In a conservative small Wyoming town like Cody, it takes a certain amount of courage to hold a pro-choice abortion rally to protest the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade.
About a dozen people came out for the rally Friday night, brandishing signs such as “Not Your Body, Not Your Business,” and “My Body My Choice.” A few of the signs implored passersby to honk, bringing a chattering of horns and even the chime of a bike bell from people moving along their early evening rides.
To the surprise of a few of the protesters, there weren’t many negative comments levied at the group.
“There’s been a lot of honks,” said organizer Elizabeth Wells, between blares. “We’ll stay out here until they quit honking.”
Other pro-choice rallies were held in Casper and Jackson on Friday. The event in Jackson was attended by about 300 people, said organizer Maggie Hunt. Organizer Jane Ifland said her event in Casper drew around 100.
“It was comforting for us all see each other,” Ifland said.
At one point at the Cody rally, a woman who Wells had never met came up and gave her a heartfelt hug, holding the embrace for a number of seconds. She thanked Wells and then got back in her truck, sounding off a few emphatic honks as she was leaving the scene.
Wells said holding a rally was the best way she knows how to make her voice heard. As someone who had an abortion in the past, she can speak personally on the matter.
“Women in Wyoming should not have to travel to Colorado for health care,” she said. “We should absolutely not be punished for making our own choices for our bodies.”
She learned the Supreme Court had rendered its decision in a text from her friend Kadence Holman. The first thing Holman asked Wells was if she wanted to make signs, and the protest was on.
“There’s so many women who are scared to voice their opinion,” Wells said. “They’re scared to do anything about it, to have an opinion, to have a voice, and I’m out here for the women who couldn’t make it today.”
With the landmark 1973 abortion ruling overturned, the clock begins on a law that would ban abortions in the state except in the case of rape or incest. Wyoming legislators have already started discussing removing those exemptions. Holman said she has been the victim of rape.
“Women should have their own right to their own body,” she said.
Joining Holman and Wells on Sheridan Avenue were Emily and Henry Jones, both carrying firearms concealed in holsters at their hips for self protection.
In 2013, Emily Jones had an ectopic pregnancy, an event that occurs when a fertilized egg implants and grows outside the main cavity of the uterus. She was taken to the emergency room in order to save her life.
The married couple worries the court’s decision will lead to certain states enacting stricter laws, such as making it a crime to receive an abortion in the event of miscarriages or to protect a mother’s well-being.
Wells said she had her abortion for a stress-induced incomplete miscarraige.
“I did not even know I was pregnant,” she said.
Henry Jones’ father Larry Jones is a Cody attorney who also attended the protest, calling the Roe decision “a step back into the stone ages.” He said the the majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito undercuts the basis for other rights such as same sex marriage and consensual sex and access to contraception.
Wells said she is now considering leaving the state for the sake of her daughter.
“For her to grow up in a state with the same rights I had I will move,” she said. “Because I live in a state with a trigger ban.”
Under Wyoming’s trigger ban enacted in this year’s legislature, nearly all abortions will be outlawed in the state within 35 days of the Supreme Court’s ruling.
Emily Jones said this law is yet another reason why many younger people are leaving the state. But, she said they should keep up the good fight and remain optimistic when it comes to the future of the Cowboy State.
“I would encourage them to stay and fight the good fight because this is the Equality State even if it doesn’t feel like that,” she said.