Abortion rights supporters packed The Beacham nightclub in downtown Orlando Monday night for a rally followed by a march to protest the Supreme Court's Friday decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling legalizing abortion. The rally was led by Democratic state Rep. Anna Eskamani, who urged outraged supporters to channel their shock and anger into electing representatives in the August midterm elections who will protect Florida's abortion access and to give to abortion funds to help offset travel expenses for women who need abortions now. After the rally, the crowd headed toward Orlando's city hall, where joined by thousands more — Orlando Police Department estimated 4,000 — they took to the streets, chanting "Keep abortion legal! Power to the people!"
VoxPopuli talked with demonstrators about what brought them out to the rally.
Mary, 42 (left):
"I have friends who have had abortions, and the stress that there was in making that decision and, depending on what part of the country you’re in whether it was easy to make that decision or whether it was difficult, was a huge stressor for them. Having children is hard. I’m a public school teacher. I’ve met many parents who are not prepared to have children, who have them because we have poor sex education in our schools, and the kids are impacted. Their lives are not easy. The parents’ lives are not easy. No one's prepared. It needs to be a decision: Do we want this child? Can we afford this child, so they are not hungry and not scared and they’re not homeless? Besides all these things, you should have the right to decide what you’re doing with your own body. Period. I don’t see there being huge campaigns to tell dudes to stop having sex. But women are the ones who always have to pay the penalty."
“I want to be considered a full person by the government. If we don’t have bodily autonomy, we literally have nothing. Everybody knows somebody who’s had an abortion even if they don’t know they do. Roe was decided in 1973, the year I was born. Can you believe we’re still protesting this shit?”
"I'm a Black trans woman, and I think our voices need to be heard too. I’m here to fight for the rights of every human that has a vagina that needs healthcare not controlled by white cis-men that don’t know what the fuck they’re talking about."
Jessie, 38 (left)
"It's appalling that anyone can tell women what to do with their bodies. If it starts here, it’s scary where it could go. Meaning, you start to repeal women’s right to choose, you start to pull back on gay marriage and all other rights. We were just saying on the drive down [to the rally] How is this even happening?"
"We're women. How could you not be here for this?"
Funmi, 27 (left)
"Each person should have free will, autonomy over their body and personal liberty. The government should not have a right to dictate what I can do with my body. And that’s why I’m for abortion rights. It’s not right that women should have to endure rape and incest and go through with that. I grew up in the church. but I still believe overturning Roe v. Wade is wrong. I'm here for all of it. Think about Loving v. Virginia (which legalized interracial marriage). Think about LGBTQ rights. It’s going to be a domino effect of reversing things that have already been passed that are right for all of us.
"It irritates me that everyone is saying Roe v. Wade took away a woman’s right to an abortion. It didn’t. Roe v. Wade took away my right to me. It took away my right to decide. I’m a mom, but it was a really hard decision at how old I was. I decided to have [my child], and if I decided not to, it was my business and my decision and what I thought I could handle. I’m also a child of foster care. So that B.S. excuse that you can send them to foster care? We can’t get rid of the kids we got. But more important than all of this, is dictating what I can do to my body. I think everybody is focusing on the wrong thing. My fight is not for abortion. It is for me. You cannot take control of my body because of a law. You can’t. You want to talk about what’s illegal? You’re over here fighting not to get your guns taken away, but you can take my body away? We need to prioritize here."
Emily, 14 (right)
"I feel like it’s important because this is me as a teenage girl, and this is our future. I don’t think it's right that these men (or anybody) decide that they want to tell women what to do with their bodies when they don’t know what they could be going through in life. There are a bunch of different decisions that push women into having abortions, and no one should tell her to do what is right for her and her body."
"I completely agree with her. I feel like no one should have a say in what we choose to do. This entire thing has an effect ton us because we’re the future. I really don’t think it’s right. Especially these old white men who can’t even have children so they don’t know what it’s like."
Ari (mom to Emily and Sienna, above)
"I had an abortion about 11 years ago. Now I have a 16- and a 14-year-old. Does that make me a bad mother because I didn’t go through with one [pregnancy] because of the circumstances that I was in at the time? No. I want them, not only them but everyone, to be able to have the same rights as I did because you never know what someone is going through in life. No one has the right to even question why. So we’re fighting for them."
"I found myself in a position where I contemplated abortion, and I liked that I had a choice. I had a choice. Right now, people don’t have that choice. I wasn’t educated and I didn’t have support so because I was naive and fearful, it was something I decided not to do. That decision sent me into a great depression because postpartum [depression] is real and having children you aren’t prepared to take care of or aren't mentally able to take care of is just as bad as people saying you’re committing murder because look what kind of life you’re bringing that child into. If I didn’t have parents that covered my behind, I would be ... I don’t know. So my children survived only because I had parents to back me up. Everybody hasn’t got that."
We’re here because we have to do something. We have to protest and vote, and we have to get people mobilized. I had an abortion as was my right, and it was very good for my life at the time. I want everyone to have the right to make that choice.