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Anti-abortion activists gathered in front of Planned Parenthood’s offices on High Street in Brattleboro and across the street in Pliny Park on May 3, the day after the release in the media of a draft of a Supreme Court opinion revoking the Constitutional protections for abortion.

Voices / Viewpoint

All the things I wish I had said

This most intimate and difficult health choice is not one for the courts. And if the government is allowed to, don’t think that will satisfy the need for power over others.

Laura Chapman is a civic volunteer, activist, and an employee for human-services nonprofits that help neighbors in need. This piece originally appeared as several posts on her personal Facebook timeline.

Putney

Of all the days.

At first, I thought they might be there to support Planned Parenthood, since the three of them were in front of the clinic, while the rest holding signs were on the other side of the road.

“Is this in support of Planned Parenthood?” I asked.

Pushing an anti-Planned Parenthood pamphlet my way, she responded, “It’s in support of the truth.”

The bile in my stomach rose, I fought back the tears of anger and resentment, pointed across the street, and said to the three of them the only words I could muster: “You should not be blocking access to this building. You should be over there with them.”

I kept walking, my mind swirling with all the things I wish I had said to them: my abortion story, my first abortion protester experience, my almost-abortion story, my rape story, my abuse stories.

So many stories.

And I wish I had told them how the current news — revealed the night before — had cast me into the role of feeling and sometimes being powerless.

This is what it is to identify as a woman in this nation, and now they want to take my rights and my access to safe choices away? They want to take that away from future generations?

* * *

I barely made it through my errand, struggling to focus on the task at hand, knowing that as soon as I left, the only way back to my car would be through that same crowd.

I devised a plan.

I would stop, center myself in my personal power, and read aloud to them a poem my dear friend had sent me (“Wire Hangers,” by Kaitlin Shetler). After all, poetry reaches some where other words don’t.

I was almost disappointed when I realized they were no longer there, but relieved to see that the beautiful artwork our community creates to demonstrate our values was still vibrantly displayed on the sidewalk.

* * *

The leaked draft of the Supreme Court Ruling shows that this is what they were coming for all along: Reversion, to a time when men and the government held power over reproductive choices.

This most intimate and difficult health choice is not one for the courts. No legislature or judge gets to tell me I have to carry a pregnancy to term. And if they are allowed to, don’t think that will satisfy their need for power over others. It will only embolden this line of thinking going into November elections.

If you believe that the only people that should be involved in a pregnancy decision is the pregnant person, that individual’s medical practitioners, and anyone else the pregnant person wants involved, then please be sure to be activated before November.

Make sure to support and vote for legislatures that actively support reproductive rights, and if you live in Vermont, vote for Proposal 5 — a state constitutional amendment that will protect our reproductive rights in the state.

Prop. 5 is one of the many reasons I support Becca Balint, Nader Hashim, Mike Mrowicki, Michelle Bos-Lun, and the many others who helped craft and who have supported this much-needed amendment.

They foresaw that our rights were in danger, and were willing to act in bold ways to protect us.

These are the legislators we need for the future.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #663 (Wednesday, May 11, 2022). This story appeared on page C1.

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