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Woe is Roe: NYC Protesters Speak Out on Looming Demise of Abortion Rights

Voices from pro-choice protesters who marched from Cadman Plaza to Foley Square on May 14. In NYC, tens of thousands participated in the national day of action to protest the fall of Roe.

Jenna Gaudino May 20

On the night of May 2, Politico leaked Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito’s drafted majority opinion on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. The draft upholds the Mississippi case that bans most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy and

goes even further in fully striking down Roe v. Wade, the landlmark 1973 Supreme Court case that legalized abortion. With 26 states contemplating abortion bans if Roe falls and Republicans hinting they would seek to enact a national abortion ban of they regain control of the federal government, tens of thousands of pro-choice advocates draped in green and pink gathered at Cadman Plaza on the afternoon of May 14 to protest the decision. The crowd chanted, “If people’s rights are under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back!,” as it marched across the Brooklyn Bridge and into Lower Manhattan.

MELODY JONES

I’ve been protesting since 1969, the year I graduated from high school. A lot of people say they’re exhausted. I’m not exhausted; I’m invigorated. Stay out of my body. Everything is going back more than 50 years.

I had an abortion back when it was illegal. I was just a little girl. I was 18. It was very back-door. It was horrible, just horrible. It was so many years ago — I’ve sort of blocked it out in my mind. I remember going to a very close male friend of mine and he was close to his older sister and she hooked me up. It was really painful. No medication. I remember coming home and wishing I could tell my mother. And my mother was a part of the feminist movement, and I would’ve been able to tell her, but I was so ashamed. I’m ashamed that I didn’t have a safe place to talk about it. Because you didn’t really talk to other girls about it. You just didn’t share that stuff. I just had to grin and bear it. But I was incredibly lucky. There was never any doubt in my mind.

CHANDRA DARICE

I think it’s been a long time in the making. It’s been so calculated. It’s devious! From trigger laws to the appointment of judges. And we’ve had these liars who sit on the highest court of the land, who lied through their [nomination] hearings. The American people have the right to know where they stand on these positions.

I’m a woman, a Black woman, and a member of a marginalized community that will be the first to bear the brunt of these decisions that will cost women their lives. You can’t ban abortion. You can ban safe and legal abortion. I think there’s such animosity towards people who are poor. People in positions of power don’t want to provide any sort of services after forcing women to carry to term. It’s a war on women. It’s a war on the poor. It’s a war on Black women.

It’s so easy to mind your business. People say they’re pro-life but they support the death penalty. It’s hypocrisy. They say life begins at conception but then they do in vitro [fertilization]. And it’s like, really? I know you don’t believe that an embryo is a fetus because who would put their child into liquid nitrogen for years at a time and possibly leave them in there forever? I know you don’t believe that there’s a soul in there. So cut the bullshit. Stay in your lane. And keep your nose out of people’s uteruses.

ANGELA HAMLET

I’m 60-years-old and when I first heard the news I felt physically ill. They’re trying to take us back to 1815. So what’s next? They want to make a law to make me a slave again? It’s going to get really bad if women don’t stick together. And that has nothing to do with Black or white because Amy Coney-Barrett is a white woman and Clarence Thomas is a Black man so I’m not even talking about who’s Black or white, I’m just saying that women need to empower themselves right now.

If you have a little girl growing up in a church family, and she makes a mistake, she’s going to be cited for murder! And then they want to make it illegal for women to travel across state lines to get abortions. They want to make women criminals! And they don’t want to give you condoms or birth control pills, so what is their exact agenda? What is their agenda? They want you to have a baby but they don’t want to give you food stamps to feed your baby. They don’t want to give you $15 an hour as a minimum wage. It’s barbaric and it’s criminal!

LORIS BOYD

Within the time that I grew up, just before Roe v. Wade became law of the land, a number of women I know — and all these women were Black women — they resorted to different methods to have an abortion. One person that I know of died because she tried to abort within the eighth month.

We cannot allow a minority to speak for the majority. We have to change that.

JOHNATHAN DAVIS

I feel so angry and upset and frustrated that we have to be doing this, at this point.

They found, at 20 weeks, a genetic anomaly — the viability of [our] baby was not very good. And even if the baby was born she would have had to spend the rest of her life in a hospital. And so we decided to — for the sake of our daughter — to make that decision so that she wouldn’t have to suffer. To have a late-term abortion was scary but we felt that it was in the best interest for the life our daughter because she wouldn’t have had much of a life. We haven’t really gotten into the concept of abortions with our little ones, but we’ve talked about how people should have the right to make decisions about their own bodies.

WOMAN HOLDING A BAT

The reason why I decided to bring a bat today — even though I know that non-violent resistance is more effective — is that I wanted to express how

angry I am. I wanted to have a visual representation of how absolutely incensed I feel, because I feel like I really wanna fight! And I want people to know that women are going to fight, physically. We’re pissed. They called down the thunder — well now they got it. I’ve had two abortions. It was legal and it saved my life. I would have ended up a very different person with many less options. I’ll forever be thankful.

ANONYMOUS MOTHER

I was pro-choice before I got pregnant and I’m even more pro-choice now. This is the hardest job in the world, and the idea of having to do it against your will — it’s unconscionable.

Amba Guerguerian contributed to this report.

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