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‘Abortion is a human right’: Springfield socialists lead ‘Defend Roe’ abortion rights rally

This conservative corner of Missouri will see at least two abortion-rights rallies in as many weeks, following the leak of a Supreme Court opinion indicating the court's conservative justices are likely ready to overturn Roe v. Wade.

People in favor of abortion rights plan to gather Saturday in Springfield for a rally. That will be the second such rally in as many weeks for Springfield; last weekend, about 500 people participated in a Defend Roe! Emergency Rally downtown. They spoke out on the possibility that the Supreme Court may soon overturn a 49-year-old precedent protecting the right of patients to end their pregnancies.

Friday’s Defend Roe rally was organized by local groups including the Party for Socialism and Liberation, the Democratic Socialists of America, #MeToo Springfield and Planned Parenthood.

It happened four days after a draft opinion leaked from the Supreme Court showed that conservative justices could be on the verge of overturning Roe v. Wade. That 1972 decision legalized abortion nationwide oon the basis of a Constitutional right to privacy.

But last week’s leaked opinion isn’t final. The ultimate decision won’t be known until the court hands down a completed majority opinion, probably over the next few months.

Lucy Mayfield was at the rally. She’s with the Party for Socialism and Liberation. She said the Supreme Court’s leaked draft didn’t surprise her or her party, because former President Donald Trump appointed three conservative justices to the nine-member court.

Mayfield told KSMU, “Even more so than trying to stop the overturning of Roe v Wade, we want to call for Congress to put it into law so it can’t be overturned in the future.” (A bill to codify abortion rights into federal law failed in the U.S. Senate on Thursday, as expected.)

“We are here because abortion is a human right,” said Harvey Day with Southwest Missouri Solidarity Network.

And another speaker, Seth Goodwin, called Roe v. Wade “a victory of the struggling masses.” He said it was created by grassroots pressure, and he linked that to other rights struggles.

“This is true of abortion rights, civil rights, LGBTQ rights, and any form of social safety net, workplace safety regulations,” he said.

People at the Springfield rally pointed to protests nationwide, saying that shows that “the majority of America” favor abortion rights.

“Millions of people are going into the streets, would make it clear that without justice, there can be no peace!” Mayfield told the crowd.

Polls show a minority of Americans favor banning abortion altogether — but many Americans would like to see it regulated. A Morning Consult poll from May 3 showed that 50 percent of U.S. voters believe Roe v. Wade should not be overturned. Only 28 percent believe the decision should be overturned.

Long-term Gallup polls going back to 1975 show Americans have remained pretty consistent over the years: About one-third believe abortion should be legal under any circumstances. Only about one-fifth of Americans favor banning abortion in all circumstances, according to Gallup. And about half of Americans believe the procedure should be legal only in certain circumstances.

People said they came to the rally downtown for a variety of reasons.

One person leading a spontaneous chant ("No uterus, no opinion!") was Veronica Wilderness, a Springfield college student.

She said, “I’m here because women and all these other communities deserve to have their rights and not have them taken away because a Supreme Court system feels that an abortion is against their religion when it’s supposed to be separating church from state, so this is what I have to fight for.”

Another person who said he was there to support women was Trevor Fischer. He described feeling “outraged” when he learned the Supreme Court could end Roe.

“The women in my life… I refuse to live in a world, especially in 2022, where I have any more rights than anybody else. For any reason.”

Fischer wasn’t the only person at the rally who used that word: “outraged.” Here’s Debbie Thompson.

“I think of the women who went before us," she said. "I’m completely outraged that my Glock has more rights than a body part within my own self. I’m here just to do my part to try to stop what might be very hard, dark days ahead.”

After the Defend Roe rally, at least one more local abortion rights event is planned for the near future. Back in April, Planned Parenthood Advocates began organizing a “Bans Off Our Bodies” rally for 11 a.m. Saturday, May 14, the City of Springfield said.

Democrat Crystal Quade, the Missouri House Minority leader, told KSMU she will speak at that event.

Gregory Holman is a KSMU reporter and editor focusing on public affairs and investigations.