Weekend abortion protests highlight supporters


HOUSTON – Several thousand rallied in Texas’ largest city to demand abortion rights Saturday, one of several demonstrations organized across the country days after a draft Supreme Court opinion was leaked to overturn the Roe v. Wade case. They are joined by a group of Democratic officials, including former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, who is running for governor.

The rally in Houston, on Discovery Green, downtown, may be the largest gathering of protests that were scheduled to take place in more than a dozen cities and communities on Saturday. It varied widely in size and attendance. A morning event outside a Catholic church in Manhattan attracted dozens of people. There was a demonstration in downtown Detroit of about 200 people. A rally in Chicago attracted more than a thousand people.

Several protests are planned for Sunday in cities including San Jose, California, Kansas City, Missouri, Fort Wayne, Indiana, Oklahoma City and Orlando, Florida. Next weekend, thousands could gather in Washington for the Women’s March.

In Houston on Saturday, some attendees used the rally to turn it into a family picnic. Marco Barbato, 35, an engineer, said he brought in his 4-year-old daughter so she could see how democracy works and witness people standing up for what they believe in.

“The work of a woman with her body is the work of a woman. She needs to know this, she needs to be heard and speak for herself,” said Mr. Barbato, pointing to his daughter.

Another protester, Sarah Milky, who was wearing a made-to-order dress From the hangers, she said she was disappointed by the news that Roe had been dropped. “The government shouldn’t separate women and their doctors when it comes to reproductive health,” she said.

Speaking after the event, Mr. O’Rourke said he was moved to hear the personal stories of many of the women. “People’s lives are at stake now, and I will 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 Senator Carol Alvarado and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner.

In Detroit, protesters met in front of Theodore Levine US District Court in downtown. After listening to the speakers for about half an hour, the group walked downtown, chanting slogans that included “2-4-6-8, you can’t make us breed.”

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

“I didn’t realize how deep some women’s causes were,” she said. “I didn’t realize how many women go to the abortion clinic because their resources are already depleted – caring for themselves, children, elderly family members, disabled family members, working multiple jobs – and then there is no way you have another mouth to feed.” She went on to recall the many other obstacles she saw women faced, such as not getting prenatal care.

“There are so many reasons,” she said, “and in the end, really, it’s just up to that woman and her body.” “It really brought the point home for me.”

Case Ballentine, professor of social work at Wayne State University in Detroit, said her own experience confirmed the importance of abortion rights to her.

“I’ve been a supporter of women’s rights since I was a little girl, but I will say I’ve had difficult pregnancies that opened my eyes to like a new layer of the whole situation,” she said, adding that it was so important for women to have a choice that would help them overcome Health problems during pregnancy.

In Chicago, on one of the warmest days of weeks, a large crowd gathered at Federal Plaza and listened to speakers including Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker, who told the crowd that “politicians don’t belong in the doctor’s office, period.”

Greta Powell, an attorney from the suburb of Oak Park, attended the protest with her husband, mother and two young daughters, ages 4 and 10. She said that although she felt Illinois would keep abortion legal, the idea of ​​Roe’s heart was deeply troubling.

She said, “Assuming the court overturned Roe’s case, my daughters would have grown up with fewer rights than I had, which is very upsetting to me.”

Donna Lewis, who lives in Atlanta but was in Detroit to visit family on Mother’s Day, said she felt compelled to come with her 30-year-old son to advocate for others. In 1990, she protested against an abortion, but said she had changed her mind. Mrs. Lewis carried a sign that read, “I do not regret my abortion.”

“I had an abortion when I was a teenager, but after I had children, I realized how entitled we were to do it,” she said.

Although abortion rights advocates dominated the crowd, a group of about 20 anti-abortion opponents stood on the other side of the square and voiced their opposition.

“We believe in protecting the innocent and the voiceless in the womb,” said Julio Areola, a member of Christ’s Forgiving Services in Chicago. Turning to the fact that his team was significantly outnumbered on Saturday, Mr Areola said: “We believe in defending the right, even if it is less popular.”

Tensions were highest earlier that morning in lower Manhattan, when about a dozen members of the old St. Patrick’s Cathedral Church gathered outside the church and were met by about 75 abortion rights protesters.

On the first Saturday of the month, church members usually walk in an organized procession to a Planned Parenthood clinic two blocks away. But this week, motivated by safety concerns, some members decided instead to be stationed outside the church and behind a fence separating 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 advocates shouted and sang, “Thank God for the abortion.” Some also hung a green, black and white banner that read, “Anti-abortion laws are killing us.”

One protester, Payal Patel, a Harlem resident who provides family medicine, abortion and abortion pill services across the city, said people in New York City were lucky that abortion would remain legal even if Roe was abolished. But she said it was important to teach future generations “that abortion is health care.”

Reverend Brian A. Graeby, who has been the church’s pastor for the past three years, said he saw the leaked draft 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 this would be a fantastic step forward for our community,” he said.

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