In Marblehead, SCOTUS decision sparks candlelight vigil at Abbot Hall, draws over 150

More than 150 people gathered at twilight on the lawn of Abbot Hall to protest the Supreme Court’s ruling ending the constitutionally protected right to abortion. The two Marblehead 16-year-olds who organized the vigil said they want to stand in solidarity with women, especially in other states, who will be deeply impacted by the decision.

MHS teens (left to right) Rachel Alpert, Katherine Twomey, Angelina Nguyen, Jasmina Kurtovic and Song Waitekus at the vigil on June 24, 2022.

“This really sucks,” said Sophia Weiner, who led the vigil with her friend Bella Takata. “It’s okay to be sad tonight, but tomorrow we fight.”

The crowd was mostly made up of young women, including Katherine Ducharme, 19, of Marblehead.

Vigil organizers Sophia Weiner (left) and Bella Takata on June 24, 2022.

“Obviously, we have a lot of emotions, anger being most dominant. Earlier today, I was in mourning. Now I’m angry. I came to take a stand.”

A group of Marblehead High School teens stood together, lighting each other’s candles.

“This is a matter of bodily autonomy and human rights,” said Angelina Nguyen, 16. “It’s so important that we pay respect to the women who will be most impacted.”

Her friend, Jasmina Kurotoic added, “The Supreme Court can come for other rights next, like contraception and gay marriage.”

“Women will die if they can’t get safe abortions,” said Katherine Twomey.

Marpa Eaper came to the vigil as an ally.

“I have a teenage daughter and grew up in a women’s liberation household,” he said. “Ultimately, I’m here to support women.”

Several candidates for state representative in the 8th Essex District, which includes Marblehead, spoke at the vigil, including Marblehead resident Jenny Armini.

A somber crowd at the candlelight vigil on June 24, 2022.

“One of my favorite signs at the Women’s March was ‘God is watching and she’s pissed.’ Well, she is really pissed tonight,” Armini said as the crowd cheered. “Tomorrow we’re going to fight to make sure we get resources to women in those states (where abortion will become illegal), so they can travel safely to get what they need. There are many abortion access funds.”

Armini pointed out that while abortion is legal in Massachusetts, access is still a challenge.

“We can’t get complacent in Massachusetts. On Cape Cod and the South coast, they don’t have any providers. In the Berkshires, there are almost no providers,” she said. “We need to help women in our own state get access.”

Swampscott resident Tristan Smith thanked the people in the crowd who fought for abortion rights back in the 60s and 70s, leading up to the Roe v. Wade victory.

“We are part of the next generation to pick up this fight right where you left off,” Smith said. “We are ready to fight.”

Candidates Diann Slavit Baylis and Theresa Tauro also spoke.

“Make no mistake about this,” Tauro said. “This is about power and controlling women. This is not the last thing they’re coming for.”

Earlier in the day, a group of women gathered at Tent’s Corner carrying flags and signs protesting the ruling. 

From left: Maddie Miller, Jennifer Martelli, Jenny Armini, and Renee Keaney protest the Supreme Court’s abortion ruling on June 24, 2022.

“I’ve lived in Massachusetts my whole life and was able to have a safe abortion,” said Jennifer Martelli, as she waved a “My Body, My Choice” flag. “Now my daughter won’t be able to do that.”

Maddie Miller said she felt a “moral obligation” to come out and protest as soon as she heard the decision. She is also afraid about what might happen next.

“As an LGBTQ youth,” she said, “I’m worried. We all deserve better.”

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Editor Leigh Blander is an experienced TV, radio and print journalist who has written hundreds of stories for local newspapers, including the Marblehead Reporter.

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