In reaction to the Supreme Court draft opinion that recently leaked indicating the 50-year-old Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion is likely to be overturned, a group of local women are organizing a pro-choice rally scheduled for Sunday afternoon, May 15 at 1 p.m. at Wilton’s Town Hall.
Calling the event Voices for Choices, the rally has been planned as a regional response to show public objection to what organizers say is how far the anticipated decision goes in rolling back certain rights.
“We couldn’t believe how draconian that opinion was in terms of reversing our rights,” said organizer and Wilton resident Melissa Spohn. “As a woman and a mother of two girls, I’m devastated by the thought that my daughters will not have agency over their own bodies and be able to decide when, and if they’re going to have children and have access to the healthcare that they need as they make their choices.”
Spohn has organized the event with women who are actively involved in the Democratic party from the surrounding towns of Weston, Ridgefield and Redding. Among them is Weston’s former first selectwoman Gayle Weinstein, who will emcee the event.
Several statewide public officials will attend and speak during the rally, including Sen. Richard Blumenthal, Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz, State Rep. Stephanie Thomas, State Sen. Will Haskell, and others who are still being confirmed. There will also be representatives from several pro-choice advocacy groups.
While it’s not something officially sponsored by the Wilton Democratic Town Committee or any DTC from the surrounding towns, Spohn said that participating speakers and organizers are being limited to individuals affiliated with the Democratic party. She confirmed she did not reach out to the Wilton Republican Town Committee or individual Republican officials to demonstrate bipartisan support for protecting Roe v. Wade.
“We did not. This has become obviously a very political issue and we do feel that the Republican party and conservatives have made it so. We feel that it’s really important that we have Democrats in office that are going to protect our rights,” Spohn said.
UPDATE, 6:30 P.M. — Spohn reached out to GOOD Morning Wilton to add the following comment: “While we did not reach out to the RTC we welcome the attendance of anyone and everyone who is concerned about the loss of their rights.”
Spohn is expecting upwards of 200 people to attend on Sunday and is promoting the event on social media and through local and statewide Democratic organizations. “We thought it was so critically important that we have a regional voice on this topic,” she added.
According to organizers, the leaked decision indicates there’s more at risk than reproductive freedoms.
“Some of the language also alludes to that while [Alito] says specifically this is in regards to Roe, this is also a threat to other rights. Contraception and reproductive technologies are threatened. It could be extended to LGBTQ rights, in particularly civil marriage. Everything that’s precedent under the 14th Amendment as well as the Loving Case for interracial marriage,” Spohn said.
“These constitutionalists on the Supreme Court have got it wrong in terms of not being able to deal with the realities of modern times,” she added.
The argument foreshadows what’s to come in a pivotal mid-term election year.
“I don’t think enough people realize not only the consequences this has, but that how basically our states are our last stronghold to protecting our rights. This has turned very political, obviously over a very long time, but with the recent legislation passed in multiple states with trigger laws [that will take effect] as soon as Roe is overturned. We need to make sure we have people in our state legislature and in the governor’s office that are going to protect our rights. Never before has it been so apparent who we have in state government matters,” Spohn said.
Wilton Police and Town officials are aware of the event and will have extra officers on hand for traffic control and crowd safety. Spohn said she has coordinated with the Wilton Police Department to make sure everything is handled appropriately.
“The Wilton Police Department has been extremely, extremely helpful. For safety purposes there’s limited parking at Town Hall. They asked us to make sure that we had alternate parking lined up,” she explained, adding that attendees are asked to park at the commuter lot at the Wolfpit Rd./Danbury Rd. intersection. A free shuttle between the lot and Town Hall will be provided.
Organizers also suggest attendees park at the Wilton train station and walk to the event. Parking is not available at the Wilton Wellness Center medical office building across from Town Hall.
Spohn added that the intent is to hold a peaceful rally.
“There will be no march. It will be an opportunity for us to come together as a community, hear from our government representatives and community activists, and better understand how we can protect our rights going forward. There is no intention for anything negative. We expect this to be a peaceful coming together of the community,” she said.