A coalition of women has begun a series of events in New Bedford in which they plan on standing out in support of keeping Roe v. Wade the law of the land.

Joanne Murray serves as the Executive Director of the Women’s Fund SouthCoast, but she also speaks for the Women’s Alliance of Southeastern Massachusetts, a coalition of women and others who have come together to fight for women’s rights.

“It’s a coalition of not-for-profits, for-profits and individuals who are working together to bring awareness and action to the developments that are happening in front of our eyes,” she said.

As part of that mission statement, the Women’s Alliance and the YWCA are partnering for a series of events every Wednesday in protest of the potential overturning of Roe v. Wade, following the leaked draft opinion by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito.

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The events will take place Wednesdays from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. outside of the Keith Hastings Federal Building, located at 53 N Sixth Street in New Bedford.

“We are committed, each of us, to producing women to show up,” Murray said. “We’re not just counting on women to show up; each of us is going to bring four or five people, and they're going to be new people, and they're not going to be people who might shun away from being called activists. We’re asking people to be active, to be agents in their own lives and agents in their community.”

Courtesy Leimary Llopiz
Courtesy Leimary Llopiz

The Women’s Alliance held the first event this past Wednesday, May 18.

“What was wonderful was that different people spoke up, not just the formal leaders of the organizations,” Murray said. “People were moved to speak up.”

She said each Wednesday’s program will be designed to fit in with what is happening both in national news and in New Bedford. She also said it’s important for men to take part as well.

“Men should be just as affected by this as women, and we need men to be out there helping to stop this,” Murray said. “It’s a way to get more members of the community involved and to understand we need everybody in this city to be active, be engaged, and help make a difference.”

Courtesy Leimary Llopiz
Courtesy Leimary Llopiz

Since the overturning Roe v. Wade has become a very real possibility, some have pointed to the fact that liberal Massachusetts is unlikely to outlaw abortion as a reason not to panic. However, Murray said the Women’s Alliance is worried the possible elimination of federal abortion protections is just the first change of many.

“This shift in how we are thinking about women’s right to choose is emblematic of a wall of legislation that’s going to come down,” she said. “For us to think of this as one issue is for us to have our eyes closed. It’s completely apparent that we will have direct threats to our democracy, and it’s the beginning of anybody who historically has been marginalized,” with same sex marriage, LGBTQ+ rights, access to healthcare and voting rights among the things she feels are threatened.

Courtesy Leimary Llopiz
Courtesy Leimary Llopiz

The Women’s Alliance was formed about a year and a half ago to bring together a group of those committed to fighting for these rights.

“We realized that a lot of organizations devoted to helping women and girls on the SouthCoast, and mostly in New Bedford at (that) time, were all working independently,” Murray said. “We were pushing on our two feet, and we were not complimenting each other. What we chose to do is join forces, become this women’s alliance, share information, and do two things…we lift each other up, and we take the time to organize together.”

She said with that in mind, she knew the talk of overturning Roe v. Wade was imminent and that the Women’s Alliance could do something to make a difference.

“This happened right underneath our nose. We’ve seen this coming. This was not a surprise,” she said. “I know that this coalition, we knew we needed to do more and go deeper.”

Hear Joanne Murray's WBSM interview beginning at the 21-minute mark below:

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