Abortion-Rights Advocates Protest Strict Alabama Law

Abortion-Rights Advocates Protest Strict Alabama Law

Rockville rally was one of 400 planned across the nation

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Rachel Singer, left, and Renee Deboard-Lucas

Dan Schere

More than 170 people rallied in front of the Montgomery County Council office building in Rockville Tuesday evening, protesting a new Alabama law significantly restricting abortion.

“You would think by now we would not be having the same conversation we’ve been having for years,” said Laurie-Ann Sayles, a member of the Gaithersburg City Council at Tuesday’s rally.

The “Alabama Human Life Protection Act” bans abortions in all cases except where the life of the mother would be endangered. No exceptions are provided for rape or incest.

Abortion rights groups have decried the Alabama law as an attack on the Supreme Court’s 46-year-old Roe v. Wade decision, which protects a woman’s right to choose, and worry that President Donald Trump’s recent appointments of justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh will work to overturn the law.

Rockville’s rally was one of 400 solidarity protests across the country being organized in opposition to the recent state abortion bans, and was sponsored by groups that included NARAL Pro-Choice, Planned Parenthood and National Organization for Women. Eight rallies took place in Maryland.

Passing cars honked their horns as people held signs with messages such as “my eggs are not government property” and “it’s time to talk about the elephant in the womb.”

Diane Philip, the executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland, said 16 bills were filed in this year’s legislative session in Annapolis that would have restricted abortion, and all were ultimately defeated.

According to Karyn Strickler, a former director of NARAL Pro Choice Maryland, Maryland voters codified abortion rights as granted by Roe v. Wade by referendum in 1992.

“Even if the right to choose safe and legal abortion is outlawed by the U.S. Supreme Court, Maryland women will still have that right to choose, by state law. Instead of the Alabama-type laws, states should be emulating the Maryland law, protecting women,” she wrote in an email.

Although Tuesday’s rally was not directed at Maryland legislators, those who attended said their support

Rockville Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton, left, and Council member Beryl Feinberg

is vital to shoring up national opposition to legislators in conservative states, as well as Congress, who are committed to rolling back abortion rights.

 

“Just because abortion is safe and legal in Maryland, we still care about people’s rights in other places. So I feel like it’s our duty to advocate for people in other places who maybe don’t have the same leverage,” said Renee Deboard-Lucas, a volunteer with Planned Parenthood.

Rockville Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton and Council member Beryl Feinberg were also among those at the rally. Feinberg said she remembers the era prior to Roe v. Wade, and said women can’t take abortion rights for granted.

“I think this could be a galvanizing issue for the 2020 election, because now it’s now it’s not the right for women to make choices, it’s taking away that right that has been earned in the Supreme Court,” Feinberg said.

Keanan Mcgonigle, a fellow with the 20,000-member American Medical Student Association’s national office in the District, said he attended because reproductive rights are one of the key priorities of his organization.

Keanan Mcgonigle

“I actually went to medical school in Louisiana, so I can tell you that our chapters there are very riled up about this, and they work very close with partner organizations who are at the statehouse all the time. As future healthcare providers, people listen to us and trust what we say,” he said.

Dan Schere can be reached at Daniel.schere@bethesdamagazine.com

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