On Wednesday March 2, The Women’s Centers bused down to Washington, DC to join our sisters, brothers, friends and colleagues in the Reproductive Justice movement to rally outside the Supreme Court. While our beloved colleagues at Whole Woman’s Health and the Center for Reproductive Rights were inside arguing their case to the Justices (Whole Woman’s Health vs. Hellerstadt), we participated in an amazing coming together of leaders and activists in the Reproductive Justice movement, women sharing their abortion stories, and doctors, clergy and celebrities who bravely ascended the stage and told their stories about how access to safe, legal and respectful abortion saved their lives, preserved their autonomy and allowed them to be the amazing individuals that they are today. Those of us who could not attend in person were fortunate to be able to experience this historical event in a live feed online.
Leah Chamberlain, Administrator of Philadelphia Women’s Center joined a bus of 50 people that comprised representatives from various organizations as well as individuals who volunteered their time because abortion access is so important to them. “At 4:45am it was raining, we were bleary-eyed, and we were wondering if we had made the right decision to disrupt our usual Wednesday to travel to DC to gather on the steps of the Supreme Court. We made the right decision,” confirms Leah.
Emerging from Union Station, their group followed the crowd of eggplant colored scarves, hats, bandannas, and signs proclaiming that abortion needs to be kept accessible, that uteruses are not hospitable environments for politicians, and that women can make important decisions for themselves.
“The rally was invigorating” says Amanda Kifferly, The Women’s Centers Director of Patient Advocacy. “It was very well-organized, well-attended, and diverse.” She noted that independent abortion providers were very well represented, including speakers Tammi Kromenaker from Red River Women’s Clinic, the only abortion provider left in North Dakota; Renee Chelian from Northland Family Planning Centers in Michigan; and the woman taking on Texas and now the Supreme Court, Amy Hagstrom-Miller of Whole Woman’s Health.
At the core of the case being argued is HB2, one of the many pieces of “TRAP” legislation (TRAP stands for Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) that endangers access to abortion services by forcing abortion providers to comply with unnecessary regulations, such as requiring that physicians have hospital privileges within 30 minutes of the abortion facility, that serve no purpose except to make it more difficult to continue to provide abortion care. We are hopeful that the Supreme Court Justices were able to see that the true intent of this bill is to shut clinics down and create an undue burden on women seeking abortion care.
“We were un-apologetically loud and proud on the steps of SCOTUS in our demand for access to abortion,” said Leah. “We reminded ourselves, and told the world, that as long as we are united, we will never be defeated.”