A “Vote No” rally was held by Emporia Community Action outside of White Auditorium to encourage people in the community to vote against anti-abortion legislation on Aug. 2.
Alexis Lowder, who is a member of Emporia Community Action, spoke to the other members about setting up a rally after hearing that Roe v. Wade had been overturned.
“I reached out in the group chat the day that the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and was just like ‘Hey, does anybody want to have a protest because this is pretty bad and a good opportunity to encourage people to come out on August 2 and vote no,’” Lowder said.
Lowder believes that this rally is important because the proposed legislation, which is known as the “Value Them Both” Constitutional Amendment, could lead to extreme abortion bans in the future.
“What this amendment will do is it will open the door for our state legislature, which has an anti-abortion, Republican supermajority, to pass extreme abortion bans like the ones we’re seeing rolled out in other states around the country,” Lowder said.
Also, Lowder said that if this legislation was to pass, people will have to travel to obtain the reproductive healthcare that they need.
“People will have to travel to Colorado or to Illinois, I think would be the closest places that people could get this care which is often an issue of life or death,” Lowder said. “The thing about the anti-abortion amendment is that it does not make any exceptions for rape, incest, or if the pregnant person’s life is in danger.”
Those attending the rally thought that protesting was important for numerous reasons.
Don Hill, former Kansas House Representative, said that this rally was important because it informs people about issues in Kansas.
“I think anything that raises awareness, especially in the circumstance that we have an August primary, typically such low turnout. Very seldom any primary on the Democrat side and obviously the unaffiliated don’t often vote, so it’s really an important issue and things like this, frankly on both sides, encourage participation.”
Emily Casey thinks that this rally is important to protect the right to a safe abortion.
“I think it’s really important because you can’t regulate abortion,” Casey said. “They’re going to happen regardless, it’s just depending on if they’re safe or not. More women and people are going to die, and more children are going to die this way.”
Mic McGuire, candidate for the Kansas House of Representatives, also attended the rally and gave a speech. During that speech, he said that he does not support the proposed legislation and that he will not vote for anti-abortion legislation if he gets elected as a representative.
“I think a woman has a great intelligence that men don’t have, especially when it comes to their bodies. I know how my body works, but I do not know how my wife’s body works. She has to tell me sometimes how her body is working, and I’m OK with that. But I do not want to tell a woman how her body is going to function. That’s not my job. As a legislator, as a man, not even as a pastor. I am not there to tell a woman how to run her body,” McGuire said during his speech.
Lowder said that she was very happy with the turnout of the rally, as approximately 200 people were present.
“I am thrilled with the turnout,” Lowder said. “It was heartening to see so many people in our community show up, and so many brave individuals shared difficult personal stories that remind me of why abortion is worth fighting for.”
Across the street, outside of the Emporia Public Library, other community members organized a gathering that included a silent vigil and prayers.
Chester Morris, pastor at Church of the New Covenant, said that they set up the gathering to pray for the people who were at the rally. Approximately 30 people were present.
“I think it’s important because one of the commandments of God is ‘Thou shall not murder,’ and what they’re doing and trying to get others to do is to accept murdering an unborn child,” Morris said. “The thing about it is that I’m just going to follow God. I don’t care what anybody thinks, God loves each and every one of them, and deeply loves them. Enough that he allowed his son to die on the cross for all of our sins. We’re praying for them.”
Lene Forbes was present at the gathering, and she spoke about why she thinks “Value Them Both” should be passed.
“Late-term abortion is what we have in our state, and Value Them Both says we do not want our taxes going to abortions, we do not want late-term abortions, and we want the clinic where they do the abortion to be sanitary and have to be inspected because you would not believe the stories that they find. Fetuses on the floor, in refrigerators, stacked in styrofoam cups.”
Christy Grant, who was also present, said that she felt the gathering was important because they hope that hearts will be opened by their prayers.
“God tells us to [pray]. You know, he says ‘Two or more gathered in my name,’ he will answer those prayers, so that is our prayer, that what we prayed for here in this circle, that hearts will be opened and minds will be changed.”
Registration for the August 2 primary ends at 5 p.m. July 12. Kansans can vote in advance through a mail ballot starting on July 13 through July 26. Advance voting in person begins at the Lyon County Courthouse on July 18.