Abortion rights supporters gather along Highway 101 in Raymond

A group of approximately 35 protesters in Raymond joined a national movement on Saturday, May 14, when they gathered to express their support for continuing federal protection of abortion rights.

The group joined more than 300 other groups nationwide in the “Bans Off Our Bodies” rally for abortion rights. The national rally, which was organized by the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and other progressive women’s groups, follows the leaking of an initial draft majority opinion in which the U.S. Supreme Court has decided to strike down the landmark Roe v. Wade decision of 1973.

The leaked draft opinion was published May 3 by Politico in a rare breach of Supreme Court protocol. Written by Justice Samuel Alito and reportedly circulated inside the court, the report states that Alito, Justice Clarence Thomas, and all three of President Donald Trump’s nominees to the court had already voted to overturn Roe v. Wade.

The authenticity of the document was confirmed by Chief Justice John Roberts on May 4, but as it is a draft, it does not formally represent the court’s final position.

“Roe was egregiously wrong from the start. Its reasoning was exceptionally weak, and the decision has had damaging consequences. And far from bringing about a national settlement of the abortion issue, Roe and Casey have enflamed debate and deepened division. It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives,” states the sixth page of the report.

While abortion access is highly unlikely to change in Washington state, around half of U.S. states would be certain or likely to ban abortion if Roe is overturned. Legislators in 13 states have already passed “trigger laws,” to implement bans immediately if Roe is overturned.

“If the least of us are affected, all of us are affected. People in other states are likely to come here for access to abortion, and I think it’s vital we support women in health care and access to safe health care,” said Sherri McDonald, and organizer of the Raymond Bans Off Our Bodies rally.

McDonald has been a member of the Women’s March group since 2017, and worked with other organizers to plan a local rally at the busy intersection of Heath Street and U.S. Highway 101.

“I contacted several of my friends and they showed up, and brought their friends and their families and their sons,” she said. “It was a pretty broad range of ages, and of people — men and women. The responses of people driving by, the vast majority were positive; people were very supportive of women’s rights.”

According to Diane Ziel, who helped plan the event through Planned Parenthood, the rally was well-attended by supporters from Hoquiam, Montesano, Long Beach, and the Raymond/South Bend area. Ziel was surprised by the positive responses from passersby — with more than 75 honks, thumbs-up, and fist bumps in the first hour — and found that many passing supporters were of a younger generation.

“It’s hard to get folks excited to get folks to waive signs and rally in small communities; a lot of people who could went to Seattle or Portland,” she said. “A lot of the women who walked so I could jog, I’m Gen X, they’re the ones who got the thing to pass 50 years ago couldn’t go elsewhere.”

A final decision from the Supreme Court is expected in the next two months prior to its summer recess. In the meantime, McDonald anticipates that abortion rights supporters in the Raymond area will continue to rally.

“I think that often people make judgements about rural areas being extremely conservative and not supportive of these kinds of things,” she said. “I think it proves that people all over the world, all over the country, including rural and urban areas, do support women’s rights. I think that’s incredibly significant and incredibly important for people to understand.”