North Quabbin residents continue to advocate for reproductive rights

  • Reproductive rights activists rally at the Uptown Common in Athol Saturday afternoon. For the Athol Daily News/Greg Vine

  • Yariana Rivera and Julia Yelle, both 15, took part in Saturday's reproductive rights rally at the Uptown Common in Athol. For the Athol Daily News/Greg Vine

  • Reproductive rights activists rally at the Uptown Common in Athol Saturday afternoon. For the Athol Daily News/Greg Vine

For the Athol Daily News
Published: 8/15/2022 5:33:49 PM
Modified: 8/15/2022 5:30:21 PM

ATHOL — Just over a month ago, reproductive rights advocates gathered on Athol’s Uptown Common to protest the U.S. Supreme Court’s 6-3 vote overturning the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision affirming a woman’s right to abortion. On Saturday, many of the same activists who participated in the July event returned to the common in an effort to ensure the issue doesn’t fade from the memories of area residents.

Since the court’s decision overturning Roe, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker has signed into law a wide-ranging abortion rights bill protecting the Commonwealth’s health care providers from prosecutions by other states where abortion services are illegal, clarifies the circumstances under which abortions may be performed after 24 weeks, and requires insurers to fully cover abortion-related costs. In addition, on Tuesday, Aug. 2, voters in Kansas overwhelmingly (59 to 41 percent) shot down a proposed amendment to the state constitution which would have eliminated the right to abortion.

Locally

In light of these developments, which local activists see as positives, the Athol Daily News asked organizer Corey Malinoski why demonstrators felt it necessary to bring their message back to the Uptown Common.

“We want to have our voices heard because we’re out here to promote everybody’s rights,” she said. “We want everybody to have the same rights, regardless of what state they live in.”

While the vote in Kansas received a great deal of nationwide — indeed worldwide — attention, Malinoski said, “We still need to educate the masses so that some people aren’t, unfortunately, just looking at us as baby murderers, because we’re really here to support the rights of all of us, not just people in this area.

“We want to get the information out there and keep our cause out there. We don’t want to be forgotten. So, we come here to make our presence known.”

Massachusetts delegation

While Massachusetts’ congressional delegation is 100 percent pro-choice, Malinoski said it’s important that voters don’t take that for granted.

“We like to make sure our voices are actually being heard by our politicians; that this isn’t simply a small part of their own political agendas,” she continued. “They’ve been showing us a lot of support, most definitely, and we’re hoping they continue to push for these rights down in D.C. as well.”

Why they traveled here

Two of the demonstrators who showed up Saturday were 15-year-olds Julia Yelle of Balwinville and Yariana Rivera of Gardner.

Asked what prompted them to give up part of a beautiful Saturday afternoon to demonstrate in support of reproductive rights, Julia said, “There are little girls out there who are getting raped and getting pregnant from it, and in certain states they can’t get abortions now. So, they’re stuck with a situation that they didn’t want.”

Julia pointed to the case of a 10-year-old Ohio girl who was raped and had to travel to Indiana for an abortion. After the girl availed herself of the procedure, lawmakers in Indiana passed legislation imposing a near-total ban on abortion.

“Now rape victims there can be turned away because old men decided they have the right to our reproductive systems.”

“I think every girl should have a choice,” added Yariana. “If they don’t want to have a baby, they shouldn’t be forced to have one.”

Greg Vine can be reached at gvineadn@gmail.com


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