'This is a people issue': Crowd rallies in downtown Athens in support of abortion rights
After a draft opinion from the Supreme Court was leaked, showing intentions of overturning Roe v. Wade, a crowd took to the streets of downtown Athens to rally in support of abortion rights.
The draft opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito shows that as of February, when the document was written, the highest court in the nation was on track to overturn the 1973 landmark ruling, in response to an ongoing court case from Mississippi.
Background: Leaked abortion opinion shakes trust in Supreme Court and puts Roe in center of midterm fight
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While the decision is not final, an “emergency rally” was held May 4 on the steps of City Hall, where hundreds turned out, chanting slogans such as “the people united will never be defeated” and “my body, my choice.”
The rally was organized by the Party for Socialism and Liberation in conjunction with the Athens Area Democratic Socialists of America. Some elected officials — including Commissioners Mariah Parker, Jesse Houle, and Melissa Link and District Attorney Deborah Gonzalez — made appearances either as speakers or among the crowd.
The rally had a lineup of speakers and a brief march through the streets of downtown before coming back to City Hall for another round of speakers.
A handful of counter-protesters appeared throughout the evening without major disruption. A group of Athens-Clarke County police were present but there were no incidents.
With attendees waving signs such as “abortion is healthcare” and “defend the right to choose,” it was clear why people were rallying together: they were worried not only for themselves, but for everyone in Georgia.
This issue would not just affect cisgender women, one attendee argued, but said it would be an issue for transgender and nonbinary individuals.
“This doesn't only affect women, it affects absolutely everyone," said one rally attendee. "It affects trans people it affect nonbinary people and we can't leave that out of the conversation. This is a people issue, this is not just a women issue."
Under Roe, states are unable to ban abortion before fetal viability, which is estimated to occur around 24 weeks. If overturned, states would be allowed to make individual decisions on abortion.
In Georgia, due to the “heartbeat bill” this means that abortions would be banned after six weeks.
More: Abortion law changes ahead: Here's what would happen in Georgia if Roe v. Wade is overturned
There is no abortion clinic in Athens, and according to prochoice.org, any residents seeking an abortion would have to drive to either Augusta or Atlanta. In the state, there are 28 facilities provide abortions, 17 of which are clinics, according to prochoiceGeorgia.org.
For Alejandra González-Calvo, the lack of access to care has made her nervous.
“It's really scary the idea that if I should need access to this kind of medical procedure, that I might not be able to get it,” said González-Calvo.
This article originally appeared on Athens Banner-Herald: Downtown Athens rally for abortion rights draws 100s