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Dozens join annual Women’s March in Aspen 50 years after landmark Roe v. Wade decision

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Eleanor Bennett
/
Aspen Public Radio
Rachel Bechhoefer and Patty Kravitz with the Pitkin County Democratic Party lead a chant during the annual Women’s March in front of Aspen Mountain on Sunday. This year’s march was held on what would’ve been the 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

People showed up across the country on Sunday for the annual Women’s March on what would’ve been the 50th anniversary of the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, which made access to abortion a federal right.

But the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June.

In Aspen, dozens of people chanted in unison, “We will not go back,” as they marched from the base of the Silver Queen Gondola to Paepcke Park in support of women’s rights.

The administrative vice chair and secretary of the Pitkin County Democratic Party Betty Wallach took to the podium at the gazebo in the park and asked the crowd, “Does anyone here remember marching 50 years ago for Roe?”

Several people yelled back, “Yes!” and the crowd cheered.

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Eleanor Bennett
/
Aspen Public Radio
Betty Wallach, the administrative vice chair and secretary of the Pitkin County Democratic Party, welcomes attendees at the Women’s March in Paepcke Park on Sunday. Wallach, who helped organize the rally, was one of seven women to speak at this year’s event.

While Wallach helped organize this year’s march on behalf of the Pitkin County Democratic Party, she says people from all political backgrounds were welcome to attend.

“Republicans, Democrats, unaffiliated, we welcome all,” she said. “Women's rights are human rights and that's not a partisan belief.”

Basalt resident Georgina Nolasco stood in the crowd and held a sign that said “keep your theology off my biology.”

Nolasco said the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade was top of mind for her at this year’s march.

“I'm here because I wanted to represent the Latinx community in the Roaring Fork Valley and I think it's very important for us to come out and speak out,” she said. “Black women and Latinas are the ones who are going to suffer for this decision the most.”

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Eleanor Bennett
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Aspen Public Radio
Pitkin County Democratic Party vice chair Rachel Bechhoefer, from left, stands in solidarity with local residents Neil Reilley and Leticia Gomez at the annual Women’s March in Aspen. Bechhoefer helped lead the march from the base of Aspen Mountain to Paepcke Park.

Former Aspen mayor and current city councilor Rachael Richards was one of seven women who spoke in Paepcke Park.

“I'm here to tell everybody they should speak up. There is simply no board that you can serve on or be a constituent of that can't take some sort of action,” she said. “You can talk to your local city council, you can talk to your county commissioners, you can write letters to your congresswoman Lauren Bobert, who stands firmly opposed to any sort of reproductive protections for women.”

Elizabeth Granado, a practicing attorney in Fruita who formerly served as Pitkin County’s elections manager, also spoke about women’s reproductive rights.

“We have to stop what is happening right now. It’s a snowball effect that's turning into an avalanche that is wiping out all of our fundamental human rights,” she said. “We have these crazy decisions coming down right now from the Supreme Court, which as an attorney infuriates me because their logic just does not make sense.”

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Eleanor Bennett
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Aspen Public Radio
Attorney Elizabeth Granado talks about her own experience with sexual harassment in the workplace during the annual Women’s March in Aspen. Other speakers included Aspen city councilor Rachael Richards, Valley View Hospital nurse Rachel Glassman, and Cobalt Abortion Fund director Amanda Carlson, among others.

While access to abortion and reproductive healthcare was front and center at the march, the theme for this year’s National Women’s March was “Bigger Than Roe” and Wallach invited speakers to talk about a diversity of issues that are important to women, including domestic violence and sexual assault.

“People often say that they can't imagine abuse and assault happening here in our beautiful valley, but unfortunately intimate partner violence happens everywhere,” said Txell Pedragosa, who is the program director at Response.

The nonprofit primarily serves the upper Roaring Fork Valley and provides bilingual English and Spanish support and resources to survivors of domestic violence and sexual abuse.

“Last year we helped 171 survivors who were new clients and answered over 300 calls on our 24-hour crisis line,” Pedragosa said.

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Eleanor Bennett
/
Aspen Public Radio
Attendees gather at Paepcke Park in Aspen on Sunday for National Women’s March Day. This year’s theme was “Bigger Than Roe” and speakers talked about a range of topics from women’s empowerment to abortion bans and sexual assault.

During her speech, Pedragosa said sexual violence and harassment are about power and control.

“If someone is exerting power and control over their partner, it can be difficult or impossible for the victim to make decisions regarding their own sexual and reproductive health,” she said.

Response already provides some housing and emergency shelter for survivors in the valley, but Pedragosa said the organization is working on building a new shelter and domestic abuse center in Basalt because the fear of losing housing is one of the top reasons that women do not leave their abusers.

“We know that it's challenging for many working people in our valley to find and afford housing,” Pedragosa said. “When you add the challenge of fleeing an abusive home, it's almost impossible.”

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Eleanor Bennett
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Aspen Public Radio
Patty Kravitz and Rachel Bechhoefer with the Pitkin County Democratic Party lead protesters down Main Street in Aspen during this year’s annual Women’s March. About 50 people showed up at the rally in Paepcke Park on Sunday.

Other speakers included Rachel Glassman, an acute care RN at Valley View Hospital, Amanda Carlson, director of the Cobalt Abortion Fund, and Danielle Madril, a former Aspen Police officer and detective who now works in the family violence unit at the Denver District Attorney’s Office.

According to Wallach, a county official was supposed to speak about the lack of access to childcare in the valley, but had two sick kids and could not find childcare.

Organizers put out large signs with QR codes during the event to encourage people to donate to Response and several funds that help support women seeking abortions.

Eleanor is an award-winning journalist and Morning Edition anchor. Eleanor has reported on a wide range of topics in her community, including the impacts of federal immigration policies on local DACA recipients, the Valley’s COVID-19 eviction and housing crisis, and hungry goats fighting climate change across the West through targeted grazing. Connecting with people from all walks of life and creating empathic spaces for them to tell their stories fuels her work.