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Reproductive rights rally draws crowd in Waynesville

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Cory Vaillancourt
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Heather Hyatt Packer, an organizer of the reproductive rights rally in Waynesville, addresses the crowd.

A leaked draft opinion from the U.S. Supreme Court and the possibility that a landmark abortion ruling gets overturned has people protesting across the country.

A reproductive rights rally in Waynesville highlighted the deep national divisions over abortion — and may be a sign of things to come, according to Stefani Potter.

“I started marching with my aunt in 1968 and I’ve been marching ever since,” Potter said.

More than 50 years later, Potter joined about 50 others at the Haywood County courthouse on May 14 to support Roe v. Wade.

The 1973 case ensured the constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy based on constitutional rights to privacy. Two weeks ago, a draft opinion from the Supreme Court suggested that the critical ruling could soon be overturned.

Waynesvillle_May_16_2022_ReproductiveRights_Rally_CV_2_cropped.jpg
Cory Vaillancourt
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A man walks with his dogs through the middle of a reproductive rights rally, causing a brief disruption.

“Where does it end?” asked Heather Hyatt Packer, who organized the rally with We Are WNC, a group in Haywood County promoting left-leaning causes. “If we can repeal those rights, overturn the decision of Roe v. Wade, then who’s to say that gay marriage is secure? That we can’t move forward with transgender rights? I mean, it’s a very slippery slope.”

Across the street, Thomas Sutton and about 10 members of a group called the Haywood Militia watched the event.

“Well, I stand on the other side,” Sutton said. “I’m pro-life. I feel that abortion is murder. You’re taking the life of an innocent child. God says he knew me before I was formed in the womb. Which means that I am a life from conception.”

Another man walked through the rally with two large dogs, exchanging words with the crowd before being ushered away by police.

Overall, confrontations was minimal, however Roe v. Wade hasn’t been overturned yet, so there could be more rallies supporting and opposing the case, if and when that happens.

The ruling from the court is expected this summer.