Women rally on Decatur Square in support of Roe v. Wade, abortion rightsNine-year-old Casey holds a protest sign during a demonstration at the downtown Decatur Square on Tuesday May 3, 2022 following the leak of a Supreme Court draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade. Photo by Dean Hesse.
Decatur, GA — After news broke on Monday that the Supreme Court of the United States is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, around 50 people, mostly women, gathered for a demonstration on the Decatur Square on May 3 in support of the landmark court case.
“It feels like a continuation of the patriarch, misogynistic goal to control women, to take our rights as human beings,” Decatur resident Shannon Downs said.
Politico obtained an initial draft opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito that is a renunciation of the 1973 decision that guaranteed federal constitutional protections of abortion rights, as well as Planned Parenthood v. Casey, a 1992 decision that largely maintained that right.
“We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled,” Alito wrote in the draft, according to Politico. “It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”
The Supreme Court’s ruling will not be final until the opinion is published, which is likely in the next two months, Politico reported. Currently, Roe v. Wade is still law and abortion rights are protected under the constitution.
But women and their families and friends rallied on the Decatur Square to voice their concerns and advocate for Roe v. Wade to not be overturned.
“Like most people out here, I’m concerned about the Supreme Court’s decision on Roe v. Wade,” Avondale Estates resident Calais Vandromme said. “I’m a mom now with a daughter, and I’m out here to protect her rights.”
Kirkwood resident Elizabeth Consky said she feels privileged to be afforded various educational opportunities, which has been due to equal rights for women, including reproductive rights.
“I think all women should be afforded that option,” Kirkwood resident Elizabeth Consky said. “As a doctor, I also feel like reproductive rights are part of healthcare. There are so many variables that go into a healthy and successful pregnancy, and a healthy and successful childbearing experience, that both as a physician and a mother, I can’t imagine someone dictating that choice for me.”
Some in attendance were sad, mad, heartbroken and worried about what could come out of the court’s decision.
“Is this the beginning of other rights being taken away,” Shawn Ouweleen said. “[I’m] sad about what’s going on with the Supreme Court that they’re more worried about the leak than anybody is worried about women’s rights and our right to choose.”
During the rally, the Atlanta Resistance Revival Chorus performed and reminded those in attendance that while the draft opinion has been leaked, abortion is still legal and clinics are still open.
“At this time, we can’t assume that this is the final decision, as we don’t want to let the court when the decision is finally published. We ask you to remember that abortion is normal in the United States, and it’s not just normal, it’s popular in the hearts and minds of the majority of Americans,” said Carlisa Johnson, founder and director of the Atlanta Resistance Revival Chorus. “This leaked draft decision shows us what we already knew, the justices on the Supreme Court have once again shown their utter disregard for people who need abortions in this nation and bowing down to the whims of white supremacists and extremists.”
Johnson reminded protestors that Roe v. Wade is still the law of the land.
“Abortion is legal. We know this is just a draft opinion and the Supreme Court has not yet made a ruling,” Johnson said. “Abortion clinics and funds are open and ready to support patients in every single state.”
Although across the country, states are rolling back abortion access with bans and restrictions.
“We know that things will likely get worse before they get better, but we are not backing down,” Johnson said. “We are growing stronger than ever because all people deserve access to abortion care when they need it and on a timeline of their choosing, in their community and in an environment that they trust and that they feel safe in.”
Decatur resident Leah Samaha recently gave birth to her first child and said that having a child is an incredibly important and private decision.
“That is a right that every woman should have and that abortion is a reproductive and medical decision that needs to be made between a woman and her doctor, no one else,” Samaha said. “I’m here for the rights for women to be able to stand up for what they need.”
After the demonstration, about a dozen people stood on the sidewalk along East Ponce de Leon Avenue in front of the DeKalb History Center with their signs, chanting “vote now,” “women’s rights are human rights” and “they say no choice, we say pro-choice.” Drivers passing by honked to show their support.
In between chants, one five-year-old boy would continue the chant by himself and raise the sign he was holding. One chant he created was “my body, not yours.”
Elected officials and candidates from Georgia also reacted to the news.
“The extremely unprecedented and shocking leak of Justice Alito’s draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade is exceeded only by the extraordinarily egregious edict expressed in the draft,” U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson (GA-4) in a statement. “Chief Justice Roberts has confirmed the draft’s authenticity by announcing an investigation into its leak, and for many, a grave fear is about to become reality. As the Supreme Court hacks away at women’s fundamental right to privacy, it shreds its own legitimacy, all while threatening the fundamental liberty of all who are not white men. The Supreme Court’s conservative majority has chosen a side in the Trump-Republican-led culture war, which imperils democracy for all. The future of our republic lies in the hands of the voters, if we are to restore and preserve freedom and liberty for all in America.”
U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff said, in a statement, that whatever the court decides, he will sustain and strengthen his efforts in Congress to codify the standards established in Roe v. Wade into federal law.
“If the Court strikes down Roe v. Wade, the lives, health, privacy, and liberty of women nationwide will be relentlessly attacked by extreme laws that threaten women and their health care providers with imprisonment when a woman makes the deeply personal medical choice to terminate a pregnancy — even early in the first trimester,” Ossoff said. “An overwhelming majority of Americans believe women should be free to make their own medical decisions about reproductive health in private consultation with their doctors and support the standards established in Roe v. Wade.”
U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams (GA-5) also released a statement on the draft opinion. She is the whip of the Democratic Women’s Caucus and a member of the Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus.
“We now have a chilling picture of a post-Roe v. Wade country. Upending over 50 years of legal precedent is a dangerous assault on bodily autonomy. While working for Planned Parenthood for a decade, I heard from countless patients—primarily women of color—who made tremendous sacrifices to get the abortion care they needed. If Roe v. Wade is overturned, those sacrifices will put reproductive healthcare out of reach for millions of people, or force them into dangerous, unregulated procedures,” Williams said. “The House of Representatives did its job by passing the Women’s Health Protection Act. Now, the Senate must pass this lifesaving legislation and end the filibuster to protect the rights of all Americans.”
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams also released the following statement:
“As a woman, I am enraged by the continued assault on our right to control our bodies and our futures,” Abrams said. “As an American, I am appalled by the Supreme Court breach and its implications. As the next Governor of Georgia, I will defend the right to an abortion and fight for reproductive justice.”
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