Abortion rights supporters rally in downtown Detroit amid Roe v. Wade draft ruling

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

Dozens of demonstrators gathered outside the federal courthouse in downtown Detroit on Tuesday to protest the bombshell news that the U.S. Supreme Court may be close to reversing the landmark Roe v. Wade abortion ruling.

News of the leaked draft opinion Monday night that the court could soon overturn the nearly 50-year old ruling sent supporters to the streets and on social media, calling for protests, strikes, legislative options and other remedies to preserve legal abortions in the United States.

Carrying handmade signs with messages such as "My body my choice" and "Abortion is a human right," many activists who protested and marched in Detroit expressed outrage at a draft opinion they described as overreach.

Pro-choice supporters march on Congress Street after gathering at the Theodore Levin Federal Courthouse in Detroit on Tuesday. Several people spoke and then the group marched downtown.

"Having control over our body is a prerequisite for being a human being," activist Dianne Feeley told the crowd while wearing a button that read "Keep Abortion Legal."

"... We will not be driven back. We will not accept some Supreme Court or its decision that violate our human rights."

Multiple local advocacy and grassroots groups assembled at the demonstration Tuesday to voice their frustration and demand action.

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Jessica Prozinski of Ann Arbor, who is active with the Reproductive Rights Group of Michigan, said the significance of losing Roe v. Wade would galvanize millions to protest.

"That’s where our power is," she said.

Prozinski led the demonstrators in chants such as "When abortion rights are under attack, what do we do? Rise up, fight back!"

Some who braved drizzle and chilly temperatures to join the crowd shared personal stories about their experiences with abortion.

Danielle Atkinson, executive director at Mothering Justice, a leadership development and advocacy group, said she supported several women who chose to undergo the procedure.

"I held those women's hands when they had legal and safe abortions," Atkinson said to applause. "… Reproductive rights is about a person's bodily autonomy to choose when, where, how and if they want to parent a child. It is our body. It is our choice. And we have to continue to have that resounding message."

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She noted the women who worked to pave the way for Roe v. Wade.

People block traffic on West Lafayette in Detroit at a pro-choice rally Tuesday at the federal courthouse in Detroit.

"They were fighting for our right to have autonomy," Atkinson said. "I thank you and we will pick up the torch and we will carry on in the fight for our children, for our girls, for our boys, for anyone who has a future that needs protecting."

Some framed protecting abortion as working to prevent the potential loss of other rights, saying they feared opponents could work to undo rulings guaranteeing same-sex marriage and more.

"We're fighting for all of humanity in this," said Cindy Luiz of Hamtramck, who is with the group Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights.

The rally followed others across the country, including one that drew about 300 at the Michigan Capitol, the Lansing State Journal reported.