The 2022 Women’s March rallies nationwide have come and gone, with thousands of pro-choice supporters expressing their collective anger over the US Supreme Court being on the verge of overturning Roe v. Wade.
Now pro-choice organizations are contemplating what their next steps should be — either at the ballot box or in the streets.
Emiliana Guereca, executive director for the Women’s March Foundation, says her organization is encouraging large voter turnout in upcoming primary and midterm elections, and that it’s currently reaching out to more than 9 million people through text banks urging them to register to vote — and to vote.
“No matter what your political party is, I think that Roe v. Wade being struck down in the United States is an issue for democracy,” Guereca said.
“It’s an issue for women. This is a fight that’s been 50 years in the making. So the only way we maintain our rights to reproductive justice is fighting for democracy, turning out voters and continuing to register voters.”
Skyler Soloman, a leading organizer of Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights, said her group is planning for two nationwide walkouts: one on May 19 for students from middle school to college level, and another on May 26 for people to walk out of work and protest on the streets.
“We can’t wait because this will only pave the way for further aggression,” Soloman said. “This will only open the door for … all of those egregious attacks on freedoms that will begin rolling out if Roe v. Wade is overturned.
“It is important to encourage people to vote. However, we need to encourage people to get out into the streets as well because that is more immediate and that is what will give us a chance to stop the Supreme Court.”
Sen. Alex Padilla, who attended the downtown Los Angeles rally, also encouraged pro-choice supporters to continue organizing and to show their support at the polls.
“I’m going to fight in the Senate and I know that we’re all going to fight when we make our way to the ballot box in the primaries and again in November,” said Padilla.
That amply describes the strategy of the Women’s March Foundation. It is specifically targeting elections in 13 states, including Pennsylvania, Texas, North Carolina, Missouri, Georgia, Florida, Nevada and Arizona. The goal is to mobilize voters on the issue of reproductive rights in states with typically lower turnout.
Some states have already started their primary voting process; Texans were able to begin voting in the runoff elections as of May 16, and Pennsylvania’s primary election day began May 17.
If the Supreme Court overturns Roe, 28 states are likely to ban or restrict abortion, including Texas, Florida and Arizona. Should that come to pass, Guereca said the foundation plans on mobilizing across the country, organizing marches and pushing for senators to end the filibuster.
“There’s urgency for women to stay vigilant, to stay engaged in democracy and not just presidential elections,” Guereca said. “We have more to lose. Women have more to lose by not voting, by not staying engaged in democracy.
“I think the Supreme Court is going to decide what the Supreme Court is going to decide. But I do think that continuing to be visible and advocating for [abortion rights] is necessary.”
Soloman, however, believes that more action needs to be taken and that waiting for election time could have a detrimental effect instead.
“This strategy completely ignores the decades of gerrymandering that has been going on and the general apathy that many voters are feeling and the disempowerment that so many people are feeling — that they don’t have a chance or the ability to drive change themselves,” Soloman said.
Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights, which has chapters in over 40 cities is the main organizer of the walkouts. But Soloman also encourages others to organize if they feel the desire to seek change.
“I really do just want to drive home the point that this movement belongs to everyone,” Soloman said. “It is not owned by any one person or organization. If you care, if you feel that you need to do something, then it is your right to go out there and take action. It is your duty to do it as well.”
Anti-Abortion Proponents Embrace Roe Being Overturn
Not all movements in the US since the Supreme Court opinion was leaked have been in support of abortion.
The US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) held a day of fasting and prayer on May 13, with the intention of praying for the overturning of Roe and for “the conversion of the hearts and minds of those who advocate for abortion.”
“As Catholics, let us witness to the beautiful gift of life with civility and love, and with our peaceful prayers and our compassionate service to all those in need,” the USCCB newsletter stated.
For many, the next two months pose a degree of uncertainty until the Supreme Court’s decision. For sisters Tiffany Carrizo and Natalie Torres, who came from Downey to attend the LA rally, the future of other civil rights looks bleak if Roe is overturned.
“It’s going to have a cascading effect on more legislation,” Carrizo said. “It’s not just going to be abortion. They’re going to go after gay marriage, contraceptive access, reproductive health care. It’s not looking good.”
Torres echoed her sister’s concerns, saying, “We’re not asking those people of faith to change their mind or give up their views. All we’re asking is that you should let everyone be allowed to have a legal, safe abortion so that these women won’t be hurt — or worse, die — because they had to go for a different way to get an abortion.”