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A diverse group of more than 70 people — women,  men, and kids gathered at Alpine Park on Saturday afternoon, Oct 2 in a rally to promote and protect reproductive freedom and highlight minority rights.

Joining thousands of marchers and protesters nationwide, Jody Bol, Shelby Marion and Cindy Bucholz were at the Oct. 2 gathering at Alpine Park to support abortion rights. Tara Flanagan photo.

The emotional rally in Chaffee County was organized by the Chaffee County Democrats and Planned Parenthood but included allies from across the spectrum of human rights and LGBQ rights.

The local rally was one of the hundreds of rallies held across the United States on Saturday in support of women’s rights.

A few of the speakers shared personal ties to incidents of  kitchen table abortions. One shared the story of her mom’s roommate dying from a back alley abortion before Roe v. Wade made safe abortions legal in this country.

The rallies have been organized in the wake of the highly restrictive Texas abortion law which bans abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, before most women even know they are pregnant.

Women gather at Alpine Park in Salida to protest recent restrictions on Texas abortion rights that have effectively replaced Roe vs. Wade in that state. Tara Flanagan photo

The bill contains no exceptions for rape or incest and empowers complete strangers to insert themselves into a woman’s personal medical health decisions by empowering them to report any person who helps a girl or woman to terminate a pregnancy after six weeks.

The law flies in the face of Roe v. Wade, the January 22, 1973,  7–2 U.S. Supreme Court decision in favor of Norma McCorvey (“Jane Roe”) that held that women in the United States have a fundamental right to choose whether or not to have abortions without excessive government restriction, and struck down Texas’s abortion ban as unconstitutional.

The new Texas law is one of the dozens of proposed restrictive laws that have been introduced in recent years attempting to strike down women’s rights to reproductive decisions.

Gina Lee of Buena Vista stands at the Oct. 2 gathering in Salida to support abortion rights. Tara Flanagan photo

Two cases in Missouri are drawing attention. The first, a new  Missouri law banning abortion after eight weeks of pregnancy will be heard before the Missouri Supreme Court this session. It will determine how easy or difficult it is for people to force a statewide vote on future laws they don’t like.

The second is a federal case that will be heard this session before a Missouri federal appeals court, and will involve the same eight-week deadline, but centers on the right to terminate a pregnancy if it is discovered the fetus has genetic abnormalities such as Downs Syndrome.

The larger case representing more of a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court this session. This Mississippi law is asking to be allowed to enforce an abortion ban after 15 weeks of pregnancy It is not asking the court to overrule the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision confirming a woman’s right to an abortion, or the decision 19 years later that reaffirmed it, but if the Supreme Court votes to allow it to be enforced, it will chip away at the landmark human rights legislation.

Given the six-three make-up of the Supreme Court due to former president Trump’s three appointments, it could be said that at no time since 1973 has women’s reproductive rights been in such jeopardy.