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Demonstrators take to streets of Citrus Heights, calling abortion ‘genocide’

Motorists travelling through the intersection of Greenback Lane and Sunrise Boulevard on the morning of Oct. 17 were greeted by sign-wielding activists opposed to abortion. // M. Hazlip

By Mike Hazlip–
Several dozen young people and college-age students from various area churches descended on the high-traffic intersection of Sunrise Boulevard and Greenback Lane for several hours on Saturday to voice their opposition to abortion.

“We feel it is important for the community to know that there’s a huge issue that is happening in our country and has been happening for quite a long time,” event organizer Daniel Borisov said, referring to abortion. “The issue is the genocide of an entire population of human beings who’ve been classified as not humans.”

Vehicles passing by could be heard honking as participants waved signs that read: “End the silent holocaust,” “A person’s a person no matter how small,” and “There is no justification for infanticide.” Leaflets were also offered to passersby. There were around 20 to 40 participants throughout the Saturday morning event, which lasted about three-and-a-half hours.

The intersection of Sunrise and Greenback is a favorite location for demonstrations and fundraisers. The Sentinel reported on a Black Lives Matter march that began in the same location in June, and the firefighters’ annual “Boot for Burns” fundraiser is also held at the same intersection.

From June: Protesters march in Citrus Heights to decry racism, police brutality

Borisov instructed participants not to block any traffic and maintain social distancing of at least six feet apart during the event, although some were observed standing closer together. Several were observed wearing face masks.

Counter protesters were not observed at Saturday’s event during the time Sentinel staff were on scene, but passerby Suzanne Guthrie told The Sentinel she sees abortion as a more “complex issue” and a difficult decision.

“Many of these hot-button issues, the extremes are what gets publicized out there,” Guthrie said “I’ve have friends who have done that and it was never done out of convenience. I personally feel that is not what a person should be doing. But on the other hand I also am not there. I’m not there trying to make someone else’s decision for them in the extreme way that the rhetoric goes.”

That rhetoric often misses the complexity of politically charged issues, Guthrie said. She recalled when it was once culturally shameful when a young woman had a child as a single mother, and spoke of a friend who was sent away for the summer because she was pregnant. Guthrie’s friend later reconnected with her son who was by then a 50-year-old man.

“The back alley was alive and well at that point in time,” she recalled. “And I kinda don’t feel that’s something we want to go back to either. But again, it’s a complicated thing.”

For Borisov, who has a bachelors in neurobiology from UC Davis and now works as an EMT, the issue is much more clear. He said the fetus has a pulse, brain activity, and responds to external stimuli — all signs of life.

He compared abortion to the “Three-fifths Compromise of 1787,” which counted three-fifths of African American slaves in the United States to determine representation. He also cited the holocaust as an example of the result of dehumanizing people.

“Once you label a group of people as not humans, it seems ok to exterminate them systematically,” he said.

The recent vacancy left by the late-Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has brought renewed interest to the abortion debate as President Donald Trump’s nomination of Justice Amy Coney Barrett could mean a shift in the court. If confirmed, Barrett would be the sixth conservative justice to three liberal justices, a shift some say could result in the overturning of the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion.

In an interview last week with The Guardian that was picked up by numerous other news outlets, music artist Stevie Nicks made national headlines in opposing Barrett’s nomination and sharing her own abortion story.

“If I had not had that abortion, I’m pretty sure there would have been no Fleetwood Mac,” she said, referring to her band. “There’s just no way that I could have had a child then, working as hard as we worked constantly.”

But for Borisov, potential career sacrifices are no justification for abortion, and neither are rape and incest. He cited Judge Barrett as an example of a woman with a successful career and seven children, two of whom were adopted.

“The truth of it is: the body that’s inside of a woman’s body is not her body,” he said. “It’s inside of her body but it’s not her body. This is a separate human being for whom we want to stand out here today.”

Borisov’s group held signs at the intersection from around 8-11:30 a.m. on Saturday. Police said no complaints were logged during the demonstration.

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