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MN Capitol rally calls for abortion rights protection

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A crowd gathered for a protest against abortion bans at the state Capitol.
A crowd gathered for a protest against abortion bans Tuesday at the state Capitol in St. Paul. The demonstration was one of 350 events across the country.
Christine T. Nguyen | MPR News

Hundreds of people gathered on and near the Capitol steps Tuesday to support abortion rights, part of a nationwide response to laws passed in other states recently that ban nearly all abortions, or severely restrict them.

"We are here because our very lives are at stake," said Sarah Stoesz, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota.

Stoesz said she fears what will happen if those rights are rescinded. She said she remembers how women risked having unsafe abortions before the United States Supreme Court ruled nearly 50 years ago in Roe v. Wade that a women's right to an abortion was protected by the Constitution. 

Halie Juneau of Excelsior takes part in a protest against abortion bans.
Halie Juneau of Excelsior takes part in a protest against abortion bans at the state Capitol in St. Paul on Tuesday.
Christine T. Nguyen | MPR News

"It is 2019!" she shouted as the crowd began to chant, "No more! No more!"

Other speakers urged the demonstrators to be politically active and to vote for candidates supporting abortion-rights and reject those who oppose them.

A few shared very personal stories. A woman identifying herself as Bethany described her own agonizing decision to have an abortion last year.

A crowd gathered for a protest against abortion bans at the state Capitol.
A crowd gathered for a protest against abortion bans at the state Capitol in St. Paul.
Christine T. Nguyen | MPR News

She said doctors told her and husband that their unborn son was dying. And while Bethany chose to share what she called the worst thing she ever experienced in front of crowd of strangers, she said every woman who makes that choice deserves privacy.

"My message to the people pushing these laws is simple: Leave me alone. Leave all of us alone," she said.  "Our reasons are none of your business."

Kaia Emerson Pelstring of Mound brought her daughter Sadie Emerson to the Capitol. Emerson Pelstring said there's a heightened sense of worry over the fate of Roe v. Wade.

"I think the stacking [of] the Republican judges in all the federal courts and including the Supreme Court was very strategic," said Emerson Pelstring. "And now they think it's their time."

Hundreds gather at the Capitol for an abortion rights rally in St Paul.
Hundreds gather at the Capitol for an abortion rights rally in St Paul.
Christine Nguyen | MPR News

Sadie Emerson said she hopes the message that comes from the rally will be clear.

"We're not backing down," said Emerson. "We're going to do everything we can to make sure that this doesn't pass in our home state and I hope women across the country are making efforts to make sure it doesn't happen in their states."