July 4th protests spark as marchers fight for abortion rights across the country

·3 min read
Photo of an abortion rights protest in front of the White House.
A protester releases green smoke during an abortion-rights rally in Lafayette park in front of the White House in Washington, Monday, July 4, 2022. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)Andrew Harnik/ASSOCIATED PRESS
  • Thousands spent their July 4th holiday protesting the US Supreme Court's overturning of Roe v. Wade.

  • Organizations including RiseUp 4 Abortion Rights planned protests around the country.

  • "There are millions of people that are not in any kind of celebratory mood this weekend," said a protest organizer.

Last month the Supreme Court effectively overturned Roe vs. Wade, a nearly 50-year-old landmark ruling that made abortion legal.

Now, as reproductive health clinics close their doors, forcing people to travel thousands of miles out of state to the nearest center, organizations and social media users are calling to "cancel the 4th of July" and decrying a "lack of independence."

"When we got the decision last Friday, it was a brutal defeat," said Sri Thakkilapati, executive director of the independent abortion clinic, Preterm. "It's just a sweeping rejection of the foundation of this right."

Activists and individuals are protesting the holiday by organizing rallies over the July 4th weekend. Leading the charge, the advocacy group Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights called for protests and actions around the country, with local chapters organizing events over the weekend.

One protest began Saturday outside Austin's downtown Buford tower, where roughly 1,300 rallygoers marched across two bridges, stopping traffic for some time, said Coco Das, a volunteer organizer with the organization's Austin chapter. Another protest by the group People For Pro-Choice was planned today at the Texas Capitol in Austin.

Several dozens of rallies were scheduled to take place on July 4th alone, organized by Rise Up and affiliated groups, Das said.

"The anger, sentiment, and heartache out there is very visceral," Das told Insider. "There are millions of people that are not in any kind of celebratory mood this weekend, whether they channel that into protest or not. There's a tide of protests calling people into the streets, and I think people will answer."

Rise Up has prescribed messaging and symbolism for the July 4th abortion-right protests around the idea of freedom, Das said. In DC, rallygoers planned to use red white and blue items and articles of clothing to wear around their mouths like gags or tie their wrists with red white and blue fabric, and march at the US Supreme Court, Das said.

Other groups participating in Rise Up's rallies include self-styled anti-fascist groups including Refuse Fascism and labor organizations including the Coalition for Labor Union Women, a group comprising union members. Bans off our Bodies, a Planned Parenthood Affiliate, called for a boycott of all retail goods throughout the weekend.

Coalition for Labor Union Women, which describes itself as focused on rights of women in the workplace, planned a voting campaign it plans to bill "pro-union, pro-choice," its president Elise Bryant told Insider.

"We want all women to have reproductive rights to control our own bodies," Bryant said.

Some 13 states had trigger laws set to take effect upon the reversal of Roe v. Wade, which recognized a constitutional right to an abortion before the fetus is viable. Those trigger laws, which would ban or further restrict abortions, are in the process of taking effect.

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