‘Answering a national call to action’

Islanders join a country-wide response to the threat of overturning of Roe v Wade.

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Demonstrators arrived in droves, encompassing all Five Corners in Vineyard Haven on Saturday, to demonstrate solidarity with protesters in a nationwide Bans Off Our Bodies protest. 

Following a leak of a Supreme Court draft document indicating a majority vote in favor of overturning the 1973 decision Roe v. Wade earlier this month, communities across the country organized rallies in efforts to shine the spotlight on what is being called an attack on women’s rights.

The Supreme Court’s 1973 decision was a historic one, promising legal protection to women who choose to terminate unwanted pregnancies. If that decision were to be overturned, women would be forced to rely on state regulation for that protection, with the state laws varying widely. 

Following the recent failure of the senate to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act– the democrats’ Hail Mary response to the draft document leak– those in support of a woman’s right to choose banded together, not just as a town, city or state, but as a country; avidly asserting the importance of women’s reproductive rights. 

Saturday’s crowd was organized and strategic; with time for the news of the possible overturning of Roe v Wade to sink in, initial outrage has somewhat shifted to a focus on fortifying the rights women have come to rely on. 

American flags waved alongside various pro-choice signs, a nod to America’s women who reside in the states where abortion will be banned completely in the event Roe v Wade is overturned.

Twisted Sisters’ ‘We’re not gonna take it,’ George Michael’s ‘Freedom,’ and ‘Woman in the White House’ by Sheryl Crow played on speakers. Passing motorists honked their car horns, which was met with passionate cheers. 

Craig Norberg-Bohm, a visitor to the Island, attended the rally in support of his Vineyard friends. “I have a lot of women in my life who have had to think about [abortion] and it would be tragic if they couldn’t have that choice. That means a lot to me,” he said. Norberg-Bohm has worked extensively with men who have a history of violence toward women as a professional counselor and public educator. He said he came to the rally in support of women, and partly to set an example for other men. Supporting a woman’s right to decide what’s best for them highlights “what it is to be a man,” he said, acknowledging how far too often the perceived notion of “manliness is part of the problem.”

Oak Bluffs planning board member Ewell Hopkins said what brought him out to the rally is not just “the fact that the government [is] deciding what a woman can do with their body” but how the Supreme Court’s majority vote could set a dangerous precedent, revolking other human rights across the country. 

“I think the thing that scares me the most,” said Hopkins, “is that people aren’t in general, looking at the logic behind the Supreme Court action, and how it can be applied to so many other rights that we’re assuming are given … we have to have some consistency across the states in terms of the reality of what are our values and what we respect. That’s what scares me the most, in terms of same sex marriage, in terms of contraception, this logic can be carried through so many situations where we think is settled law.”

Longtime friends Linda Moffat and Beverley Woods stood side by side, Moffat holding a sign that read “Keep your rosaries off my ovaries.” The two women, close enough to finish each other’s sentences, explained that they have been fighting for women’s access to adequate health care for quite some time. “We thought we were done,” they said almost simultaneously. Woods added, “We thought we did a good job,” to which Moffat continued, “It’s unbelievable, It’s just crazy that we have to do this again.”

“[Government is] trying to steal our rights again,” said Woods, “they’ve been our rights for 50 years and I feel like we’re just at war for the last few years, like it never ends.”  Moffat pointed out her biggest concern: “I’m particularly upset because it affects people of color, I think more, that these rights are being taken away.” 

Kathy Laskowki of Oak Bluffs, a co-planner of the event, echoed that sentiment. “The loss of safe and legal abortions will be felt disproportionately by poor women and women of color,” she said. 

Laskowski, who wore a shirt to the demonstration that read: “not fragile like a flower, fragile like a bomb,” and in solemn acknowldgement of the consequences of an overturning, continued: “Many before us fought long and hard for women’s right to vote, to have equal rights in our society and to have a right to a safe and legal abortion … We are determined to persist and fight for a federal law to protect abortion rights.”

