Demonstrators protest for reproductive rights in Hamilton | Local news

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Passing cars honked their horns as protesters lining the streets of downtown Hamilton cheered with familiar chants of “my body, my choice” and “women’s rights are human rights,” on Saturday afternoon.

More than 100 men and women of all ages, carrying homemade banners and signs, gathered at the corner of First Street and Main Street for a reproductive rights rally organized by a group of Bitterroot residents concerned about the recent ruling. of the US Supreme Court that overturned Roe v. Wade and other recent actions, protest organizer Kierstin Schmitt of Corvallis referred to as “the continuing violation of our rights as women.”

“The March for Reproductive Rights is an opportunity for anyone who is interested in personal privacy, women’s medical rights and other genders,” Schmitt said in an interview Friday. “We are very concerned about our rights as American citizens and as residents of Montana.”

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“It is completely outrageous that a political party has decided that women no longer have value as human beings and are now the property of their whims and the religious right,” Schmitt said. “We feel that it is a violation of our human rights that they tell us what to do with our bodies and with our reproductive organs: organs, tissues and blood that create a child. Our internal organs are the inner workings of a woman’s body. They are not owned by anyone else. And the fact that the Montana GOP has decided that that’s not true and that they have more control over body parts is absolutely ridiculous,” she said.

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Emma Rea Harlow, 7, of Hamilton, holds up her homemade sign at the Hamilton Reproductive Rights Rally on Saturday, July 23.


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The protest comes just a week after Montana Republicans voted to amend their party’s platform by adding language saying the party supports an “outright ban on elective abortion.” The provision does not include exceptions in case of rape or incest.

Currently, a woman’s right to an abortion is protected in Montana under the privacy provisions of the state Constitution. However, the 1999 ruling upholding the right to prior abortion is being challenged in court by the state’s Republican Attorney General, Austin Knudsen. Montana Republicans also passed three bills limiting abortion access during the 2021 legislative session that are currently under legal challenge.

“Women are being punished for having the ability, the physical ability to have a child, which means that women are being criminalized for having a uterus and having the ability to have a child, and that is not something anyone should take. lightly,” Schmitt said. she said she. “We are not criminals, we are human beings and we deserve all the rights and respect that everyone else receives. We recognize that there are indigenous women, there are women of color, there are people of color who have dealt with a lack of access to health care and reproductive services, and we recognize that we are all in this together and we all have to work together to stop this nuisance.

“We want people to take away the fact that they have a voice,” Schmitt continued. “You have the right, you have the power to go directly to the local and national legislators of our state and let them know that this is not right. We will not go back to the days when women died in the course of a planned pregnancy or an unplanned pregnancy.

“And the other part is that it’s about more than just getting pregnant. Steps are being taken to take away women’s right to birth control. And my question is, where are the men in this scenario? Where is their responsibility? Why? Are women being forced to bear the entire burden of birth control on themselves? Why aren’t men responsible for the women they impregnate?







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A Florence woman at the reproductive rights rally in Hamilton on Saturday, July 23, proudly displays the Ruth Bader Ginsburg t-shirt her granddaughters gave her.


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Carol Hackney, 70, who attended the rally Saturday, was an obstetric nurse in Grangeville, Idaho, in the mid-1970s and spoke of young teenagers traveling for care in what she called “the days before “.

“13- and 14-year-old girls who get pregnant, give birth at 13 and 14 at Serena General Hospital Grangeville, Idaho, in Oak City, Grangeville, Cottonwood, there are no options,” Hackney said. “They are small rural towns and it was difficult to access social services. There was a place in town and town gossip lived across the street.”

“When I worked at St. Al’s in Boise, St. Alphonsus, that’s where the rape victims came in,” she said. “They ended up on my floor because they would have broken their bones. And they were between 20 and 80 (years old). So it was about violence.”

Hackney said he never thought he would ever come out to protest.

“That’s my first protest,” he said. “Things have gotten so radical. I used to vote Republican.

“We are second-class citizens, and that is too much,” Hackney continued. “In fact, I have friends who have left the country. They had the option because they have dual citizenship. One in Canada, one in Germany, both nurses have left in the last two years, since Trump. I think that’s what’s important. Really, because not everyone has had the opportunity to see, you know, hanging abortions in real life.”







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The Reproductive Rights Rally in Hamilton on Saturday, July 23, drew a crowd from both sides of the island.


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The Hamilton rally also drew about 10 counter-protesters from across the valley. A local conservative group called Stand Together For Freedom sent out an email Friday encouraging people to come forward and bring signs.

Ed and Jackie Brickley, of Darby, said they attended the rally on Saturday to provide “support for the unborn.”

We are here “only to provide support to the unborn who cannot speak for themselves,” said Ed Bickley. “You know, there is an easy question that we can all ask ourselves on this topic. And that is, ‘what is the purpose of the womb?'”

“We are here to support the unborn,” said Jackie Brickley. “We love life, we have children, grandchildren and we don’t want controversial interactions with people. We just want to be here for the unborn, without fighting with anyone. There was a great young man I visited on the other side and that is how it should be. We should all get along even if we don’t agree: it’s America.”







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Protesters lined the corner of First and Main streets in downtown Hamilton for the March for Reproductive Rights on Saturday, July 23.


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Jess Abell is the publisher of Ravalli Republic.