On March 2 more than 3,000 reproductive rights advocates from around the country rallied outside the Supreme Court while Justices heard oral arguments in the case Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt. The stakes for women in this case cannot be overstated. A woman's very right to access safe, legal abortion is on the docket, and the consequences for women will reverberate far beyond Texas.
Reproductive rights advocates traveled up to 1,700 miles and braved cold temperatures to rally at the steps of the Court. Speakers voiced their outrage at the severe, medically unnecessary restrictions that have had devastating effects on women in Texas and across the United States.
But the speakers didn’t stop at outrage. They shared inspiring, stigma-smashing stories of accessing and providing safe, legal abortion beyond all odds. The crowd’s energy surged with each chant of “STOP THE SHAM,” calling on the Court to see burdensome restrictions for what they really are: political ploys to ultimately ban safe, legal abortion. Speakers also called on attendees to vote out anti-abortion politicians — and vote for women’s health champions — in the 2016 election.
5 Fierce Moments
The reproductive rights ralliers represented a diverse movement - showcasing women, men and young people from a wide variety of backgrounds and perspectives. Speakers made their points not only in English, but also in Spanish and sign language. They also voiced the important intersections that race, class, gender, and sexuality have with abortion access.
Our five favorite moments of the rally were:
1. When Sonya Renee smashed abortion stigma on its face.
“I reject the narrative that there must be some externally-decided, good-enough reason for any of us to access safe, legal, professional, compassionate abortion clinic services." --Sonya Renee, poet and reproductive justice activist
2. When Lucy Félix brought down the house - in Spanish.
“Pero estamos aquí — estamos luchando por salud, dignidad, y justicia para toda las mujeres! [Interpreter: But we are here because we are fighting for the health, dignity and justice of all women!]” —Lucy Félix, senior Texas field coordinator for the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health
3. When La'Tasha D. Mayes laid down a truth bomb that exploded in cheers.
“[HB2] disproportionately impacts black women. What I'm here to tell you: Oh it is our duty to fight. And it is our duty to win. It is our duty to fight. And it is our duty to win.” — La'Tasha D. Mayes, executive director of New Voices for Reproductive Justice - Cleveland
4. When Miriam Yeung reclaimed the love that the anti-abortion crowd tried to claim.
“This is a movement about love — not shame.” —Miriam Yeung, executive director of the National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum
5. When Dr. Willie Parker told every single person in the crowd: If you’re not voting, say bye bye to your #reprorights!
“I've told you what the problem is: It is 'invasive conservativitis.' And now here's the cure: What I want everybody out here to do is... go to the courthouse where you live. I want you to gather all the women you can find and any men who get the picture — and I want you to register to vote.” —Dr. Willie Parker, Mississippi and Alabama abortion provider
What About the Other Side?
That was our side of the Rally to Restore Abortion Access. You may be wondering: What did the anti-abortion rally look like? Well, it was like this:
Who’s Reproductive Rights Are At Stake in 2016?
The answer: OUR reproductive rights. Not just women’s rights — but that of every single American. Voting this election is one of the most important things you can do to make sure that our reproductive rights are not held hostage by backwards politicians.
Go to ivoteppaction.org to find out what’s at stake for reproductive health in the 2016 election, and where all the candidates stand in the issues most important to reproductive rights advocates.