Protesters in New Milford, Danbury focus on abortion after Roe v. Wade. But they are on different sides.


NEW MILFORD — Last spring, when City resident Jackie Eaton learned that the landmark 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion would be overturned, she said she decided to act – and continue.

“When I contacted my network, I was like, ‘Let’s meet on Sunday, but we have to move on. “So I put out a call to action to see who would be available to help me organize a weekly rally,” Eaton said.

The group gathered on the New Milford Green for the first time on Mother’s Day to support a woman’s right to choose an abortion. The group is associated with “Bans Off Our Bodies”, a national campaign for the right to abortion.

And they are still there.

On June 24, as they feared, the United States Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, sending the abortion issue back to each state to decide. In Connecticut, it remains a protected right.

Week after week, a dozen or more people of all ages and genders gather every Wednesday evening for an hour, holding up signs and posters and chanting passers-by. They named the rally “Decision Day: We’re Not Going Back!” »

But on September 10, a different group came together, with a different view on the matter. Around two dozen people demonstrated outside Planned Parenthood on Main Street in Danbury to mark National Aborted Child Remembrance Day.

“The struggle actually continues for us pro-lifers in Connecticut,” said Don Mallozzi, Respect Life ministry leader at St. Edward’s the Confessor Parish in New Fairfield and leader of the protest.

Fight to keep your rights

Eaton said she does not expect to change the minds of those who oppose abortion, but aims to educate others about the issue of freedom of choice.

“When I get up every week, I just point out that it’s worth fighting for. I hope I will get involved and motivate people to realize how big of a deal this is,” said Eaton, who is a mother and grandmother.

She said she and the others were not fighting for the right to have an abortion, but against “the government’s overreach”.

“It’s about losing our basic right to make our own choices,” she said.

The group plans to hold the rallies on the green until the Nov. 8 election. After that, they can hold virtual gatherings.

She said they plan to continue meeting, “until Roe is codified…where women are protected.”

Participating New Milford resident Robin Whiting said she usually holds up a sign that reads “Pro Choice Patriot.”

“The Bans of Our Bodies movement calls it the summer of rage and the idea was to protest all summer long,” said Whiting, who described herself as a feminist and said she had marched at Washington on the matter.

She spoke about her late mother, who had two abortions.

“One of her abortions she had before it was legal, and one she had when it was legal,” Whiting said. “The first one, I just remember her telling me how scary it was to fly to Puerto Rico and go there. She didn’t know who she was going to, what was going to happen. She just said she wasn’t ready to have a kid. She had a boyfriend. She wasn’t married yet. She wasn’t ready to quit everything and have a kid, so she had to find a way, and that’s where she had to go.

Years later, when Whiting and her brother were around 8 and 10 years old, her mother became pregnant – and made the same decision.

“She and my dad were actually swingers with someone else, not that that would have been a problem…but it just wasn’t the right time,” she said. “There wasn’t a lot of money for everyone. It just wasn’t practical, and she got one then.

Prayer to end abortion

Planned Parenthood, which performs abortions, was closed the day protesters met at the Danbury site. But the group held their ceremony – holding hands to sing “Amazing Grace” and pray for an end to abortion.

“National Aborted Child Remembrance Day is to remember those children who weren’t given the chance to come into the world and have life,” said Mallozzi, a New Fairfield resident.

Mallozzi said the group believes life should be protected from conception in the womb to natural death.

He said some members of the group are street counselors trained to advise women on alternatives to abortion. Often counselors approach women entering family planning.

“They have a bag of information that they give out through the car window, which offers alternatives to abortion,” Mallozzi said.

Ridgefield resident Deirdre Condon, who came to the rally last week, served as a sidewalk counselor.

“We’re asking them to roll down their window and just tell them why they’re coming in – and ask if they’d be willing to take information that offers alternatives to Planned Parenthood. Most of them are ready to read it at least,” she said. “Some of our advisors have turned people around, which is really encouraging.”

Condon said the National Day of Remembrance “humanizes the little children who were killed by honoring their memory.”

She added that it was “unfair that their lives were taken”.

On Thursday, Erika Ulanecki, chief of staff of Planned Parenthood of Southern New England Health Centers, said Planned Parenthood also offers pregnancy options.

“For patients who test positive for pregnancy, we provide them with accurate and unbiased medical information about all their pregnancy options and the support they need so they can decide for themselves whether to continue the pregnancy, seek abortion care or consider adoption,” Ulanecki said.

Make their voices heard

Mallozzi said those who want an end to abortion should continue to speak out on the issue.

“Pro-lifers can’t fall asleep just because Roe v. Wade was overturned because all it did was send abortion legislation back to the states,” he said.

Connecticut provides “a safe haven for women who come here for an abortion and cannot get the service in their state because there is a ban on abortion in their state,” Mallozzi said.

In response to Mallozzi, Eaton of New Milford said she applauds anyone who peacefully stands up for their beliefs.

“We are blessed to have free speech in America right now and their peaceful assembly to express their beliefs is well within their First Amendment rights,” Eaton said.

“However, their religious beliefs have no place in federal or state law, and when religious doctrine comes under pressure, as is the case with abortion (being illegal) in an alarming number of States, organized religion dismantles the separation of church and state.

Whiting, another protester from New Milford, said that in her lifetime she had the “benefit of this choice” to have an abortion.

“I never had to fight for it,” she said.


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