Pro-abortion groups gathered for a national “day of action” over the weekend. Responding to the likelihood the Supreme Court will overturn the historic 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, abortion rights advocates gathered in multiple cities for the “Bans Off Our Bodies” protests.
Groups challenged the potential dismantling of the decades-old law protecting the right to decide whether to have an abortion. Several national and local groups sponsored the nationwide mass protest, including UltraViolet, Planned Parenthood, Women’s March, and Sister Song.
In Washington D.C., activists, politicians, and ralliers gathered at the nation’s capital to listen to several speeches before marching toward the Supreme Court to make their voices heard. Protestors carried signs that read “My Body My Choice” and “We will fight back” as they walked and chanted in unison. Reps. Maxine Waters and Barabra Lee were among those who shared their stories and support Saturday afternoon.
Monica Raye Simpson, executive director of the reproductive justice collective Sister Song, spoke about the potential consequences that could come if Roe were to be overturned, particularly for Black and Brown women.
“We as Black & Brown women do not have the luxury of fighting for single issues. Reproductive justice and abortion rights impact many other areas of our life, including racial justice & health care,” she told crowd goers at the D.C. rally.
The maternal mortality crisis continues to impact Black women across the U.S. as they are three to four times more likely to die during childbirth than their white counterparts.
A 61-year-old retired education administrator, Sandra Harrington, told USA Today that she feared nothing could be done about the Supreme Court’s pending decision.
“We can put some pressure on them. I, unfortunately, do think it’s a done deal, and I’m terribly sad about that,” she said.
In New York, thousands gathered in the rain at Brooklyn’s courthouse plaza before marching across the Brooklyn Bridge to Lower Manhattan, where the rally was located. Protestors were met by anti-abortion activists who shouted profanities and sparked tensions during the march. Police arrived shortly after to maintain peace among the two groups.
Some fear women will resort to unsafe practices if Roe is overturned
If Roe V. Wade is overturned, 28 states could ban or place tight restrictions on abortions in the next few months. Seeta Begui, a protester at Saturday’s rally in Viera, Florida, said she feared women would resort to having “backstreet abortions” if Roe was struck down.
“We’re still fighting for reproductive rights,” said Begui, noting how she had a family member who died from the illegal procedure in Trinidad & Tobago. “We cannot allow hate and ignorance and disinformation to win. We’re not going backward.”
President Obama stands in solidarity with abortion rights advocates
On Instagram, former President Barack Obama showed support for the nationwide call to action, highlighting the work of a Georgia-based reproductive justice leader Kwajelyn Jackson.
“Across the country, Americans are standing up for abortion rights—and I’m proud of everyone making their voices heard,” he wrote before giving praise to Kwajelyn Jackson, the Executive Director of the Feminist Women’s Health Center in Atlanta, Georgia.
“She leads the reproductive health, rights, and justice organization with a commitment to providing judgment-free and accessible healthcare. For nearly 50 years, the @feministcenter has provided care to folks who need it, especially those from traditionally underserved communities,” he wrote of the activist’s dedication to reproductive justice.
Obama concluded his message by asking Americans to “donate to a local abortion fund” and to make their voices heard at the polls on November 8 during election season.
Senate fails to pass a bill that would protect abortion rights
Saturday’s rallies come days after the Senate failed to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act of 2022. The legislation would have protected a women’s right to determine whether to continue or end a pregnancy. It would have also covered a health care provider’s ability to provide abortion services.
The entire Democratic caucus, except Sen. Joe Manchin, who joined Republicans in voting against the legislation, supported efforts to move the legislation forward. In a statement previously shared with NewsOne, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said the fight was not over.
“The laws Republicans are passing across the country, and the nationwide ban Republicans in Washington want are the most extreme of extreme, and the beginning of Republican attempts to use the Supreme Court to turn back the clock to a time when women, people of color and LGBTQ people are all considered second class citizens,” Schumer said. “Democrats will fight these attempts all the way, for as long as it takes.”
The issue has prompted several members of the House to share their abortion stories. Lee told Yahoo News that leaving her home in Texas to travel to Mexico was the only option she had pre-Roe as a teenager. She noted that she was one of the lucky ones.
“Fortunately, my mother’s friend knew a clinic, and yes, it was a clinic in a back alley that had a good reputation,” Lee told the outlet. “Fortunately, I survived. But during that period, so many African American women died from septic abortions.”