/Pro-choice activists rally in Jackson

Pro-choice activists rally in Jackson

After the leak by Politico, of a draft opinion that suggested the U.S. Supreme Court was ready to repeal Roe v. Wade and potentially set the stage for the procedure becoming illegal in Mississippi and other states, advocates organized pro-choice demonstrations across the country. The opinion was based on the Mississippi case Dobbs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which concerns a challenge of the state’s 15 week abortion ban. The Supreme Court could overturn Roe v. Wade and Mississippi’s “trigger law” would be repealed. Only cases where it is necessary to preserve the mother’s health or prevent the pregnancy from being caused by rape and where a criminal case has been filed with law enforcement would be exempt. All speakers at the protest stressed that activists will need to continue pushing for legalization and making access to reproductive health care available, regardless of the Supreme Court’s decision. The event was organized by 601 for Period Equity, Mississippi In Action and Immigrant Alliance for Justice and Equity. It was also supported by Party for Socialism and Liberation and Party for Socialism and Liberation. Meghan, who was the first speaker, told the story about being forced to have a child to term because she had been raped. After her car had broken down, she was jogging two miles back home to her house. After her assault, Meghan was still pregnant even though she took a Plan A pill. Meghan stated that it took her a while to understand and accept the reality of what was happening to her body in shock and trauma. Meghan was already past the 16-week mark for Mississippi abortions when she realized she was pregnant. She stated that looking at her growing belly was a reminder of the worst thing she had ever experienced. Meghan stated that “The nightmare is always present.” “The nightmare is ever present,” Meghan said. Lorena Quiroz is the executive director of the Immigrant Alliance for Justice and Equity. This progressive advocacy group promotes immigrant rights and argues that anti-abortion activists, politicians, and those who claim to support abortion but deny access to healthcare for undocumented immigrants are hypocritical. Quiroz stated, “If you truly wanted healthy babies, then you would be extending healthcare benefits to all women. But they’re not… All they want is to control our bodies.” Mississippi’s Medicaid program may cover undocumented pregnant women during childbirth. They are not eligible for any prenatal or postpartum public benefits. Quiroz pointed out that many undocumented Central American women who arrive in the U.S. to escape violence at home are also fleeing from their country. Quiroz stated that they flee to a country which they believe is supposed to protect them. But they are not protected. Derenda Hancock is the coordinator of the Pink House Defenders, which is a volunteer group that safely transports women to and from the state’s abortion clinic. She said she was shocked by the absence of anti-abortion protestors. She said that the leak was not mentioned by any of the people she escorted to the clinic this week. Hancock stated, “You’d be very surprised at how many people arrive there (Jackson Women’s Health Organization), without knowing anything about this (Dobbs’ case).” Although Hancock was upset about the leak, it was exactly what he expected. It was surprising that the leak happened, but it was not unexpected that they released the information. Hancock stated that there is no win in this situation. Hancock stated that in a post Roe Mississippi, Jackson Women’s Health Organization and the Pink House Defenders would likely cease to exist. Her advocacy group We Engage will continue to work, despite being confronted by anti-abortion activists. This will likely look like organizing in states that allow abortion to continue, but it is still legal. “There are no safe countries. Hancock stated that there are only temporary safe states. To support this important work, you can make a regular donation to the Spring Member Drive today.