'Bans off': Congresswomen Dingell, Stabenow address crowd at UM abortion rights rally

People packed the Diag on the University of Michigan's Ann Arbor campus Saturday for a Bans Off Our Bodies rally aimed at protesting a possible reversal of the U.S. Supreme Court decision that made abortion legal in the nation.

People carried colorful signs that read "Her body, her choice," "Stop the war On women" and "I am a woman, not a womb" and at times chanted "We support Roe" and "Bans off" as activists, a Planned Parenthood physician and Michigan lawmakers spoke out on efforts to overturn the law.

The crowd, estimated at about 4,000 by rally organizers, joined Democratic U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell in chanting "My Body, My Choice" .

Dingell said the U.S. Supreme Court is about to change history by undoing 50 years of legal precedents.

"Shame on them," Dingell said.

But Dingell said, "I will not go back" and that "Roe V. Wade is still the law of the land" and that everyone should have the right to make the choice that is best for them, their family and doctor.

U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell speaks at the Planned Parenthood rally at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor on Saturday, May 14, 2022.

Dingell told the crowd that "we must do all we can" to protect women in Michigan and across the country to ensure that the seminal court ruling is protected as well as working to get a 1931 state abortion law off the books.

The rallies come after Politico reported May 2 that a draft opinion written by Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. showed a majority of the court would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, reversing its recognition of women’s constitutional right to access safe and legal abortions.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow speaks to hundreds at the University of Michigan on Saturday, May 14, 2022.

The court has confirmed the authenticity of the draft but said that the decision is not yet final. 

Fellow Democrat, U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, said she was a college student when the Roe v. Wade case was argued and its ruling became law.

"I didn't think we would have to do this again and now here we are," Stabenow told the protesters. "Now we're on the edge of having 50 years (ripped) away from us. We have a lot of work to do."

Like Dingell, Stabenow urged people to vote and get involved in making sure that a petition drive to repeal Michigan's 1931 law outlawing abortion is successful.

Michigan Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist III speaks at the rally.

Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist also was among the speakers at Saturday's rally. Gilchrist attended the rally with his wife and children. 

Women have a right to do everything that is available to them, said Gilchrist. "If someone wants to take away your choice what do they think of you?" Gilchrist told the crowd. "This is 2022 not 1931"

Pam Obriot, left, stands with Sen. Debbie Stabenow and Susan Schissler at a Planned Parenthood rally in Ann Arbor on Saturday, May 14, 2022.

Gilchrist added "our administration is counting on the Michigan Supreme Court to affirm and assert the right to abortion in Michigan."

Dearborn resident Yannie Andrus was among those in the crowd who believe that Roe v. Wade should be overturned.

"I thought for years it was a bad decision. It was a bad law," said Andrus, who carried a poster depicting what was labeled a "first trimester" fetus. "I think the right (to an abortion) should go back to the states."

Andrus added "As a Catholic and a human (abortion) is a terrible sin."

People rally for abortion rights at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor on Saturday, May 14, 2022.

For Laura Seeger-Taylor of the village of Clinton attending Saturday's rally gave her a deep sense of deja vu.

"I was here 50 years ago," said Seeger-Taylor referring to the Diag. "I thought (Roe v. Wade decision) would be codified in our law."

Seeger-Taylor said the thought that the seminal ruling could be overturned "is killing me."

People rally for abortion rights at the University of Michigan on Saturday, May 14, 2022.

The rally in Ann Arbor was one of numerous events Satuday sponsored by Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan.

Nicole Wells Stallworth, executive director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan, said advocates are working on getting enough signatures to put the question of abortion rights on the ballot.

Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan said Wednesday it has seen $220,000 in donations and 25,000 volunteers sign up in just a week to help in the effort.

 "Abortion is still legal in Michigan," said Wells Stallworth on Saturday. "We still have a choice in this moment. We can still save abortion in Michigan."