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Women's march draws thousands to Lansing, Ann Arbor

Holding a sign that read “First protest since Vietnam”, protestor Becky Melarba of Charlotte, Michigan said she decided to join the protest at the steps of the state capitol in Lansing because she fears that in coming years, progress made in the realm of women’s rights could be lost.

Malerba said she hopes the protest sent a message for politicians to protect women’s rights and women’s access to healthcare in particular.

“To let the government in power now know that we aren’t going to put up with going back to the fifties,” Malerba said. “I’m so animated about these issues.”

Thousands of people gathered at the steps of the state capitol Saturday to defend women's issues and protest President Donald Trump. The crowd of mostly women also included many men and children.

Organizers promoted the protest on social media as a demonstration of solidarity to support women’s issues. The women’s marches in Lansing and Ann Arbor were two of many similar marches taking place at the same time around the world and in Washington D.C. the day after President Trump’s inauguration.

“I feel like I’m less alone,” said protestor Shannon Gillespie of Traverse City. “I feel like I’m a part of people who feel the same way as I do in this country. And with that strength in numbers we can make changes and demand that our new President represent us.”

“We demand equality, justice, fairness for all,” said Gillespie. “And we’re afraid that’s not going to happen.”  

Speakers addressing the crowd from the capitol highlighted specific calls for action like for more women to get involved in politics.

Malerba was not the only person for whom healthcare was a touchstone issue. Dizzy Warren, executive director of Enroll Michigan, a network that connects people in Michigan with healthcare providers, lauded the Affordable Care Act for bringing more coverage to Michigan. When Warren warned the crowd about how much progress could be lost regarding women’s access to healthcare if Obamacare were to be fully repealed, the crowd booed for the first time of the day at the thought.

“I want them to protect (healthcare coverage) for all of us, and to keep the Affordable Care Act,” said protestor Lynn Kendall of Muskegon, Michigan. “Or to make them bring us a replacement that is just as good and protects all of us.”

Despite President Donald Trump and Republican congressional leaders’ statements that the new administration will aim to bring healthcare coverage to more people by repealing Obamacare in-part, and make efforts to unify the country, some protestors don't believe it.

“I don’t believe it for a moment,” Gillespie said.

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