WASHINGTON – Hundreds of abortion debate partisans crowded the plaza in front of the Supreme Court on Wednesday, trading chants as justices heard the highly anticipated arguments inside.
“Whose choice?” “My choice!” was a frequent call-and-response on the abortion rights side, countered by "Hey hey, ho ho, Roe v. Wade has got to go.”
Jo Luttazi, wearing gloves emblazoned with “Bans Off Our Bodies” on the palms, said everyone should have access to abortion as a form of health care.
“As somebody who is assigned female at birth, and having female anatomy, I have had a terrible time trying to just be able to be in control of my body,” the 22-year-old said. “So issues around bodily autonomy have always been very close to my heart. I knew I had to be here.”
A woman who wanted to be identified only as Nancy held a sign with an American flag on it that said “Pray.”
“We need to come together to stop the murder of millions of children,” she said. “I don’t understand why that’s so controversial. I’m out here to exercise my First Amendment right and I wish that would be respected.”
The crowd rallying with the Center for Reproductive Rights swelled to about 400 as the sun rose over the majestic building, outnumbering the anti-abortion demonstrators holding up images of fetuses.
“You need to repent,” one man yelled into a bullhorn, trying to drown out an abortion rights speaker. “You want women to murder babies. You love the murder of children.”
The center's president and CEO, Nancy Northup, drew cheers when she said her organization's lawyers have defended abortion rights before the nation's highest court four times in the last six years.
“Four trips to the Supreme Court in six years is four trips too many,” Northrup said. “We are here to win.”
Democrats Diana DeGette and Barbara Lee, co-chairs of the Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus, were among the representatives who appeared. Lee told the crowd of her experience getting an abortion.
“I remember what it was like before Roe v. Wade. I survived. Many women, especially Black women, did not survive. We will not go back to those ways,” Lee said.
“This issue is about racial equality and justice. This decision is about the right to make decisions about your own body. The right to abortion isn’t real unless everyone can access it.”