Hundreds turn out for Reproductive Rights rally in St. Peter

About 200 people lined Highway 169 for a Reproductive Rights rally in St. Peter Thursday night.

Young, old, men, women, and even children turned out at Minnesota Square Park for the event, which came in response to a leaked draft of a Supreme Court opinion that indicates the court’s intent to overturn Roe vs. Wade, the landmark decision that made abortion legal nationwide in 1973.  

Margarita Ruiz planned the rally in just two days with co-organizer Emily Falk. “I was hoping it was a joke,” Ruiz said of her reaction to reading the draft opinion.

Cars and semi’s honked their approval and support, although some motorists flipped the middle finger. But rally-goers didn’t let it dampen their passion.

Jim Dimock, an Indivisible St. Peter Mankato leader, fired up the crowd with chants of ‘Hands off women’s rights, hand’s off Roe!’  Dimock said the attendance spoke to the broad and deep emotions brought out by the high court’s impending decision.

Gustavus freshman Kayla Reid said she was “pissed” when she heard about the SCOTUS opinion.  “I believe that in this country everybody deserves the right to choose what they are going to do,” said Reid, who held a sign advocating for legal abortions or mandatory vasectomies.

“It’s 2022, we shouldn’t still be fighting for women’s rights,” said Reid’s friend Linnea Hanson.

Sharon Steinhoff-Smith drove from New Prague to attend the rally.  Steinhoff-Smith had two abortions, recommended by doctors because those pregnancies weren’t viable. She said the SCOTUS draft decision brought shock, some rage, and a lot of sadness.  “I wish they would dig a little deeper,” she said of abortion opponents. “Women’s lives are at stake.  My life was potentially at stake if I hadn’t had those two procedures.  The son I currently have wouldn’t be around if I hadn’t had those two procedures.  It’s about pro-life but it’s a bigger message than that.”

After about an hour, rally-goers marched to the park pavilion, where Dimock led the group in chants, followed by a number of speakers.

Jeff Brand, who is running for the Minnesota House seat he held in 2019 and 2020, said he can’t believe Roe vs. Wade is an issue in 2022. “We’re going to hit the streets,” said Brand.  “We’re going to talk about who we elect in this next election, and we’re going to send those people where they need to go in order to protect us, our neighbors, and our communities against authoritarian fascism.”

After the scheduled speakers, the microphone was left open for personal stories.  Yurie Hong from Indivisible said women shouldn’t have to publicly talk about something so personal and private, but the current state of affairs perhaps makes it necessary to speak out.

Organizers say more events are pending.


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