More than 200 pro-choice women and some men on Saturday at Lake Sumter Landing joined millions of Americans nationwide to protest the potential reversal of abortion rights by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Three speakers, Villagers Dee Melvin and Patricia Beerhalter shared the stage with Katrina Stevens of the Southern Poverty Law Foundation to urge those present to oppose the rollback of women’s rights which would occur if Roe v. Wade is repealed.
Remate Sanghavi was born in Germany and immigrated to the United States when she was 18. She became a citizen of the United States years ago and has lived in The Villages for seven years. She said that she was at the event because she was “disgusted” with the thought of the United States losing its democracy.
“We are losing our free speech rights and our rights to decide what happens to our bodies. Men have no right to decide what happens to our bodies,” she said.
Her concerns were shared by most of the rally attendees.
About 40 people from St.Timothy’s Catholic Church in The Villages stood in opposition to the pro-choice theme of the march. A tense moment occurred when a man with a large poster of what appeared to be a full-term aborted fetus attempted to force his way onto the stage. The sign said, “Voting Democrat is pro-choice.”
Several pro-choice woman blocked him from getting near the speakers. He backed down when a Sumter County sheriff’s deputy approached him.
The St. Timothy’s group were in a shaded area about 40 feet from the speakers’ stage. Villager Darlene Drazenovich, a 20-year Army veteran, was handing out rosaries. She called the rosaries “weapons of mass construction.” Her group recited the rosaries and sang hymns during the pro-choice speeches. The vast majority of those present on both sides of the issue behaved civilly.
Seven women from The Villages wearing gowns patterned on those worn by women from the dystopian novel and streaming series, “The Handmaid’s Tale.” In that novel, women had lost most of their rights and were forced to birth children to the males in society.
At the conclusion of the speakers’ presentations the majority of the pro-choice audience marched around the square for several minutes. A much smaller group of pro-life, anti-Democrats, also joined in the march. Both groups chanted slogans but did not appear to interfere with anyone’s free speech rights.