Advocates of abortion rights inject themselves into Anchorage Independence Day parade

Advocates of abortion rights inserted themselves in the Fourth of July parade in downtown Anchorage. (Liz Ruskin/Alaska Public Media)

The Fourth of July parade in downtown Anchorage on Monday acquired an unauthorized political element this year when an impromptu contingent of abortion rights advocates decided to march.

A group of about 20 chanted “Freedom is choice.” Their handmade signs included one saying “My body, my business.”

Organizers said they lined up with the registered groups moving along the street and no one tried to stop them. Some of the protesters said they joined on the fly.

April Rochford said speaking out is the only way Independence Day has meaning for her now.

“I was born into a country where I was guaranteed certain rights and now they’re gone,” she said. “So I don’t get the point of today at all except to protest” energetically.

The U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last month, removing federal protection for abortion rights. The 6-3 decision is celebrated by many conservatives and others who believe abortion is morally wrong. It has also triggered a swell of protests, including demonstrations by people supporting abortion rights at July Fourth celebrations across the country.

Rules for last year’s Anchorage parade are posted online. They specify that political signs and materials are not allowed.

The campaign of Republican U.S. Senate candidate Kelly Tshibaka were slated to march but did not appear. The campaign did not respond to an email Tuesday. According to right-wing blog Must Read Alaska, the veterans group that organizes the parade denied the group’s entry. 

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Liz Ruskin is the Washington, D.C., correspondent for Alaska Public Media. She reports from the U.S. Capitol and from Anchorage. Reach her at lruskin@alaskapublic.org.