Tens of thousands of protesters marched in DC on Saturday to protest Texas’s SB8, a recently passed law that bans 85% of abortions and gives private citizens the power to sue anyone who provides financial or logistical assistance to someone in getting an abortion.
Washington, DC’s march started at Freedom Plaza, and marchers walked over two miles to the Supreme Court. Many speakers shared the stories of their own abortions, especially highlighting how restrictions negatively impact the most marginalized pregnant people, including poor and young people of color.
“No matter where you live, no matter where you are, this moment is dark — it is dark — but that’s why we’re here,” Alexis McGill Johnson, president of Planned Parenthood, said to the crowd. “It is our job to imagine the light, even when we can’t see it,” Johnson said. “It is our job to turn pain into purpose. It is our job to turn pain into power.”
“Not only is abortion health care, but at my organization we also believe it’s self-care,” said Marsha Jones, executive director of the Afiya Center, a Texas-based abortion rights organization. “You can no longer tell us what to do with our bodies.” At that, the protesters erupted in cheers, many hoisting homemade signs and chanting, “Abortion is health care!”
In addition to the largest march in DC, there were more than 600 simultaneous marches across the country, with thousands protesting in New York, Houston, and Dallas and hundreds in smaller cities like Omaha, Albany, and Cleveland.
In Los Angeles, speakers included US House Rep Karen Bass, Hilda Solis, Chair of the LA County Board of Supervisors, and Paxton Smith, a Texas student whose valedictorian speech standing up for abortion rights went viral last spring. There were five other marches in Southern California, in Long Beach, West Hollywood, Pasadena, Irvine, and Fountain Valley.
Protesters rallied in Jackson, MS, and New Orleans, against SB8 and other abortion bans set to impact their states. The Supreme Court is set to hear Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health this December, which will rule on Mississippi’s recent 15-week ban. If the Court upholds this law, Louisiana’s similar law will also take effect.
Arsene DeLay, generational New Orleanian activist and musician, challenged the crowd to listen to Black women, who are often most impacted by abortion restrictions. The CDC reports that Black women received 61% of all abortions in the state of Louisiana.
The march was organized in coalition with more than 120 groups, including Planned Parenthood, Black Feminist Future, and Feminist Majority Foundation.
Rachel O’Leary Carmona, executive director of Women’s March, said, “Roe is the floor, not the ceiling,” Carmona said. “Abortion rights, reproductive justice, is absolutely a part of voting rights and justice for immigrants, and racial justice because they can’t be extracted from themselves. The most impacted communities across all those groups are communities of color.”
Sources: Washington Post 10/2/21; Omaha World-Herald 10/2/21; WWNO 10/2/21