Over the past few weeks, news has been circulating like wildfire around the country and world regarding the eight states that recently banned or heavily restricted abortion. These states include Utah, Arkansas, Kentucky, Alabama, Georgia, Ohio, Missouri, and Mississippi. To many, the most surprising ban, which also ignited the most intense waves of opposition, was Alabama’s bill: a near-full ban on the procedure and the harshest anti-abortion measure in the country.
Many Americans were in an uproar when they learned that doctors who perform abortions in that state can serve up to 99 years in prison, and that Alabama women will be unable to get an abortion even in cases of rape or incest.
A 2019 Perry Undem research document concludes that “voters’ support for abortion rights is as high as we have seen in years: 73% of voters do not want Roe v. Wade overturned and 67% say abortion should be legal in ‘all’ or ‘most’ cases.” Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Women’s March, NARAL Pro-Choice America and other similar groups collaborated to organize a nationwide protest and demonstration exactly one week after Alabama’s law was passed.
On May 21, over 400 separate marches were organized across the country to peacefully and publicly object to the rise of abortion bans. Thousands expressed their views on reproductive rights by taking to the streets to directly address state legislatures that voted for these bills.
Due to the unruly May weather, Truckee had its own demonstration two days later on May 23 in downtown Truckee on the corner of Donner Pass Road and Spring Street.
How have the recently passed laws in other states impacted our small, mountain town — and what are people doing about it?
Truckee’s local Indivisible group, which is led by Silke Pflueger, Anne-Flore Perroud, and Lauren Lake, organized the demonstration in order to bring solidarity and action to the matter. Perroud herself had life-threatening complications during the birth of her second daughter, and said she doesn’t believe that someone else’s beliefs or religion should force women to comply with a black and white set of rules when it comes to these kinds of hard decisions.
“If people really want to help reduce the quantity of abortions that are occurring,” said Perroud, “we should be focusing on the reasons why they are occurring and helping people in those difficult situations. Some of the reasons that could be pushing people to having abortions is lack of health care, lack of maternity leave, lack of financial assistance, lack of emotional or mental health support, and lack of proper education.”
A band of about 50 people came together on the streets in Truckee chanting “Not the church, not the state, women must decide their fate!” and “What do we want? Choice! When do we want it? Always!”
Pflueger, Perroud, and Janet Atkinson all shared thoughtful words of encouragement to the women, children, and men gathered around with signs. Countless cars honked in solidarity as they read the words, “Keep abortion legal,” “Don’t tread on me,” “My body, my choice,” and “like I don’t have enough to do,” written on signs beside proud, smiling faces.
Heidi Arjes, a member of We Do Not Agree with the Trump Administration (WeDNA) sold “pussy” hats, knitted uterus keychains, and bracelets, in which all of the proceeds will go to organizations fighting against the bans, like Planned Parenthood, ACLU, and NRDC. She also had postcards on hand for people to write notes to Chief Justice John Roberts, urging him to keep Roe v. Wade intact.
“The protest is about bringing people together, organizing for more action afterwards, and making sure people understand how important it is for women to have the rights to protect their body and make decisions for themselves,” said Pflueger, who has run for Senate for District 4.
“If it were about life, they would be protesting the death penalty and children dying in cages on the border, and they would fight for everyone’s access to health care. It’s not about life, it’s about attacking our rights to our body. It’s not about life,” she said.
One of the largest reasons for the recent nationwide protests is the haunting potential of the overturn of Roe v. Wade (1973). Women’s rights, which include legal access to abortion, are under threat today more than at any other time in the last 46 years due in large part to the recent appointing of two conservative pro-ban Supreme Court judges, Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch.
“These state laws are being written to make it happen for Roe to overturn,” said Pflueger. “We don’t want to go back to coat hangers and women dying; [abortions will] happen whether or not it’s legal, and so many more women will die if it becomes illegal.”
Indivisible is a national organization that resists the Trump administration through practical, iterative, and actionable movements and tasks. There are thousands of group leaders and more than 1 million members in countless cities across the country. Truckee’s Indivisible group regularly calls representatives to make sure the American people are being accurately represented.
“Indivisible is a nonpartisan group, so anybody’s welcome to join,” said Perroud. “We’re basically fighting Trump’s agenda; it’s the main goal of the group, whether you’re a Democrat, Republican, Independent, or whatever group you associate with, you are more than welcome to join.”
Pflueger noted that Truckee has had an incredible turnout rate for the amount of people living in the area. “People show up. We had two to three hundred people at the Families Belong Together rally. What we are going to be pushing this time is writing letters and cards to the supreme courts; we’re trying to make our voice heard as best as possible. We cannot let this happen: It’s against women of color, it’s against poor people, and we need to stand up in solidarity.”
Perroud agrees that time is ripe for action. “These are crazy times and it’s the time to speak up and stand up and make your voice heard, because otherwise it might be too late and we’ll be heading too far down the wrong road to make an impact,” she said.