COURT HOUSE – Several hundred men and women of all ages came out June 30 to protest the recent Supreme Court decision that overturned Americans’ right to abortion, one that’s been in place since 1973.
In the shadows of the Cape May County Courthouse, chants of “we won’t go back,” “no bans on our bodies,” “my body, my choice” and “we will never go back,” could be heard, as drivers in everything from parcel delivery trucks to in- and out-of-state cars and small business vehicles beeped or gave a thumbs up in support.
“I can’t sit by and watch what’s happening in this country,” said Pam Reynolds, from Egg Harbor Township.
This was the first time the 56-year-old had participated in a protest, saying, “I sat and cried when I heard about the ruling. This is such a step backward.”
“Something I’ve known almost my whole life is gone,” she added. “We are losing our rights; we are losing our freedoms.”
The rally was organized by Deborah de la Cretaz on behalf of Cape May County Indivisible, a local, progressive, grassroots group fighting for their view of social, racial, reproductive, and environmental justice.
De la Cretaz, a 68-year-old mother and grandmother from North Cape May, hoped the rally showed that “women in Cape May County are not sitting back.”
“I hope this makes people more aware that women in the county are not complacent,” she said. “We are angry with what is happening in the world today and our representatives need to be more responsive to us. It is not just a men’s club anymore.”
Rick Kuntz, a North Cape May father, said he was at the rally because, to him, “The right to choose is the most valuable freedom we have. For women not to be able to decide what they can do with their own bodies, I just find it reprehensible… If a woman doesn’t have the right to choose with her own body, everything else is meaningless.”
Jan and Kat Hutton came from Somers Point to join the rally.
“It’s up to the people to show the court that we don’t agree,” said Kat Hutton, 24. “We had made a lot of progress over the past, and now we are reverting back. What’s in our future?”
Her mother, Jan Hutton, added she was “disturbed” by recent Supreme Court rulings, and wanted to show “her support, or lack of support, of the court decision” by attending the rally. “We can’t go back in time.”
Helen Thompson, who lives in Villas, called the Supreme Court decision “the biggest assault on women in five decades. They have set women back five decades. Women make up more than 51% of the population, and with men’s support, need to have this decision overturned.”
She added that “rich people will be able to go to other states to get abortions. It will be the poor who are overwhelmingly affected by this decision.”
The ruling left the legal status of abortions to each state. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said in remarks published on his website, “We will ensure that every woman in New Jersey has access to an abortion and to the full range of reproductive services they deserve as a matter of right.”
He signed legislation in January, codifying a woman’s right to abortion into state law.
Two 18-year-olds, Sophia Lyons and Lily Cloyd, drove from Mullica Hill for the rally, some 70 miles.
“This is our future,” Lyons said. “The Supreme Court doesn’t get it. We thought we can do something by showing up, so we drove down here to join the rally.”
“We are not a Christian nation,” added Cloyd, who described herself as a Christian. “There needs to be separation of church and state here instead of forcing Christian beliefs on us all.”
Margaret Reynolds and her husband, Henry Hipp, who live in Court House, said they were at the rally because they were “appalled by the Court’s decision.”
“I am here to support my wife and all women,” said Hipp. “I think it was a terrible decision, a highly political decision rather than a judicial one.”
Olivia Liebeknecht, of Millville, said she was at the rally for those “like me, and not like me.”
To contact Karen Knight, email firstname.lastname@example.org.