Hundreds gather in Kansas City to protest fall of Roe v. Wade: 'I haven't stopped crying all day'
Hundreds of protesters gathered at Mill Creek Park near the Country Club Plaza Friday evening to rally against the decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that legalized abortions across the country.
In Missouri, a trigger law that will now make nearly all abortions illegal took effect minutes after the decision was handed down. The law makes it a felony to induce an abortion and has no exception for rape or incest. Its only exceptions are for medical emergencies that threaten the life of the pregnant person.
In Kansas, abortion remains legal for now, thanks to a 2019 Kansas Supreme Court ruling that found the state constitution includes the right to an abortion. But that ruling spurred the Republican-dominated Kansas Legislature to push for a change to the state constitution. Kansas voters will decide on Aug. 2 whether to amend the state constitution with a provision that says it doesn’t promise access to abortion.
At the rally, speakers railed against conservative lawmakers and the U.S. Supreme Court while protesters around them chanted, holding homemade signs and other displays of their frustration and anger.
“I haven’t stopped crying all day,” Nicole Schultz said. "It’s gut wrenching to think that we have to come to this.”
Schultz said she was so angry that she came to a protest for the first time ever.
“What about all these mothers whose lives are in danger,” she said. “We need to take a stand against all of this.”
Leia Anderson, from Shawnee, Kansas, said it was especially important for her to raise awareness because Kansas residents will vote later this summer over whether abortion is protected under the Kansas constitution.
She said losing abortion rights is an example of government overreach, and she worries about future legislation that would further restrict her rights.
“It’s really becoming a space of legislation that’s policing people’s bodies – to such a degree that it’s setting a precedent for things that are going to come down, legislatively, that are going to be really important,” Anderson said.
“I’m really concerned we’re going to see this used as a precedent to overturn same-sex marriage, that we’re going to start seeing this when we’re talking about things like contraception.”
Cass Herman was holding up a bra with the words “my body, my choice." Herman, who is trans, said they didn’t hear about the court’s ruling until later in the day.
“Everybody at work was pissed off. It’s a horrible thing to happen to our rights. You can vote all you want, but unless you’re out here working on getting things fixed, nothing’s going to change for you.”
Christian Dodge stood toward the back of the crowd near his wife and son. He said he was reluctant to speak for the women gathered there.
“I think it was a step back for human freedom. I never thought in my adult life would I see a reversion like this culturally, and it makes me really sad,” Dodge said. “I’m terrified for every woman in this country."
Missouri state Rep. Emily Weber from Kansas City implored the crowd to go out and support Democratic candidates in upcoming elections.
“Sign up. Volunteer. Donate,” she said. ”At the end of the day every single person here needs to go help because this is what happens.”
Stacy Lake is a Democratic candidate for Jackson County executive. She said people aren’t as far apart as they think when it comes to abortion. Lake said being for pro-abortion-rights doesn’t mean you’re pro-abortion.
“What a lot of people here don’t realize is people are not arguing on whether or not abortion is right or wrong, it’s having the right to choose and that must be protected.”
Amelia Mendus stood in the middle of the rally, draped in an American flag. She said the ruling won’t eliminate abortion — it will only make it more dangerous, especially for people who can’t afford to travel to a state where the procedure is legal.
“We saw this coming,” she said. “It’s unfortunate and it looks like things will go underground for a time.”
Still, Mendus said she was able to find a glimmer of optimism on an otherwise sad day.
“It’s beautiful to see the cross sectional inter dynamics of the community,” she said, looking at the crowd gathered at the park. “To see all of the love Kansas City has for its citizens. It’s just beautiful.”
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