Abortion rights activists protest Supreme Court opinion

Following the leaked Supreme Court opinion draft, Iowa City abortion rights activists held a demonstration on Saturday to raise awareness and show support for abortion access across the state.


Grace Smith

Attendee Heidi Sakor-Morey marches with a banner during a march for abortion rights in Iowa City on Saturday, May 7, 2022.

Lauren White, Politics Reporter

Iowa City abortion-rights supporters and activists came together Saturday afternoon to protest the draft Supreme Court opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade.

In a community-led demonstration, Iowans from Johnson County the state protested against anti-abortion legislation with signs that said ‘My Body My Choice’ and ‘Abortion is Healthcare.’

Mei-ling Shaw with Iowa Abortion Access Fund said the goal of the demonstration was to get people out to show support, raise visibility, and to let the opposition know that they will not give up their fight for access to abortion. 

“Get out and vote. Don’t be fooled for a second that they will stop with this. This is an invasion of privacy, this is a seizure of people’s bodies, and if we don’t stop them, we could lose all of the civil rights we have fought for in the last 100 years,” Shaw said. 

Shaw said this event was a great way to show how abortion access affects many different people in the community. The landmark Roe v. Wade ruling grants a constitutional right to abortion. If it is overturned, regulating abortion will be up to the states. 

“Bodily autonomy affects not just women and trans people, it affects their families and their partners and everyone who lives around us,” Shaw said. 

Over 150 students and community members young and old attended the demonstration on the lawn of the Pentacrest. 

Elizabeth Schachter, an Iowa City mother and community member, brought her four year-old daughter Vivian to the demonstration today where the pair waved home-made painted signs. 

Schachter said she brought her daughter with her because she wants the younger generation to understand that they have a voice in democracy and to encourage her to speak up for what she believes in. 

“She’s in charge of her own body and just it’s nice to see the community coming together and hopefully, being heard because you know, as women we’re marginalized, and obviously, this is a very scary time,” Schachter said. “And so hopefully, we can make a change and be a good example for our children and the future.” 

Schachter said that there is a misunderstanding about what children understand about abortion and that they comprehend more than some may think. She said bringing her daughter helps to teach her a peaceful, productive way to stand up to issues that concern her. 

RELATED: Photos: Abortion-rights supporters rally and march through Iowa City

Workers and volunteers from various reproductive health care clinics across the state, such as Planned Parenthood and the Emma Goldman Clinic, attended the event to speak to the audience. 

Margaret Dressel, chair of the Emma Goldman Clinic Board of Directors, said that abortion matters to her because pregnancy, childbirth, and post-partum period have an injury rate of 100 percent. She is passionate about her work at the clinic because she believes people need to have the choice to have a child.  

“Our laws say that we can’t injure another person to save someone’s life. And so we shouldn’t be forcing someone to injure themselves by forcing her to build a baby using tissues and nutrients from her body,” Dressel said. 

One aspect of abortion access that people tend to forget about, Dressel said, is that abortion restrictions disproportionally affect low-income people and people of color because this is the group that has the least amount of social supports to raise a child. 

“If pro-life people were actually pro-life they would be interested in expanding maternal care to underserved populations,” Dressel said. “Promoting paid parental leave and affordable child care, working to ensure every person in this country has the social and economic means to raise children in safe and secure environments.”

Anti-abortion supporters speak with abortion-rights demonstrators during a rally for abortion rights on the Pentacrest at the University of Iowa on Saturday, May 7, 2022. The counter-protesters stayed the entirety of the rally and march. Anti-abortion demonstrator Garrison Allen said the group was counter-protesting because an unborn child is still a child. “It deserves the right to be born.” (Grace Smith)

Alongside the abortion rights demonstration was a group of anti-abortion counter protesters. This group stood with signs that said ‘Pray to end abortion’ while the demonstration took place. 

Garrison Allen, UI senior and one of the counter-protestors said that abortion harms women. He was holding a sign that said ‘Love both Mother and Child’ with other counter-protesters. 

Allen said that every child, including unborn fetuses, deserves a chance to be born, which is why he was there to counter the demonstration. 

“We’re excited [about the SCOTUS draft opinion], hopefully it brings about the change we want. We’ve still got a lot of work to do, but this will put it up to the states, so there will be a fight in every single state about whether or not we can protect children,” Allen said.