About 20 Littleton community members protested outside the city's courthouse June 24 following the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark ruling that has protected the right to abortion nationwide for nearly 50 years.
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"It was a heartbreak, it was so disheartening," said Littleton resident Bev Obenchain.
The news of the Supreme Court's decision came as a gut punch for Obenchain who, while driving near the courthouse later in the afternoon, saw a couple people standing with signs. She decided to take part and, before she knew it, drew a small gathering of roughly 20 community members.
"I was so impressed, 20 people, all different ages, really engaged and you could feel they wanted to share their thinking," Obenchain said.
Littleton resident Margie Rodriguez, who said she's been an avid advocate for human rights for years, said she fears that her own daughters and granddaughters may not have the same rights and options that she did as a young woman.
"In my generation, we've had that ability if we needed it, to have an abortion," Rodriguez said, adding that she sees the ruling as an attack on people's freedoms and ability to make their own choices.
"I want a free and open society," she said. "It's frightening ... we don't want to go back, we don't want to go back."
Obenchain said the group talked about advocacy and ways they could respond to the court's ruling, which could threaten abortion access for tens of millions of people throughout the country.
Obenchain, who works for the nonprofit Vote Foward, urged fellow protesters to engage with elections, especially the upcoming 2022 midterms, which will decide control of Congress.
As someone who has dealt with her own tragedies recently, Obenchain said the conversations "made me feel like there was hope."
"It just gave me a lot of hope, maybe, if we all get energized, we won't lose our democracy," Obenchain said.
The shockwaves of the court's decision have already begun throughout the country, with nine states that have implemented abortion bans and at least 13 more expected to follow.
“Twenty-six million patients are going to live in a state that does not have abortion,” said Vicki Cowart, chief executive officer of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, in a previous interview with Colorado Community Media.
Clinics that provide abortion care across Colorado have already reported massive increases in people coming for abortion from other states.
Colorado lawmakers recently signed abortion access into state law. Gov. Jared Polis, in a June 24 statement, said Colorado "will continue to choose freedom, stand against government control over our bodies, and will not retreat to an archaic era where the powerful few controlled the freedoms over our bodies and health decisions."
Along with sounding the alarm over the loss of federal abortion protections, advocates and lawmakers have pointed to what the new precedent could mean for rulings protecting access to contraception and gay rights.
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, one of five justices who voted to strike down Row v. Wade, wrote June 24 in a concurring opinion that the court should “correct the error” of precedents that protect contraception use, same-sex relationships and same-sex marriage.
Obenchain and Rodriguez said the court's direction has only galvanized their resolve.
"You can't give up, you have to find ways to communicate with people ... and get human rights back in our country," Obenchain said.
"I will protest it until the day I die," Rodriguez said.
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