by Ronnie Estoque
On June 24, protestors filled the streets of Downtown Seattle in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, which had protected abortions at the federal level. Prior to marching, protestors gathered outside of the Federal Building for a rally that was organized by the Puget Sound Mobilization for Reproductive Justice (PSMRJ) — a growing coalition of groups and individuals initiated by Radical Women nationally to step up the defense of abortion rights. The event was also coordinated alongside other protests occurring in other cities across the U.S.
One of the speakers during the rally was Christina Lopez, a Chicana labor activist and member of PSMRJ and Radical Women.
“We can get all pessimistic about what happened at the high court. But look, this is where the optimism is; this is where the hope is,” Lopez said while pointing to the crowd.
Radical Women had been preparing for protests against the Supreme Court’s decision several weeks before the court officially reversed Roe v. Wade last Friday. According to Lopez, June 24 is a catalyst for more protests to follow until their demands are met.
PSMRJ lists a number of demands on their website, including the right to safe, legal abortion on demand without apology, repeal of the Hyde Amendment, an overturn of state barriers to reproductive choices, the end of medical and environmental racism, and much more.
“I’m in it to build, because that’s the only thing that’s going to turn the tide against the right-wing attacks,” Lopez said. “It’s exciting to get so much support from the labor movement. And at the same time, we have to support the labor movement and their right to organize, like they’re organizing [at] Starbucks [and] Amazon.”
Sarah Scott, a member of Radical Women and the Freedom Socialist Party, is hoping to continue to advocate and provide support for those seeking abortions.
“We will not stand for this violation of women’s bodies, and we’re going to fight back until this Roe v. Wade is reinstated,” Scott said. “The way that we are also going to move forward is to ensure that abortion clinics that are still open, like in Eastern Washington, that we are sending them supplies and donations and anything else they might need to stay open.”
Stephanie Gallardo, teacher, union leader, and socialist candidate for Congress in District 9, also spoke during the rally. She began her speech by speaking about the recent mass mobilizations in Chile that have resulted in the current work that’s being done to revise their Constitution to include Indigenous communities in the country and the “rights to reparation to the human rights of women, Afro-descendants, and LGBTI people.”
“It is time we retake our power. We have to stop being afraid to resist our own demise; we have to stop mincing our words about the two-party duopoly when the two-party duopoly and bedrock of white supremacy is exactly what brought us to this position today,” Gallardo said.
“We have to stop thinking that we are alone here in the United States. We are not alone. We are part of a global working class, our global working class that has been through this drill before.”
Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant of District 3 also spoke during the rally. Her office had announced legislation to make Seattle a sanctuary city for abortion rights.
“My office will also be bringing a people’s budget amendment to the budget in September to make abortion free in Seattle for anyone fleeing states that have criminalized reproductive health care,” Sawant said. “So it is going to be far better for us to collect all this energy to fight to tax the rich to fund basic services because we as working-class people, we simply cannot afford to do so.”
During her speech, Sawant emphasized the importance of protestors fighting for social feminism, and the importance of understanding how abortion rights was won by the combined pressure of the civil, labor, and women’s rights movements.
“Socialist feminism means basing ourselves on mass working-class struggle, not illusions in the fairness or neutrality of capitalism and the bosses,” Sawant said.
Following the rally, those in attendance began their march through Downtown Seattle with the assistance of bike blockades that sectioned off the streets.
Other local protests the first weekend following the overturn of Roe v. Wade were also spearheaded by Women’s March, Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights, and Shout Your Abortion. Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell, King County Executive Dow Constantine, Governor Jay Inslee, and numerous Seattle City Councilmembers have all announced their commitment to championing reproductive rights within the state and ensuring that others who come from out of state will be protected with their right to choose.
Ronnie Estoque is a South Seattle-based freelance photographer and videographer. You can keep up with his work by checking out his website.
📸 Featured Image: Protestors gathered outside of the Federal Building for a rally that was organized by the Puget Sound Mobilization for Reproductive Justice, in response to the overturn of Roe v. Wade. (Photo: Ronnie Estoque)
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