In a message to The Times, Laskowski said, “We are answering a national call to action. Even our small community needs to stand up for women’s rights.” Abolishing Roe v Wade, she said, is “not about being pro-life. Pro-life supporters would be just as interested, or even more, in supporting babies and moms after birth as protecting a fetus in the womb. This is about control over women and does not consider the health of women … We must stay vigilant and protect women’s rights. 

Carla Cooper, of Indivisible Martha’s Vineyard, addressed the crowd standing on a fold up chair and sporting a shirt that read: “Vote. It matters.”

“We’re not going to ever give up on rights. The remedy for what is going on right now — the only remedy we have is elections. We have to vote. Not just here, we have to help our brothers and sisters in other states get their vote out in states where there are senate races right now being undertaken,” she said.
“[We’re in] a state where abortion is accesible,” Cooper said. The impact of the overturning of Roe v Wade may not be as grave for those on Martha’s Vineyard but would not bode well for those in states who already have in place legislation that would deny abortion rights in their entirety. This will have devastating effects on lower-income communities, she said. “It affects people of color, it affects indigenous people, it affects disabled people. And we are not free until they are all free. So we can’t just rest on our Massachusetts morals.” 

In reference to the November Senate elections in states that would experience a sweeping abortion ban, Cooper said, “We have to step up and we have to help people in those states flip those Senate seats.”

“We need everybody in this fight,” Cooper continued, as dozens in the crowd nodded their heads in agreement. “We can’t just go home and pretend that just standing on the street corner is enough. Because it is not.”

40 COMMENTS

  1. Where were these folks when companies were firing folks for not getting the vaccine? The ” If it’s not your body it’s not your decision” sentiment would have certainly applied.

    • Sorry, John Axel, I’m not getting the comparison. Unvaccinated people are far more likely to contract and spread COVID-19, and putting even vaccinated people — especially those in various high-risk categories — at risk of getting seriously sick. Abortion, on the other hand, is not contagious. Would you mind explaining why you think they’re comparable?

    • John-I am sure Andy will criticize you for such a ridiculous illogical juxtaposition.
      But I will give you something to think about here; Pregnancy is not a contagious lethal disease.

  2. What Ewell Hopkins said is very, very important. The draft decision takes aim at the 14th Amendment’s provision that “no State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” This underpins not only the right to same-sex marriage and access to contraception but also the right to interracial marriage and access to equal education.

    Some commentators have also pointed to the 9th Amendment: “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” In his draft opinion Justice Alito noted that abortion isn’t mentioned in the Constitution. Big deal! *Women* aren’t mentioned in the Constitution either, but we are most definitely here, and we most definitely have rights.

  3. I’m pro-choice, but these signs are comical. Especially the one which says, “abortion saves lives.” Every abortion literally kills a human being. I wonder if the lady holding the “my body my choice” sign believes the same about vaccines!?

    • You begin by saying you are pro choice, then basically claim that an abortion is murder. Seems a bit contradictory? The fact is that abortions do save lives. There are cases where continuation of a pregnancy is life threatening for the woman. Terminating the pregnancy can and will save her life.

      • ok Jim we will agree to a few of those. Will you agree that the rest of them should be saved?. Arguing for the rare exception is disingenuous.

        • I doubt that abortions performed to save the life of a woman are a “rare exception”. Who are you to dictate what a woman can and cannot do when it comes to her own body?
          Don’t like abortions? Don’t have one. Don’t have XX chromosomes? None of your business.

          • Don’t like vaccines? Don’t get one. Who are you, or anyone else, to dictate what other people do with their bodies? What if the father wants to be a father? Does he have any rights to the baby?

        • Andy– you frequently rant about “partial birth abortions” although they are vanishingly rare and done only in extreme situations.
          Sounds disingenuous to me.

    • The notion that a fetus is a “human being” when it is incapable of surviving outside the womb is relatively recent and nowhere close to universal. A fetus may or may not develop into a human being; miscarriages are not uncommon. And, as noted above and below, comparing vaccination to abortion is a flawed analogy because abortion isn’t contagious.

