Des Moines, Iowa — Hundreds chanted, “Fuck the church. Fuck the State. Only we decide our fate,” “Abortion bans have got to go,” as they marched down the streets of Des Moines to the new federal courthouse.
Des Moines Black Liberation Movement organized a protest Wednesday after the Supreme Court draft opinion suggesting that the Supreme Court is preparing to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision — which protects a person’s liberty to receive an abortion on the grounds of privacy.
A group gathered at Cowles Commons and marched to the new federal courthouse under construction — at the intersection of Locust Street and Second Avenue — to fight for reproductive rights and safe access to abortions.
“Overturning Roe v. Wade is not gonna stop my advocacy,” Jada Alexander, a sexual assault victim’s advocate at ACCESS, spoke to a crowd at the intersection.
Alexander advocates for Iowa State University students who experienced sexual assault, and one of her jobs is to provide services that enhance safety, empower survivors and promote understanding and social justice within the community.
“Abortion is a human rights issue, but it's also a victim's rights issue,” she told the Daily. “And so my advocacy does entail, like getting survivors safe, and access to safe abortions, and this is throwing a wrench in, you know, what that looks like, for me, and it's not going to stop the way I advocate. But I definitely think it's going to change something.”
Overturning the 50-year precedent would give states the power to determine laws in relation to abortion access. Thirteen states have trigger laws that will go into effect after Roe v. Wade is overturned, according to the Washington Post.
Specifically for Iowa, the state Supreme Court ruled in 2018 that the state constitution protects the right to an abortion — a precedent that will remain in place regardless of the Roe v. Wade outcome, according to the reporting from the Iowa Capital Dispatch.
At the protest, demonstrators highlighted the importance of reproductive justice and abortion access and also how it connects with the historical context of Black women.
“It's important for me to be here personally, just because this affects me at a higher proportion than it would people who aren't Black women,” Alexander said.
There are substantial disparities in abortion rates in the United States, with low-income women and women of color having higher rates than affluent and white women, according to the National Library of Medicine.
“In 2008, the abortion rate for non-Hispanic white women was 12 abortions per 1000 reproductive-age women, compared with 29 per 1000 for Hispanic women, and 40 per 1000 for non-Hispanic Black women,” according to the National Library of Medicine.
If the draft opinion, written by Justice Samuel Alito, is adopted, it would rule in favor of Mississippi in the closely watched case over that state’s attempt to ban most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
“Roe was egregiously wrong from the start," Alito wrote in the draft opinion. "Its reasoning was exceptionally weak, and the decision has had damaging consequences. And far from bringing about a national settlement of the abortion issue, Roe and Casey have enflamed debate and deepened division.”
In response to this opinion and those who argue against reproductive rights, Alexander said if they are “in the business of saving lives, we should be worried about the ones that are here.
“I feel like if we're truly pro life, maybe we should start looking into the foster care system, and like DHS, adoption — and what those things look like, because there's so many underserved people in the system that we could be helping, they're worried about fetuses.”
The Des Moines Black Liberation Movement will host a rally for Reproductive Justice at 6:45 p.m. on the west side of the Women of Achievement Bridge.