'All out warfare': Hundreds take the streets in Alabama in abortion ban protest
MONTGOMERY, Ala. – A column of protesters stretching two blocks long marched down Dexter Avenue under the Alabama sun on Sunday, chanting their to the Alabama State Capitol.
"Your body, your choice," they yelled, in call and response. "Come on, come on and join the fight. Abortion is a person's right."
The afternoon crowd, about 500 activists, organizers and regular citizens, marched against Alabama's recently signed abortion ban – the most restrictive in the nation – which is meant to serve as a vehicle to challenge Roe v. Wade at the Supreme Court.
"We cover Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi," said Staci Fox, president of Planned Parenthood Southeast. "Three states that have passed these dangerous, draconian abortion bans this spring."
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed the near-total ban Wednesday, a day after lawmakers declined to add exceptions into the ban for cases of rape or incest before passing it themselves. That put Alabama in even stronger defiance of current legal precedent than other states like Georgia and Missouri, which passed fetal heartbeat bills recently.
Like Alabama, those laws were passed with the express intent of being run through the gantlet of the court system. Anti-abortion advocates say they believe the current makeup of the Supreme Court gives them their best chance in decades to overturn the landmark abortion decision in Roe.
Fox lambasted politicians for not listening to what she said was the will of Alabamians, and she vowed to whip up support for those looking to unseat them in the next election cycle.
"We are coming for their seat," Fox said. "This is an all out warfare on class. People of means will always have access to abortion in this country. We're talking about a war on poor women and women of color."
"We will see you in court."
Other activists from the ACLU of Alabama, URGE, Ordinary People’s Society, Hometown Action and Yellowhammer Fund – which pulled in thousands of dollars in donations this week – spoke to the protesters.
Leaders said the event, which had flashes of solidarity, dissatisfaction and outright rage, served as a well-attended kickoff for the advocacy groups looking to build support ahead of their legal battle with the state.
Organizers asked those in attendance to join a text bank, which they hope to use to build a coalition of pro-abortion advocacy and donors. There was also a table at the event where they were registering voters.
Claire Lewis Evans spoke at the event. She said that for her, having an abortion was a simple procedure, calling the story "not very interesting." Despite that, she said it was incredibly hard to get women to come forward and speak about their abortions.
"That's the difficulty of finding someone to stand here on this hill ... to discuss a simple medical procedure," Evans said. "Because that's all it was, for me. Thirty years ago, I went to a clinic, I had an abortion, and then I went home and I read a book."
Stephanie Barnett, 25, said she had come to the event because "I believe everyone should have health care. And women's rights, reproductive rights, are healthcare."
When Ivey signed the bill into law, Barnett – who carried a sign with the names of lawmakers who voted for it – said she wasn't surprised. As the case moves through the courts, she said she plans to continue to protest, contact lawmakers and register people to vote.
"It's rough, but we do have a voice. We're very much here and we won't be silenced," Barnett said.
That energy is what the protest's leaders said they hope to carry into the coming months. If the case moves to the Supreme Court and is overturned, Reyes said that their existing framework will be put into action.
"If, and when, Roe is overturned, networks are going to activate and we're going to funnel the resources that we have to making sure that everyone in the United States can get access to care, regardless of whether it is legal or not," Barnett said.
This article originally appeared on Montgomery Advertiser: 'All out warfare': Hundreds take the streets in Alabama in abortion ban protest