Darien marchers rallying in support of abortion rights span the generations; ‘they have somebody on their side’

DARIEN — Before Darien High School senior Livie Punishill was born, her mother, Julie, experienced an unviable ectopic pregnancy, when a fertilized egg implanted outside the uterus, which is often life-threatening for women.

“We are fighting for women who received the death sentence when they found out they had an ectopic pregnancy like my own mother. ... I would not be here without Roe v. Wade,” Punishill said, emotion clear in her voice as she addressed nearly 100 rally attendees who joined her on Saturday at Darien Town Hall.

In the wake of revelations that the Supreme Court may be poised to overturn the landmark 1973 court decision on Roe v. Wade, a move that would eradicate abortion access for millions of Americans, three Darien High School seniors organized a pro-choice rally to muster support for abortion rights.

Punishill, along with co-organizers Tammy Nguyen and Giselle Winegar, urged rally attendees to donate to organizations such as Planned Parenthood and vote for candidates who support abortion access.

“I personally have felt very alone in this town, and I don’t ever want anyone to feel like that,” Nguyen said. “I just also want all the other uterus-owning people in this town to know they have somebody on their side. And that we can come together as a community to do something.”

Sporting signs splashed in pink lettering with many drawings of uteruses, the crowd made a nearly 2-mile trek from the Darien YWCA and down a bustling Post Road en route to Darien Town Hall on Saturday afternoon — the day after senior prom.

Along the way, they were greeted by honks and shouts — mostly of encouragement.

Lenore Douglas, who recently moved to Darien, said she was concerned about the ripple effect the potential Supreme Court decision could have in making women’s health care, not just abortions, harder to access.

A California transplant, Douglas said that while Connecticut has recently passed legislation strengthening abortion access in the state, young Darienites who graduate and move to other states for college may run into a host of challenges should they be faced with an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy.

“In such a sports-obsessed town, if their daughters committed to a college to play the sport of their dreams and then they get pregnant, shouldn’t that daughter have the right to choose what she’s going to do?” Douglas said. “All you pro-life parents out there — this is your daughter.”

The crowd of protesters spanned the generations — from sixth-graders at Middlesex Middle School wearing tutus and holding signs, to women who said they were witnessing the erasure of their own historic fight decades ago to advance abortion access.

At Town Hall, 82-year-old Jan Maier wiped away tears after she spoke about her time marching for reproductive rights in the 1960s.

“I never dreamed in my wildest, wildest dream that in my 80s I would be having to go through this again,” Maier said, gesturing toward her two teenage granddaughters in the crowd. “I’ve actually been in tears over this for the last two or three weeks, however long this hell has been going on.”

State Sen. Matt Blumenthal, a Democrat from Stamford whose district includes part of Darien, urged protesters to demand pro-choice stances from local elected officials.

“This issue deserves an answer from anyone running for office,” Blumenthal said. “And there is only one answer that is acceptable: that they will fight like hell to defend your reproductive rights no matter what happens.”