DAYTONA BEACH — Under an ominous canopy of lightning and booming thunder, about 100 abortion-rights protesters waved homemade banners and shouted slogans outside the Volusia County Courthouse Annex on Friday , protesting against the Supreme Court decision to end 50 years of constitutional protection for legal abortion.
“No church! No state! Let women decide their own destiny! the crowd chanted at the western base of the Orange Avenue Bridge, their words sometimes met with a honk of approval from motorists.
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More often than not, the exhortations were punctuated by rumbles of thunder, as dark clouds, lightning and heavy rain forced protesters to shelter after about an hour in their cars or under the roof of the building. entrance to the courthouse.
Events as part of “Summer of Rage”
The Daytona Beach protest was part of a series of ongoing women’s rights protests across the country, an effort dubbed a “Summer of Rage” by The Women’s March, the national organization behind the movement.
The Women’s March will hold a nationwide protest on Saturday, July 9 in Washington, D.C.
The day-long event is expected to draw tens of thousands of protesters for activities taking place at the National Mall, Freedom Plaza, the Martin Luther King and Lincoln memorials and Lafayette Park.
In Daytona Beach, organizers of Friday’s popular protest were optimistic the event would build momentum that could help secure equal rights for women and eventually lead to the restoration of legal abortion rights. .
“I believe in a woman’s right to privacy, a woman’s right to choose,” said organizer ChristIna Quinn, 40, of Daytona Beach, who said she planned the event without a formal connection. with a political or social organization.
“The government should not impose its own morals and beliefs on American citizens,” Quinn said.
Nearby, another participant, Diane Rose, 66, of Daytona Beach, held a flag emblazoned with the words “Women’s Rights Human Rights.” Like others in the crowd, she was old enough to remember the women’s rights protests of the early 1970s.
“We shouldn’t have to fight for our rights anymore,” she said. “But the fight will continue until we get our rights as women to have a say in our bodies. It’s not for old people or Christians to dictate what we can or can’t do. .
Other banners offered messages such as “Drop this ‘illegal’ Supreme Court”, “Keep your prayer beads out of my ovaries” and “Reproductive rights are human rights”.
Women and men speak out
Although most of the protesters were women, there were also men in the crowd.
“I have a wife and a daughter, and I don’t like having their rights taken away,” said David Perry, 71, of Ormond Beach. “I personally wouldn’t recommend anyone to have an abortion, but it’s their choice. The government has no right to have a say in it.”
Perry recalled the days before the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision legalizing the right to abortion in 1973, adding that it’s unrealistic to think a court ruling will stop women from having the procedure.
“In the 1960s, when it was illegal, women were still having abortions – and a lot of women died,” he said. “They (anti-abortion advocates) think they’re going to stop abortions, but they don’t. Women will always do them, in the alleys or elsewhere.
Although Friday’s protest was cut short by bad weather, the same group of abortion rights advocates plan to meet again for an Independence Day protest at 11 a.m. Monday at the corner of Beach Street and from International Speedway Blvd.
Announcing this event to the crowd on Friday, Quinn said the issue was worth taking the time to barbecues or holiday celebrations.
“I don’t know about you guys,” she said, “but I don’t really want to celebrate an independence that I don’t have.”