Hundreds rally on Supreme Court steps during pivotal abortion rights case

Hundreds rally on Supreme Court steps during pivotal abortion rights case
© Greg Nash

Hundreds of people rallied on the steps of the Supreme Court on Monday as the justices heard oral arguments in what's viewed as a pivotal case for abortion rights.  

People in a small group gathered at the center of the court steps, prayed and sang hymns as the surrounding crowd loudly chanted, “Not your uterus, not your choice.”

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At issue in Wednesday’s case, Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, is a Texas law that requires doctors at abortion clinics to have patient-admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles and requires clinics to meet the same building standards as a surgical center. Abortion rights advocates argue the law has forced many clinics to close.

“People in Texas are suffering. We see it every day,” said Heather Busby, executive director or NARAL Pro-Choice Texas. “Their options have been erased, choice denied them, access impossible. We recognize these restrictions are harmful to our communities, to pregnant people and to our families.”

Busby, one of many speakers favoring abortion rights, called for the Supreme Court to strike down the Texas law.

“Abortion care is healthcare,” she said, “and it is our right.”

Sonya Renee Taylor, founder of The Body is Not an Apology movement, said she does not owe the "Texas legislature, anti-choice fearmongers or even the Supreme Court of the United States" an explanation for choosing abortion.

“The simple fact is it is not their business,” she said. “My right to safe, accessible abortion is not a right granted by anyone’s pity, opinions or ideas of my worthiness. My right to safe, legal, accessible abortion is a right granted first by my status as an autonomous decisionmaker … and secondly, it is a right already decided on and secured by the Supreme Court of the United States, and we intend to ensure it stays that way.”

As abortion rights advocates chanted “stop the sham,” a coalition of anti-abortion advocates gave dueling speeches on the courthouse steps. 

Nona Ellington, of Eagle Restoration Ministries, told the crowd about the abortion she had at the age of 15 after having been a victim of date rape.

“As a result of that abortion, I was never able to have children,” she said. “I had five miscarriages.”

People stood behind Ellington with red tape over their mouths that read “LIFE” as she argued that abortion hurts women.

“I’m standing for the women suffering with infertility, depression and suicidal tendencies,” she said. “Abortion is not good for women.”

Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, which organized the anti-abortion rally with the Christian Defense Coalition, called the Texas laws common-sense legislation.  

“If something goes wrong with an abortion, EMTs should have hallways big enough for their gurneys to go through,” she said. “I’m not going to lie, I’m not going to say I’m not against abortion, but this is a common-sense issue that people on both sides should be supporting.”