National movement prompts thousands of abortion rights activists to flood the streets of Seattle

May 16, 2022, 12:31 PM | Updated: 1:06 pm

A national week of action by abortion-rights activists hoping to stop the expected overturning of Roe v Wade culminated with nationwide mass demonstrations Saturday, including rallies and marches here in Puget Sound.

Thousands gathered at Cal Anderson Park and Seattle Central College on Seattle’s Capitol Hill for multiple events. Some donned “Handmaid’s Tale” robes, and many carried signs with messages such as “Long Live Roe,” “Bodily Autonomy for All,” and “Abortion is Healthcare,” among others.

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“A lot of disappointment today that we’re here, again,” said one woman.

Several elected officials also participated, including Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (D).

“This is a culmination of Republicans’ decades-long effort to take away women’s freedoms,” DelBene told the crowd.

“It breaks my heart that my daughter, so many young women out there could have less rights than I did at your age,” added DelBene.

That sentiment was shared among many women at the rallies, including one fighting to protect women in 2022 from the horror of what her mother had been through prior to Roe.

“When my mother was 19, she got pregnant by a professor and needed an abortion,” the woman recalled.

“She was picked up in an unmarked black car in downtown Minneapolis, taken to an abandoned building, and somebody injected air into her uterus, telling her she might die,” she explained. “They dropped her off back on the street corner, she then paid $200 and they said they’d kill her if she told anyone. She started hemorrhaging that night, had to go to the ER, and they wouldn’t treat her for hours because they wanted her to admit it, and of course she was too scared to admit it. That’s what I don’t want for my niece or any of the women who are growing up now.”

Abortion rights activists took to the streets over the weekend, hoping to send a loud message to the U.S. Supreme Court on Roe v. Wade.

The events were organized by local abortion providers as advocates and supporters showed up in droves. That was just the beginning, as rally leaders urged the crowds to take action any way they could and tell everyone they should do the same.

”We have a shot to stop this, but it’s not a guarantee and I’m not saying it’s going to be easy,” said one rally speaker toward the end of the afternoon.

“We have a shot at stopping the U.S. Supreme Court in its tracks,” she added.

Some who took part in the demonstration were glad to see the show of force, but remain worried about the next steps.

“A lot of questions about well, this is great we’re here. What are we going to do next?” recalled one rally-goer.

While many hoped the sheer volume of protests across the nation would send a strong enough message to the U.S. Supreme Court that it would back away from the opinion included in the leaked memo, others believed this battle would play out at the ballot box.

“We’ve got to hold onto the majorities,” one supporter said, referring to both Congress and state legislatures.

And though Washington’s legislature, and the governor, have vowed to protect abortion rights — including a new law passed this session, set to take effect next month, that bars prosecution of anyone seeking or assisting in providing an abortion, while also making it legal for more providers to perform the procedure — that was not enough to quell some concerns.

“We still need to do the work,” one rally-goer said.

While the bulk of those attending the rallies were abortion rights activists, there were pockets of anti-abortion activists throughout the day, including about a half dozen who met the roughly 1,000 people who marched through downtown Saturday afternoon preaching over a loudspeaker.

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“I get a choice to speak for life, Hallelujah, Hallelujah,” one speaker exclaimed. “I will always advocate for life,” he added.

With Seattle Police bike officers in between them, one determined abortion rights activist carrying a Pride flag engaged in debate with the group shouting back, “No, you won’t because once that baby comes out Black, once that baby comes out Trans, once that baby comes out poor, you won’t give a [expletive].”

The heightened tensions grew and eventually led to dozens of the marching group crossing Pike chanting, “Go home! Go Home!” In the end, everything seemed to end peacefully.

Follow Hanna Scott on Twitter or email her here

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National movement prompts thousands of abortion rights activists to flood the streets of Seattle