Hundreds of people marched down Court Street in Salem on Tuesday, May 3, for an abortion rights rally following the leak of a draft Supreme Court opinion which would overturn Roe v. Wade (Rachel Alexander/Salem Reporter)

Julia Cooley used to attend abortion rights rallies in the 1960s, when bake sales helped raise money for feminist causes and abortion remained illegal in most states.

She said stories from women who had had unsafe, illegal abortions with questionable doctors stuck with her.

“What I do remember is the women who would come up and talk about the abortions that they had and how horrible it was and how they were harmed,” she said.

The 71-year-old Salem resident was among hundreds of people who gathered in Riverfront Park Tuesday evening for an abortion rights rally following the leak Monday night of a draft Supreme Court opinion which would overturn Roe v. Wade and let individual states make their own laws about abortion.

Cooley attended with her friend and neighbor, 51-year-old Deb O’Connor, wearing matching shirts reading “Vasectomies prevent abortion.”

Both women said they had abortions after Roe v. Wade legalized the procedure nationwide in 1973 and didn’t want to see the U.S. slide back to women resorting to unsafe, illegal abortions following a ban.

Hundreds of gathered at the Capitol Mall on Tuesday, May 3, for an abortion rights rally following the leak of a draft Supreme Court opinion which would overturn Roe v. Wade (Rachel Alexander/Salem Reporter)

Cooley, a grandmother, said she learned of the Supreme Court draft opinion Tuesday morning from her husband and came out to object to “the overwhelming cluster(expletive) of this situation.”

The rally and march drew a diverse crowd to the park, including families with young children, senior citizens and a number of Democratic politicians running for state and local offices.

Most marched to the Capitol down State Street and Northeast Court Street, blocking traffic while chanting “My body, my choice” and holding signs reading “Everyone loves someone who had an abortion” and “We will not go back” with a picture of a coat hanger.

The group gathered at the Oregon Capitol Mall following the march for speeches, with the event ending around 8 p.m.

(Video by Rachel Alexander/Salem Reporter)

Arieana Henry, of Salem, said she came out to the event “because it’s our (expletive) right.”

Though abortion is legal in Oregon without restriction and will remain so if Roe is overturned, Henry said she was concerned about Republican candidates running for governor who oppose legal abortion and might seek to limit it if they’re elected.

Rachel Ihmud, of Monmouth, attended while pregnant with her third child. She said pregnancy hadn’t changed her views on abortion.

“It’s every woman’s individual right to choose for themselves,” she said.

Salem resident Sarah Evans said she was grateful to live in a state where abortion will remain legal, but said it’s important for national leaders to see a strong showing of support for abortion rights even in states with restrictive laws on the books.

Evans said she worried most about woman who won’t have the option to access abortion if the final Supreme Court ruling overturns Roe. Thirteen states have so-called “trigger laws” on the books which will ban most or all abortion in the event Roe is overturned.

“I worry about what will happen to women,” she said.

A banner reading "Abortion Saves Lives" hangs in front of the Capitol on Tuesday, May 3, during an abortion rights rally following the leak of a draft Supreme Court opinion which would overturn Roe v. Wade (Rachel Alexander/Salem Reporter)

Contact reporter Rachel Alexander: [email protected] or 503-575-1241.

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