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Rally held in Bemidji to support abortion rights

Nearly 50 people lined up along Paul Bunyan Drive on Saturday, May 14, to show their support for abortion rights.

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Organizers hold up signs supporting abortion rights in response to a leaked Supreme Court opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade during a protest on Saturday, May 14, 2022, at Paul Bunyan Park.
Nicole Ronchetti / Bemidji Pioneer
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BEMIDJI — With car horns blaring in support as they drove by, organizers gathered alongside Paul Bunyan Drive with signs and megaphones to show their support for upholding abortion rights.

Organized by Our Revolution Bemidji and Bemidji Knitting for Justice, the rally was held during the afternoon of Saturday, May 14, and brought together nearly 50 people.

“This is an amazing turnout,” said Kimberly Jannson, who helped put on the event. “Every time we can get people out and say, 'Wait a minute, all human rights matter,' it’s a good thing.”

The demonstration was put together in response to a recent leaked opinion from the Supreme Court that, if finalized, means Roe v. Wade — a case that helped established abortion rights in 1973 — could be overturned.

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Organizers holding signs line Paul Bunyan Drive to show their objection towards a leaked Supreme Court opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade on Saturday, May 14, 2022.
Nicole Ronchetti / Bemidji Pioneer

For those protesting on Saturday, this leaked opinion, which could lead to several states banning abortion altogether, shows a disregard for women and others who can become pregnant.

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“Today we are having to stand up for women’s rights,” Jannson said. “We control our bodies and our health care choices.”

If the final decision overturns the case, 13 states would automatically ban abortion through what are known as “trigger laws,” including North and South Dakota.

While abortion would still be legal in Minnesota, it could become the only state available in the region to offer abortions, since Iowa and Wisconsin are also likely to ban or impose severe restrictions on abortion.

It was for those people impacted in other states, and not just themselves that the group took to the streets in Bemidji. Signs reading messages such as “No uterus, no opinion,” “We won’t go back,” and “abortion is health care” could be seen in the gathering, outlining the demonstrators’ cause and opinions.

During the rally, participants invited others to join in and make a sign with art supplies that were available. They stood near the road and encouraged passing vehicles to honk their horns if they supported their cause, leading to an impromptu choir of cars as they would wait at a red light.

Not everyone agreed with them on the issue, however, and in between the car horns honking in support and the others just passing by without notice, there was the odd vehicle that would rev its engine to drown out and oppose the demonstrators.

Those in Bemidji weren’t the only ones rallying for abortion rights in the region. Similar demonstrations were held in Duluth, St. Cloud, Brainerd and Grand Rapids.

In Fargo and St. Paul, hundreds of people took to the streets as a part of the nationwide “Bans Off Our Bodies” campaign organized by Planned Parenthood.

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While not officially a part of that campaign, the organizers at Bemidji shared the same message and had the same goal of getting people involved.

“We said 'Let’s do it,' so we did,” Jannson said. “The energy is growing, I’m so happy to see it.”

Related Topics: ABORTION
Nicole Ronchetti is a reporter at the Bemidji Pioneer, focusing on local government and community health.
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