‘This Is Not A Drill’: Amid GOP Attack, Pro-Choice #StopTheBans Rallies Take Place Nationwide

“Now more than ever, we must unite against this unprecedented attack on our fundamental rights and freedoms…Because we are in the fight of our lives.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-21-2019

NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue speaks at a #StopTheBans rally in Washington, D.C., aimed at ending the Republican Party’s attacks on abortion rights. (Photo: NARAL Pro-Choice America)

A week after the Alabama legislature sparked outrage that spread across the country with its approval of a near-total ban on abortion care in the state, reproductive rights advocates across the country are holding “Stop the Bans” rallies on Tuesday to demand that state Republican lawmakers end their attacks on abortion rights.

NARAL Pro-Choice America, the National Women’s Law Center, and Planned Parenthood were among dozens of national groups that began planning a #StopTheBans Day of Action last week after extreme anti-choice laws were passed both in Alabama and Missouri. By Tuesday morning, more than 500 direct actions were planned in all 50 states as well as Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico.

The organizations urged people nationwide to join demonstrations in their area which were planned throughout the afternoon and into the evening on Tuesday.

“We stand together to call out these anti-choice politicians who talk so much about life and yet ignore the lives of the half the population,” said NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue at a rally in Washington, D.C. “YOU matter. WE matter.”

“This day of action comes at a critical juncture in the fight for reproductive freedom and justice,” said NARAL last week in the run-up to the day of action, “as anti-choice politicians push laws infringing on personal decisions that should be left to women and their doctors, compounded by Donald Trump’s stacking of the Supreme Court and federal judiciary with justices who are hostile to Roe v. Wade.”

Demonstrators in Chicago kicked off the nationwide call to action a day early, with a march through the city on Monday evening.

Participants held signs reading “Reproductive rights are human rights” and “Stop the war on women,” with many wearing the red capes and white hoods featured in the dystopian TV show and novel “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

Outside of the U.S., at least one group of women’s rights advocates in Brussels held a small rally in solidarity with American women.

Alabama’s Republican Gov. Kay Ivey signed a law last week banning abortion care at every stage of pregnancy, including in cases of rape or incest, with an exception only if the life of the pregnant woman is in danger. Missouri followed days later with a ban on abortion after eight weeks of pregnancy. In recent weeks, Ohio and Georgia have also passed six-week abortion bans.

Demonstrators in Birmingham, Alabama protested the new anti-choice law over the weekend, and a number of rallies were planned in each of the four states that have been at the center of the fight for reproductive rights in recent weeks.

Increasingly extreme state-level restrictions on abortion—affirmed as a constitutional right in 1973 when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Roe vs. Wade—have led to fears among advocates that the laws could move through federal courts and eventually result in the overturning of Roe.

“This is not a drill,” wrote MoveOn.org in a letter to members. “There are no more backstops or second chances. Abortion WILL be banned if the right-wing has its way—which is why it’s imperative we fight back NOW.”

In Chicago on Monday, demonstrators demanded that Congress pass the Reproductive Health Act, which would protect the right to abortion care in Illinois in the event of an attack on Roe vs. Wade at the federal level. New York State passed a similar law earlier this year.

NARAL also urged advocates who can’t attend demonstrations to post on social media about their support for reproductive rights, using the hashtag #StopTheBans.

“Now more than ever, we must unite against this unprecedented attack on our fundamental rights and freedoms,” said Planned Parenthood Action Fund President Leana Wen last week. “It is time for women, men, and all people to declare that reproductive health care is health care and health care is a human right.”

“We will stand together to defend our right to safe, legal abortion,” Wen added. “Because we are in the fight of our lives.”

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