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More than 1,000 join abortion rights rally in Fargo following U.S. Supreme Court's decision

Residents used words such as devastated, sad, disappointed and fear for the return to "back alley abortions"

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Destini Spaeth, the volunteer leader of the WIN Fund, speaks to the protesters who gathered at Quentin N. Burdick United States Courthouse for an abortion rights rally on Friday, June 24, 2022, in Fargo.
Alyssa Goelzer/The Forum
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FARGO — In the biggest protest and march in Fargo since the George Floyd rally in the summer of 2020, more than 1,000 residents rallied and marched Friday night, June 24, against the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

The crowd of young and old chanted, "my body, my choice" in a rally in front of the downtown federal courthouse.

Those attending used words such as sad, devastated and disappointed.

Erienne Fawcett, who was at the rally with her dog, used that word "devastated."

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Over 1,000 people march for abortion rights during a rally on Friday, June 24, 2022, that started at Quentin N. Burdick United States Courthouse and traveled to Fargo City Hall.
Alyssa Goelzer/The Forum

"I just lost a fundamental right today in this state," the younger Fargo woman said, referring to the North Dakota trigger law that will outlaw abortions in the state in the coming days.

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Susan DiFiore, who said she was almost 80, dragged her husband to the rally after a meal downtown. "I'm just really, really very disappointed," said the Moorhead woman. "It's going to mean nothing but trouble and we'll be returning to back alley abortions," she said. "I don't think a lot of people realize how it used to be."

Protest attendee Alice Christianson of Arizona, and a former longtime Fargo resident, knows all too well what happened in the earlier days. Christianson said her grandmother died of a self-induced abortion, adding she never got the chance to meet her and suggested her abusive grandfather was a part of the situation.

"I'm just really upset," Christianson said about the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that overturned almost 50 years of abortion rights in the country. "Abortion is never easy, but banning it is going to put a lot of people in difficult situations."

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Protesters hold up homemade signs at Fargo City Hall during an abortion rights rally on Friday, June 24, 2022.
Alyssa Goelzer/The Forum

Will Thompson, who just ran for Fargo City Commission, said the ruling was "federal overreach," and that the issue was about, "access to health care and privacy."

Conrad Larson, a transgender man who led the protest and march, said "so many people fought so hard" for abortion rights. "We will never go back," he said, eliciting another chant from the crowd.

Larson pointed out that the Red River Women's Clinic, the only clinic in North Dakota to perform abortions, was moving across the river to Moorhead. He urged people to donate to a GoFundMe page where he said more than $200,000 had been raised already for security, infrastructure and other needs for the move to the new facility.

Also speaking was Destini Spaeth, who fought back tears, as she talked about her statewide organization that will provide funds to women who may have to travel across state lines to access abortion services.

Spaeth, who's organization is called the North Dakota Women In Need, said "we want them to know we are there for them."

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Over 1,000 protesters hold up handmade signs and chant together during an abortion rights rally on Friday, June 24, 2022, at Quentin N. Burdick United States Courthouse in Fargo.
Alyssa Goelzer/The Forum

Larson, who then led the protesters on a march through downtown streets and to City Hall, said they had, "a right to take to the streets," while pondering whether gay rights or even human rights would be taken away next.

Larson added there are religious liberties, but none for women under the new abortion ban.

Despite the short notice, Larson was amazed at the size of the crowd who appeared in protest, and made note of the overall support abortion rights have in the country. "There's more of us than them."

Related Topics: FARGO
An almost 50-year veteran of the newspaper business, Amundson has worked for The Forum and Forum News Service for 15 years. He started as a sport reporter in Minnesota. He is currently the city and night reporter for The Forum. bamundson@forumcomm.com 701-451-5665
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