Protesters supporting abortion rights circled a federal courthouse in Detroit Tuesday in a reaction to a Supreme Court draft opinion to overturn Roe v. Wade. That decision could lead to a practical ban on abortion in Michigan.
At least 100 protesters took to the streets to support reproductive rights. Tuesday’s impromptu rally was organized by Reproductive Rights Group of Michigan, Metro Detroit Democratic Socialists of America and the Women’s March.
Zora Bowens, co-founder of the activist organization Whenever We’re Needed, led the group’s march with a megaphone, guiding chants like, “Two, four, six, eight — you can’t make us procreate.”
Bowens says people need to pay attention to what’s going on.
“It’s going to affect everyone in the nation, but I don’t think people understand that it’s going to affect their sisters, their mothers, their grandmothers, their cousins, their family. Everyone around them, you know? People don’t think about it until it’s potentially going to hurt them.”
Many of the participants were wearing green bandanas, a symbol used by reproductive rights activists in Central and South America during abortion decriminalization efforts there.
“All the odds were against them,” says Cindy Luiz, who was handing out green bandanas to other protesters. “I think the odds are against us. But I also think that when people do things like that, they can actually change the direction of society.”
Luiz came with Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights, a national action network. She says the Supreme Court is set to strike down Roe v. Wade.
“And I think that a lot of the people who need to fight this and could fight it aren’t even active yet and never have been. So we need to get out there. And the Supreme Court is vulnerable to what people think to the fact that they feel like they are losing grip on society.”
Wayne State University student Zori Martinez joined the march.
“At the end of the day, banning abortions doesn’t actually ban abortions. All it does is take away women and people with ovaries’ rights to choose to have a safe abortion,” says Martinez. “This is about safe health care. This is about accessible health care. This is much bigger than women’s rights.”
Martinez came to the march with Maizy Czartorski. Both are members of WSU’s Students for Reproductive Justice.
“It keeps on getting closer and closer every day that this is a very real right that we could lose,” says Czartorski.
Listen: Voices from Tuesday’s demonstration.
Dianne Feeley, a retired autoworker living in southwest Detroit, spoke during the demonstration. She says many women in the state already lack access to abortions.
“Very few hospitals in the country perform abortions,” Feeley says. “It’s done in clinics, which means that the right-wing can attack those clinics. And that’s how we’ve had so many violence at the clinics and even the death of doctors.”
There are 27 facilities providing abortions in Michigan. And most of the state’s counties do not have a clinic. According to the Guttmacher Institute, an abortion-rights advocacy group, more than 26,000 abortions were provided in Michigan in 2017.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer filed a lawsuit to block a 1931 state law banning abortion. She says otherwise 2.2 million women could lose access to safe abortions. If Roe is overturned, Michigan would be one of 26 states where abortions would become illegal.