What you missed at the Delaware NOW rally in Rodney Square Saturday

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In Delaware, hundreds marched and rallied in Seaford and in Wilmington at Rodney Square.

WILMINGTON (DE) BY GEORGE SHEA, PHOTOJOURNALIST: As a national day of unity for women got underway, Pa. House Representative Christopher Rabb proposed parody legislation on Oct. 2 that would require men to undergo vasectomies either six weeks after the birth of their third child or once they reach 40, whichever comes first.

According to Rabb, this bill was inspired by the ongoing public debate around abortion and women’s reproductive rights. He believes men should take responsibility for the part they play in women’s pregnancies.

“As long as state legislatures continue to restrict the reproductive rights of cis women, trans men and non-binary people, there should be laws that address the responsibility of men who impregnate them,” Rabb said.

“Within hours of its circulation of this memo, I have received some of the most hateful and threatening emails and voicemails over my five years in office,” Rabb said. “But I have also received the affirmation and support of people in and far beyond my district who hold reproductive rights sacrosanct – not to mention people who see the value in satire to raise awareness around serious issues such as this.”

Photo by George Shea, Delaware Newsline | Hundreds attend rallies organized by the National Organization For Women throughout Delaware in support of abortion rights and access to services on Saturday October 2, 2021.

But his proposal didn’t last long and he ended it by encouraging his colleagues to consider his bill that seeks to end the gender double standard surrounding reproductive rights.

But Americans aren’t having it. All across the country there was something bigger going on. A national day of unity to fight back in an attempt to end to the dangerous, escalating attacks on reproductive rights and freedoms. All done by WOMEN! That’s right, millions of women and their supporters marched and rallied all across America. 

In Delaware, hundreds marched and rallied in Seaford and in Wilmington at Rodney Square. These sister rallies were organized by the Delaware Chapter of the National Organization for Women (Delaware NOW), Women’s March Sussex – Delaware, Planned Parenthood of Delaware, and the Southern Delaware Alliance for Racial Justice, with the support of Pro Choice With Heart – Delaware. They are part of a national day of action which features more than 600 events in all fifty states and Washington D.C.

Photo by George Shea, Delaware Newsline | Hundreds attend rallies organized by the National Organization For Women throughout Delaware in support of abortion rights and access to services on Saturday October 2, 2021.

Delaware Newsline met up with Melissa Froemming who is the president of the Delaware Chapter of the National Organization for Women and she believes that women should be able to make decisions about their own bodies.

“I think people understand intrinsically the fact that we should be able to make decisions about our own bodies.,” Said Melissa Froemming. 

When asked if politics should be playing a role in abortion, rights, and access to services, Froemming said absolutely not.

“I feel like politics absolutely should not be playing a role. I mean, at the end of the day, it’s our bodies, right. And there’s been a lot of discussion around that right to the pandemic, even in terms of vaccinations. And so I think people understand intrinsically the fact that we should be able to make decisions about our own bodies.,” Said Froemming.

Photo by George Shea, Delaware Newsline | Hundreds attend rallies organized by the National Organization For Women throughout Delaware in support of abortion rights and access to services on Saturday October 2, 2021.

“It’s really important that we send a very strong message from Delaware that even in states where abortion is legal, access is not guaranteed. And so we stand in solidarity, one to protect Roe v Wade to protect abortion as a choice. But also we’re standing to say today, it’s important that we make it more accessible to people. So even in states like Delaware, abortion isn’t easily accessible to some people because they live in rural counties, or they can’t afford it. So that’s one of the things that we really like to see worked on is expanding access through making it more affordable and also expanding access by providing more more clinics that provide services.,” Froemming added.

WHILE SATURDAY’S RALLY AT RODNEY SQUARE DREW MUCH SUPPORT, IT ALSO DREW BOTH PEACEFUL AND AGRESSIVE PROTESTEERS.

One protester who would not identify herself, said, “All Lives Matter, including the unborn. For the unborn we are their voices, they need a voice. So we’re here to Stand for life.”

“Abortion is murder. Our position is abortion is murder of children.,” Said Trish Horn, who was protesting on N. King Street in front of Rodney Square.

Photo by George Shea, Delaware Newsline | Hundreds attend rallies organized by the National Organization For Women throughout Delaware in support of abortion rights and access to services on Saturday October 2, 2021.

“Have an open mind, because there are many organizations that support children of women and men who do not want to raise those children themselves, other options to murdering their unborn children.”

In response to the counter protest comments, Froemming said we need to have choices and taking one of those away isn’t the solution.

“We need to have the choices,” Froemming said. “So yes, there’s a lot of other choices. In fact, Planned Parenthood offers a lot of those choices in terms of you know, birth control, they have the morning after pill, they have a number of things that they do, um, but taking one of those choices away isn’t the solution.”

Most of the protestors were peaceful and some even had discussion Froemming said, but some needed the time-out chair she joked.

As pro-abortion rights attendees chanted “Pro Choice united, United defeated” some protesters grew aggressive. Delaware Newsline staff at the event saw some protestors pushing and shoving pro-abortion attendees with signs or using their hips to push others. Some were even verbally aggressive. At one point police nearby rushed to the scene and tried to control the situation.

As Coby Owens, vice Chairman of the Wilmington NAACP, was attempting to calm the situation and separate the aggressive protestors, police moved in to try to contain the situation. One protestor was seen being physically removed and escorted away by a police officer. It’s not known if the man was arrested or removed from the area.

Photo by George Shea, Delaware Newsline | Hundreds attend rallies organized by the National Organization For Women throughout Delaware in support of abortion rights and access to services on Saturday October 2, 2021.

