GEORGETOWN — Pro-abortion supporters rallied in protest Saturday in response to the possibility the U.S. Supreme Court is poised to strip the constitutional right to abortion in spite of decades of precedent.
The Bans Off Our Bodies rally in Georgetown is part of nationwide mobilization in the wake of the May 2 leaked draft opinion that the Supreme Court could overturn Roe v. Wade. The 1973 court ruling established a woman’s right to have an abortion without undue restrictive interference from the government.
“I would say a women’s rights issue,” said Gabrielle Rekully of Lewes. “When they start taking one thing away they are going to take more things. It’s really about health care and we have such a lack of health care in this nation as it is.”
Leah VanLaanen of Lewes says the movement goes beyond abortion and women’s rights.
“I mean, it’s rights for everybody. It isn’t about abortion rights. It isn’t about women’s rights. It’s everybody’s rights,” said Ms. VanLaanen. “If we start with this, what is next? I think it goes down to the rights of privacy and if they start picking at that, like where does it stop? It is just so sad to me that we have all these problems that we could be focusing on, but we’re doing this again. It just seems so ridiculous to me.”
Pro-abortion supporters say many Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and other people of color experience barriers to accessing abortions, and all people across the country deserve the power and freedom to make their own personal reproductive health care decisions.
Event organizer Paullette Rappa, chair of Women’s March Sussex DE that formed in 2016, welcomed the several hundred rally supporters to the event on The Circle that featured several speakers.
“How engaged are you? Let them hear you. Let them hear you in Washington. Let them know we are not happy,” said Ms. Rappa. “We had two years in which we fought a pandemic and we’re tired of that. We thought, okay, that’s over. We’re good. And now, this happens.”
Among the speakers was Dominican Republic native Christina Diaz-Malone, a Georgetown council member. Ms. Diaz-Malone, who came to the U.S. when she was 12, shared her life experience of growing up under one of “most restrictive of dictatorships, the most ruthless dictator in the Caribbean … a torturer of men and women in all kinds of ways.”
Ms. Diaz-Malone said she would ask her dad why she was in a family of two children “because everybody else had five, six, 10, in a 99 percent Catholic country. He said he a military man, with a poor salary and he couldn’t afford children. So, he would send my mother to the mountain to get tea … to abort a child.”
“I will be 70 years old, and I will give my last drop of blood from my brothers and sisters who are here today for my daughters, for your daughters … and we don’t want to go back,” Ms. Diaz-Malone said. “This is not your parking zone to claim political victory. ... We are women and we are to say we want our civil rights, and we want them now.”
Ms. Rappa said she never thought she’d “live to see the day in which a pregnant woman is either considered a felon or a fugitive. We can’t go there. We cannot go back.”
“This rally is to support abortion rights. But this rally is also to say that we are supporting women and their rights. We’re not alone. There are plenty of other groups that support us,” said Ms. Rappa. “If they thought in 2016 that we were nasty women, buckle up buttercup because you haven’t seen anything yet.”
Ms. VanLaanen believes that with nationwide support, this is a battle that can be won.
“I think that people like us are going to stop them,” said M. VanLaanen. “Statistically, I think that a lot of the people that care about this the most are going to be around in 2024, and some of the people that want abortion to be illegal, they are kind of dying out. I think so long as we put our foot down and tell them that this isn’t okay, I think we’ll be all right.”