Fireworks, Barbecues and an Abortion Demonstration Close Out Fourth of July Weekend in the Copper Country

While many celebrated the weekend with fireworks and backyard barbecues. Some residents embraced the rain yesterday as they demonstrated in favor of abortion rights in Michigan, from Veteran’s Memorial Park in Houghton. Protestors said, while reactions were mixed, the majority of the feedback consisted of positive honks and shouts from passing cars. Keweenaw Youth for Climate Action member Gabriel Ahrendet, said he believes it’s important for people who believe in reproductive freedom to raise their voices, especially on the Fourth of July.

So, we think that everyone should deserve religious freedom, everyone should have the same freedoms, same as any Christian, same as person. They should have the right life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. So we’re out here to demonstrate that we are not okay, and we will not be celebrating the country. Because a country is only as good as the people that are in it. And you can kind of, give all these vaunted and lofty ideals about a country. But it doesn’t mean anything if that country constantly oppressing people and taking away their freedoms. And so that’s why we’re out here today, just to demonstrate, kind of, what we think an ideal America, free America could look like, and it’s not like this. – Gabriel Ahrendet, Hancock, Keweenaw Youth for Climate Action

Some demonstrators collected petition signatures. The petition language would make reproductive rights a constitutional right under state law. Leaders of the movement are concerned about gathering enough signatures before the deadline to submit ballot language to the state.

Living here in Hancock, Michigan, the closest place that I have found to receive reproductive healthcare, that is for low income or sliding scale individuals, is in Marquette, Michigan. At the Planned Parenthood there. And I’ve seen how people here in Houghton County, and rural areas throughout the state of Michigan have struggled to receive care. – Audrey Gerard, Hancock, Michigan Reproductive Freedom for All Petitioner

Audrey Gerard, said access to reproductive health care was already a struggle for many who live in rural areas. She said following the Supreme Court’s decision it will be nearly impossible for vulnerable populations including the poor, minorities, and young Americans to get abortion care. The closest reproductive health center in the Upper Peninsula is Planned Parenthood in Marquette. That location does not provide full procedures, but they do have access to abortion pills, that are effective up to the 11th week of pregnancy. The closest access to abortion procedures is in St. Paul, Minnesota.