Demonstrators take to the streets over Roe v. Wade decision

Published: Jun. 24, 2022 at 9:31 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - A group called “Bans Off Our Bodies”, a Planned Parenthood Action Fund, organized a display of unity up and down the main road through Memphis hours after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling was issued.

Poplar Avenue became ground zero for what will likely be the first of many protests to come.

Hundreds of Memphians took to the streets to protest the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade in a 5 to 4 vote, sending the decision about a woman’s right to abortion back to the states.

Arkansas almost immediately banned abortion. Mississippi’s trigger law will institute a ban in 10 days. Tennessee is looking at 30 days or less before its restrictive abortion law kicks in.

“I knew it was coming,” Kathryn Owen told Action News 5, “but it doesn’t make it any less horrific. It’s going to impact underprivileged women even more, and Memphis has a lot of people in underprivileged communities and they won’t have access to go somewhere else or move somewhere else.”

Owen joined the crowd at Poplar and Highland in East Memphis, voicing opposition to the high court’s decision. More protestors gathered on the corner at Poplar at Kirby, and on Poplar at McLean in Midtown.

“I’m disgusted and terrified,” protestor Kate Peckham said, “we are out here to protect fundamental human rights.” “I hurt for the people that don’t have access to abortion,” Anya Schwartz said, “and for those who might die because of this, including people I know.”

The CDC says more than 625,000 abortions were performed in the U.S. in 2019, the latest data available.

2,963 abortions were performed in the state of Arkansas that year according to the Arkansas Department of Health.

3,194 were carried out in Mississippi per the Mississippi State Department of Health.

And the Tennessee Department of Health said 9,719 abortions were performed in Tennessee in 2019.

Outside Memphis Planned Parenthood, Kent Pruett, a pro-life activist with Women’s Care Network, celebrated the end of the constitutionally protected right to abortion.

“Hopefully now we’ll be a culture of life and not a culture of death,” he told Action News 5, “The legacy of Roe v. Wade is 65 million unborn babies killed. And we know that when you harm the baby, you harm the mother, too.”

Memphis Police were called to handle a minor incident involving protestors outside the Planned Parenthood building. Pro-life protestors said someone drove by and threw a soiled tampon at them while verbally harassing them.

The other protests in the Bluff City were peaceful, though filled with emotion.

“I’m angry,” said Davia Newton, “My reaction is anger, immediate anger, Why are we still here however many decades later? This is ridiculous.”

Organizers encouraged those who disagreed with Friday’s SCOTUS ruling to get out and vote at election time.

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