Rallies in Columbia call to action, inform how to receive care after Roe v. Wade overturned

·3 min read

When Rachel Taylor asked the assembled crowd of about 350 attendees how they felt, the crowd didn't hold back.

A collection of words and feelings eventually molded into one: "Rage."

People gathered outside the Boone County Courthouse on Friday evening to rally against the United States Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, a reversal that led to the state of Missouri enacting a ban on almost all abortions.

Taylor was one of four main speakers to address protesters at the rally, hosted by advocacy group CoMo for Progress. The event served as a call to action for men to stand up for abortion rights and to inform attendees on how to properly seek abortion care in the wake of the Supreme Court's ruling, organizers said.

More: How Columbia, state organizations are reacting to Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade

CoMo for Progress planned to hold a similar rally Saturday evening.

"Why do I have to beg for any man to acknowledge the pain we're going through?" Taylor asked the growing crowd Friday. "This is your responsibility, too.”

Taylor was followed by Chimene Schwach, candidate for Missouri state representative in District 47, and Martha Stevens, current state representative in District 46.

Ale Vargas holds a sign while attending the CoMo for Progress Rally at the Boone County Courthouse Annex on Friday. Rep. Martha Stevens and candidate for representative Chimene Schwach were two of the speakers opposing the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the 1973 landmark case of Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion.
Ale Vargas holds a sign while attending the CoMo for Progress Rally at the Boone County Courthouse Annex on Friday. Rep. Martha Stevens and candidate for representative Chimene Schwach were two of the speakers opposing the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the 1973 landmark case of Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion.

After the planned speakers, which also included organizer Melissa Cameron, CoMo for Progress invited rally attendees to stand in front of the crowd and speak. Some expressed anger, while others implored everyone to vote.

The event coincided with rallies across the nation Friday.

The announcement of Roe v. Wade being overturned by the nation's highest court was made shortly after 9 a.m. Friday. The final opinion allowed Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt to issue his own opinion minutes later that acted as a "trigger law," making abortion illegal in Missouri except for when it's to save the mother's life.

"It was illegal to have an abortion in Missouri by 9:45 this morning," Schwach said. "We have to flee our own state to receive medical care."

Rep. Martha Stevens, D-Columbia, talks Friday about the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the 1973 landmark case of Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion. About 350 people attended a CoMo for Progress event at the Boone Courthouse Annex.
Rep. Martha Stevens, D-Columbia, talks Friday about the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the 1973 landmark case of Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion. About 350 people attended a CoMo for Progress event at the Boone Courthouse Annex.

The new law has wide-ranging effects, Schwach said. Women who are pregnant but have complications aren't allowed to have the choice to receive an abortion even if they're told it's not viable to carry a pregnancy to term, she said.

The law will disproportionately affect people with low income and communities of color, Stevens said.

The lack of proper care will also affect the infant mortality rate statewide, she said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's 2020 figures, Missouri's death rate among infants was 5.47 per 1,000 births. That was 24th in the U.S.

More: In Columbia and need an abortion? Be prepared to travel 130 miles or more.

"It's not 1872," Schwach said. "It's not 1971. It's not 1865. We all deserve equitable access to medical care."

Each of the speakers had their time without any disruption. There were no counterprotesters at the courthouse Friday during the demonstration, except for one person behind the speakers with a sign. Attendees approached the counterprotester, who left shortly after.

About 350 people attend the Como for Progress rally at the Boone County Courthouse  Annex. The group is opposing the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the 1973 landmark case of Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion.
About 350 people attend the Como for Progress rally at the Boone County Courthouse Annex. The group is opposing the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the 1973 landmark case of Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion.

Stevens informed the crowd what can be done in the present to support reproductive rights.

Stevens and the other speakers pointed attendees to the Missouri Abortion Fund and the Midwest Access Coalition. Supporters can donate money to assist in helping others cover travel, medical procedures, child care and other costs.

The travel cost to receive an abortion is a heightened issue in Columbia; the closest center offering the procedure legally is now over 125 miles away.

Those seeking an abortion in Columbia will need to travel to Granite City, Illinois, Overland Park, Kansas, or farther.

"We are on the right side of this issue," Stevens said.

Follow Chris Kwiecinski on Twitter @OchoK_ and contact him at CKwiecinsk@gannett.com or 573-815-1857.

This article originally appeared on Columbia Daily Tribune: Columbia rallies detail how to get an abortion safely and legally