By Grace Dempsey, Ella Hurwitz and Alex Zakuta, News Editor, News Reporters
photos by Talia Zolondick
On May 14, nearly ten thousand people gathered on the Boston Common to protest the May 2 leaked Supreme Court draft opinion that would overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which protected the right of pregnant women to an abortion in the first two trimesters.
The case being overturned would mean that abortion laws would be decided by individual states. No matter what the Supreme Court ultimately rules, it is likely that abortion will stay legal in Massachusetts due to the political leanings of the majority of the population.
The Boston demonstration was representative of a nationwide response to the leaked draft opinion. On the same day as the demonstration, pro-choice activists flooded streets across the country, inciting counter-protests by pro-life activists.
The May 14 rally in Boston was organized by the Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund of Massachusetts, the Massachusetts affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union and Reproductive Equity Now. The three organizations also partnered to create the Beyond Roe Coalition, whose main points include expanding access to reproductive health care and providing support to health providers and patients.
The rally’s speaker lineup included activists and politicians, including Senator Ed Markey, who spoke about the anticipated effects and implications of overturning Roe v. Wade.
Women’s March board member and disability activist Leslie Templeton said at the rally that abortion access can save the lives of those with health complications.
“Whether it’s those like me with kidney disease, those who are going through miscarriages, people with a life threatening infection and countless others … having access to abortion ensures that if I’m not able to safely carry a baby to term, I have the option for survival.” she said.
Another speaker at the event, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, said that laws restricting abortion not only are an attempt to take away womens’ freedom, but also lead to serious consequences for the American economy.
“The United States economy is losing $105 billion each year because of restrictive abortion laws,” she said. “Half a million women wouldn’t be in the workforce today contributing [and] earning [for] their families.”
Tanisha Sullivan, who is president of the Boston branch of the NAACP and spoke at the rally, said that Roe v. Wade touches upon social justice issues beyond abortion.
“We are organizing not just in the fight for reproductive freedom and abortion rights. We are organizing for racial justice, for LGBTQ+ justice, for immigrant rights, we’re organizing for workers’ rights, we’re organizing for the disability community,” she said. “We’re fighting for all of America.”
Obstetrician and gynecologist Steffanie Wright said at the rally that overturning Roe v. Wade would only contribute to existing inequities.
“The decision by the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade is out of touch with the real needs of millions of people, and we know that restricting abortion access affects everyone, but the consequences of these cruel policies fall hardest on the most vulnerable and marginalized individuals in our communities,” they said.
Freshman Shayla Bellucci, a member of South’s Social Topics on Air Club — which produces podcasts relating to social justice topics — said that the right to an abortion is a question of social justice and the right of women to choose.
“Women’s freedoms are limited if you cannot get an abortion, which is something that involves their body,” she said. “It takes away peoples’ choice.”
Junior Pearl Berzin, a social media manager for South’s Girl Up chapter, said that communication is vital between people on both sides of the issue.
“People who don’t agree may feel like they can’t speak out or aren’t willing to learn, which is one of the biggest issues with trying to gain progress,” she said.
Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller said in an email statement that the threat to abortion rights should encourage people to fight for their beliefs.
“This attack on reproductive rights and abortion must lead all of us to renewed activism and consistent voting,” she said.
South senator freshman Navaa Malihi said that petitioning against trigger laws is an effective way to contribute to the fight for abortion rights. Trigger laws are bans and restrictions to abortion that some states will put into place immediately if Roe v. Wade is overturned.
“What people that support the right to abortion have to do is rally and start to petition state governments against trigger laws,” she said. “Trying to petition members of government to ensure safe access [to abortion] by codifying legal access in certain states is important.”
Senior Andrew Kupovich, a member of South’s High School Democrats club, said that it’s crucial for people to get involved — even if they are not directly impacted by the fate of Roe v. Wade.
“This does not directly affect me, but it directly affects millions of people … It’s important for people without uteruses to be worried and talk about it.”