Unalaskans march in support of reproductive rights
On a wet, slushy Sunday in Unalaska, a couple dozen folks of all ages walked from Eagle's View Elementary Achigaalux̂ to City Hall carrying signs with slogans like, “The Future is Female,” “Our Daughters Deserve Choice” and “M-Y-O-O … Mind Your Own Orifice.”
Meaghan Faneuf, one of the participants, said she wasn’t deterred by the poor conditions.
“This is bigger than snow and rain,” Faneuf said. “That’s not gonna stop us… that’s like the most minimal thing. If we’re stopped by that, what do we really have?”
The group was marching in support of reproductive rights. They were part of a nationwide demonstration organized by Women’s March — a women-led educational movement.
This past Sunday would’ve been the 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade — a U.S. Supreme Court landmark decision that granted the federal constitutional right to have an abortion.
But that was overturned last year, and now, state governments get to choose if abortions are legal or not.
According to national organizers, January’s march was a way to harness the political power of diverse women and their communities to create transformative social change. It was also a way to remind state politicians that they work for their citizens, organizers said.
Currently, Alaska protects reproductive choice, but that could change if enough people vote against Alaska's constitutional protection of privacy regarding medical procedures like abortions. That would require approval by two-thirds of both Alaska state legislative bodies, followed by a general election vote.
Some of the state’s leading politicians, including Gov. Mike Dunleavy, are working to make it harder for Alaskans to access abortion. On Monday, Dunleavy told Alaska state legislators that he’s willing to work with them to make Alaska “the most pro-life state in the entire country.”
M. Lynn Crane is the director of Unalaskans Against Sexual Assault and Family Violence. She was one of the organizers for Sunday’s march in Unalaska.
“From my perspective, this isn't just about women's rights,” Lynn said. “This is about human rights. This is about people having control over their own destiny. It's about putting our resources where they will really make a difference. It's about time being wasted fighting legislators when people should have the right to make those decisions for themselves … We need to fight to the end for it.”
While abortion remains protected under Alaska’s constitutional right to privacy, people like Crane are worried that those rights could be in jeopardy. That’s why she and others took the near-mile walk through Unalaska’s soggy streets this weekend.