A Supreme Rally

About 1,000 protesters stood outside of the Wayne Morse Federal Courthouse in Eugene, holding up signs and chanting in support of Roe v. Wade and reproductive rights. The protesters, who later marched through downtown Eugene, were there for Planned Parenthood Advocates June 24 rally. 

Later that same night, still more protesters gathered outside Dove Medical, a faith-based and pro-abstinence “pregnancy diagnosis” center.

The chants and the car honks in support of the protesters at the federal courthouse were so loud that at times it was difficult to hear speakers at the  rally, which was already organized and awaiting for the U.S. Supreme Court’s expected 6-3 vote on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.The decision overturning the 50 years of legal access constitutionally guaranteed under Roe v. Wade was issued the morning of June 24.

Speakers from the event included Planned Parenthood of Southwestern Oregon Board of Directors member Karmen Fore, local Planned Parenthood staff, Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries Commissioner and 4th Congressional District candidate Val Hoyle and University of Oregon student and poet Paris Woodward-Ganz. 

After the hour-long event, protesters marched through downtown Eugene, being met with overall support from onlookers.“Planned Parenthood has been planning for this day for over two years since the last administration made it clear they plan to dismantle personal freedoms and right to privacy,” Fore said at the event. “We will be there for our patients for the care they seek.” 

She added that abortion care is health care and the Supreme Court’s decision strips the health care right across the U.S. “We will see people without the means seek substandard care and people will die, as they did pre-Roe,” she said. 

Protesters stand outside the Wayne Morse Federal Courthouse

Despite a few hecklers from the crowd asking for real people, not politicians, Hoyle addressed the crowd, saying that just because abortion is safe in Oregon doesn’t mean it always will be. “Understand that they’re coming after us,” she said. “And we are going to fight back today.” 

If Hoyle wins in November, she would be the first woman elected to Oregon’s 4th District congressional seat.

Who’s in office right now matters, Hoyle said. “Our Senate right now won’t appoint anti-choice judges. And in the House they will support right now pro-choice votes.” 

Paris Woodward-Ganz said they woke up in shock to see the U.S. Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade, legal precedent that protected legal abortions throughout the country. 

“I was infuriated. I was enraged. At first I didn’t know what to do,” Woodward-Ganz tells Eugene Weekly after the rally. “But the way I get things out is through poetry.” They contacted Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon, the organizers of the rally, to read their poem “Mythos.” 

After the lineup spoke, the organizers opened the forum for members from the crowd, some of whom spoke about their experiences with accessing reproductive rights, including the need for abortions. 

After the rally, about 1,200 protesters marched through the streets of downtown Eugene, stopping traffic. During the near-two hour march, the group marched from the federal courthouse to downtown Eugene to 5th Street Public Market and back to the courthouse. 

Protesters march on Broadway in downtown Eugene

Throughout the march, people in cars honked in support and cheered from restaurants. There were only a few negative encounters with drivers trying to go through the crowd. 

While at the courthouse at the end of the protest, protesters stopped traffic on Coburg Road. A driver, with a Blue Lives Matter bumper sticker on the car, hit one protester. Officers in a Eugene Police Department squad car saw the crash and chased the driver, prompting cheers from the crowd. 

EPD spokesperson Melinda McLaughlin says via email that the report hasn’t been submitted, so it’s unknown if the driver was charged with anything. 

The day of protests against the overturning of Roe v. Wade ended with a 10 pm “Night of Rage” protest outside of Dove Medical Center, a self-proclaimed faith-based and abstinence-only “pregnancy diagnosis” group. According to James Croxton, editor in chief of Double Sided Media, EPD pulled in within 15 minutes of protesters arriving.  

According to tweets by Croxton, EPD was dressed in riot gear and had crowd munitions ready to use on the protesters. 

The protesters stayed until around 2 am, according to Croxton, and Springfield Police Department officers arrived to try and disperse the crowd. He also noted the presence of Homeland Security. Croxton also reported that a counter-protester was present with an AR-15. 

In a June 25 press release, McLaughlin said EPD used so-called inert PepperBall munitions, which are not filled with the harmful pepper chemical. Crouton posted a photo of at least one protester bruised by the rounds. EPD arrested 10 protesters, most of whom have been charged with disorderly conduct.