Thousand-plus rally for abortion rights at ‘Bans Off Our Bodies’ march in Raleigh

Protesters walk up N. Salisbury Street during the Bans Off Our Bodies abortion rights protest and march in downtown Raleigh, N.C., Saturday, May 14, 2022. Ethan Hyman [email protected]

Emma Ratzlaff, an organizer of Saturday’s march, said she got involved in abortion-rights activism after the appointment of Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the high court in 2018.

“I protested because I knew that he was going to try and overturn Roe v. Wade; that’s why I cared so much, and now it’s actually coming to fruition,” Ratzlaff said.

A small group of counter-protesters, most of them from local chapters of Students for Life, a national anti-abortion group of high school and college students, also showed up Saturday. They maintained a constant presence with their own signs, usually across the street from where the large crowd of abortion supporters had gathered. One banner held up by the students read “We are the post-Roe generation.”

After the march, a group of activists and demonstrators spoke over a microphone to the pro-abortion rights crowd, which wrapped around the south side of the Capitol.

One speaker, a 22-year-old woman named Taylor, said she had been going to marches since she was 14 and had never seen “such real, visceral energy” at a protest before.

Others said that despite efforts in several states to restrict and ban abortion, the procedure is never going to stop happening.

The counter-protesters chanted their own slogans into a bullhorn. At one point, a speaker talking to the abortion-rights crowd said to loud cheers, “we’re outnumbering all of you.”

Brooke Larkin, a regional coordinator for Students for Life, said the group was excited by the news that the Supreme Court is poised to dismantle Roe, which she said meant “states are going to have a choice on the abortion matter.

Larkin also said she believes that opinions about abortion vary, even among young people.

“Pro-choice people aren’t necessarily pro-abortion,” she said. “They just look at the pro-choice side as more compassionate.”

The march was at least the second major protest organized in Raleigh since the Supreme Court draft was leaked. Earlier this month, a few hundred people marched through downtown before gathering for a rally in Moore Square.

This story was originally published May 14, 2022 6:52 PM.

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