  4. At the risk of stating the obvious, when you work with the public, and you have not been vaccinated, you run a greater risk of not only getting sick yourself, but passing the virus onto countless others. A responsible employer would feel that is not a risk worth taking.
    Your comparison to a woman’s right to choose whether or not to give birth, is, well, think about it…..really just stop and think….

    • So in the case of vaccines there is a remote possibility that an unvaccinated person could cause the death of another yet in the case of abortion there is no doubt you will kill another.

      • John Axel, let’s apply your logic to traffic laws. If you run a red light or a stop sign, there’s only a remote possibility that you might cause death or injury to another person (or yourself), so maybe we should do away with the law against running red lights and stop signs?

        Your logic is all me-me-me. It ignores the public good — the good of *us*. The roads are safer for all of us if drivers don’t run red lights and stop signs. The same goes for vaccination: if all people who can get vaccinated do get vaccinated, we’re all safer, including the people who for medical or other reasons can’t get vaccinated. This is how we did away with polio and smallpox, among other previously common diseases, and how we *almost* did away with measles, which thanks to the me-me-me attitude has been staging a comeback.

        • If we follow your logic Ms. Sturgis, we accept that all 1 million who died were because some people were not vaccinated and contaminated them. People died due to a virus and they might have been in a weakened state. Others died even when vaccinated. There is a vaccination for pregnancy. Is called birth control or abstinence or prophylactics.

          • Andy– if we follow Ms. Sturgis’s logic, we can without a doubt say that at least 1,000 people were contaminated by unvaccinated selfish fools.
            I would think that a thousand unnecessary deaths would be of some concern to you, given your righteous posturing about the “sanctity of life”.
            After all, in March of 2020,the idea that this “little flu” would kill a thousand Americans was so preposterous that you ——hmmmm—well, you know, I know,– we all know– I just can’t say it..

          • How many dollars have you contributed to provide healthcare for unwanted pregnancies?
            How many unwanted babies have you adopted?
            Now pony up what you talk up.

      • John- Let’s say you buy a package of apple seeds at the local garden center, and place the package on an outside table. It rains, and the seeds start to sprout. Then the sun come out and dries them out.
        Could one say that you have destroyed an entire orchard?

  5. A society that chooses death for unborn babies places no value on human life. This is why such tragedies as mass shootings, gun violence, road rage, human trafficking and child abuse have become common in America. These travesties are defining characteristics of a Godless culture. This is disregard for the sanctity of human life.

    • Mr. Engleman, you can do better than that. In plenty of western countries, abortion is more readily available than in the U.S. and their rate of mass shootings and gun violence is infinitesimal compared to that of the U.S. I don’t know how much road rage, human trafficking, and/or child abuse they’re dealing with, so I can’t speak to that, but your attempt to connect access to abortion to incidence of gun violence is horsepucky.

    • Since we have a “godless” culture, which part of the “godfull” culture do you pine for? The one where blacks were enslaved, murdered and not treated as human beings? The one where women were not allowed to vote? The one where LGBTQ were prosecuted for being, well, LGBTQ?

      • Mr Chatinover, Man is by nature sinful and depraved. History is full of man acting out his depraved nature. All of those things you list were Godless. When God is dead everything is permissible. I am not pining for anything, just making commentary as you are.

    • Mr Engelman, would you like to live in a theocracy? Separation of church and state. Individual liberty. Aren’t those core American values? Your religion may hold that life begins at conception. Most do not assert that. You have no right to impose your religion on me, nor I on you. But Ayatollah Alito thinks differently and in his draft he quotes a judge who didn’t believe in such a thing as marital rape, or that women were credible witnesses.

      • Ms. Brooks—-The Supreme Court, the Judicial arm of the government, acts as an interpreter and arbitrator of the Constitution of the United States. In essence, it rules, or adjudicates, on previous rulings which have been challenged for their constitutionality. Thus, the Supreme Court is the final court of appeal from inferior historical rulings and yes the Supreme court often over rules precedent. It has nothing to do with religion.

