North Texas cities joined other cities across the country Saturday to rally in support of abortion rights.
Several hundred gathered outside Dallas City Hall on Saturday in the coordinated effort “Bans Off Our Bodies”, which was organized by Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the Women’s March, and other groups. Dr. Joseph Valenti, a Denton-based gynecologist, said several patients have concerns over the leaked draft opinion from the U.S. Supreme Court suggesting a potential overturn of Roe v. Wade.
“My patients are coming to me saying, ‘what do I do if…? What if my baby has a lethal anomaly? Will I be forced to have a baby that isn’t going to live outside the uterus? Am I going to have to go through the risk of pregnancy?’” Dr. Valenti said. “This is something we never thought, as physicians, would happen. Where we would be forced to try to do something to take care of our patients that someone made illegal.”
The Dallas Morning News reports Fort Worth, Frisco, and Rockwall were among the other North Texas cities with planned rallies Saturday.
Michelle Anderson spoke to the crowd in Dallas Saturday on behalf of The Afiya Center (TAC). TAC’s website describes the center as a reproductive justice organization established in response to the “increasing disparities between HIV incidences worldwide and the extraordinary prevalence of HIV among Black womxn and girls in Texas”. Anderson said she’s concerned eliminating abortion access means creating generational poverty.
“It’s going to create economic oppression because if we’re being made to have children, especially our young girls who do not access to maybe even getting a job and we’re making the assumption they’re able to take care of their children, the burden then goes to the family,” Anderson said.
This week, the Democratic-led bill Women’s Health Protection Act stalled as expected after failing to meet the U.S. Senate’s 60-vote threshold. The bill aimed to protect abortion rights nationwide and would have superseded state laws like Texas’ six-week abortion ban.
All Democrats voted for the legislation with the exception of Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and all Republicans opposed the bill, which failed 49-51.
Kimberlyn Schwartz with Texas Right to Life, the state’s largest and oldest pro-life organization, said the past two weeks have been filled with “highs and lows” for the pro-life movement.
“At the heart of it, the abortion battle is a spiritual battle. So, we see a lot of attacks on pregnancy centers, on churches in our communities, and how heart-breaking that is. How that takes a toll,” Schwartz said.
Schwartz noted that she felt more it was “an encouraging time” for the pro-life movement and more conversations are needed between those who are pro-life and those who are pro-choice.
“Generally, people come to their position from a spirit of goodwill. It’s just a difference of weighing what are the competing interests of the common good?” she said. “We do share a common interest, too. We also care about the life of the mother, her health and well being. That’s why we’ve done a lot as a pro-life movement to serve women who are in unexpected pregnancies.”
The leaked draft opinion stems from the ongoing Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case challenging Mississippi’s ban on abortion after 15 weeks. Legal experts expect a ruling to be released in June or July.