Abortion rights advocates gather at Ohio Statehouse for 'Bans Off Our Bodies' rally

Thomas Hanks
The Columbus Dispatch

Deborah O'Brien has been here before.

"I was at the Women's March in (Washington) D.C., and now I'm here again," the 70-year-old said.

O'Brien was one of several hundred protestors who gathered Saturday with flags, signs and coat hangers outside the Ohio Statehouse as part of a national "Bans Off Our Bodies" event, organized by Planned Parenthood and several women's rights organizations.

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The rally came in response to the leaked U.S. Supreme Court draft decision indicating that overturning the decision in Roe v. Wade, which has protected abortion rights nationally since 1973, was imminent.

Organizers handed out signs reading "Bans off our bodies" and "Stand with Black women," while handmade signs in the crowd had more scathing messages, such as "If you cut off my reproductive choice, can I cut off yours?" with a hand-drawn picture of a pair of scissors, and "If I wanted the government in my uterus, I'd (expletive) a senator."

"I want Mike DeWine to understand, or hopefully Nan Whaley, if she gets elected, but I want the Ohio Legislature to understand that we need access to safe abortion," said Christina Pusecker, 48, of Cedarville. "The first rally I attended was in Washington, D.C., in April 1992, when the Supreme Court was deciding the Casey case."

Over a thousand people showed up Saturday in support of the Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio "Ban Off Our Bodies" rally at the Ohio Statehouse.

Around 1 p.m., crowds blocked West Broad and North High streets, directly outside the Statehouse and chanted, "Hey, hey, ho, ho, abortion bans have got to go," as well as "1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-11-(expletive)-12," referring to police.

Anti-abortion advocates held signs outside the rally as well, with members of the anti-abortion group "Created Equal" holding signs with photos of aborted fetuses.

"I'm just giving out my opinion," said James Stevens, who sat near the Statehouse. "If you're mad because you got pregnant, you shouldn't have had sex. If you're going to have children, might as well have them live."

Abortion rights supporters use their signs to cover a few anti-abortion signs Saturday at a Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio "Ban Off Our Bodies" rally at the Ohio Statehouse.

One speaker compared the U.S. to Vatican City and the Philippines, two places where abortion is illegal.

The speaker later led a chant in Filipino: "Maki baka," meaning "I will persist."

Kim Thompson, 65, of Marysville, held two signs — one with a bloody coat hanger and another reading "I have no regrets."

"I hope to make the Supreme Court see that they're going toward the wrong decision and that people are not going to be happy about it," Thompson said. "This is an important issue, and it's opening a can of worms that's going to go in a lot of different directions, and is not going to sit well with America."

Kenzie Kanney, of New Albany, sits in the grass with her dog, Rocky, and a sign that reads "Paws off our Bodies" at Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio's "Ban Off Our Bodies" rally Saturday at the Ohio Statehouse.

Pam MacDougall, 57, of Marietta, held up a sign with the obituary of her great-grandmother, Hazel Carr, who died after having an illegal abortion performed by a midwife.

"My great-grandfather remarried, but two years later, he died, leaving my grandfather an orphan because some people feel that they have the right to tell other people what to do with their bodies," MacDougall said. "My body, my choice; end of discussion."

"I just can't believe we're back at this again," O'Brien said. "I'm really, really upset."


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