Abortion protest weekend draws out supporters

HOUSTON — Several thousand people in Texas’ largest city rallied for abortion rights on Saturday, one of many protests across the country days after a draft lawsuit notice was leaked. Supreme Court reversing Roe v. Wade. They were joined by a host of Democratic officials, including former gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke.

The rally in Houston, at Discovery Green, a downtown park, could have been the largest gathering of protests planned for Saturday in more than a dozen cities and communities. They varied greatly in size and attendance. A morning event outside a Catholic church in Manhattan drew dozens of people. A protest in downtown Detroit was attended by around 200 people. A rally in Chicago drew more than a thousand.

Numerous other protests were planned for Sunday in cities including San Jose, Calif., Kansas City, Missouri, Fort Wayne, Ind., Oklahoma City and Orlando, Florida. Next weekend, thousands of people could gather in Washington for the Women’s March.

In Houston on Saturday, some present took advantage of the gathering to make it a family outing. Marco Barbato, 35, an engineer, brought his 4-year-old daughter along so she could see how democracy worked and see people standing up for what they believed in, he said.

“It’s women’s business to do what they want with their bodies. She needs to know that, and she needs to be heard and speak out for herself,” Barbato said, referring to his daughter.

Another protester, Sara Mielke, who wore a dress made hangers, said she was hurt and disappointed by the news that Roe might be floored. “The government shouldn’t come between women and their doctors when it comes to reproductive health,” she said.

Speaking after the event, Mr O’Rourke said he was moved hearing the personal stories of so many women. “People’s lives are on the line now, and I’m going to do everything in my power to fight for them,” he said after the event. During the rally, he was joined by speakers including U.S. Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, Texas State Senator Carol Alvarado and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner.

In Detroit, protesters gathered outside the Theodore Levin US Courthouse downtown. After listening to the speakers for about half an hour, the group marched through the city center chanting slogans such as “2-4-6-8, you can’t procreate us”.

Heather Summers Webb of Oakland County, who attended the rally with her 19-year-old daughter, said she had worked in a variety of nursing roles and always believed every woman should have a choice. She added that working as an abortion nurse broadened her understanding of the importance of abortion rights.

“I hadn’t realized how deep some of the women’s reasons were,” she said. “I hadn’t realized how many women show up at an abortion clinic because their resources are already exhausted – caring for themselves, children, aging family members, disabled family members , having multiple jobs – and then there’s just no way they can have another mouth to feed. She went on to cite several other barriers she’s seen women face, such as lack of access to prenatal care.

“There are so many reasons and ultimately it just comes down to this woman and her body,” she said. “It really brought that point home for me.”

Kess Ballentine, a professor of social work at Wayne State University in Detroit, also said her own experiences underscored the importance of abortion rights to her.

“I’ve been for women’s rights since I was a little girl, but I will say that going through difficult pregnancies has opened my eyes to a new layer of the whole situation,” she said. , adding that it was essential for women to have a choice that would help them manage health issues during pregnancy.

In Chicago, on one of the hottest days in weeks, a large crowd gathered in Federal Plaza and heard speakers including Governor JB Pritzker of Illinois, who told the crowd that “Politicians don’t belong in the doctor’s office, period.”

Greta Powell, a lawyer from the suburb of Oak Park, attended the protest with her husband, mother and two young daughters aged 4 and 10 months. She said that while she believed Illinois would keep abortion legal, the idea of ​​overthrowing Roe was extremely worrisome.

“Assuming the court overturns Roe, my daughters will grow up with fewer rights than me, and that’s very troubling to me,” she said.

Donna Lewis, who lives in Atlanta but was in Detroit to visit family for Mother’s Day, said she felt compelled to attend with her 30-year-old son to stand up for others. In 1990, she protested abortion, but said she had changed her mind. Ms. Lewis was holding a sign that read: “I don’t regret my abortion.

“I had an abortion as a teenager, but after having children I realized how truly it was our right to do so,” she said.

Although the crowd was dominated by abortion rights supporters, a group of about 20 anti-abortion counter-protesters stood in front of the square and expressed their opposition.

“We believe in protecting innocent, voiceless children in the womb,” said Julio Arriola, a member of Chicago’s Christ Forgiveness Ministries. Addressing the fact his side were heavily outnumbered on Saturday, Mr Arriola said: “We believe in standing up for justice, even if it’s less popular.”

Tensions were higher earlier in the morning in Lower Manhattan, when a dozen members of the Basilica of Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral gathered outside the church and were greeted by about 75 right to abortion.

On the first Saturday of the month, church members typically march in an organized procession to a Planned Parenthood clinic a few blocks away. But this week, for the sake of safety, some members decided instead to station themselves outside the church and behind a fence that separated the church from the street. There they stood in the rain, singing hymns and praying on their rosaries.

On the other side of the fence, a number of abortion rights supporters shouted and sang, “Thank God for abortion.” Some also hung a green, black and white sign that read, “Anti-abortion laws are killing us.”

One of the protesters, Payal Patel, a Harlem resident who provides family practice services, abortions and abortion pills across the city, said New Yorkers were lucky because abortion would remain legal. even if Roe was canceled. But she said it was important to teach future generations “that abortion is healthcare”.

Reverend Brian A. Graebe, who has pastored the church for the past three years, said he viewed the leaked version of the Supreme Court ruling as a sign of hope.

“We’ve certainly had more than our share of setbacks over the past 50 years on this issue, but it would be something that would be a tremendous step forward for our society,” he said.

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