Vineyard responds to leak of Supreme Court doc

In a decades-long uphill battle for women’s rights, Vineyarders join nationwide Roe v. Wade protests. 

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Islanders promptly mobilized on Tuesday following the leak of a Supreme Court draft document that indicates a majority vote in favor of overturning the 1973 decision Roe v. Wade. 

In the span of just a few hours, word spread like wildfire, and — without much notice at all — dozens of Vineyarders drew up signs and headed to the Edgartown courthouse to rally in support of women’s reproductive rights, and to express their dismay for the encroachment on women’s bodies on behalf of the U.S. government.

Scattered among the crowd were signs that read, “Don’t give up the abortion right our mothers fought for,” and “For the sake of our daughters, keep it legal”; they highlighted part of the essence of what has been a half-century-long battle. 

The Supreme Court’s 1973 decision, and its subsequent Planned Parenthood v. Casey 1992 decision, upholding Roe v. Wade, marked monumental shifts in the country’s ethos, legally protecting the rights of women who choose to undergo abortion procedures.

The draft document, reportedly written by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, and endorsed by four others, is an insight into the extremes of right-leaning ideologies currently circulating at the apex of the country’s justice system.

In the event of the revocation of Roe v. Wade, the federal ban of safe and legal abortions would wreak havoc on the country’s already lacking healthcare system, in addition to knowingly risking the lives of women who choose not to bring a fetus to full term. Additionally, according to a study conducted by the University of California, San Francisco, detailing the detrimental effects of denying women the right to abortions, women who have forced births are more likely to raise their child as a single parent, stay in contact with a violent partner, and experience financial hardship and insecurity. 

As passersby honked support for the crowd, punctuated with an array of homemade signs, hugs were had and tears were shed, in a weighty, collective acknowledgement of what is at stake.

Bob Laskowski of Oak Bluffs, a physician, spoke of one of his obstetric professors in medical school, and how he won’t forget hearing him relate his experiences when abortion was still illegal. “It was horrible to hear,” he said. “[They were] terrible tragedies. We don’t want to go back there … abortion services are an important part of healthcare.”

Laskowski, present next to his wife Kathy, expressed his grave concern upon the release of the document: “It’s anti-women and it’s oppressive. It’s an invasion of privacy.”

Parents of four and grandparents of four, the Laskowskis said they’ve made it a point to participate in events like this after seeing the shifting political climate upon the election of President Donald Trump in 2016.

Referring to right-wing opinion on abortion — ubiquitous propaganda visuals of fetuses, meant to shock — Bob Laskowski said it is merely a “manipulation of emotion.”

Holding up a sign that read, “We will not go back,” Donna Blackburn, a self-styled “child of the ’60s,” told The Times that despite growing up in an era known for its political and social demonstrations, “I’ve never been in a protest before, but this is so very important.”

Blackburn said that her “nightmare is [women resorting back to] coat hangers and backroom abortions,” recalling friends that “were seriously damaged by backstreet abortions.” 

Referring to her sign, Blackburn said, “This would be an awful thing for women’s care,” adding that some may not realize that “Roe v. Wade is not just about abortion. It’s also about prenatal care, birth control, and [women’s health]. My belief is that everything should be considered, and abortion should be the last thing considered, but it should always be on the table,” she said. “It’s very important that that be available.”

Islander Emily Avakian got emotional when talking about bringing her 1-year-old son, Hugh, to the rally. “It’s hard,” she said through tears, “I can’t believe he’s going to grow up in a world like this,” at a time, she added, “when women’s rights are being taken away.”

Avakian expressed her concerns about Hugh’s future, “especially being a boy,” she said. “I want him to know this is important.” She added there is a profound responsibility of raising a boy in the midst of such societal precariousness, including having “conversations about consent and respecting partners.” 

“We’re really lucky to live in Massachusetts,” said Avakian, “but not everyone is that lucky.”

Dawn McLaughlin was met with endless praise as she held her sign, which read, “I had a legal abortion and thrived to become a great mom, friend, wife, etc.” Met with comments by other demonstrators about how shame plays such a role in abortion discussions, McLaughlin said, “It’s amazing, when you share your story, how many other people will share [theirs].”

Erin Estrella, a clinical social worker, stood with her 2-year-old daughter Vivienne, who held up a small sign saying “Resist.”

Estrella told The Times that although she often brings her 10-year-old son to demonstrations and rallies, this is her first time bringing Vivienne. “It’s time,” she said proudly; ”she has to be out here.”

Carla Cooper of Indivisible Martha’s Vineyard, a grassroots movement with the aim of helping guide political and social progress, took to a megaphone to address the crowd. “I think all of us know someone who, or we ourselves, have an abortion story, maybe even from the ‘before times,’’’ she said, referring to abortion practices prior to the Roe v. Wade decision. On the consequences overturning could have, Cooper said, “a 10-year-old victim of rape would be forced to give birth.” 

