Roe v. Wade ruling reverberates in the Upper Valley

  • Dartmouth College graduate students Teja Chatty, right, and Aileen Eagleton, left, joined at rally on the green in Hanover, N.H., in response to the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, ending the the right to abortion on Friday, June 24, 2022. Eagleton circulated a petition at the rally on behalf of the Student Workers Organized for Reproductive Rights at Dartmouth pressuring the college for improved access to abortion and reproductive healthcare on campus. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News — James M. Patterson

  • After speaking to more than 200 people gathered at a rally in response to the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, Debra Birenbaum, of Norwich, an OBGYN, right, rejoins Anna Childs, of White River Junction, middle, kissing baby Mayotta Barrell, and Amy Wait, of Bradford, left, on the green in Hanover, N.H., on Friday, June 24, 2022. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News photographs — James M. Patterson

  • Dartmouth College graduate students Teja Chatty, right, and Aileen Eagleton, left, joined at rally on the green in Hanover, N.H., in response to the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, ending the the right to abortion on Friday, June 24, 2022. Eagleton circulated a petition at the rally on behalf of the Student Workers Organized for Reproductive Rights at Dartmouth pressuring the college for improved access to abortion and reproductive healthcare on campus. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News — James M. Patterson

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    Mary Jane Mulligan, of Hanover, right, cheers on Dartmouth freshman Grace Hillery, left, as she speaks at a rally on the green in Hanover, N.H., in response to the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and end the constitutional right to abortion on Friday, June 24, 2022. Hillery told the group that she was raised in a fundamentalist Christian household that would protest outside abortion clinics and knows their life-long committment to the pro-life cause. "Access to information and education has allowed me to overcome the ideology I was raised with," she said, and encouraged others at the rally to stay involved and vote for candidates that support women's reproductive rights. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 6/24/2022 10:00:43 PM
Modified: 6/24/2022 10:05:29 PM

HANOVER — After the news broke that the Supreme Court had overturned Roe v. Wade, state politicians, health care providers and residents of the Upper Valley began asking questions about the future of abortion access in the area.

“I’m just beyond distraught,” Norwich resident Corlan Johnson said at a pro-abortion rights rally Friday evening on the corner of the Dartmouth Green and Main Street. “I’m old. Women used to have to go to Mexico and Sweden for abortions. Here we are again.”

The ruling Friday marks a decisive blow to abortion access. It overturns the Roe decision, which said the U.S. Constitution generally protects a woman’s right to have an abortion.

When the Roe v. Wade decision was handed down in 1973, it struck down many state and federal laws banning or limiting abortion, and it served for decades as a bulwark against new restrictions. Its overturning opens new doors for state Legislatures eager to end the practice, including laws in multiple states that will go into effect immediately or within 30 days of Roe’s end, having already been passed with trigger clauses anticipating the decision.

Others on the green in Hanover voiced distress, even if they were prepared for the news.

“I don’t have a uterus, but I know this is a moment where a lot of people are realizing that this system is not built for us,” said Ian Scott, a Dartmouth sophomore from Florida. “This has been clear for a while.”

Lebanon City Councilor Karen Liot Hill described the ruling as worst-case scenario.

“Now the spotlight is really going to be on state legislators,” Liot Hill said in a phone interview. “There’s no doubt that if the Republicans gain the majority again in the fall, they’re going to keep rolling back reproductive rights in New Hampshire.”

The Republican-led Legislature last summer passed ban on abortions after 24 weeks’ gestation through a trailer bill attached to the state budget. This year legislators added one exception to the ban, in cases of fatal fetal anomalies, but opted not to add exceptions for survivors of rape or incest.

Others, like Bruce Perlo, chairman of Sullivan County Republicans, welcomed the return of decision-making power to the state level.

“One size just doesn’t fit all,” Perlo said via phone Friday. “This discussion is a matter of personal conscience, and we have a wide range of those in New Hampshire.”

This range was on display at the New Hampshire Statehouse in May, when Republicans halted efforts to codify legal abortion into state law.

Democrats in the Legislature warned against feeling too comfortable about protected reproductive rights in the Granite State.

“Now that Roe v. Wade has slipped away from us, there is the possibility that a more restrictive ban could be put in place,” said New Hampshire state Sen. Sue Prentiss, a Lebanon Democrat. “It’s hard to imagine that someone’s not going to try to push this issue further.

Still, Prentiss emphasized the fact that despite the Supreme Court ruling, abortion remains legal in New Hampshire.

In a statement released Friday, Dartmouth Health said it would continue to provide abortions and that the health care provider remains “unwavering in its belief in the sanctity of the patient-physician relationship to make the best-informed decisions for patients.”

“Pregnancy comes with a mortality rate,” said Dr. Ellen Joyce, an OBGYN at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. “You should go into it wanting to do it and knowing the risks. Bodily autonomy should be non-negotiable.”

Dr. Joyce also expressed concern about the impact on doctors and health care workers.

“This decision puts providers in weird positions,” she said. “Someone comes into the emergency room bleeding and having a miscarriage. Are they having a miscarriage? Did they do something to themselves? If you’re providing care in one of these states that will soon outlaw abortion, or have already, it’s going to be confusing at a lot of levels to do your job.”

Longtime Norwich resident Nancy Gardiner, at the Friday rally in Hanover, said she spent the last few years canvassing and phone banking for Planned Parenthood.

“This fight has been ongoing,” Gardiner said of others’ efforts to overturn Roe v. Wade. “We’ve just been trying to push it off.

“What we’ve got to do now is vote.”

Frances Mize is a Report for American corps member. She can be reached at fmize@vnews.com or 603-727-3242.




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