mike. …and even sadder yet that some(?)/many(?) men don’t simply have opinions about what we women should and should not do with our own bodies, but men in this country actively legislate against women under the guise of protection or religion, not unlike the Taliban in Afghanistan rolling back 20 years of women’s freedoms there.

    In the US, women of every color and social status have had to fight to vote, to have equal opportunity (not yet) in the work world, in education and sports, for equal pay (not yet); to fight to be heard (not yet) when we have been assaulted sexually or merely beaten. We have had to fight to not die in back street failed abortions because we so feared the social consequences of having a child out of wedlock or one we couldn’t afford to raise or that was medically not viable. We have had to fight for the freedom to be women with choices for almost anything beyond the cultural dictates ordered and legislated by men for centuries.

    When women are an even greater majority of the educated people, the legislative people, the voting people, should we be opining and legislating whether or not men should use condoms or get a vasectomy or be circumsized – if it wasn’t done shortly after birth? Should we regulate your hair styles, your career and job opportunities, your sexual opportunities?

    Most of the men I know are supporters of women’s rights and choices and I am grateful to know they are near. I also know that I worry for the future of our girls, young women, and our country. Our rights and freedoms are being chipped away.

  4. To those men out there who still feel the need to tell women what to do with their bodies . . . It’s time to “STFU”, get out of the way, set aside your sanctimony and feeling superior so that women can control their own destinies. Short of that . . . do the right thing and get a vasectomy so that you don’t perpetuate the inferior gene pool. Please spare me the “innocent life” guilt trip . . . when was the last time you had to crawl into an ally with a coathanger to abort?

  5. I am in awe of the providers and support staff of our hospital, how they are able to meet the wildly diverse needs of our fluctuating population, and their tremendous kindness and excellence. I was born in the hospital when it was it was far more modest than today, and every member of my family has been cared for in some way at MVH. Our community has benefited immeasurably by the continued modernization and additions of service availability at the hospital, and I have deep gratitude that the hospital will continue to grow and change to meet the changing needs of the island.
    It is important to note that adding simple abortion services, even just those available by pill, would not put an additional strain on the resources of MVH, and arguably, could actually help increase patient safety. Abortion by pill is available by telemedicine and mail without an in person physician visit in over 19 US states and by mail throughout the world with a truly remarkable safety rate. The hospital would require no new equipment, staffing or additional space to provide this care, and it does not require particularly specialized training.
    Studies (see The Turnaway Study as an example) have shown that people who seek abortion services but who are unable to access an abortion will have worse health outcomes, worse access to education and other opportunities, higher rates of poverty, and truly remarkably, a higher rate of death during the pregnancy later. Women and girls of Color, pregnant people who are LGBTQ+ and people living in poverty are most harmed by lack of abortion access yet are less statistically privileged to be able to travel to access abortion services. Just under 1/4 of American Women will have an abortion before they are 46 years old. Abortion is a normal and essential part of reproductive and public health care, and should be accessible and treated as such. There are many services we are lucky to have access to on the island that far fewer of us statistically will need, and they are provided at greater cost. Pregnant people deserve access to all of their options without stigma and the shadow and burden of travel, here in the home we all love.

  6. Well said! I hope the MV Hospital administration will step up to provide this important health service to the community.

  7. For every person that rejects the woman’s right to choose what to do with an unwanted embryo should have their arms open to adoption when or if an unwanted child is born. Enough studies have shown that those who scream the loudest are rarely the first to open the doors of their homes to all of or any of these children.
    The foster care system is a joke, states can barely keep track of their budgets and selfishness keeps most people from offering a helping hand. Most mindful people know the amounts of time, money, love, emotions and commitment it take to raise just one child, let alone just think of the crap that they will inherit as they become adults.

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