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Abortion Rights Rally Planned In Springfield, Fundraiser In Amherst


Hoping to keep momentum going from the Women’s March on Washington last month, a rally is scheduled tomorrow in Springfield, Massachusetts.  Another event Saturday in western Massachusetts will raise money for an abortion rights fund.

  The “Our Bodies, Our Justice” rally in Springfield Saturday will focus on “reproductive justice” with speakers expected to talk about how defunding organizations like Planned Parenthood and restricting legal access to abortion will disproportionately harm poor people and minorities.

  The demonstration, scheduled for 1-3 p.m. at Springfield City Hall, is not focused exclusively on abortion rights, according to Lindsey Sabadosa, a co-chairperson of the rally.

" That is not the world we live in any more, everything is interconnected," she said. " We are a multi-issue rally under the umbrella of reproductive justice."

The impetus for many who show up Saturday will no doubt be the perceived threat to women’s healthcare posed by the Republican majority in Washington. The event will try to rally support behind a bill in Massachusetts that would require insurers to continue to cover birth control without co-pays, if that is eliminated from federal law.

  Scheduled speakers include Jossie Valentin, a  social justice activist and Holyoke  City Councilor, Denise Hurst, a Springfield School Committee member, State Rep. Aaron Vega, and  Donna Stern of the Massachusetts Nurses Association.

         There will also be musical performers and dancers.

  " It is a political event, and we'll be talking about a lot of important issues, but we are going to have fun while we do it," said  Sabadosa.

  The rally is sponsored by a dozen organizations affiliated with a variety of causes.

The rally was in jeopardy for a time earlier this week when organizers learned they had not obtained the city permits required.  Mayor Domenic Sarno granted approval for the rally in the interest of “freedom of speech” even though all the city licensing guidelines were not followed.

" We've dotted the I's and cross the T's and we are ready to go with permit in hand," Sabadosa said Friday.

The Abortion Rights Fund of Western Massachusetts will hold its annual “Roe Event” Saturday at  the Red Barn at Hampshire College 4-6 p.m. It’s a fundraiser for the organization that provides financial help for women seeking abortions. 

Carrie Baker, a member of the organization’s board of directors, said the fund helped 260 women last year.

  " Sometimes people say ' We have MassHealth, so why do we need this service?'  But the fact is that people need additional funds because many are working poor with high insurance deductibles. Immigrants, veterans and other federal employees don't have coverage. So, we try to fill the gaps and assist people in times of crisis," said Baker.

Yamani Hernandez, who heads the National Network of Abortion Funds, is the keynote speaker at the event in Amherst.

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