Dozens of activists of all genders and ages gathered in front of the Bulloch County Courthouse Sunday to protest the possible overturn of Roe v. Wade by the Supreme Court.
“We will not go back to a time when religion divided our gender,” Georgia House of Representatives candidate Madeline Ryan Smith said to the crowd. “We will not go back to a time when a woman was more likely to die than to get help that she needed during a pregnancy, planned or not.”
The rally, sponsored by the Young Democrats of Georgia Southern and co-sponsored by the Bulloch County Democratic Committee and GSU’s Students with Disabilities Advocacy Group (SDAG) featured local speakers from these organizations and from the community.
“We are on the precipice of big change,” said Smith. “We have the capability to do a lot of good change in the world, but we’re also running the risk of losing a lot of rights.
Members of the crowd shared thoughts and stories relating to bodily autonomy and the choice whether to have or not to have an abortion, periodically repeating chants, “My body, my choice,” and “Bans off, our bodies.”
With the presence of SDAG, some speakers put an emphasis on abortion rights for those with disabilities.
“Women who are disabled that become pregnant need to be able to have abortions for their own health and safety,” said Smith. “Carrying a child with a disability, your options are, like you can carry it to term and have this struggle or you can abort it now and save yourself trouble… and when it’s framed like that, that damages the community.”
The rally saw a few counter-protesters on the opposite side of the road like Catholic Cathy Spacher.
“This is the darkness of this country right now, under a very corrupt and ‘Catholic’ president who’s pro-everything,” said Spacher. “[It’s] very dark that we would gather on the Lord’s day for this… Tell me that wasn’t pointed… This is a smack in the face to God.”
“I find it very interesting that it’s the disabled that are willing to take a life when their lives are not anywhere near perfect because of their disability,” said Spacher. “It’s very ironic to me and a little bit hypocritical in my opinion.”
Spacher later shared she wanted to cry after hearing one speaker share their story about seeking an abortion after being raped.
“I understand her pain,” said Spacher. “There’s no excuse for it, but that person is going to answer for that… [Abortion] is not the answer to that problem. It’s just not.”
Another of the rally speakers was a member of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Statesboro spoke on behalf of Rev. Jane Page.
“Each of us should have the power to decide what does and does not happen to our bodies at every moment of our lives,” she said. “Because consent and bodily autonomy are holy.”
In the last half hour, Young Democrats president Darius Shockley gave a special message to men.
“We need to stay together with those who can have an abortion,” said Shockley. “We need to be there with them. We need to listen to them, and we need to advocate for them… If they can take away abortion, imagine what they’ll take away next.”