“Stand up, fight back” were the words that echoed down the halls of the Georgia State Capitol, as abortion rights activists protested on Saturday. Supporters of all races and genders gathered to either defend abortion rights, or speak out against those rights.
The protest was in response to a leaked draft of a U.S. Supreme Court opinion, which indicated that the country’s highest legislative body may be planning to reverse Roe v. Wade, a 1973 Supreme Court decision that gave women the legal right to have an abortion.
Differing opinions about an ideological reversal of Roe v. Wade were evidenced by the many signs protesters carried on Saturday. The signs encapsulated a variety of emotions, from rage to heartbreak. Some mothers argued that a reversal of Roe v. Wade was a step backwards, and would endanger the safety of children.
The issue of abortion, particularly as it pertains to mortality rates during pregnancy, is of significant concern to Black women.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that Black women’s maternal mortality rate was nearly three times higher than the mortality rate for white women. This was due to a number of factors. According to the 2020 U.S. Census, Black women were paid 63% of what white men were paid in 2019. Black women historically make less than white men, which has led to Black women receiving inferior healthcare. Research has shown that some doctors even have biases against Black women; the National Academy of Medicine found that some Black patients receive poorer quality treatments compared to white patients.
Speakers at the protest were acutely aware of this bias, and they were not pleased. Kwayelyn Jackson, the executor director of the Feminist Women’s Health Center, made that clear in the first minute of her speech.
“I am completely exhausted with defending my humanity,” she said.
Yemisi Miller-Tonnet, a local campaign coordinator at the Amplify Georgia Collaboration, spoke emphatically on what a proposed reversal would mean to Black women.
“We are in a state right now, under a gold dome, that is hell-bent on keeping our rights away from us,” Miller-Tonnet said.
Congresswoman Mikema Williams was there in solidarity, promising that she was doing everything in her power to make abortion accessible for all women. Williams hopes that citizens use their right to vote to protect women’s bodily autonomy.
But not every woman was in agreement with Williams and Miller-Tonnet. A handful of anti-abortion protestors gathered outside of Liberty Plaza, claiming that abortions were against God’s word. In their eyes, abortion is murder.
“You’re basically sacrificing that child. You’re being selfish,” said J’Lynn Green, an anti-abortion protestor.
Green said that her position is not rooted in anger. She wanted those who are considering an abortion to truly reflect on their decisions, as well as the consequences of those decisions.
Eventually, the clash between abortion rights protestors and anti-abortion protestors escalated into shouting fests, with police officers trying to break the tensions brewing between both groups.
As abortion has been one of the more controversial political matters in this country’s history, this will certainly not be the last time that individuals gather to lobby for greater control of women’s health.