    • You have no right to impose your religious beliefs on others. It is right there in the Constitution. “Congress shall make no law…etc”.
      The problem today is that the SCOTUS is heavily weighted with people who would impose their backward thinking on the rest of us.
      Our country is based on the idea that anyone is free to worship any imaginary deity a person chooses. It also holds true that you cannot force your primitive ideas on others.

      • Like shutting down certain churches but allowing protests/riots from one side during Covid?

  6. Ms Sturgis, abortion so far is readily available at all stages in the US so I dont know which countries have it MORE readily available as you say. Canada has no restrictions but most countries have some restrictions and we in the US have unfettered abortion up to the moment of birth. Godlessness exists all over the world hence abortions and violence and war. The heart is deceitful and desperately wicked. We didnt have all the technology in 1973 that we do now hence abortion is in decline and indeed peaked in 1981. People are increasingly aware that something lives in there.

    • My word. andrew engelman quotes a million deaths from covid to prop up a weak argument, when he hasn’t paid off his lost bet on his own prediction of just a few. Then he goes on to say that the U.S. has unfettered abortion up to the moment of birth, a patent lie.
      Then more pablum about something lives in there. Yes, Andy, cells. Like the cells that you destroy every day. The point of viability has not changed.
      But, of course, your entire drive is to provide cheap theater, not to discuss honestly.

      • Mr Graves. 7 States have no time limit on abortion. Other states have time limits in varying degrees and all have exceptions based on “”health of the mother”” without clear definition..You know nothing about my so called bet.

        • We all know about your bet, Andy. You claimed there would be less than 1000 covid deaths, then when it became apparent you were going to lose, you came up with all sorts of excuses not to pay. What else do we need to know? Other then you don’t pay debts.

          • Mr Donavan. I was wrong on Covid and have admitted. You know nothing about the terms and conditions of my bet with Keller. You want to believe him because you are allied with him philosophically. Keller went to the Caribbean and didn’t take my bet. Believe whatever you want. I did make a 1000 dollar contribution but not likely one you would support. CareNet.

      • Mr Graves, ”cheap theatre” would be akin to frivolous law suites and my comment about availability of abortions in the US is not a lie. The baby is merely ”cells” and is never viable outside the womb? Conventional wisdom says 24 weeks. Surely you jest.

        • Oh Andy, still can’t face the truth. Here’s two truths for you. 1) you made the bet, he accepted. When it became apparent you were going to lose, you decided he went to the Caribbean and therefore never accepted your bet. That’s a lie and you knew it.
          2) While I tend to agree with Don more then you, I am for from “allied with him philosophically” You want me to be allied with him because you knew your lying and you can accuse us if piling on.
          Don has posted the original article, including the comments. How about your point out to us where he didn’t accept your bet.

      • William– or Jim, or anyone else who values the truth and does not constantly try to rewrite history to fit their narrative, I will once again address the “issue” of the “dollars for death bet”.
        And to andy—since you used the term “so called bet” let me put up your exact wording ;
        “Dondondon. You are always asking me to wager on things. You who politicize the virus and blame it on Trump and exaggerate it beyond proportion, I will now ask you to make a bet with me for one thousand dollars. How about 1000 people in the US die from Coronavirus, Small number since this is a pandemic. If we dont reach that threshold you pay me.” — Andrew, March 8 2020
        Now of course, we were anonymous at the time and perhaps this wasn’t really Andrew Engelman.
        Care to take that route andy ?
        But judging from the way that person phrased it, it does not seem like a “so called bet”– it’s pretty clear.. It’s a bet.

