Reproductive rights supporters, from left, Tawny Bagby, Jill Coughenour and Janet Ferris, all of Port Angeles, hold signs protesting the possible overturning of the Roe v. Wade by the U.S. Supreme Court during a gathering on Tuesday in front of the Clallam County Courthouse. About 60 people took part in the event. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Reproductive rights supporters, from left, Tawny Bagby, Jill Coughenour and Janet Ferris, all of Port Angeles, hold signs protesting the possible overturning of the Roe v. Wade by the U.S. Supreme Court during a gathering on Tuesday in front of the Clallam County Courthouse. About 60 people took part in the event. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Peninsula residents protest possibility of losing abortion rights

Sen. Patty Murray: It’s a ‘Five-alarm fire’

About 100 people protested the possibility of losing access to legal abortions on the North Olympic Peninsula during MoveOn.org-organized events.

Protesters gathered at county courthouses in Clallam and Jefferson counties at 5 p.m. Tuesday after a draft majority U.S. Supreme Court opinion authored by Justice Samuel Alito was leaked to the press.

At the Clallam County Courthouse in Port Angeles, some 60 people lined up along South Lincoln Street. Many waved signs while some passing motorists honked their horns in support.

Florence Bucierka of Sequim, who was manager of the Rockville, Md., Planned Parenthood family planning center when it was bombed in 1984, said the possibility of taking away reproductive rights is appalling.

“I believe in women’s reproductive health and the freedom for families to make their own private decisions,” she said. “I think it’s taking away a right for women that’s existed for 50 years.

“The court is making a decision on a very private part of a woman’s life. I feel like they don’t have a right to do that.”

About 40 women and men waved signs and chanted “My body, my choice!” outside the Jefferson County Courthouse in Port Townsend on Tuesday evening. (Diane Urbani de la Paz/Peninsula Daily News)

About 40 women and men waved signs and chanted “My body, my choice!” outside the Jefferson County Courthouse in Port Townsend on Tuesday evening. (Diane Urbani de la Paz/Peninsula Daily News)

In Port Townsend, several dozen women and men brought signs of various sizes and colors to the Jefferson County Courthouse.

“Supreme Court Injustices!! Leave women’s rights alone!!” read one.

“Proud father supporting choice” read another.

A woman’s bright yellow sign said, “My body, my choice,” with the message below that “This is the same sign conservatives waved at anti-vaccine rallies.”

Leah Marsh of New York City was visiting relatives in Port Angeles when she heard of the rally at the courthouse. She said she is in favor of keeping Roe vs. Wade in place.

“I was pretty disappointed to see Justice Alito’s strongly worded suggested opinion of overturning Roe v. Wade,” she said. “I support a woman’s right to choose, and I want to support (women).”

Betsy Robins of Port Angeles said she was compelled to add her voice to the chorus of those protesting the possibility of losing the right to an abortion.

“I think it was important to have an immediate response to this horrible, horrible rumor that going around that the court has already made this decision,” she said.

“Thankfully these people turned up today, and hopefully other groups will be doing more of the same as the days go on. I’m really thankful for all these folks here.”

U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Seattle, the highest-ranking woman member of Congress, described the possibility of the court overturning Roe v. Wade as “a five-alarm fire.”

“In a matter of days or weeks, the horrifying reality is that we could live in a country without Roe,” she said in a statement on the steps of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday morning.

“A country where women are forced to remain pregnant no matter their personal circumstances — and yes, we’re also talking about situations like rape or incest. A country where extreme politicians will control patients’ most private decisions. And let’s be clear — abortion bans won’t actually end abortions, they will just make them unsafe, and they will hurt the women with the least resources and the tightest budgets.”

On social media and in interviews, Murray specifically highlighted the impact the end of Roe v. Wade would have on the next generation of women.

“I am furious at the idea that Republicans are going to take us backward — that will be the first generation of women with fewer rights than their mothers,” Murray said.

Murray recalled life before Roe v. Wade and conversations that she had with women who had no place to go and others who had unsafe procedures that impacted their abilities to have children later in life, among other health complications.

“I remember life before Roe. I knew people who didn’t have somewhere to turn for a safe abortion. Who weren’t wealthy — so even if they could find one, they might not be able to afford it. People who got unsafe procedures that left them at a very young age unable to give birth,” Murray said.

“I know how big of a difference it (Roe v. Wade) has made in the lives of so many women across our country.”

Democrats in the House and Senate are working to get Roe v. Wade and other pro-choice legislation codified before the Supreme Court comes to a decision, according to news reports.

“We need a pro-choice majority in the Senate,” Murray said.

“We need to protect our pro-choice majority in the House,” she added.

“We need to send President Biden a bill that will protect every woman’s right to an abortion — and we are going to keep pushing to make it happen, because women’s rights are at stake, women’s health is at stake, women’s economic security is at stake, women’s lives are at stake.”

Area medical facilities also responded to the news of the document.

“Our commitment to whole-person care includes all sexual and reproductive health. Our medical providers support individuals through every step in their reproductive journey and make available all appropriate care options including birth control, pregnancy testing, abortion, prenatal care and birth,” said Mike Glenn, CEO of Jefferson Healthcare hospital in Port Townsend.

Olympic Medical Center in Port Angeles chose not to release a statement since the law has not been changed.

Peninsula Daily News reached out to Planned Parenthood in Port Angeles but did not receive comment before press time.

________

Reporter Ken Park can be reached at kpark@peninsuladailynews.com.

Jefferson County Senior Reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz and Photojournalist Keith Thorpe contributed to this story.

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