“This is America,” Cooper said, reiterating the barbarity of a pre–Roe v. Wade women’s health system. “This is America in 2022.”

Cooper, advocating for putting more pressure on elected officials, said to the crowd, “We elected a Democratic Senate, we elected a Democratic Congress, we elected a Democratic president, but that is not enough.” 

19 COMMENTS

  1. A woman’s right to determine if or when she will bear a child is the cornerstone to all her rights and freedoms. For those opposed to choice make your own choices but don’t try to control choices of others.

    Controlling the choices of others is oppression.

  2. Let’s think about this for a moment….
    The republican national committee officially stated that violently storming the Capitol building on Jan 6 to prevent the certification of a legitimate presidential election was “legitimate political discourse”.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/04/us/politics/republicans-jan-6-cheney-censure.html

    I wonder if they would agree that it was “legitimate political discourse” if a violent mob of abortion rights supporters stormed the Supreme Court and prevented this ruling from being finalized.

    • John– I agree it has a paragraph that reads like an editorial;
      “The draft document, reportedly written by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, and endorsed by four others, is an insight into the extremes of right-leaning ideologies currently circulating at the apex of the country’s justice system.”………
      Bit since it’s true, it is actually news.

      If you want to hear full on biased editorial quotes we need to go no further than lyin’ flyin’ Ted. Who “editorialized” without a shred of information and total disregard for anything that might resemble an inkling of truth, said this;
      “some angry left-wing law clerk who breached the trust to, his or her justice, who breached the trust to the Supreme Court, who breached the trust of the American people and took a first draft of an opinion and decided to leak it to everyone.”

      Now, it may turn out that he is correct– or not.

    • Everything this paper does is an editorial and if you are a lefty you get the most leeway in your comments. Several regular commenters get away with nasty words but the gate keeper is ok with that as long as you come from the left. The people in front of the courthouse do not even know what they are protesting about. There has been no final verdict yet and if it is at all like what was released you will still be able to have your abortion right up to the day before delivery. Yes 6, 7, 8 even after 9 months you can have your abortion.

      • Bob — you seem to be getting infected with “Andy syndrome”.
        It starts with “Liberal derangement syndrome”, mixed with some not so subtle paranoia about the liberal media, and then descends into it’s most obvious and debilitating symptom, which is telling everyone what other people think or know.

          • Albert– Unfortunately, “Andy syndrome” seems to be a progressive affliction where ones’ heels frequently get stuck in the ground.
            It is suspected that this affliction is exacerbated by watching too many Fox “news” broadcasts and listening to right wing talk radio.
            There is no known cure.
            However, there are early clinical trials that indicate that the worst effects may be diminished by watching actual factual news and listening to NPR.

  3. The real question is what are people who oppose this right wing fascist path this country is taking going to do about it? Voting and going to a protest aren’t going to cut it. I don’t know the answer but I do know that what the pro choice side has been doing for 40 years has led us to where we are now.

  4. An unborn baby has no rights and conception is a God given right. Leave it in God’s hands as they are plenty of couples willing to adopt a baby who cannot speak for themselves.

    • Steve– You are correct. There are plenty of couples who are willing to adopt.
      There are also about 122,000 thousand children in the United States who are eligible for adoption right now .
      Many are to young to speak for themselves.
      Fortunately , the LGBTQ community has won their hard fought legal battle to allow them to adopt some of these children, where they can have a loving caring family.

      • Albert– probably about the exact number that you have.
        I think unwanted pregnancies should be aborted as soon as possible.
        Therefore I feel no moral obligation to adopt any unwanted babies.
        People who insist that a woman carry an unwanted fetus to term (especially family members) should be required to adopt them .
        Women who are forced to go through labor should be compensated for pain and suffering.
        Perhaps there could be a whole new legal practice to sue right to lifers for pain and suffering. And who would a family sue if their 12 year old daughter that was raped and required to carry to term died during childbirth ?

        • Aldert– I should have said about the same number as Steve
          Sometimes I miss who is responding to whom.

  5. Really interesting to re-read the tired, obscene explanations by men who think bearing a baby, perhaps conceived by incest or rape, perhaps being carried by a 12-year-old, or perhaps damaged prior to birth, should go on for nine months and then, easy as that, the fetus, now baby, be made available for adoption — perhaps like a kitten, or puppy? (And BTW, yup, “plenty of couples”, Steve. How come, then, so many foster children without homes?) As a woman over 80 I am so outraged by this apparent decision I can barely speak, or write. Also the utter contempt dripping from this draft opinion by an old white male Catholic judge for previous judges, for women in general, and privacy rights for all of us is frightening.

  6. This decision if voted upon would be the most pro-choice decision in 50 years. The decision would finally put the choice in the hands of voters rather than 9 old white men from 50 years ago.

  7. As I read all these comments, I was struck by the fact that they were all made by males who, as near as I can discern, won’t be faced to think that abortion might ever be something they will have to consider.
    Only Sara presented a viewpoint that I share. I’m not male, either.
    Mary-Jean Miner

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