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Abortion-rights protesters line First Street in Duluth

Around 500 protesters gathered Monday evening outside the WE Health Clinic to support abortion rights and protest the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

Protesters gather with signs along a Duluth street.
Protesters gather along First Street near the WE Health Clinic to show support for abortion rights and protest the recent U.S. Supreme Court overturning of Roe V. Wade.
Contributed / Chelsa Nelson-Preble
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DULUTH — The sounds of honks and cheers from protesters could be heard a block away from the corner of First Street and Second Avenue East Monday evening. Around 500 protesters gathered to oppose the U.S. Supreme Court's recent decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

"Minnesota is now the only state in the Upper Midwest that has constitutional protection of abortion in our state constitution," said attendee Ollie Morris, who also works as a patient educator at WE Health Clinic, near where the protest was held. "We only have eight abortion clinics in Minnesota and we're preparing for a huge influx of patients. And it's clear by tonight that the community is showing huge support for us."

Several protesters hold up signs along First Street.
Protesters against the overturning of Roe v. Wade gather along First Street in Duluth on Monday evening.
Contributed / Chelsa Nelson-Preble

WE Health Clinic did not plan the protest, but several employees also attended the event. The protest was planned over the weekend and word of mouth spread via social media. Fellow patient educator and protest attendee Casidy Thompson said it was "nice to see people standing in solidarity" at Monday's protest.

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The U.S. Supreme Court's overturning of Roe vs. Wade prompted protests across the country, including in Duluth.
"After we shed a few communal tears, we wiped them and we took a deep breath, and we got to work,” a women's health clinic employee told a crowd of hundreds who gathered outside the federal courthouse in downtown Minneapolis Friday evening. “Because we have to give the same care to the patients we saw yesterday and to the patients we saw today because we still need abortion care.”
The Northland’s only abortion clinic is readying for an influx of patients. Abortion is no longer legal in South Dakota, North Dakota and Wisconsin.
Friday's U.S. Supreme Court decision was widely expected, but comments from local Democratic and Republican leaders point to a long fight ahead.

"I remember a lot of protests here with three to five people, especially during the 40 Days for Life, where we have anti-abortion protesters here for 12 hours a day. And we'd come out with just a few people to show support for the clinic," Thompson said. "We expected maybe 25-30 people to come out, but all of a sudden it was over 500 and we ended up taking over the street."

Thompson said she hoped the support would last in the following weeks.


"We sometimes see this turnout of support, but then people kind of lose steam really fast," Thompson said. "I think it's important for people to look at the work that's already being done and put their energy there. A lot of stuff is already in place to support people here, we just need this momentum to stick."

Approximately 500 protesters gathered along First Street.
Approximately 500 protestors gather along First Street to protest the recent overturning of Roe v. Wade by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Contributed / Scott Herbert

Morris said the protest stayed mostly calm and peaceful, but there was one incident where a person tried to drive down the street during the protest.

"I think they were just a little scared and there was like a little interaction with her and some protesters," Morris said. "They were like 'Yo, you're going to hurt somebody, just calm down and drive through slowly,' and instead they sped up."

A protester threw a walking stick at the car's windshield. According to the Duluth Police Department, the protester has been identified as of Tuesday evening. No one was hurt in the incident, police said.

This story was updated at 7:09 p.m. Tuesday, June 28, with further information from the Duluth Police Department about the object thrown at the vehicle. It was originally published at 10:16 p.m., Monday, June 27.

Teri Cadeau is a general assignment and neighborhood reporter for the Duluth News Tribune. Originally from the Iron Range, Cadeau has worked for several community newspapers in the Duluth area for eight years including: The Duluth Budgeteer News, Western Weekly, Weekly Observer, Lake County News-Chronicle and occasionally, the Cloquet Pine Journal. When not working, she's an avid reader and crafter.
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