Hundreds rally in Eugene in support of abortion access

Over 600 community members showed up at the Eugene Federal Courthouse on Thursday to rally and march for reproductive justice in light of the leaked Supreme Court draft decision that shows the body intends to overturn Roe v. Wade. The crowd was somber in light of the draft opinion, initially reported on by Politico the night before, but also energized to stand up for reproductive justice among many supporter. For over two and a half hours community members took up space in the streets, marched, and gave speeches in favor of access to abortion.

“Only through empowerment can anything be changed. With the collective rage of thousands, set the world on fire turn men to stone, and dance in the ashes of what remains.” Paris, a student a the University of Oregon, kicked off the speaking part of the rally reading his poem entitled Medusa.

As community members gave speeches on the steps of the courthouse to hundreds, over a hundred were lined up along Coburg Rd, just west of the courthouse, holding signs and making noise. Protestors occupied all four corners of the intersection and the median, gathering support from drivers passing by.

Intersectionality in reproductive health

Several of the speakers brought in intersectional lens to the fight for reproductive. Individuals came various backgrounds and ranged in ages from teens to close to eighty years old.

“We cannot vote away the oppression against women against oppressed peoples and other nations that from the imperialist core of America, we are actively participating in the exploitation of people elsewhere, who are making our products and our food and our goods that then we as workers are exploited to sell to each other and not be able to survive under the eight hour workday anymore,” Said a speaker going by the name of Taylor.

She Continued, “Women’s Issues are a necessary part of the revolutionary struggle and only revolution will change the conditions that we are all operating in and we must organize, organize, organize.”

For many, the simple healthcare procedure of abortion can save their live. Having an abortion can also change ones economic trajectory and allow them to make more choices in their life. Carrying a fetus to term can also carry an emotional weight in addition to a physical weight. The politicians banning abortions know this, and are partaking in a form of class warfare and a war against those that give birth, something several protestors noted.

“Nowadays, I’m a second year law student, I was a high school dropout. Not having a kid allowed me to be here allowed me to get out of poverty allowed me to make my life better, ” Molly Eno shared with the crowd.

Ayah Lebrane and Chrissy Booker of of a new UO based publication Labyrinth Magazine focused the conversation on how the marginalization and exploitation of people of color plays into the issue of reproductive justice. Framing it through the lens of how the city the protest took place in is built on white supremacy.

“Another big part that is not brought up enough in my eyes, is the sexualization of people of color, especially women. We are constantly seen as wounds waiting to be policed, ” Lebrane said.

The issue of access to abortion is not just a cis-women issue, as nonbinary people and trans-men can have uteri too. Protestors noted this through signs and speeches. While not everyone was knowledgeable about the issue’s relationship to gender, most of the crowd appeared to be supportive.

Protestor holds sign that reads “Reproductive justice is also a trans issue”. Katie O’Mara/Solidarity News

Hundreds march through downtown

After about an hour of speeches, most of the crowd of hundreds left to march through downtown. The crowd started going west on 8th street with a bike crew stopping at intersections to protect the marchers on the street.

Tailing the crowd from a distance was several police cars, including their riot truck. Luckily the police did not arrest or use force on any of the protestors. When marchers spotted police a good number of them held ACAB and FTP chants. Some of these chants were met with scorn from some of the older liberals in the crowd, but not enough to deter the mostly younger crowd.

Eugene Police Department riot cops station along 6th Ave. Matthew O-G/Solidarity News

The march took a pause at the Lane County Jail to recognize the incarcerated community members and how the state polices protestors. After a bit more marching the crowd turned down Broadway where they were applauded by people stepping out of restaurants.

When marchers got to Oak St. one of the organizers led the group back up Oak St. to take a stop at the County Courthouse. Taking a short stop at that location before going back to the Federal Courthouse and ending at about 7:45 PM.

A sense that I picked up from protestors and people were talking about on social media before and after the event. That this is start of another summer of protest, with the CLDC putting out a tweet to that effect.

What happens next in the law

What happens next in terms of the legality of abortion is still unclear. There is no set date for when the Supreme Court will release their final decision. The final decision less strong and not go as far as the leaked draft that would overturn Roe and Casey. It could also go farther.

The Oregon Legislature passed and Gov. Brown signed into law a bill in 2017 that sets to protect the right to abortion in the state. However as some political pundits have noted, if the Supreme Court draft decision moves forward as is, there is nothing stopping an anti-abortion federal legislature from passing an outright ban across the US.