Nearly two weeks after a leaked draft opinion suggested the US Supreme Court will overturn Roe v. Wade, hundreds of people gathered in Omaha Saturday to denounce the anticipated decision and reaffirm their commitment to protect abortion rights.
The demonstration outside the City-County Building was just one of many throughout the nation as local organizers billed the day as Roe v. Wade Day of Action. Wielding signs with messages like “Keep abortion safe and legal” and “No uterus, no opinion,” attendees rallied and heard from speakers who promised to keep fighting no matter what happens.
Saturday’s rally was at least the second one to occur in Omaha since the media outlet Politico broke the story of the draft opinion on May 2.
Support for personal choice was one of the common themes expressed by attendees.
“Women can make their own choices,” said Suzanne Ritchie, 59. “We shouldn’t have the court decide.”
Becky Havlat, 72, has been a supporter of abortion rights for decades and has passed her viewpoint down to her daughters, Robin Winchester and Heather Graves, and granddaughter, Alesha Graves. Havlat’s dedication was perhaps best captured by the sign she held: “My arms are tired of holding this sign since the 1960s.”
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Havlat views the matter of abortion as a personal choice among individuals.
“I really think that people need to let (others) do their own thing,” she said.
Alesha Graves concurred with her grandmother.
“Human rights are really important to me,” the 28-year-old said. “What the Supreme Court is planning to do is not right. I’m just trying to fight for my rights out here. ”
Attendees found a like-minded individual in State Sen. Jen Day. One of several speakers at the event, Day opposed Legislative Bill 933 – a trigger bill that would have banned all abortions in Nebraska if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade – last month. The bill failed to gain the necessary support to advance.
Day vowed to continue fighting for women to maintain abortion access even if the Supreme Court overturns the 1973 landmark ruling and the Nebraska Legislature subsequently considers bills to curtail access.
“This is the hill that I will die on as a senator,” she said.
Speaker of Legislature Mike Hilgers has said he would work with Gov. Pete Ricketts, who supported the failed trigger bill, to schedule a special session on abortion if the Supreme Court ultimately strikes down Roe.
The demise of Roe would return the abortion issue back to individual states. In a press release issued May 3, Sandy Danek, executive director of Nebraska Right to Life, said it should be up to states to set abortion regulations.
“Elections matter,” Danek said. “It’s why we work so hard to elect pro-life officials. Returning this decision back to the states allows for the people to decide, which is where it should have always been. ”
Photos: Hundreds rally for abortion rights in Omaha