Several hundred community members gathered in Lawrence’s Watson Park Saturday afternoon for the annual Lawrence Women’s March, specifically raising awareness for issues of reproductive rights, attendees said.
The event began with a panel of speakers at Watson Park at 1:00 p.m., and concluded with a march down Massachusetts Street.
The protest was organized by several community members, including Patricia Willer, chair of the Douglas County Democratic Party, and Leslie Butsch, event coordinator for Planned Parenthood Great Plains.
“Our biggest fight right now in Kansas is a proposed constitutional amendment that could remove the right to abortion from the Kansas Constitution,” Butsch said.
The amendment, commonly referred to as the “Value Them Both” amendment, is on the Aug. 2022 ballot.
“If that happens, our state will be vulnerable to the kind of abortion bans we’ve seen recently in Texas,” Butsch said, referencing the recent Texas Senate Bill 8’s changes to reproductive healthcare access.
The event also featured other notable speakers, like state senator Marci Francisco.
“The Bill of Rights should continue to protect the natural rights of women just as it does men,” Francisco said. “This constitutional amendment would make a change not to the body of the constitution, but to our Kansas Bill of Rights.”
Among the activist groups and politicians present were younger community members. Several members of Lawrence Free State High School’s Young Democrats Club participated in the protest.
“As a young woman, I’ve been catcalled more times than I can count,” Free State High School freshman Bella Waggoner said. “I just know that if it happens to me, it’s happening to women younger than me too. I wanna fight for our rights.”
Protests similar to the one in Lawrence took place all over the country on Oct. 3, preceding the Supreme Court’s reconvening on Oct. 4.