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Boston women’s march marks Roe v. Wade anniversary: ‘For me, it’s very personal’

Similar rallies were planned in 200 cities in 46 states Sunday.

Demonstrators participated in a women's march for abortion rights outside the Massachusetts State House in Boston on Sunday.SOPHIE PARK/NYT

Boston joined scores of other cities Sunday with hundreds gathering at the State House to rally for women’s reproductive rights on the 50th anniversary of the landmark Roe v. Wade case that legalized abortion but was overturned by the Supreme Court last June.

“For me, it’s very personal,” said Julie Hermosillo, 64, of Newton, a mother and grandmother, who had a legal abortion in California in the 1980s and said she feels fortunate that she could safely make that choice when she felt she needed to.

Women “have no dominion over their bodies anymore, and it really hurts my heart,” said Hermosillo, her eyes welling with tears. “So, I’m out here fighting for my baby grand-daughters.”

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“Our primary fight is the freedom of choice,” said Hermosillo’s daughter-in-law, Rose Gabriel, 36, of Newton. who stood next to her holding a poster board sign that she made the night before, depicting a female symbol and a fist with the word “Freedom” in all capital letters.

Organizers of the Women’s March movement dubbed Sunday a national day of action with rallies planned in 200 cities in 46 states.

In Boston, speakers took turns addressing a crowd of a few hundred atop steps overlooking the common across the street from the State House before leading the group in a march around the park.

A woman dressed as the Statue of Liberty stood on the steps with a sign that said “Liberty means Freedom of Choice.” Below her people fanned out waving and donning an assortment of banners, cardboard signs, sashes — and a quilt — all expressing their reasons for congregating.

“Abort the Court,” “I am not ovary-acting,” and “Get Your Filthy Laws Off My Womb!” were among the sentiments.

“Today, on the 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, I wish we would be celebrating ... instead of mourning the loss of our constitutional rights and reproductive freedoms,” said District 1 Boston City Councilor Gabriela Coletta to the crowd. “Everyone deserves the freedom to control their body and their life, no matter what.”

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Coletta urged everyone to “dig deep,” channel strength, and “keep fighting.” “We need you in this work,” Coletta said. “When we fight, we win.”

At-large Boston City Councilor Ruthzee Louijeune said the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade breaks her heart but also simultaneously sets her feet into motion.

“We have an obligation to fight back,” Louijeune said. “The right to abortion is a private decision that every person should have the right to make, period. It’s that simple. The power really does exist in each and every one of us.”

Quiltmaker Agusta Agustsson, 70, of Melrose, brought a handmade quilt assembled with 20 “rage squares” to Boston Common as her expression of protest. The center square, which said ” Women’s Rights Are Human Rights,” was surrounded by personalized anecdotal squares collected from women nationwide, such as “Vasectomy prevents abortion” and “No woman has an abortion just for the fun of it.”

Agustsson began gathering the squares last January in the months leading up to the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade — “we knew where the Supreme Court was going” — and has made six quilts since then.

“They’re not meant for sell,” Agustsson said of the finished products. “It’s about awareness and engaging people’s emotions.”

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“You have to be always vigilant,” Agustsson said. “People think that women have rights but we are second-class citizens, and if we don’t speak up now, we will forever remain second-class citizens.”

Kate Shimkus, 32, of Cambridge, said she feels “lucky” to live in Massachusetts where abortion remains legal but worries about moving to another state to continue her schooling. She’s looking at programs in South Carolina and Texas where abortion laws are more restrictive.

“I’m still of childbearing age,” Shimkus said. “I’m nervous about not being able to have a choice if I do get pregnant. ... If I go to any of these places to study, I’m sure I won’t be the only student nervous of not having my rights.”

Stephanie Anjos, 30, of Braintree, who teaches English as a second language in Framingham, said she marched for her students, as much as anybody.

“I believe in complete choice and agency at almost every level,” Anjos said. “I think to see our country go backwards is immensely sad.”








Tonya Alanez can be reached at tonya.alanez@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @talanez.