On Saturday, April 28, active members and volunteers of the Unite Against the War on Women group gathered outside of Thompson Hall to participate in a national rally for women’s reproductive rights in support of access to birth control, Plan B One-Step, Planned Parenthood, and abortions.
With the upcoming election, the recent discussion of laws limiting women’s rights, and an increase in states’ restrictions on abortion, these issues have become heated.
Ryan Greenwood, a member of Unite Against the War on Women, was in charge of the event.
“We all feel personally affected with what is going on right now. I think the most important thing to know is that it is not a liberal backlash. It is about human rights,” Greenwood said. “At the end of the day, it is up to every woman to decide what is right for her.”
The rally included about 30 people, with only four men present. Due to recent coverage in the news of related topics, the group expected a higher turnout. The participants stood on the wall in front of Thompson Hall holding their colorful signs that read, “This slut votes,” “Don’t tread on my uterus,” and “There’s no place in my vagina for your laws!”
“Women’s rights are being kicked around like a political football,” Kelli Cacciotti, a senior English major who plans on going to medical school next year, said.
Cacciotti thinks that this has become more of a national issue because “contraception has recently been thrown on the stage, and a lot more people are starting to protest it.”
“To date, legislators have introduced 916 measures related to reproductive health and rights in the 49 legislatures that have convened their regular sessions,” according to the Guttmacher Institute. The institute works “to advance sexual and reproductive health and rights through an interrelated program of research, policy analysis and public education designed to generate new ideas, encourage enlightened public debate and promote sound policy and program development,” the organization’s website states.
States across the country have also enforced their own laws to allow abortion only through a certain period of time into a pregnancy. The majority of states allow the procedure to be performed through 20 weeks; however, the Arizona law has changed this time frame to 18 weeks.
States also have enacted different laws for whether or not a woman should view an ultrasound before an abortion.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, “Oklahoma, Alaska, Indiana, Kentucky, Montana, Ohio, Rhode Island and Texas require a woman to undergo an ultrasound procedure, view the image and receive a verbal description of the fetus.”
The main speaker at the rally was Linda Griebsch, executive director at the Joan G. Lovering Health Center in Greenland, N.H. She opened her address by saying that, “Peace and justice are the roots of the tree of hope.” Griebsch said that she liked the name Unite Against the War on Women because it’s about unity.
The crowd gave a round of applause when they heard that two New Hampshire senators made an appearance at the event.
“I support women’s rights. If it wasn’t for my mother, I wouldn’t be here,” Tim Horrigan, representative of Durham, Lee and Madbury, said. He advised women to get out and vote, and to not take this right for granted.
“There is a lot of attack on allowing young women to vote,” Horrigan said.
Amanda Merrill, another senator and representative of Durham, Dover, Epping, Lee and Rollingsford, was also present at the event.
“I am here to support the work of these young women, and I think it is great they are turning out,” Merrill said. “When I was their age, we couldn’t take these reproductive rights for granted. The critical next step is to get everyone registered to vote.”
Kelly Whittier, student senate chair and a senior health management and policy and international affairs dual major, addressed the group earlier in the day.
“Who is tired of old men deciding if they can have a baby?” she asked the crowd.
She and many other protesters were excited that the senators had made the effort to come out.
“It is really important to have politicians who have a strong voice and are willing to stand up for women’s rights,” Whittier said.