Catie Walter said she’s “been pretty angry for a while.”
“I was extremely angry when the leaked opinion came out a couple months ago,” she said of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, which was officially released June 24 but had been leaked to media in May.
The decision reversed a ruling that had guaranteed the right to abortion nationwide and privacy rights that had been in place for nearly 50 years.
“That was when I was like, ‘I feel so helpless,’ but this is going to affect so many people I know, and it’s going to really bring harm on so many people,” said Walter, of Lawrence. “Just thinking about all the situations and all of the stories that I’ve heard and being a college student in that college party culture, I know the impact of what Roe v. Wade is.”
Kansans still have the right to abortion right now. However, a state constitutional amendment would clear the way for the Legislature to ban all abortions, regardless of whether lives are endangered or the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest. The question will be on voters’ ballots on Aug. 2.
To channel her anger into something positive, Walter turned to her hobby of pottery. She started a fundraiser for Vote No Kansas, one of several organizations statewide fighting against the amendment.
Walter first experimented with clay in January in classes at the Lawrence Arts Center. By May, she had started a small business idea catering to her mom, aunts, and social media friends.
With the fundraiser, it has now exploded into something bigger than Walter had ever imagined.
In brainstorming potential ideas for the mug fundraiser, Walter searched “synonyms for coffee.” She soon came up with “Cup of Roe” to replace the nickname “cup of joe.” She exceeded her original goal — to raise $1,000 by July 10 — within 24 hours.
“I knew this was a possibility when I started, but wouldn’t in a million years think it would actually happen,” Walter said.
Walter’s personal life has already been directly affected, and she said some relationships have been compromised since the Roe v. Wade ruling.
However, she’s living unapologetically.
“If me advocating for something I care about bothers them, then they don’t need to be in my life. Between COVID, politics in general, and the scope of how things changed after 2016, I have lost a lot of family members and I have kind of grown to be OK with that,” Walter said.
She is calling on her fellow Kansans and anyone else who may want to help protect abortion rights.
As of Saturday, Walter had racked up 180 orders. The orders aren’t just from Kansans, either — she’ll be shipping mugs to at least 15 states.
Walter, whose pottery is a part-time hobby alongside her full-time job as a chemist, said the mugs may be delayed, but they will be delivered.
Mugs are $25 apiece, and Walter offers a number of messages, including “Not your body, not your choice,” “Protect people, not guns,” “My cat has more reproductive rights than me” and more.
To order a mug, click this link and fill out the Google form. It is important to complete all of the form fields as Walter will need emails and contact info of those whose mugs break in transit and a refund is needed, or if an address is incorrect.
If you are interested in volunteering to help deliver mugs, Walter’s email is firstname.lastname@example.org and her Instagram is @4thstreetstudioks.
The election will take place on Aug. 2. All Kansas voters — including those who are unaffiliated or independent — may vote on the amendment, and they do not have to declare a party to do so.
Are you ready to vote?
The next election is Tuesday, Aug. 2. You must be registered to vote by Tuesday, July 12.
You can quickly make sure you’re registered and request a mail ballot by visiting KSVotes.org.
* We are not election workers *
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Annie Soener (she/her), a contributor to The Lawrence Times, graduated from the University of Kansas in 2020 with a degree in communications and a journalism minor. She likes writing and hanging out with her cat, Bill.
Read more of her work for the Times here.