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.

A blue flyer with the Women's March logo in the corner. It calls for nationwide protests at 5pm local time at nearby federal/state buildings or squares.
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. 

Photo Galleries:

  • A sea of people looking out from the federal courthouse looks near towards the camera.
  • Lucy Vinis, the city's mayor, is wearing a blue and white plaid sports coat as she applauds the speaker. There are perople around her but she's centered.
  • The side of an apartment building showing two individuals standing on an outside patio with a sign.
  • a photo of an older woman with short hair throwing thumbs up outside of her drivers side window as she drives by
  • A photo of a protester in the center of the shot looking to their right and pointing at an EPD officer. THe march walks by behind them both.
  • A number of protesters, holding signs, march towards the camera. There's a doggo, too.
  • A sea of people holding signs up marching through downtown Eugene.
  • A silver EPD pickup with camper blocks the road. There are two officers outside and one inside.
  • Countless people, holding signs, march through a downtown street. The photo is looking down towards them.
  • A photo through a parking garage's metal railing shows a woman holding up her keys and right fist while holding her phone, presumably recording, towards the crowd in her left.
  • A couple dozen protesters in this frame. A few are closer up and larger because of it. They all have their right fists up in the air and the sun is shining through them from the back towards the camera.
  • A young individual with short dark hair and wearing black looks on with a smile while holding a loudspeaker.
  • A pink sign is held up showing a square bordered snake in the shap of a uterus. Below it, in black, it says "Don't Tread on Me"

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