When confronted by a man who disliked the group of protesters’ signs and flags, Connor Weir remarked to him, “Your reproductive rights are being stripped from you.”
The man replied briefly, “I have no reproductive rights.
Weir coldly replied, “And that’s why your voice shouldn’t be part of the conversation.”
A group calling itself the “Central Nebraska Social Justice Coalition,” along with their partners and supporters, gathered at the Adams County Courthouse in Hastings on Saturday following the Kool-Aid Days parade that morning.
Michelle Smith has been coordinating such events locally since Roe v. Wade was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court on June 24.
The group fights for abortion rights in Nebraska and also addresses social justice issues associated with abortion rights, Smith explained.
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In addition to self-care events and vigils, the group held weekly protests on the corner of Seventh and Burlington in Hastings.
These became “working Wednesdays”, with the group focusing on writing letters to their legislators.
On August 8, it was announced that a special legislative session would not be held to change the state’s abortion laws.
Smith credits this to these grassroots efforts and “making our voices heard.”
“When we were doing protests, we got horns in support. People join us at events,” she said. “It’s good to know we’re not alone in this, especially in rural Nebraska.”
Activist Lynn Zeleski said the group’s efforts are going well.
“We are active and try to stand up and speak truth to power,” she said, “but sometimes it’s very intimidating when you hear all the misinformation and outright lies. It’s like , how to reach these people?”
Inspiring for Zeleski is seeing the strength of his allies in those moments when they are met with outrage and hostility.
“For years I was there and I got old, and it was like no one took it back. What’s going to happen to my son’s generation and my grandchildren’s generation To see someone in their 30s starting to pick up the slack and get other people active and networking in the community is very uplifting,” she said.
Zeleski is also happy that the special session attempt failed.
“It’s so frustrating that they presage and promote like pregnancy is the easiest thing in the world to do, and it’s not. There are so many things that can go wrong,” a- she said, “We are an agricultural community. We should know that in biology things are not going well and that this kind of thing should not cost the life of the person who has the womb.”
She added: “For me, that’s practicing medicine without a license.”
The group’s efforts will continue until the November general election, Smith said.
“We will continue to have our “work Wednesdays”. Right now they are scheduled until September, but I imagine they will continue until the election, because we are definitely prioritizing the need to get our senators and pro-choice candidates elected to protect us and support us,” she said.
It’s important for women to tell their stories, Zeleski said.
“They can’t deny it, contrary to what they say,” she said. “A lot of times things go wrong and people need to know that there are many reasons. There should be no committee. There should be no law. You cannot prohibit a procedure that may affect cancer treatments and epilepsy treatments. It’s just crazy what they’re trying to do.
To join the Central Nebraska Social Justice Coalition, visit their private Facebook group at www.facebook.com/groups/423587249667364.