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Progressive Democrats rally for abortion rights, vow to replace Van Drew in November

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President Joe Biden heard from Democratic governors Friday about alternatives for protecting abortion access following the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade. One day after returning from international summits in Europe, Biden described the ruling as "tragic" and warned that Republicans could try to enact a nationwide ban on abortion if they retake control of Congress. He urged Democrats to elect at least two more senators so they could create an exception to the filibuster and codify in law the protections that had been provided under Roe v. Wade. At least two Democratic senators, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, have blocked efforts to sidestep the filibuster. The party would need unanimous backing from the Senate's 48 Democrats and two allied independents, plus the tie-breaking vote of Vice President Kamala Harris, to make that rules change over solid GOP opposition.

MAYS LANDING — Vowing to replace pro-life U.S. Rep. Jeff Van Drew in November, about 100 pro-choice activists held a rally Friday outside his congressional office to demand reproductive rights be restored to women.

The U.S. Supreme Court voted last month to overturn the nearly 50-year-old Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion in all 50 states, turning the issue back to the states.

“I fought for it back when I could be needing an abortion,” said Julie Powell, of the Dorothy section of Weymouth Township, who is beyond her childbearing years. “I’m fighting for girls who might need it now.”

Her sign, which she held up at the rally sponsored by CD-2 Progressive Democrats, read “Pro Choice, Pro Democracy.”

Many cars tooted their horns in support as they passed, while a few people yelled out their opposition to abortion through open windows.

Across Main Street from the demonstration, abortion opponent John Anderson, who declined to say where he lived for fear of retaliation, yelled out “Abortion is racism,” angering many in the crowd.

Next to Powell, Diane Faherty, of Brigantine held a sign that was a bit more pointed.

“Neuter Van Drew, Vote Blue,” it read.

“We’ve had 50 years of free access to reproductive health care, and now we have five Supreme Court justices ... taking rights away from women,” Faherty said.

New Jersey state law and the state constitution will continue to allow women to make their own decisions about continuing a pregnancy, but many in the crowd said they were concerned about the rights of women in other states.

“What matters is keeping our rights. This is not something that is going to go away. Keep the protests going. Keep the momentum going,” said former congressional candidate Carolyn Rush, 60, of Sea Isle City. She encouraged the crowd to vote for her primary opponent, 2nd Congressional District Democratic candidate Tim Alexander, of Galloway Township, in November.

Rush’s sign read, “Can we talk about the elephant in the womb?” with a drawing of a GOP elephant in a woman’s uterus.

“The court just got started with abortion. Next they are going to do the same thing with same-sex marriage, then interracial marriage,” Alexander said of the court reversing other precedent that relied on the concept of privacy in the Constitution.

In the majority opinion, the justices said there is no privacy guarantee in the U.S. Constitution.

Among others speaking was Juliet Hankerson, who is running for Cape May County commissioner and said she is the first Black woman to run for that position in that county.

“This is not a scriptural issue,” said Hankerson, who is a reverend. She said many believe we are not living souls until we take our first breath. “That is not until delivery.”

Zariah Taylor, 24, of Galloway, said she was there to support other women.

“I was the victim of rape, and I had an abortion due to that,” Taylor said. “It’s a choice. It’s not an easy choice, but as women it’s important we make the decisions.”

There will be another pro-choice rally outside Van Drew’s office at 5 p.m. Wednesday, sponsored by the Egg Harbor Township Democratic Club.

REPORTER: Michelle Brunetti Post


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Staff Writer

In my first job after college got paid to read the New York Times and summarize articles for an early online data base. First reporting job was with The Daily Record in Parsippany. I have also worked in nonprofits, and have been with The Press since 1990.

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