Dozens Protest for Abortion Rights in Downtown Saline

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About 60 people gathered in downtown Saline Wednesday to protest the US Supreme Court's decision to overrule Roe vs. Wade, a decision that rolled back abortion rights across the country.

A strong majority of the protesters were women and many were young. They chanted slogans like, "my body, my choice," or "c'mon, c'mon, we must fight, abortion is a human right."

Alayna Sutherland is a recent Saline High School graduate who will attend Western Michigan University this year. She said reproductive rights are vital to a woman.

"Every woman should have the choice. It's super important. There are so many reasons. A woman may want an abortion if she was raped. A 10-year-old child may need an abortion so she doesn't have to risk her life giving birth. Financially, a woman might not believe that she's in the right position to give birth and care for a child" Sutherland said.

For now, in Michigan, it appears abortion remains legal after Michigan Court of Appeals Chief Judge Elizabeth Gleicher issued a temporary injunction that prevents the state's 91-year-old law that criminalizes abortion.

Pro-choice Michigan residents have scrambled to collect signatures and put an abortion rights ballot initiative on the ballot for the November election. Sutherland and other protesters say the referendum is crucial. Without it, access to an abortion might be determined by whether or not your local county prosecutor wishes to enforce the 1931 laws.

Saline resident Jody Roberts was 15 years old when Roe vs. Wade was decided in 1974. She said she didn't understand the commotion at the time. But a couple years later, as a few friends became pregnant a couple had abortions.

"I realized then how important it was that we have a choice," Roberts said. 

Roberts suspected this day was coming due to the composition of the US Supreme Court. Still, she was shaken when the ruling came down.

"I'm terrified of what else might happen and what other rights me have taken away. I feel like we are going backward on so many different things," Roberts said.

She credited the organizers of the event.

"I'm glad to have the opportunity to come out here and voice my support," Roberts said.

Roberts and Sutherland see the November ballot issue as a pivotal point in Michigan's history.  They both see the polls that show that Americans generally support the right to abortion. The protesters also heard far more support than complaints from passing motorists, who honked horns and shouted support Wednesday.

"I hope that in Michigan we can make this legal. But I'm also concerned for women in the other states where they might have the chance to vote on the issue," Roberts said.

One woman said she wished the protest was held a little later in the day so that more people could have participated. The event was held at 1 p.m.

"I saw so many women who wanted to come but they had to work," she said.

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