Abortion advocates pledged at a rally on Friday to ensure Mississippians retain access to abortion regardless of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in the coming days.
Dozens of reproductive rights advocates from Texas, Louisiana, Alabama and Georgia descended on Smith Park in Jackson on a sweltering afternoon for the nonprofits’ ‘D-Day Rally’. SHERo Mississippi and Mississippi in Action.
“This D means we will continue to advocate for abortion access and abortion in Mississippi,” said Michelle Colón, executive director of SHERo, in an interview before the rally. “We will continue to be undeterred in our efforts to help Mississippi people navigate the process by going to clinics if that is what they want. And we will continue to be the ones who decide our destiny.
The rally also drew anti-abortion protesters who attend the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the state’s only abortion clinic. They carried signs purporting to show fetuses from abortions and shouted into loudspeakers through megaphones.
“You women must go home, put on clothes, serve your husband and be pious,” a man shouted to the crowd as Colón took to the podium.
“I don’t care what the Supreme Court says,” she said. “Abortion is health care. Abortion saves lives. Abortion is sacred.
Amanda Furdge, 34, is a mother of three who grew up in Jackson. She moved to Chicago after high school, and it was only then that she realized that ending a pregnancy is an option people have.
About one in four American women had an abortion before the age of 45.
Furdge terminated two pregnancies in Chicago.
“No one was in my business,” she said. “It was like a doctor’s appointment.”
Whenever she speaks publicly about her abortion experience, she says, “I meet 10 women who say, ‘Me too.’ In Mississippi, she added, shame keeps people from talking about it.
Her experience informed the poem she read at the rally.
“My body / my boat / I’m the only one sailing,” she read from the stage.
“I, I, I, my, my, my,” one protester shouted with a megaphone. ” You are selfish !”
“We also have heartbeats,” she continued.
Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a Mississippi case, set the stage for the Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision granting the constitutional right to abortion. Mississippi initially argued that the Supreme Court could uphold the state law at issue in this case – a Banned abortions in 2018 after 15 weeks, but changed its stance in 2021 and asked the Court to overturn Roe.
A draft opinion leaked in early May indicated that the court’s conservative majority was prepared to end the constitutional right to abortion in the United States.
States could then decide on the legality of abortion. In Mississippi, a trigger ban passed in 2007 would almost immediately ban abortions in all cases except when the pregnant woman’s life is in danger or when she has been raped and has reported it to law enforcement.
Abortion rights supporters and rally protesters seemed to agree on one thing: Roe’s downfall is not the end of the nation’s fight against abortion.
Ukwuoma Ukairo, caller engagement coordinator at Access to Reproductive Care-Southeast, one of the abortion funds that serves residents of Mississippi as well as five other southern states, said if Roe falls, she’s expects his organization to offer “lots of hands-on support” as people travel outside the region.
Defenders expect the closest clinic to Jackson in case Roe falls will be in Carbondale, Ill., nearly seven hours away.
Heidi Miller, development manager for the Alabama-based Yellowhammer Fund, another fund that serves Mississippians, said she already sees Southerners being forced to travel to Colorado and Washington, DC for abortions. She expects this to increase significantly if Roe falls.
A group of nearly 30 people from the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice began their journey to Jackson in Brownsville, Texas. A bus made stops in Hidalgo and Houston before completing the trip to Mississippi.
“We are here out of solidarity,” said Paula Saldaña, a field organizer who traveled with her children. “It busts that myth that Latinx and Hispanic people are against abortion.”
Dr Coleman Boyd, a frequent presence protesting outside the Pink House with members of his family, said he “would love to see Roe knocked down, but my hope is not in Roe”.
“Abortion will end in this nation when the church rises up and establishes justice,” he said. “It does not depend on one judge or nine judges. It depends on Christians saying you can’t murder children in our neighborhood.
State Rep. Zakiya Summers, D-Jackson, who also spoke at the rally, said Mississippi hasn’t done enough to help families.
“Let’s expand access to health care,” she said. “Let’s stop locking up our men and putting them behind cages…
“Let’s hold accountable those who take our precious taxpayer dollars out of babies’ mouths,” she continued, apparently referring to the welfare scandal in which state leaders wrongfully spent at least $77 millions of dollars in federal funds earmarked for the poor and used the money to give gifts. and favors.
“If we really cared, those are the things we would come up with.”
Valencia Robinson, executive director of Mississippi in Action, said she was glad people came from across the country to attend the rally in Jackson.
“We want to show the rest of the country that in Mississippi there are organizers and supporters here, and the work is being done,” she said.
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