On March 4, People For the American Way staff joined partner organizations and activists for the #MyRightMyDecision rally at the Supreme Court as justices heard oral arguments in June Medical Services v. Russo.
The case involves a Louisiana restriction commonly known as a TRAP law, which requires doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital that is 30 or fewer miles away from the abortion clinics. These TRAP laws have a devastating effect on abortion access, and disproportionately affect low-income people and people of color. The case is identical to Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, in which the Supreme Court struck down a similar TRAP law in Texas. The only thing that has changed in the four years since Whole Woman’s Health? The makeup of the Supreme Court and the addition of Trump-appointed justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.
Speakers at the rally hailed from a variety of reproductive rights and allied organizations, including the Center for Reproductive Rights (which represented the abortion clinic in the case), Abortion Care Network, All Above All, In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda, Jane’s Due Process, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Muslims for Progressive Values, the Reproductive Justice Action Collective, and Sister Song.
PFAW’s Director of African American Religious Affairs Rev. Leslie Watson Wilson opened the rally with a prayer, saying “We are pro-choice and we are pro-faith … May we always find courage when we need to be courageous.”
— PFAW (@peoplefor) March 4, 2020
Representatives from many partner organizations spoke at the rally, as did Connecticut Democratic Senator Blumenthal, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, and Reps. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), Judy Chu (D-Calif.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), and Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.). Actors Elizabeth Banks and Busy Philipps also made their voices heard.
Everyone who spoke brought up important points about the intersection of health care, racial and economic justice, and the importance of voting in November:
“We know that Trump and Mitch McConnell are stacking the court to eviscerate access to abortion. These cases are all over the country. We must demand a president and senators who demonstrate a commitment to reproductive rights. We are going to vote in November.” – Vanita Gupta, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
“As Black women, we walk in this world firmly vested in dignity and bodily autonomy. We refuse to allow judges who know nothing about us to control our reproduction. Black women are disproportionately impacted by these oppressive laws that limit our right to control our bodies and our lives.” – Racine Tucker-Hamilton, In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda
“Patriarchal right-wing Christians are trying to legislate our rights to our bodies. We will not allow interpretations of religious doctrine to send us back to the 1500’s.” – Blair Imani, Muslims for Progressive Values
“Abortion cannot be just a privilege. It must be a right. Abortion is normal. Abortion is healthcare.” – Elizabeth Banks, actor
“Consent to sex is not consent to pregnancy. Until we can have complete control of what we do with our bodies, we are not equal nor free.” – Irma Garcia, Jane’s Due Process
“Four years of Donald Trump and two anti-choice justices are not enough to overturn Roe v. Wade.” – Rep. Judy Chu
“This case is about abortion access but it is about more than that. It is about a state that claims to be pro-life but does not invest in poor people, or young people, or Black and brown people.” – Michelle Erenberg, Lift Louisiana
As the rally ended, the steps of the Supreme Court filled with witnesses, lawyers, and other individuals who participated in June’s oral arguments. A decision has not yet been made in the case, but speakers and attendees emphasized that we will all continue to keep fighting, and that come the election in November, we will vote for a president and legislators who will confirm fair-minded judges and justices who will defend our constitutionally guaranteed right to choose.
— PFAW (@peoplefor) March 4, 2020