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Eugene Protests for Abortion Rights Ahead of Possible Overturning of Roe v. Wade

Beginning at 5 p.m., the night after a United States Supreme Court draft overturning both Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey was unprecedentedly leaked, the Eugene community came together for a protest at the Wayne Lyman Morse United States Courthouse beginning at 5 p.m.

The call-out by Women’s March for nationwide protests at 5 p.m. local time on May 3.

Reproductive Rights Under Attack 

The abortion rights protest was one of countless across the nation that were called-for by Women’s March to be held at 5 p.m. local time in front of “your local federal courthouse, federal building, town hall, or town square.” Making it clear that this was just the beginning, the call for protests ended by saying “keep showing up in larger and larger actions in the days, weeks, and months to come.”

The landmark SCOTUS decision that is Roe v. Wade occurred in 1973 and said that anyone choosing to have an abortion be constitutionally protected. In 1992, another landmark ruling, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, upheld Roe.  

On May 2, 2022, a SCOTUS decision draft written by conservative Associate Justice Samuel Anthony Alito Jr., was leaked to Politico showing that the nation’s highest court would overturn both landmark decisions. As MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell said, this is “the loss of a constitutional right” and it’s something that nobody under 50 years of age has ever seen happen before. 

“Mister, Mister, Keep Your Laws off My Sister”

By the time 5 p.m. rolled around, around 200 people had arrived in front of the federal courthouse in Eugene. More arrived in droves over the next 30 minutes and the crowd grew to between 500 and 700 people. 

At the courthouse, a few speeches were made after a land acknowledgement. A soon-to-be 18 year old named Paris read a poem titled “Medusa” they had written, too. While the speeches were being had, about 100 people remained focused on the street, waving their signs towards passing cars honking in support. 

Around 6:15 p.m., the crowd left the federal courthouse and set off on a march that would wind through downtown, stopping at both the Lane County Jail and also the Wayne Morse Free Speech Plaza at the county courthouse before ending back where they began. There was a brief stop at Kesey Square.

As the crowd marched, it thinned out to a couple hundred, and the Eugene Police Department voluntarily blocked off traffic on the side streets. Whenever they were close enough, the march’s chants switched from pro-choice to anti-cop such as when marching away from the jail. 

The one instance of confrontation was when marching downtown towards the free speech plaza and an individual in an SUV got upset that they couldn’t leave their parking garage. They aggressively backed up in front of the march’s corkers. The corkers, undeterred, put a bicycle under the front of their vehicle to keep them from going forward. 

At the county courthouse, the crowd overflowed the free speech plaza into the surrounding sidewalk and street.0

There, a few more speeches were held before walking back towards the federal courthouse. Arriving back at it’s starting point, the march was now flanked on both sides with EPD vehicles — no less than six cruisers sat on the Coburg Rd. overpass.

During the final speeches, one man, who was singled-out and suspected of being an undercover police officer, ran away from the crowd after protesters started to photograph him. He ran down the street, gestured to a pair of EPD vehicles parked on the side of the road before they left, and he ran across the street. 

The protest formally ended around 7:40 p.m. after a note from the march’s organizers for those present to go home in pairs. 

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