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Thousands of pro-choice advocates gathered at state Capitol, some blocked city's Fourth of July parade

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Posted at 12:31 PM, Jul 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-04 18:02:00-04

LANSING, Mich. — Thousands of abortion rights activists met at the state Capitol Monday to protest the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade. This has been one of a few protests that have occurred at the Capitol over the past week after the decision was announced on June 24.

According to the event’s Facebook page, the goal of the protest was to meet during Lansing’s 4th of July Celebration Parade. About 1,600 people said they were attending the protest organized by the Michigan chapter of Pro-Choice with Heart.

"Frankly, we're not free. The Fourth of July is supposed to celebrate the independence of this country and the people in it, and we're not free. Our country is enslaving us," Kathryn Watkins, director of the organization, said.

There were impassioned speeches, including one from pro-choice advocate Adeline Rivero who came all the way from Ohio.

"It's not really Independence Day if a majority of the population of the United States of America does not have the rights to their own bodily autonomy," Rivero said. "None of these laws were written by women for women."

Not long after Roe v. Wade was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court, Ohio passed a six-week abortion ban—meaning abortions are illegal once a fetal heartbeat is detected.

"Michigan's kind of the beacon of hope at this point when you look at Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania," Watkins said. "They're already passing these laws and other than Illinois, we're the only state in the Midwest that is not already restricting women's access."

Chants of "my body, my choice," "abort the court" and "hey hey ho ho bring back Roe," echoed across the Capitol lawn.

"We're hoping to gain some recognition and have people see that there are a lot of people that are really upset by this," Watkins said. "I know there's a lot going on in Michigan right now that is teetering in the balance, and it's especially important that we come out right now and let our legislatures know where we stand and what we want, because a lot hangs in the balance."

The protest led by the Michigan chapter of Pro-Choice with Heart had plans to march after the city's Fourth of July parade.

"We posted in our group that we did not want to intercept the parade in any way. That is a separate group that is doing so. We made it clear that we were planning to march after the parade came through. We were just going to turn our backs on the parade to show our disapproval without being disrespectful toward the people and children that are here," Watkins said.

Although not the organizer's intention, a small group of protesters blocked the streets of the parade route, forcing the parade to turn around.

Protesters, while blocking the street, chanted, “No celebration with forced procreation," while holding a sign with those words.

At other corners, however, the protesters and parade passed each other, cheering each other on.

RELATED | County prosecutors could begin pressing criminal charges against abortion providers

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