Coalition protests against abortion ruling in downtown Columbus

·3 min read

A coalition of Columbus organizations and residents gathered downtown Thursday evening to protest the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

ColGay Pride, Indivisible Columbus and The Revolution Project were among the organizations that led the demonstration at the concrete stage on 11th and Broadway. Around 70 people from Columbus and surrounding areas participated in the protest.

Ilene Kent, who helped organize the event, kicked it off by praising President Joe Biden for announcing Thursday that he would back an exception to the Senate filibuster to protect abortion access. The Supreme Court’s ruling will disproportionately affect people who have few financial resources, she said.

“That will change when we elect Stacey Abrams,” Kent said. “We not only must get out the vote. We must vote all the way down-ballot.”

Patricia Lassiter speaks to people gathered in downtown Columbus Thursday evening to protest the recent U.S. Supreme Court’s decision about abortion rights. 06/30/2022
Patricia Lassiter speaks to people gathered in downtown Columbus Thursday evening to protest the recent U.S. Supreme Court’s decision about abortion rights. 06/30/2022

Many of the speakers stressed the importance of getting out the vote in the midterm elections this year. Patricia Lassiter, member of the Muscogee County Democratic Party, encouraged the crowd to consider running for an office.

“Go ahead and replace the people that you know that you don’t like,” Lassiter said in a speech.

Speakers who spoke also called for Columbus to join other Georgia cities in declaring they will not prosecute cases under the state’s abortion ban if it takes effect.

Sharing their personal stories

Many of the participants who volunteered to speak recounted their experiences and concerns about how the decision may affect them.

One speaker, who identified themselves as a transgender man, spoke about how the Supreme Court’s ruling affects those who are transgender and others that may have medical issues in which pregnancy can be a life-threatening condition.

“It is important that LGBTQ+ advocates fight against this ruling,” said Drag Queen Monica Starr, who was representing ColGay Pride, because “if they’re coming for you, they’re coming for me next.”

People gather in downtown Columbus Thursday evening to protest the recent U.S. Supreme Court’s decision about abortion rights. 06/30/2022
People gather in downtown Columbus Thursday evening to protest the recent U.S. Supreme Court’s decision about abortion rights. 06/30/2022

Some speakers, such as Taylor Ward who attended with the Revolution Project, spoke their concerns that this decision may have further consequences for marginalized groups in the future.

“I can’t help but think like what is next,” Ward said. “What what are they gonna take next from women–from the LGBTQ+ community? What more can they do to us?”

In a concurring opinion, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas suggested the court should reconsider previous rulings including Obergefell v. Hodges, which gave same-sex couples the right to marry, and Griswold v. Connecticut, which gave married couples the right to obtain contraceptives.

Columbus resident Jenny Teague is a self-proclaimed Catholic who is against having an abortion–for herself–as well as government overreach. She attended the even because she believes it’s more important that the government backs off on laws that tell anyone what to do or not do with their bodies.

“You give them an inch, and they’re going to take a mile,” Teague said to the Ledger-Enquirer. “They take away one freedom, they’re going to take away more because they know that they can.”

Majestic Phoenix speaks to people gathered in downtown Columbus Thursday evening to protest the recent U.S. Supreme Court’s decision about abortion rights. 06/30/2022
Majestic Phoenix speaks to people gathered in downtown Columbus Thursday evening to protest the recent U.S. Supreme Court’s decision about abortion rights. 06/30/2022

Many of the participants worry about a possible complete abortion ban, with no exception for rape or incest.

Majestic Phoenix, who is a drag queen in Columbus, told the crowd she was afraid of what would happen if her disabled 16-year-old was ever abused or raped.

“I have to fight every day to take care of her,” Phoenix said. “And make sure what’s right for her because she cannot speak for herself.”

More protests and actions were mentioned, including another event that will be held at the Government Center on July 4.