SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — Several hundred gathered at a rally in downtown Savannah Tuesday evening voicing support for abortion rights amid the possible strike down of the landmark Roe v. Wade decision 49 years ago.
For some people, word the Supreme Court may get rid of legalized abortion at a national level is causing concern. Georgia is one of a number of states that have passed laws that would essentially outlaw abortion if Roe v. Wade is overturned.
Local reaction has been quick with lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle weighing in. Abortion rights advocates are also talking about what this may mean.
Advocates expressed concern, saying Roe has been the law of the land their entire lives. Some who work in abortion rights however say while a concern, this draft and the idea of banning Roe is not really a surprise.
“I think for many folks it’s been like asking the questions not what’s next but when? And I think we’ve now arrived at the moment of when,” said Coco Papy an Abortion Rights Advocate.
Papy advocates for women’s reproductive health and is also on the planned parenthood southeast regional board.
If the federal law is banned, states like Georgia and South Carolina could ban abortion pretty quickly as we heard. For supporters of abortion, the biggest fight of their lives is ahead but some say they’ve already lost it.
“I know folks are feeling all sorts of ways today, anger, rage, sadness, confusion,” Papy continued. “I think all of those are necessary feelings to get through this moment but what I would really encourage people to do right now is to say something, speak up, right?”
Demonstrators said they feel their rights are hanging by a thread, leaving them no choice but to speak up.
“The bottom line is that to have total control over your own body, to have agency is a human right,” said pro-choice demonstrator Michelle Riley. “It’s not just a privilege, it’s a right.”
Some state and local politicians stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the crowd, including Savannah Mayor Van Johnson. Johnson said there isn’t much the city government can do in this fight, but said they can help bring residents’ concerns to Washington D.C.
“Women are important, their reproductive rights are important,” Mayor Johnson said. “In a country like America, choice is important.”
Tuesday’s rally attracted a handful of anti-abortion advocates, who said they also have a message to send.
“Human life matters and life begins at the moment of conception,” said Thrin Short. “Maybe 49 years ago they didn’t know that somehow.”
But pro-choice advocates argue without access to abortion, women can be left turning to dangerous alternatives.
“I was a little kid when Roe v. Wade was announced as law of the land and you know what? If you don’t want to have an abortion, don’t get one,” Michelle Riley said.
The Supreme Court confirmed the authenticity of the leaked draft opinion, but justices emphasize it’s not their final opinion. Demonstrators said they plan to keep protesting for however long it takes to make sure it doesn’t get overturned.