More than 300 people gathered at Mill Creek Park in Kansas City and marched around the Plaza on Saturday, reach the cities of the country demonstrate in favor of the right to abortion.
the Banish Our Bodies Rallies were organized by Planned Parenthood in response to a leaked opinion from the United States Supreme Court that overthrow Roe v. Wade.
Organizers told the crowd that the reproductive rights movement is not just about women.
“There are plenty of non-binary, trans-male, gender-expansive, gender-liberated people who are absolutely affected by decisions like these, and more than often excluded from equitable health care options, leaving us to do a number of things that may or may not be safe for us or our families,” said Imije Ninaz with the Nafasi Center for QTPOCone of the groups that organized the rally.
Mayor Quinton Lucas attended the rally. He stated that if Roe v. Wade was canceled, the city would do everything possible to protect the right to abortion in Kansas City.
“It’s working with our public health institutions, it’s making sure we’re actually working to reach groups like Planned Parenthood and so many others,” Lucas said. “These are conversations that we have already started, and this is something that we believe is vital for public health in Kansas City. So, as I think some of our speakers have said today, even if Roe were overthrown, instituting the Missouri trigger law, that’s not the end for us to make sure we stand up for the rights of women.
Missouri is one of 13 states that has passed “trigger” legislation, meaning if Roe v. Wade is completely or even partially canceled, abortions would be completely banned, except in medical emergencies.
In Missouri, a medical emergency is defined as a situation in which the life of the pregnant person is in immediate danger, or the postponement of an abortion would entail “a serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function”.
Saturday’s event allowed many people to share their own abortion stories. Poet and author M’Vyonne Payne told the crowd she learned she had an ectopic pregnancy after suddenly collapsing in 2018.
Doctors discovered that Payne was bleeding internally and she had to decide whether or not to have an abortion.
“But here I am, I was saved,” Payne said. “It was my right to be saved. It was my doctor’s right to save my life because I actually flattened myself on the operating table.
Ectopic pregnancies occur when a fertilized egg implants outside the uterus. They are not viable and often put the life of the pregnant person in danger.
In February, Missouri lawmakers introduced a bill that would have criminalized the distribution of drugs or “devices” to terminate a pregnancy, even in the case of an ectopic pregnancy. After sharp criticism from Democratsthe provision on ectopic pregnancy has been deleted.
The bill passed in committee but then died at the end of the 2022 legislative session.
Payne’s story was particularly difficult for Celeste Shepherd, who attended the protest with two of her four biological children. Shepherd said she had two abortions – one of which was an ectopic pregnancy and the other an unplanned pregnancy while she and her husband were homeless.
“Everyone’s rights are taken away,” Shepherd said. “We have the absolute right to say, ‘Hey, this is my body and I want to survive.’ It’s the bare minimum. Survival is the bare minimum.
Many speakers on Saturday pointed out that abortion bans will disproportionately harm marginalized communities.
“It reflects again and again that black and brown women are consistently at the bottom of the scale and we’re going to be impacted the most,” Ninaz said.
Shepherd echoed that message, saying she hasn’t been feeling well since the Supreme Court’s draft was released earlier this month.
“We are going to see death. We are going to see suicide. We’ll probably see babies in dumpsters again,” Shepherd said. “And that terrifies me and pisses me off because if they were so concerned about babies, they wouldn’t be moving this forward. It’s not about babies. It’s about control, power, the rich who are getting richer, poor people who are getting poorer. Who else is going to fight in their army if they don’t hold us back?”
Vote to protest against the right to abortion
Judge Gaston, founder of the Reale Justice Network – another of the event’s hosts – urged people in the crowd to vote.
“We can’t talk about Roe v. Wade not to mention vote. It’s our power, we have to exercise it,” said Gaston.
In Kansas, the overturning of Roe v. Wade would not immediately ban abortion. However, a proposed change to the the state constitution is on the ballot August 2nd. If passed, it would remove the right to abortion from the Kansas constitution and give state lawmakers the power to pass stricter abortion restrictions.
Organizers fear that the Kansas Legislature, where Republicans control a supermajority in both chambers, could then completely ban abortion.
Over the weekend, supporters of reproductive rights began to solicit a campaign asking Kansans to “vote no” on anti-abortion constitutional amendment. Kansans for Constitutional Freedoma bipartisan coalition for reproductive rights, said it reached capacity with more than 900 volunteers spread across Johnson and Sedgwick counties.
If the amendment fails, Kansas would remain one of the few states in the region where abortion remains legal. State clinics have seen an influx of patients seek abortion services after bans in neighboring states like Oklahoma.
The stakes in Kansas seem personal for Kelsey Walker, who was unable to attend Saturday’s rally but showed up at several other pro-choice protests in the city.
Walker said she’s always been a pro-choice advocate, but in 2017, while living in Kansas, she discovered her baby had osteogenesis imperfecta type II, an often-fatal condition commonly known as bone disease. brittle bones. All the bones in her daughter’s body were broken.
“And besides, if one of his bones had broken and punctured me, I could have bled to death,” Walker said. “So unfortunately her condition was also life threatening, so my husband and I made the difficult decision to terminate the pregnancy at 18 weeks.”
Even if Walker’s baby was born safely, she likely would have died shortly after birth. Walker said getting an abortion wasn’t easy and she felt ashamed she had it.
“Unfortunately, because of state regulations, they’re actually trying to talk you out of having an abortion while you’re at it,” Walker said. “It’s not that they’re insensitive or anything, because God knows these healthcare providers were so compassionate and caring towards me, but they asked me six times during the procedure if I wanted to abort.”
At Saturday’s rally, many expressed fear for the future of reproductive rights in the country. Hannah, who is 14, said she was very stressed about the potential abortion ban.
Hannah said she grew up being sexually abused at home. Although the abuse stopped last year, her attacker did not go to jail.
“If I had started my period before I was 13, which I fortunately started at 14, very recently, I could have gotten pregnant and I might not have had the opportunity to get pregnant. abortion,” Hannah said. “I should have had a baby rapist.”
Missouri’s 2019 abortion ban does not include exceptions for rape or incest.
“I want other little girls like me to be safe in their homes. Like, because I wasn’t, I want others to be,” Hannah said. “It’s so traumatic to be alive right after. It just sucks. I don’t want anyone to go through this.”