Hundreds of people gathered outside Seattle City Hall at noon Tuesday to show support for abortion rights after other states approved a string of bills restricting access to the medical procedure.
Demonstrators cheered calls to keep abortion legal, chanting “Fight like hell” and waving signs that stated, in various ways, that a woman’s body is her own.
“The right to choose (abortion) is an essential human right,” said Kaya Stitzhal, an intern with NARAL Pro-Choice Washington who was at the event with colleagues. “Though we have the privilege in our state of having access, there is a feeling of fear. It’s important that Seattle show solidarity with women in the states that have enacted bans.”
Lawmakers in Missouri, Kentucky, Mississippi, Ohio and Georgia have approved bans on abortion once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which can happen six to eight weeks into a pregnancy, before many women know they’re pregnant. Alabama’s governor recently signed a measure making performing an abortion a felony in nearly all cases. Other states are considering similarly restrictive laws.
Across the nation, including in Washington cities including Spokane, Bellingham and Olympia, abortion-rights supporters rallied Tuesday to “speak out and fight back against this unconstitutional attempt to gut Roe and punish women,” NARAL Pro-Choice Washington said in a news statement. “Together, we say: Stop the bans.”
None of the abortion bans enacted this year has taken effect, and legal experts predict they will be blocked while legal challenges play out. But opponents to abortion access want to take that battle up to the U.S. Supreme Court — which they believe leans in their favor with the addition of Trump appointee Justice Brett Kavanaugh — in the hopes that the court will overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark legal case that established a constitutional right to an abortion.
In the Roe ruling, the Supreme Court determined the due process clause of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution provides a fundamental “right to privacy” that protects a pregnant woman’s liberty to choose whether to have an abortion.
Kishari Sing, who attended the rally in Seattle, said she’s not usually the “protest type.”
“To me, this is a health-care issue, which is a human right,” she said. “They’re trying to take away a health-care choice that affects only sexually active women. Women are told, ‘You should have kept your legs closed,’ and men get off scot-free.”