Hundreds gathered in Fort Collins' Old Town Square on Saturday morning to rally around women’s reproductive rights as part of the national “Bans Off Our Bodies” movement.
The rally, hosted by Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains Action Fund, drew a crowd of about 300 people responding to a leaked draft opinion from the Supreme Court indicating it would overturn Roe vs. Wade, which made abortion a constitutional right nearly 50 years ago.
Planned Parenthood had been planning a "day of action" for May 14 featuring marches, rallies and speakers in dozens of cities for two months prior to the decision's leak, according to USA TODAY reporting. In Colorado, rallies were also planned in Colorado Springs and Denver.
This was the second rally in Fort Collins since the decision was leaked; the first was on May 3, the night following the leak of the decision.
Annmarie Izuel Evans, vice president of NoCo National Organization for Women, who helped plan and emceed the event, said it was “horrifying” that demonstrators had to gather today.
“Roe v. Wade was signed into law in (1973),” she told the crowd. “We need to unite, we need to mobilize, we need to act and, I will say this throughout the day, we need to vote.”
Izuel Evans told the Coloradoan she believed it is “absolutely imperative that we act now because 50 years of history is going to be erased.”
“If women do not have the autonomy over their body and are not given equal respect, they're not considered equal in any way,” she said. “Every person that has the ability to become pregnant, to terminate a pregnancy, that has to be their right, plain and simple.”
The rally featured about a dozen speakers, including a labor and delivery nurse who worked in a pre-Roe world; a number of advocates for abortion rights; Democratic state Reps. Cathy Kipp and Andrew Boesenecker; and Democratic County Commissioners John Kefalas and Jody Shadduck-McNally.
Kipp and Boesenecker spoke about their work at the Capitol this legislative season, highlighting that the state passed the Reproductive Health Equity Act, which guarantees people have a right to abortion in the state.
“You know what makes me feel really good about this movement that I’ve seen as reproductive rights have been threatened, especially over the last few months?” Kipp asked. “(It’s that) everybody is showing up. And I'm not just talking about people of childbearing age. I'm talking about everybody showing up in the support of reproductive rights.”
The rally lasted about 90 minutes and there was no apparent opposition to the rally present; the Coloradoan didn’t identify any police presence.
People spanning generations and gender identities came to Old Town to show their support. Planned Parenthood provided shirts, hats and buttons in support of abortion rights, and volunteers helped attendees register to vote.
Dianna French, who attended the rally with her 77-year-old mother, came from Greeley to show support and “to teach younger generations … that we have to stand up for everyone.”
“We have to speak up for our rights,” French said. “We cannot allow the government to insert themselves where they have not been for 50 years … And this is just the beginning, if they get away with this, it'll keep going.”
Briah Freeman attended the rally with her daughter, who is just 3 years old. She said she wants her daughter to have the right to an abortion and to “be an equal” and hopes that bringing her to events like this at a young age helps her “understand her voice can be heard and she has a right to say no.”
Many people brought homemade signs with drawings of hangers saying, “Never again,” or phrases such as: “Shame SCOTUS,” “Accept my existence or expect resistance” and “Women are no one’s property.”
Ingrid Marston and Catie and Holly Duncan, high school students who attended the rally, said they felt empowered to rally to show other women they aren’t alone, and because of the generations before them who fought for similar rights.
“We are the generation that's kind of being affected, and those close to us, so I think we have to use our voices now or it’s going to affect too many people behind us, and even our generation,” Marston said.
Editor's note: A previous version of this story misspelled Rep. Andrew Boesenecker's last name.
Molly Bohannon covers education for the Coloradoan. Follow her on Twitter @molboha or contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Support her work and that of other Coloradoan journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.
This article originally appeared on Fort Collins Coloradoan: Fort Collins abortion rights 'Bans Off Our Bodies' rally draws hundreds