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Minnesotans rallied across Minneapolis and St. Paul Friday evening in support of abortion rights.
They gathered several hours after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion across the country. The court’s decision removes abortion from protection under the U.S. Constitution.
States must now determine for themselves whether abortion is legal in their jurisdictions. Abortion access will remain unchanged in Minnesota for the time being because of a 1995 Minnesota Supreme Court decision protecting that right.
About 600 demonstrators gathered outside the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs. Here are some of their reactions to Friday’s development in their own words:
“I’m feeling trapped and a little helpless,” said Sarah Han, 45. “How do we change? I don’t know.”
Han has been involved in protests for the last few years, and is a graduate student training to become a high school social studies teacher. She noted that Friday’s event had a large turnout, and that many young people were in attendance.
“It helps a little,” she said.
“This is just … disgusting,” said Lanz Ulmer, a 21-year-old University of Minnesota student. “This country has been going downhill, and it’s going downhill quicker. People have been like, ‘Oh, why are we going backwards?’ It’s been like this. People just haven’t been paying attention because this happened with women of color. Now everyone’s getting affected.”
The new collective awareness is a positive development, Ulmer added, but they want to see action to ensure future generations aren’t affected by these same problems.
X Tran and Ash Earl-Mosley
“It wasn’t their decision to make,” X Tran said of the Supreme Court.
X has two little sisters at home, added Ash Earl-Mosley. “One of them is just a baby, and people are already making decisions for her—what she can do with her body,” Earl-Mosley said. “I don’t like that.”
The pair said they attended the march because they felt the need to do something more than sign a petition.
Teja and April Lawrence
Teja Lawrence, 23, and her mother April Lawrence, 49, went to the rally sporting matching purple, white, and gold stripes on their faces, a nod to the colors of the women’s suffrage movement.
The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision was particularly difficult to swallow as people of color, they said.
“Just less and less rights–one after the other,” Teja said.
“I’m just wondering what will be overturned next,” April said.
April was born in 1973, the year the Supreme Court ratified Roe v. Wade.
“It just feels like we’re caught in a loop,” she said.
Even lynching was made a federal crime only recently, April noted, adding that when it feels like society is making progress, something comes along to stop it.
“Growing up in the world as a queer, disabled African American individual, I gotta do what I can to help make change happen,” Teja said.
Emely Castillo, Amy Ruiz Plaza, and Rayven Davis
Bethel University students Emely Castillo, Amy Ruiz Plaza, and Rayven Davis went to the University of Minnesota to join the protest.
“Honestly, I didn’t expect it to actually happen,” Ruiz Plaza said of the Supreme Court ruling, adding that it could open doors to banning gay rights as well.
“Everything’s just unsafe now,” Castillo added.
For Davis, a survivor of sexual assault, the decision felt deeply personal. “I would have hated to have gotten pregnant and couldn’t do anything about it,” she said, adding that it was troubling that the ruling would allow states to ban abortion without exception.
Castillo noted that abortion bans are expected to take a particular toll on communities of color. Experts project a 33 percent increase in deaths among pregnant Black women.
Davis said the protest was her first ever.
“I’m a woman,” she said. “I’m tired of men telling me what to do with my body.”
Cheyenne Hindsley and Saceliyah Sheridan
“When I found out this morning that Roe vs. Wade was overturned, I was so pissed,” said Cheyenne Hindsley, 32.
She was devastated to learn that her 10-year-old daughter, Saceliyah Sheridan, would not have the same rights she did.
“It’s scary as a mother–as a woman raising another woman,” Hindsley said.