Remarks at an Emergency Reproductive Rights Rally

Dianne Feeley

May 5, 2022

Detroit DSA members at the May 3 emergency rally at the Federal Courthouse. Photo by Jim West. (https://detroitsocialist.com/adding-reproductive-rights-to-the-michigan-constitution-72f8ed1e0939)

The draft U.S. Supreme Court decision for the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case was authored by Samuel Alito, Jr. It asserts that there is no right to abortion under the 14th Amendment and therefore Roe v. Wade is unconstitutional. Of course neither abortion nor women are mentioned in the U.S. Constitution!

But since the 1960s, the Court has ruled that states do not have the right to make laws about the intimate decisions people make, including:

  • Interracial marriage (Loving v. Virginia)
  • Birth control (Griswold v. CT)
  • Abortion (Roe v. Wade)
  • Gay sex/what kinds of sex are permitted (Lawrence v. TX)
  • Same sex marriage (Obergefell v. Hodges)

The 14th Amendment, an amendment rooted in the end of slavery and Reconstruction, prohibits states from depriving “any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.”

So while the rightwing seeks to give fetus’s personhood at conception, they demand that persons have no right to make decisions over our bodies, our lives.

Why do they seek to deny us rights? Are we not persons? Having control over one’s body is a pre-requisite to being fully human

Rightwing legislators are in a frenzy passing legislation—with Arizona, Florida and Kentucky passing bans at 15 weeks, copying the Mississippi law; with Texas, Oklahoma and Idaho banning abortions at 6 weeks. State legislatures have been busy over the past year passing these along with 100 other laws challenging Roe v. Wade.

Without Roe v. Wade, Michigan is one of nine states with antiquated laws that would immediately go into effect. Our 1931 law criminalizes those who perform abortions.

Before 1973, the women’s movement called for free abortion on demand, 24-hour childcare available to all, opposition to sterilization abuse and equal pay for equal work. We testified at legislative hearings, brought class-action lawsuits, organized speak outs and tribunals, picketed and marched, built networks of support for those who needed underground abortions, told our stories and reached out to women internationally.

We will not accept a Supreme Court or its decisions that violate our human rights. We will not allow our rights to be taken away in Michigan, rights that those living in California have.

Here in Michigan we will work to put a petition on the November ballot that adds the range of reproductive rights to our state constitution, extending not contracting control over our lives.

We will not be driven back. We will continue to fight for a society that will affirm and aid us in our decisions, and not treat us as sub-human.

We will continue to see our fight as international and stand with those in Poland and El Salvador where abortion is banned and solidarize with those in Argentina, Chile and Ireland where they have won their rights. We will commit civil disobedience to get Plan B pills and other abortion methods into the hands of those who need them. We will secure reproductive freedom in the Michigan Constitution and support all pregnant people in their right to make the moral decisions about their lives. We will march and speak out. Please join us!

Dianne Feeley delivered these remarks at the emergency rally at the federal courthouse in downtown Detroit, May 3rd, 2022. The rally was sponsored by the Reproductive Rights Group of Michigan.

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