        Then you tell Mr. Donavan “Keller went to the Caribbean and didn’t take my bet.”
        That is a lie.
        I was already in the Caribbean when you posted the bet.
        I was returning on March 10 and 11
        I returned to the island on March 11, saw your post and immediately replied;
        ” Andrew, I will take you up on your wager .
        Not because I want anyone to die, nor will I “hope” that number is reached.The course of this pandemic is entirely out of my control. I will take the risk to prove a point. As unfortunate as it is,my opinion is that 1,000 deaths in the U.S is a statistical certainty”— Dondondon12 March 11 2020 —
        That was me— I wonder how anyone can read the first line of my reply and think I didn’t accept the bet ?
        And just in case anyone here thinks I am making any of this up,
        Here is the article , complete with the comments, that inspired andrew to make a reckless wager, and to this day lies about it and refuses to pay.
        https://www.mvtimes.com/2020/03/04/coronavirus-concerns-cause-cancellations/
        And just for the record, I originally stated I would give my winnings to planned parenthood. I softened that one and later stated I would give it to the hospital, out of respect for “andrew’s” beliefs about abortion .

  7. Andrew– thanks for raising the issue of human trafficking and child abuse. You know how to limit those things? Allow women to end an unwanted pregnancy rather than force an innocent baby onto this desperately wicked godless earth.

  8. It’s neither my business nor yours what a woman does with her own body. That was the argument SCOTUS agreed with when Roe vs Wade was decided. And remember, a fertilized egg ATTACHES itself to the wall of a woman’s uterus. Those eggs ARE a part of her body, fertilized or not. They can be removed if she so chooses. Religion has no place in that decision.

  9. Abortion only saves lives of woman attempting to prevent the developing baby in their womb from having a life so they can enjoy their life from the inconvenience of pregnancy which also deprived couples from adopting a child this mother doesn’t want. The epitome of selfishness. Shame on them. They don’t realize the sanctity of life from conception to natural death. God help them and save their unborn children. I pray for mothers contemplating this decision and hope they will take advantage of the many resources available to help through the pregnancy. There is a tremors amount of support available, so many anxious to help. Give yourself and your baby a chance 🙏🙏

    • This comment is confusing. If a woman is trying to save her own life, that’s not a selfish reason to get an abortion. Anyone using abortion solely to try to prevent a developing fetus/embryo/what-have-you from having a life would likely be clinically insane. That’s not normal behavior, and even if such a thing did occur, it is the exception, not the rule. Consider the possibility that you are being manipulated by religious propaganda and agendas. Question what you are being told. No one -wants- an abortion, it is not an enjoyable thing. Second, there are already so many children waiting to be adopted that most of them will age out before they are. No one- literally, no one- who wants to adopt a child is being deprived of doing so because of abortions occurring. Third, it’s literally impossible to know another person’s inner state. In regards to spirituality, what a person may realize or not is always a mystery to everyone else. Esoteric and spiritual matters are deeply personal, and this is precisely why religion has no place in the argument of abortion in the context of setting policies for the nation. Fourth, the resources you speak of just aren’t nearly enough. They may be enough in some parts of the country, but that’s not universally true. This is what you should be mad about. It’s part of the reason why many women consider getting an abortion in the first place. There’s also the issue of what to do with the men who impregnate the women who seek abortions. It takes two to tango, so let’s talk about that. Ultimately, it is the woman’s decision whether to get an abortion or not. The man has no say in that. But he does have a say in where he puts himself beforehand. For what it’s worth, I believe calling someone selfish for seeking an abortion because they were raped is born out of a warped view of morality- more especially if that someone is a child. The point is, there are valid reasons why a woman should consider getting an abortion, and none of those reasons are selfish.

  10. This has never been about babies. It’s about controlling women and keeping a largely misinformed base intact for conservatives come election time. It’s one of two “go to” issues that comes up when the right needs to stir the pot of their supporters. No one can win the abortion debate question of when does life begin but we won the right to individually choose our own answer in 1973, 49+ years ago. I find it beyond ironic that there is a nation-wide baby formula crisis but the pro life contingent is nowhere to be found. Aren’t live babies in danger of starving to death, pro lifers? Where’s the outrage? It’s not about babies. Never was.

    • Why is your outrage at pro-lifers regarding shortage of baby formula? Your anger seems misguided. Their position has nothing to do with the shortage of formula. Maybe you should be upset with this current Administration.

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