Protestors gathered at the Colorado Capitol on May 3, 2022, in support of legal abortions. (Sara Wilson/Colorado Newsline)
Coloradans rallied in front of the state Capitol on Tuesday afternoon following news that the U.S. Supreme Court is poised to roll back abortion rights through an upcoming ruling.
Elected leaders, activists and community members spoke for over an hour about the need for safe, legal and accessible abortion not only in Colorado but also nationwide.
“The only thing that unsafe and illegal abortions do is kill people. The fact that the Supreme Court — a bunch of white, privileged men — is trying to overturn our right is just disgusting,” activist Karla Gonzales Garcia said, sharing her own experience of receiving an abortion in Peru.
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A leaked draft opinion obtained by Politico shows that a majority of Supreme Court justices support overturning the landmark Roe v. Wade precedent, which guaranteed the constitutional right to abortion for nearly five decades. The decision, which is not yet final, sent shockwaves through the country as politicians and organizers reacted to the beginning of a post-Roe society.
Attendees at the Denver rally held signs with common abortion-rights slogans, such as “My Body, My Choice,” “Protect Women’s Rights” and “Abortion is Health Care.”
Abortion and reproductive health care access is protected in Colorado through the recently enacted Reproductive Health Equity Act, which Democrats passed during the current legislative session in anticipation of a defunct Roe v. Wade.
“We knew this day would come,” RHEA sponsor Sen. Julie Gonzales of Denver said. “The decision hasn’t even been made official yet and we already know what it feels like in our bones. We can already see this decision for what it is.”
“Should the Supreme Court decision stand in the way it has been issued as a draft, the work that we have done and the work that we collectively will continue to do will matter more than ever,” she said.
These bans and these attacks on reproductive freedom — let me be clear — they will not stop abortion from happening, but they will decrease the number of safe abortions that happen.
– State Rep. Leslie Herod
Speakers appealed to attendees to turn out in the primary and general elections this year to elect pro-abortion rights candidates at the state and federal levels. The two Republicans running to replace U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, state Rep. Ron Hanks and Joe O’Dea, opposed RHEA.
“We’re here to rally and protest. I love protest,” said Elizabeth Epps, a state legislative candidate and the founder of the Colorado Freedom Fund. “Protest for protest’s sake is hollow. It needs to translate into policy action.”
State Rep. Leslie Herod said the leaked opinion invigorated her to call on Democrats to “give a s***” about their voter base.
“We have lost our base because we’re afraid to talk about the things that matter, but these type of bills, these types of laws, these types of rulings have impacts on each and every one of us,” she said.
Herod was one of many speakers who also addressed the racial and economic disparities experts warn can arise from abortion bans, as wealthier, often whiter, people are able to afford to travel for care but low-income people might resort to abortion attempts outside of a medical setting or be forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term.
“These bans and these attacks on reproductive freedom — let me be clear — they will not stop abortion from happening, but they will decrease the number of safe abortions that happen. They will push people into the shadows and they will harm people who look like me, who look like you disproportionately than those judges who decided to vote to ban abortion,” she said. “I’m pretty sick of white men without medical degrees telling me what to do with my reproductive organs.”
Isabel Cruz of the Colorado Doula Project said many of the people her organization works with are poor people of color who travel to Colorado for care. She said that even though abortion is protected in the state, there isn’t always enough funding to help people seeking abortions. No matter what the final Supreme Court decision is, she said, abortion funds and practical care groups will still do the work they have been doing and will still need money.
“We will still be here for every single person seeking an abortion or any kind of support regarding the choices they want to make regarding having a family, not having a family, whatever the hell they want to do. We’re going to be here,” she said.
Gonzales Garcia thanked the white women who appeared at the Tuesday rally but called on them to continue showing up in allyship for the people of color whom an abortion ban could disproportionately affect.
“The reality is, we still have to fight with you all when you don’t understand the racial issue complicating this fight,” she said. “You have to go talk to other white women that aren’t here right now.”
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