For the second time since the US Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade, gathered for Memorial Park Sunday to call access to safe and legal abortions.
Though Sunday’s crowd of a few hundred was smaller than Friday’s protest, which drew more than 1,000 people to the park, the energy was much the same. Chants of “my body my choice,” “hey hey, ho ho, abortion ban has got to go,” and “f— Pete Ricketts” echoed across Dodge Street as passing cars honked and motorcyclists revved engines seemingly in support.
The rally began at 6 pm, and the group initially marched on the sidewalk from Memorial Park to 52nd Street before returning to the park. Around 7:45 pm, they headed toward 72nd and Dodge Streets.
The Supreme Court in an opinion published Friday struck down Roe v. Wade, the landmark ruling that solidified abortion as a constitutional right nearly 50 years ago. Friday’s decision leaves regulating abortion up to individuals states. In Nebraska, abortion is still legal up to 20 weeks after fertilization.
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A draft opinion leaked and published in early May signaled the court was prepared to undo Roe. But even with the forewarning, protesters said the news still felt shocking.
“We knew it was coming, but still, it’s exhausting,” said Jen McEvoy, 52, who attended the protest with her daughter Lillian. “There is overwhelming support in this country for abortion rights, and yet it’s been taken away by this false court that was picked up specifically to overturn this issue.”
Others said that their initial reaction was despair.
“I found out at work,” said 19-year-old Nicole Sandquist. “We cried together in solidarity, all of the women in my workplace. It was a very solemn day.”
Some gathered Sunday stressed the importance of voting and electing lawmakers who support abortion rights in Nebraska and nationally.
Abortion opponents, including Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts and Speaker of the Legislature Mike Hilgers of Lincoln, heralded the Supreme Court’s decision, saying it correctly returned the matter to the states.
“The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe is an answer to millions of prayers on behalf of the unborn and a victory for human life,” Ricketts said in a statement Friday.
Ricketts and Hilgers said they would work together on a possible special session this summer to consider abortion restrictions. Earlier this year, the Legislature narrowly failed to pass a so-called trigger ban, which would have banned abortion in the event Roe v. Wade was overturned.
Abortion-rights protests are scheduled to continue this week, with planned rallies in Omaha and Lincoln on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday.
Alex Bazer, 19, said that she thinks people gathering to show support is important.
“We will not take this lying down,” she said. “We will not stand here and let them take this away, especially with how long we’ve been fighting just to have basic human rights like everyone else.”