In lieu of the Supreme Court’s leaked opinion on Roe v. Wade, students and locals rallied together in a sea of green bandanas and shirts to show their support of the right to choose when it comes to abortion.
Planned Parenthood Generation Action and UD College Democrats, two registered student organizations on campus, teamed up to organize the “Bans Off Our Bodies March” on May 12 in front of Memorial Hall.
Memorial Hall, however, served as the physical divide between two opposing ideologies in the debate on abortion. University students and members of the Newark community, on opposite sides of the building, donned signs to voice their opinions about abortion rights.
Percy Allen III, a freshman communications major, was among those listening to the speakers arranged by the organizers, chanting and supporting the pro-choice cause in front of Memorial Hall.
“I feel like the student body coming out here … and showing their support for what’s right is really really powerful … ,” Allen said. “This is just a really good occasion and I hope that the student body continues to show support for the things that really matter for the rest of my time here.”
Fiona Eramo, president of Planned Parenthood Generation Action, said that following the leaked opinion, there was an immediate mobilization of pro-choice supporters and organizers, which led to the planning of this protest.
“I’m really excited about the turnout,” Eramo said. “I think there’s a diverse group of folks represented.”
“It was really a collaborative effort,” Maddie Starling, president of UD College Democrats, said. “We’ve been supported by staff, we’ve been supported by so many students, so many local community advocates … We’re just glad to see so many people represented today and so many people coming out to support this cause.”
Sam Watkins, a sophomore organizational and community leadership major at the university, emphasized the importance of inclusivity in the discussion of reproductive rights.
“Reproduction rights are trans rights and I think that we should be including everyone in this conversation cause it’s really important,” Watkins said.
The green the protestors donned represented the Bans Off Our Bodies organization, according to Jamie Bernstein, a sophomore nursing major.
In opposition to the “Bans Off Our Bodies” march, Turning Point USA organized a protest to express their views on abortion. On the opposite side of Memorial Hall stood members of the community carrying pro-life relics, some of which included pictures of a fetus in utero.
Barbara P., a sophomore business management major, said that she was at the protest “to stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves, to promote the fact that all life is valued.”
Deb Miranda, who works with LifeRunners.org, a pro-choice organization, came from outside Philadelphia for the protest.
“We decided to take the hour drive out here and stand for life because you have to be a voice for the voiceless,” Miranda said.
Bernstein, who attended the “Bans Off Our Bodies” protest, said that it felt good to have a sense of community at the university that stands up for the cause of abortion rights. She added that it is “always good to have a community whatever you believe in, just as long as everyone’s getting along.”
The “Bans Off Our Bodies” protest attracted those from outside Newark and the university, including a group of high school students who came out to show their support.
“I’m excited, I’m learning a lot of new things from the speakers,” Chase, a senior at Cab Calloway School of the Arts in Wilmington, said. “Each of them have a different perspective which is interesting, and I’m glad that so many people from different walks of life are expressing their views on this really important topic.”
The leaked document acquired by POLITICO was the first draft of the majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito. The opinion details that both the 1973 decision of Roe v. Wade and the 1992 decision of Planned Parenthood v. Casey must be overruled.
“It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives,” Alito wrote.
The Supreme Court has verified that the document obtained and published by POLITICO is accurate while also noting that draft opinions are subject to change before the final rulings.
If Roe v. Wade is overturned, there are 18 states with “trigger laws” in place to ban abortion immediately. Although the overturning of Roe v. Wade would not ban abortion nationwide, it will leave the decision up to the states to restrict or ban it. According to the Guttmacher Institute, this will leave 58% of U.S. women of reproductive age living in states hostile on abortion rights.
According to CNET, the Supreme Court is not expected to release its final decision until mid-to-late June.
President Joe Biden spoke out in favor of people with uteruses’ right to choose and how that right is fundamental.
“Roe has been the law of the land for almost 50 years, and basic fairness and the stability of our law demand that it not be overturned,” Biden said. “We will be ready when any ruling is issued.”