Despite the continuous snowfall, a group of Fairbanksans showed up to support abortion rights on Saturday at a rally dubbed Fairbanks Day of Action. The event, which included speakers and a car parade, was part of the nation-wide Day of Action to Protect Abortion, organized by Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates.
Fairbanksans gathered socially distant in the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Taku parking lot to hear speeches before embarking on the car parade. A group of pro-life counter protestors also attended the rally, holding signs with messages such as “Pray to end Abortion.”
Fairbanks Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates organizer KC Casort explained in their speech that the event was important because, “Our right to access safe, legal abortion is in the most serious danger it has been in in 48 years.”
The day of action was organized in response to a recent law passed by Texas lawmakers that bans abortion as early as six weeks. The law makes abortions illegal if a fetal heartbeat is detected. It also provides no exceptions for cases of rape, incest or sexual abuse, and allows residents to sue abortion providers or anyone who helps a woman obtain an abortion.
At six weeks, many women do not even know they are pregnant. Casort said the Texas abortion ban is a reality that Alaska should not let happen.
The Texas law is not an isolated bill but part of a larger trend; more than 90 abortion restrictions were enacted across the United States in the past year. The Alaska State Legislature passed anti-abortion bills in the 2021 session, but none of them restrict abortion access in the state. There is also concern about Roe v. Wade being overturned. Casort explained that losing rights currently guaranteed by Roe v. Wade would disproportionately harm minorities, low income populations and rural Alaskans.
The goal of the Saturday rally was to be a visible presence in support of keeping abortion legal and to protest those who try to undermine abortion rights.
“Today, thousands of people across the country are speaking up and saying that we will not go back. This is 2021, and our right to abortion is non-negotiable,” Casort said in their opening remarks. Abortion, according to Casort, is not only “essential health care,” but “fundamental to having control over our bodies and futures.”
Rallies are an organizing tactic that has worked to protect abortion rights in the past, including in Alaska.
“Together, socially distant, we are mounting an effort to fight back and protect the rights of all people. Individual rights and freedoms go to the heart of who we are, including the right to safe, legal abortion,” Casort said.
Throughout Alaska, Day of Action events were held in Anchorage, Juneau and Utqiagvik.