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Youngstown rally draws hundreds of abortion rights supporters

YOUNGSTOWN — Dr. Alexis Smith choked back tears as she shared her abortion experience with several hundred people at a Bans Off Our Bodies rally today on the steps of the Mahoning County Courthouse.

She was in medical school, already committed to $200,000 in education loans co-signed by her parents, when the relationship she was in ended. She then discovered her birth control had failed and she was pregnant.

“If I gave birth, I’d have to quit school, and I’d never realize my dream of becoming a physician,” Smith said. “I couldn’t pay the loans back (without a medical degree). My parents didn’t have the money either. … I can honestly say it was the right thing for me to do, and I was thankful I could make that choice on my own. There are other stories like mine. It’s not black and white. Everyone is different.”

Saturday’s rally was organized by the Steel Valley Reproductive Justice Coalition after a Supreme Court draft opinion leaked earlier this month indicating a majority of justices were willing to overturn the court’s 1973 decision on Roe v. Wade, which established federal protections for abortion as part of a right to privacy.

No opposition protesters showed up at today’s event. Sally Perunko, president of Mahoning County Right to Life, said the organization has decided not to organize its own event at this time.

Read more in Sunday’s Vindicator.

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