Rachel Greenberg, Policy Research Intern
Every Monday and Thursday for the past three weeks, a group of us interns have stood in front of the Supreme Court at 9:45 in the morning, clad in our purple “Trust Women” shirts, eagerly waiting the NIFLA v. Becerra decision. Each time, we stood in a little line with a few interns from other pro-choice organizations, holding our “end the lies” signs and talking quietly among ourselves. We never interacted with the anti-abortion people, dressed in their shirts, holding their signs, standing and talking to each other 20 feet away from us.
Until this week. On Monday, I arrived like usual at the Supreme Court at 9:45, but this time there were over a hundred people there, with individuals on both sides marching and chanting. Initially overwhelmed, my friends pulled me into the purple-clad side, and soon activists from NARAL’s national office organized us to march in a circle, giving us specific chants to repeat like “trust women!” and “when women’s rights are under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back!”
While we energetically chanted on Monday morning on behalf of reproductive freedom, dozens of anti-abortion protesters, mostly teenage members of Students for Life, chanted just as enthusiastically — “equal rights for preborn women!”; “Hey hey! Ho ho! Roe v. Wade has got to go!” On Monday, the spirits were high — despite the maliciousness of the pro-life chants, the energy in the air was that of passion and excitement — their chants only invigorated ours.
When I got there at 9:45 on Tuesday morning, the energy was profoundly different. Again, there were over a hundred people there, but this time it was many more from the pro-choice side, as the students for life didn’t show. As there usually had been, there were also demonstrators from other groups, including individuals opposing the Muslim Ban, fighting for workers’ rights, and pleading to keep immigrant families together. We changed our chants to demonstrate our solidarity with these other groups — “when [women’s rights/ workers’ rights/ immigrants/ Muslim rights] are under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back!”
As we circled around the area in front of the Court, I heard an anti-choice individual exclaim the most upsetting thing I’ve heard at a protest. She said, to which all the people around her agreed, “I love how they have to put in all these other issues to get people to care about their cause, it’s because without getting other people involved they don’t have a leg to stand on”.
Her comment demonstrated how little she understood about the interconnectedness of all of these issues. In reality, solidarity between oppressed groups is the most important thing, because immigration is a reproductive justice issue, workers’ rights is a reproductive justice issue, religious freedom is a reproductive justice issue.
To fight for reproductive freedom is to fight for people’s rights to decide if and when to parent, and to be able to parent safely and without contraints. This certainly means keeping families together, giving parents asylum and safety to raise their children, guaranteeing working parents all their rights, and providing comprehensive health care for all of these groups and more.
I was proud that with all of the different cases going on, it didn’t feel like the different progressive groups were fighting for the spotlight, but rather that we were actively showing up for each other and demonstrating our support.
Being at the Supreme Court when they announced the NIFLA decision was heartbreaking, but also powerful. I felt the spirit of all of the people around me — both the ones in purple, and also
the ones holding “keep families together” and “protect workers” signs. The power in protest is a shared goal — as Lilla Watson said, “If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”
I am so upset about the Supreme Court rulings we’ve seen this week. I am terrified to my core about the new vacancy on the court. However, we cannot give up hope. Now isn’t the time to grieve — it’s time to fight. We need to be calling our senators, showing up to protest, and doing work in our local and state communities to protect our rights.
This week has been a difficult week, but I know that all of our liberation is tangled — so let us keep working together.