For the second time since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, protesters gathered in Memorial Park on Sunday demanding access to safe and legal abortions.
Although Sunday’s crowd of a few hundred was smaller than Friday’s protest, which drew more than 1,000 people to the park, the energy was about the same. Chants of “my body my choice,” “hey hey, ho ho, the abortion ban must go” and “f — Pete Ricketts” echoed through Dodge Street as passing cars honked and the motorcyclists revved the engines apparently in support.
The rally began at 6 p.m. and the group first marched on the Memorial Park sidewalk at 52nd Street before returning to the park. Around 7:45 p.m., they headed for 72nd and Dodge Streets.
The Supreme Court, in an opinion released Friday, struck down Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision that cemented abortion as a constitutional right nearly 50 years ago. Friday’s decision leaves the regulation of abortion to the states. In Nebraska, abortion is still legal up to 20 weeks after fertilization.
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A leaked draft notice published in early May indicated that the court was prepared to overrule Roe. But even with the warning, protesters said the news was still shocking.
“We knew it was coming, but still, it’s exhausting,” said Jen McEvoy, 52, who attended the protest with her daughter Lillian. “There is overwhelming support in this country for abortion rights, and yet it has been withdrawn by this bogus tribunal that was chosen specifically to overturn this issue.”
Others said their first reaction was despair.
“I discovered it at work,” said 19-year-old Nicole Sandquist. “We cried together in solidarity, all the women in my workplace. It was a very solemn day.”
Some gathered Sunday stressed the importance of voting and electing lawmakers who support abortion rights in Nebraska and nationally.
Abortion opponents, including Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts and Lincoln Speaker of the Legislative Assembly Mike Hilgers, announced the Supreme Court’s decision, saying it properly referred the matter to the states.
“The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe is an answer to millions of prayers on behalf of the unborn child and a victory for human life,” Ricketts said in a statement Friday.
Ricketts and Hilgers said they would work together on a possible special session this summer to examine abortion restrictions. Earlier this year, the legislature narrowly failed to pass a so-called trigger ban, which would have banned abortion if Roe v. Wade.
Abortion rights protests are expected to continue this week, with rallies planned in Omaha and Lincoln on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday.
Alex Bazer, 19, said she thinks people coming together to show their support are important.
“We won’t take this lightly,” she said. “We won’t stay here and let them take this away from us, especially how long we’ve been fighting just to have basic human rights like everyone else.”
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