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‘We’ll be damned if we let Roe fall’ | Abortion supporters rally in Jackson after SCOTUS hears case

Published: Dec. 2, 2021 at 10:59 AM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Pro-choice advocates Wednesday condemned the actions of Mississippi lawmakers for their role in what could lead to a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, which supporters fear will continue to disproportionately affect women of color.

“Legislators who looked nothing like me, who look nothing like the people in our community, are always trying to attack a choice that each and every one of us have the right to make, the right to control our bodily autonomy,” said Tyler Harden, who serves as the state’s director for Planned Parenthood Southeast. “Justices who have probably never visited places like Texas and Mississippi, and Louisiana and Alabama and Georgia will decide today if it’s in those states’ best interest to control our bodily autonomy.”

Harden’s remarks came at a rally held at Smith Park where more than one hundred supporters attended, many coming from outside Mississippi as well because of the significance here.

“After organizing in Louisiana, I believe that the work here is most important, because there’s the most opposition,” said Sophie Sanchez, who flew to Jackson from New Orleans for the event. “There are a lot of counter-protesters here, but there are more of us supporting abortion rights. And I’m proud to see how many people came from other places to support Mississippi.”

A handful of protesters, some from the Church at Jackson, screamed and waved anti-abortion signs to block supporters and in some instances, their cameras, but none of the encounters turned physical.

At the same time native Mississippians like Maddie Coates, who works with Cooperation Jackson, said she’s disgusted at the realization that Mississippi could ultimately be responsible for taking away the abortion rights of others across the country if Roe is overturned.

“[It’s] pretty uncomfortable to know that we’re here in the forefront, kind of in the belly of the beast. But I think Mississippi has been the the forefront of a lot of these struggles that we’ve been going through these past century, honestly: trying to get our civil rights, our equality, and, you know, to make it,” said Coates. “We’ve all been exploited on a great scale here in Mississippi.”

Coates’ words echo many who spoke on the dais, telling the crowd that they believe the impetus to ban abortion comes from white supremacy in a health care system that already disproportionately affects Black and brown communities in Mississippi.

“What you are seeing is the Fifth Circuit. We got Mississippi. We got Louisiana. We are the baddest people in the Fifth Circuit. And we will be damned if we let our clinics go down,” said Michelle Colon, executive director of SHERo Mississippi. “We’ll be damned if we let Roe fall on our generation and on our clock.”

Colon pointed behind her during her visits to the podium, referencing the fact that the location of that rally -- Smith Park -- was across the street from the Governor’s Mansion.

Several speakers dismissed recent rhetoric from Gov. Tate Reeves, who has said repeatedly on social media that he wants to make Mississippi the safest place in the world for the unborn.

Meanwhile, Mississippi’s infant mortality rate remains worst in America.

“We know that Mississippi is the blackest state in the nation. And that’s not something that we can hide from. And we also are the most ‘churched’ population in our nation as well. So it’s a contradiction for us to say that we want to make this place the safest place for the unborn when we aren’t taking care of the people who are living here in our state,” Harden said.

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