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At Norwalk rally, supporters of abortion rights commit to action following overturn of Roe v. Wade

Norwalk Rally re Roe v. Wade Decision
Tyler Russell
Connecticut Public
Katy Sullivan (center) brought a sign that read, "We told you in 2016 that this would happen." The sentiment was echoed across many speakers who emphasized the importance of keeping this issue in mind at the ballot box every November.

More than 100 people gathered in Norwalk Saturday morning to stand in solidarity with the countless Americans who risk losing the right to abortion in other states. The demonstration came a little over 24 hours after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to overturn Roe v. Wade – the federal protection for abortion that was in place for almost 50 years.

While abortion care will remain available in Connecticut under state law, officials vocalized their concern for the future if a Republican-controlled Congress were to pass a national ban on abortion. And they reminded the public of the power in voting.

“When I heard this decision yesterday, I was angry,” said U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat. “They put in jeopardy interracial marriage, marriage equity, access to contraception. There is nothing to stop them if you follow their reasoning and we are not going to stand for it. If they are going to play politics with the Supreme Court, we need to show them at the ballot box. They can’t do it.”

Blumenthal called the Supreme Court opinion that dropped Friday morning a “political decision." While he was angry, he said it wasn’t a surprise from the right-leaning court. He said it was, in part, a product of recent elections. Three of the six Supreme Court justices that voted to overturn Roe v. Wade were appointed by former President Donald Trump.

“The ballot box has to be the place where we protect America from the Supreme Court,” Blumenthal said.

Despite the news, he commended where Connecticut stands today.

After Roe v. Wade is overturned, Connecticut residents gather at rallies to protest

In Connecticut, the right to abortion has been codified into state law since 1990. And this last legislative session, the general assembly pushed to strengthen reproductive rights.

On July 1, the Reproductive Freedom Defense Act takes effect to expand who can perform surgical abortions. As a first in the nation measure, it would also provide legal protections for providers and patients seeking abortion – including out-of-state residents traveling to Connecticut for care.

“Connecticut residents should feel good about the fact that they have elected pro choice individuals to the state legislature, but we need to keep that up. Because as we just saw, this right isn't guaranteed. So we need to keep fighting for the right to access abortion,” said Democratic Connecticut state Rep. Jillian Gilchrest, one of the authors of the Reproductive Freedom Defense Act.

As supporters of abortion rights gathered on the Norwalk Green to hear officials speak, many held signs supporting abortion access and committing to fighting back.

Samantha Przybylski agreed it’s no longer time to sit on the sidelines. At 17, she can’t vote yet, but knows her voice has power, she said.

Norwalk Rally re Roe v. Wade Decision
Tyler Russell
Connecticut Public
Samantha Przybisiki, holding a sign that read "They Won't Stop at Roe" talked about the importance of organizing kids her own age. "Know that your voice does matter even if you can't use it yet in an election."

“These laws and these awful things that are happening affect me too. And this is my way of speaking out and being here and standing together with everybody in solidarity for all of the other states that don't have the protection that Connecticut thankfully has,” Przybylski said.

While she knows she’s safe in Connecticut, she said she fears the decision will make many people think twice about moving for college, job opportunities and more – including her.

“I feel like people are going to have trouble leaving the places where they feel safe. My education should come first and the job opportunities I want should come first not ‘does this place, grant me the right for abortion and reproductive rights?’,” Przybylski said.

While the demonstration was a space to collectively process the news, it was also aimed at creating action, organizers said. Supplies were available for supporters to make signs and “make a commitment." Organizers asked supporters to write one thing they’ll do after the rally on ‘green flags’. The color green became a symbol of resistance to anti-abortion laws in Latin American countries since 2015 and has been adopted by other organizers across the world.

“Stay Angry”, “Raise Money for Abortion Funds” and “Fight Back,” read some of the flags.

“I’m incredibly motivated and hopeful. ” said Nora Niedzielski-Eichner a co-organizer and a Norwalk Common Council member. “People are here to rise up.”

And she said that’s the key, as the future is unknown.

“Right now in Connecticut, you can get an abortion. But it’s very important to understand what a fragile thread that is,” she said, “If we have a change in power, you could no longer have that right.”

Camila Vallejo is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms. She is a bilingual reporter based out of Fairfield County and welcomes all story ideas at cvallejo@ctpublic.org.