Locals and tourists rally in Lake Placid for abortion rights | News, Sports, Jobs


A group of people gathered outside North Elba City Hall on Tuesday night in support of abortion rights following the release of a draft Supreme Court opinion that details the intention of the court to strike down Roe v. Wade. (Business Photo – Lauren Yates)

LAKE PLACID – Anger. That’s what many women protesting outside North Elba City Hall said Tuesday after learning that Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that federally protects a woman’s right to an abortion, could be overturned.

At least 15 people carried protest signs and waved to honking cars during the protest on Main Street on Tuesday night. North Elba resident Gwyn Bissonette waved a coat hanger as a reminder of the sometimes deadly abortion methods some pregnant women used before Roe v. Wade.

“Women’s health is in danger” she says.

Lake Placid resident Parmalee Tolkan organized the protest on a whim on Tuesday, less than 24 hours after news outlet Politico published a leaked draft Supreme Court opinion that details the court’s intention to set aside Roe v. Wade, almost 50 years old. The opinion also referred to Planned Parenthood vs. Casey, which strengthened Roe in 1992. Tolkan saw an email in his inbox that morning from the Women’s March – an organization that coordinates protests and events for women’s rights – encouraging people across the country to come together outside of the federal government. or municipal buildings on Tuesday evening in favor of the right to abortion.

“I said, ‘Even if I go alone and do this, I want to be counted'” said Tolkan.

Tolkan emailed a few local women about the protest, cleared the protest with city workers, and watched his whim blossom into a full-fledged protest that brought locals and tourists together. Aggie Medige of Lower Hudson Valley said she was in Lake Placid on vacation Tuesday when she received an alert about the protest from MoveOn, a progressive public policy advocacy group. Medige attended the protest as “proud survivor of two abortions.”

The SCOTUS draft advisory proposes that abortion protections be dissolved at the federal level, allowing state governments to decide individually whether to allow abortions. The Senate is now expected to vote on a bill that would codify abortion rights into federal law, though Senate Majority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY — with a narrow 50-vote majority of Democrats in the Senate – have enough votes to pass the bill, as a supermajority of 60 out of 100 votes would be needed to pass it.

New York State codified a woman’s right to an abortion into state law under former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s administration in 2019 with the Reproductive Health Act, which which means abortion would still be legal statewide if federal abortion rights were revoked. But that’s not the case for many other states — about half of U.S. states would have to ban abortions if Roe is disbanded, according to the Associated Press.

“I haven’t looked back”

Lake Placid resident Martha Pritchard Spear held a sign that read “Abortion is health” Tuesday in front of the town hall of North Elba. She was a student in 1986 when she got pregnant. She wanted to pursue her college career, so she decided to have an abortion.

“I had an abortion and I haven’t looked back” she says, “but I never forgot that I had an abortion.”

Money was Pritchard Spear’s only barrier to accessing an abortion in Massachusetts at that time. She said she found the money, and the experience is gone “zero lasting scars”. But she knows that for other women seeking an abortion, the process isn’t always easy, and she fights for reproductive rights globally.

Pritchard Spear said she wasn’t sure what could be done to save Roe from being overthrown in the United States, but she felt called to act.

“It angers me in a slow simmering way,” she says. “Not explosive anger, but just, ‘Oh my God, I can’t believe this is happening before our eyes – let’s do something!'”

Pritchard Spear wanted to protest the court’s draft notice and share his abortion story in hopes it could have a positive impact on young people watching.

“I had an abortion and I’m a school board member, I’m a Rotarian – it’s okay,” she says.

Pritchard Spear thinks it’s important to be visible in the fight for abortion rights. Last winter, she said she was speaking with a friend from Maryland whose daughter was considering an abortion. The mother was historically an anti-abortion activist, Pritchard Spear said, and she struggled to come to terms with the idea that her daughter might have an abortion. Pritchard Spear texted the mother for several weeks on the subject, and mother and daughter eventually decided an abortion was the best decision. Pritchard Spear thought speaking about his own experiences helped inform the decision.

“If she hadn’t known I had an abortion because I mentioned it, she wouldn’t have known to call me,” she says.

Pritchard Spear said she was ready to have a “respectful” conversation with people about his story.

Concern about other rights

Tolkan said she felt Tuesday night’s protest was important because it was a fight for more than abortion rights — it was a fight for rights in general. She was concerned that the language used by Judge Samuel Alito in the court’s draft opinion could be used to nullify marriage and gay rights in the future. Alito wrote that “Roe and Casey need to be cancelled”, reasoning that abortion is not mentioned in the constitution. Neither does gay marriage.

“It’s the tip of the iceberg” Tolkan said of the court’s draft opinion.

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