Baylor students, Waco community attend rally defending Roe v. Wade

A protest is held in downtown Waco after a leaked Supreme Court document shows an opinion draft that would overturn Roe v. Wade. Brittany Tankersley | Photo Editor

By Tatum Mitchell | Staff Writer

Baylor students and members of the Waco community joined to protest the Supreme Court draft opinion to overturn Roe v. Wade on Tuesday at the McLennan County Courthouse.

The draft opinion suggests the Supreme Court could be poised to overturn the landmark 1973 case that legalized abortion nationwide, according to a Politico report.

A decision to overrule Roe would lead to abortion bans in roughly half the states and could have huge ramifications on this year’s elections. However, it’s unclear if the draft represents the court’s final word on the matter; opinions often change in ways big and small during the drafting process.

The draft opinion in effect states there is no constitutional right to abortion services and would allow individual states to more heavily regulate or ban the procedure.

Cheryl Foster, Waco community member and former Planned Parenthood volunteer, said the protest is a vigil to mourn the presumed passing of Roe v. Wade. About 30 people stood in front of the courthouse with signs chanting, “Our bodies, our choice.”

The message of the protest is to encourage others to pay attention and vote pro-choice legislators into office, Foster said.

“We’re going to have to rebuild our reproductive rights and protections from the ground up with legislation, and the only way we can do that is get a pro-choice legislature everywhere,” Foster said. “So, Nov. 8 is our first opportunity to stop this nonsense.”

Houston sophomore Evie Perlmutter said she and her friends heard about the protest last minute and got together quickly to attend.

“It’s important for us to not just stand up for ourselves and for what we believe in, but to stand up for every woman,” Perlmutter said.

Foster said the rally was sparked by multiple organizations encouraging members across the nation to go to their local courthouse and protest at 5 p.m. on May 3. She said she spread the word through Facebook and text.

Perlmutter said she hopes people learn to have more respect and tolerance for others following the rally. Hong Kong freshman Taylor Chung said he contributed to the protest because he believes abortion is a woman’s right.

“Every woman deserves the right to have a choice,” Chung said. “I mean, just because someone believes something, they shouldn’t have to force that on another person.”

Susan Skelton, Waco community member, said abortion is a private health issue and should be a person’s right to choose. When she heard the news, Skelton said her first reaction was anger.

“I started crying,” Skelton said. “I was so mad, I started crying. In fact, I tear up now, and it’s mostly from anger and disbelief.”

Skelton said this decision will disproportionately impact minorities and leaves women without assistance for their health. She said she is fearful for the future of other rights, like same-sex marriage and the availability of contraceptives.

Skelton said she has voted in every election since she turned 18 and encourages others to vote. She said for a majority of her life, she has had the right to choose.

“Voting in November is the only way we fix this,” Foster said. “You need to stay plugged in, stay angry and then vote, because our lives depend on it.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.