Hundreds of people marched through downtown Anchorage on Friday and Saturday as they rallied in support of abortion rights after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, allowing states to ban abortion and stripping away protections under the U.S. Constitution.
“It’s unacceptable that we lost the right to have legal abortions in this country,” Laura Grande said as she waited for Saturday’s march to start at the Delaney Park Strip. “My Body My Choice” was written on her stomach in black paint. “If all I can do is come out and walk and chant and paint my belly ... I’ll try as hard as I can.”
Saturday’s rally and march for abortion rights was organized by the Party for Socialism and Liberation Anchorage and the nonprofit organization Stand Up Alaska. It took place as supporters of women’s reproductive rights rallied in other communities across the state and country, and followed a rally Friday that began at Town Square Park.
Post-Roe, abortion access in Alaska remains preserved under state constitutional privacy protections and rulings by the Alaska Supreme Court. But voters in November will be asked to decide whether a constitutional convention should be called — the first step on what abortion opponents view as the likeliest path to potentially altering the Alaska Constitution to allow for a statewide ban.
[Dismay, joy and calls to action in Alaska after Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade]
Cynthia Gachupin, an event organizer and member of PSL, said they began planning Saturday’s rally about a month ago, after they learned about the leaked draft majority opinion. Gachupin said there are more events being planned for future dates as well.
Fifteen-year-old youth activist Denali Gamache said she became involved in the movement after her mom found out she was being sexually abused by her father. Gamache was one of the speakers Saturday.
“We need you to vote,” she yelled into a microphone. “The youth activists and the youth need you to vote for us because we can’t.”
Her words halted as hundreds chanted back, “We will vote.”
“I think it was really important because we need to be united in what we want and what we need,” Gamache said. “Because if we don’t have that, then other people are gonna win.”
Gamache’s mother, Natasha Aġnaŋuluuraq Gamache, also spoke Saturday and shared her story of homelessness and abuse.
“I have six kids that were fathered by two different rapists,” she said. “So, when I heard about the Dobbs vs. Jackson decision, which overturned Roe v. Wade, all I could feel was instant fear because if I were to get pregnant again unwillingly, I would have no recourse.”
Natasha Gamache, who is a community organizer for Stand Up Alaska, called for solidarity and unity. She, along with other speakers, urged people to vote “no” on the question of whether a constitutional convention should be called.
Sydney Burns attended the rally and passed out informational brochures to those in attendance. Burns is a nurse and works in heath education and said she wanted to share her knowledge about reproductive health.
Burns created a working document of resources that provides general information about abortion rights and access. The brochures she handed out also included a QR code to a Facebook group aimed at creating a mutual aid network for community members to support those who are trying to access abortion.