“I mean, I think that things got a little bit tense because people, people feel very strongly about how they feel right. And I think sometimes we get very caught up in our feelings Froemming said.

But when you look at it 80% of Americans support Roe v. Wade. Now, there’s, there’s a lot of variants and what they how they support Roe v. Wade, right? Whether it’s, you know, early on or later on, or what the conditions are. But at the end of the day, most of us agree that there should be a choice. So with the protesters, I think sometimes we get caught up in our feelings, and it can be difficult to detach from that. Froemming continued, and I just had a lovely conversation with one of the protesters who we talked about our shared, you know, values, and that we want to be respectful and that sometimes things get heated.

Photo by George Shea, Delaware Newsline | Hundreds attend rallies organized by the National Organization For Women throughout Delaware in support of abortion rights and access to services on Saturday October 2, 2021.

And I felt like overall, most people were I felt like I saw a lot of people who disagreed who respectfully disagree. And I want to focus on those people actually think maybe you can correct me if I’m wrong, but I saw mostly people being very respectful in the way that they were protesting. So there were a couple of wildcards just like there always are.

It’s like, you go into a kid’s classroom. You got a couple of those kids you just there, they got to go to the timeout chair, you know, there’s always a few, but I didn’t feel like that was I didn’t feel like the counter. The answers were, were being unruly as it was just a couple couple that needed to timeout chair. Next time, I’ll have one, she laughed.

Nationwide, more than 110 organizations have joined forces to take part in the #RallyforAbortionJustice organized by Women’s March to show that Americans overwhelmingly back Roe v. Wade. Rallies were held nationwide throughout the day on Saturday, October 2nd, in advance of the Supreme Court returning to session this coming Monday, Oct. 4th, when they will begin to hear cases with tremendous implications for the future of abortion access in the United States.

Photo by George Shea, Delaware Newsline | Hundreds attend rallies organized by the National Organization For Women throughout Delaware in support of abortion rights and access to services on Saturday October 2, 2021.

Oral arguments for a Mississippi law that is a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade will commence Dec. 1, just months after the court upheld a recent Texas law that all but out-laws abortion in the state.

Across the country, abortion rights are under attack in unprecedented fashion, with 2021 seeing states enact more restrictions on reproductive and sexual health care than any other year in at least half a century.

“We have known that the day when abortion access would be challenged at the Supreme Court is coming. This is not a surprise,” Froemming said. “Abortion access has been systematically under attack in this country for decades. While we need to protect women’s constitutional right to choose, this is the floor – not the ceiling. It is beyond time for abortion to be codified into federal law, funded fully by both public and private insurance, and accessible for all who need to choose that option when they need it, without shame or stigma.”

Froemming  continued, “In terms of abortion in our state, it may be legal, but it is not fully accessible to all women because of barriers such as cost, distance to service providers, and limited or no paid time off for too many working women in low wage jobs. Delaware has room to grow in the realm of reproductive justice, and we stand in support of advocating for this as well.”

Photo by George Shea, Delaware Newsline | Hundreds attend rallies organized by the National Organization For Women throughout Delaware in support of abortion rights and access to services on Saturday October 2, 2021.

Their effort paid off and on October 6, 2021, A federal judge granted the Justice Department a temporary injunction late Wednesday blocking the enforcement of Texas’ strict abortion law.

U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman issued the order, which will block the state from enforcing the law, known as S.B. 8, which was passed by the GOP-controlled Legislature. In September, the Supreme Court declined to block the law while legal challenges were pending.

The law prohibits women from obtaining abortions if fetal cardiac activity can be detected. In most cases, that is around six weeks, when many women are not yet aware that they are pregnant. 

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the ruling was “an important step forward toward restoring the constitutional rights of women across the state of Texas.”

“The fight has only just begun, both in Texas and in many states across this country where women’s rights are currently under attack,” her statement continued. “That’s why the President supports codifying Roe v. Wade, why he has directed a whole-of-government response to S.B. 8, and why he will continue to stand side-by-side with women across the country to protect their constitutional rights.”

Photo by George Shea, Delaware Newsline | Hundreds attend rallies organized by the National Organization For Women throughout Delaware in support of abortion rights and access to services on Saturday October 2, 2021.

In December, The Supreme Court, with a 6-3 conservative majority, will also consider the legality of Mississippi’s abortion law which is another challenge to the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling, which legalized abortions nationwide.

“It is time for this nation to have a comprehensive policy that protects the constitutional right to abortion, but also policies that recognize and respect women’s need for quality reproductive healthcare and equal and affordable access to family planning tools such as contraceptives,” Dr. Marlene Saunders, Co-Vice Chair of the Southern Delaware Alliance for Racial Justice said.

Paulette Rapp, the Incoming Chair of Women’s March Sussex – Delaware, the longest continuously running Women’s March chapter in the nation, added: “Women in western Sussex have not had sufficient access to quality healthcare for years. Women need pap smears, mammograms, gynecological care, and easy, affordable access to birth control. Abortion needs to be protected and accessible, but it is not the only need and it’s important to
note that if women had access to proper family planning, we reduce the need for abortion.”

George Shea is a Delaware Newsline Digital Broadcast Journalist and has an emphasis on crime and social justice. Contact him at gshea@delawarenewsline.com. Follow him on Twitter @denewsline. Follow Delaware Newsline on Facebook for the latest breaking news stories.

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Delaware Newsline is a digital Delaware News Organization that provides local and national breaking news content to its Delaware and U.S. audience, by utilizing multiple platforms including web, social media, and video.

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