Protesters rally for abortion rights in Dallas

Protesters at the  Rising Together rally express their support for abortion access after the overturning of Roe v. Wade by the Supreme Court.


Protesters at the Rising Together rally express their support for abortion access after the overturning of Roe v. Wade by the Supreme Court.

MOIRA MCINTEE, Contributor

Rage radiated from the crowd of hundreds gathered at Main Street Garden Park in Dallas on Saturday after the Supreme Court’s ruling to overturn the precedent of Roe v. Wade.

The landmark decision in 1973 had ruled that the United States Constitution generally protects abortion rights.

Men and women marched through the streets of downtown to display their disgust, and many held signs high in the air with phrases such as, “We are women, not wombs.”

Chants of “Fists up, fight back,” reverberated through the city.

The Rising Together rally hosted by the Dallas County Democratic Party provided the space for people of all ages, races and genders to band together and express their support for abortion rights. Courtney Dunning, 28, chose to share her story with those around her.

“It probably sounds crazy,” Dunning said. “But I’m thankful for my abortion every day.”

At only 20 years old, Dunning found herself with a positive pregnancy test in her hand. She explained that her decision to get an abortion was based on her personal experience in the foster care system as a child, as well as a lack of monetary stability in her life at that time. Her boyfriend of only a few weeks was supportive, but her confidence in her decision was secured when he turned hostile later in their relationship.

“We had only been dating for, like, six weeks,” she said. “And even though I thought I loved him, I knew I couldn’t have a baby yet.”

Shortly after her recovery, Dunning’s boyfriend became an everyday threat to her and turned verbally and physically abusive. Not having a family of her own to turn to, she felt tethered to him and the support he provided, despite the pain he inflicted on her.

“It’s not easy to leave an abusive relationship, and anyone who says it is probably hasn’t been in one before,” she said. “Leaving him sounded just as scary as staying with him.”

Caring co-workers noticed the signs of abuse and hatched a plan to get her out of the dangerous situation. Living with a friend, Dunning was able to completely disconnect herself from her ex-boyfriend.

“If I hadn’t had that abortion, if I had decided that he was a good enough person to have a baby with, I would be forever attached to someone who wanted nothing more than to hurt me as badly as he could,” she said.

However, after the Supreme Court voted 5-4 Friday to overturn Roe v. Wade, state governments can now protect or criminalize abortion as they see fit. Protests have erupted in major cities all over the country in reaction to this news, while many pro-life organizations have simultaneously announced their support and joy in response.

“If this had happened eight years ago, my life would have been ruined,” Dunning said. “I am so angry for all of the girls and women who might not get the second chance that I did.”

Before the marching began at the Dallas rally, speakers took the stage to address concerns and lay out a plan of action.

“It’s time to stop playing nice,” Kristy Noble, chair of the Dallas Democrats, said to the cheering crowd. “The Supreme Court has lost its mind. Thursday it said gun control can’t be decided by the states, and then on Friday it said that women’s bodily autonomy can.”

Noble urged those in attendance to keep their energy up and get everyone they know to vote in the upcoming November election. Quoting statistics from the 2020 presidential election, she said there were 475,000 people registered to vote in Dallas who did not, and 300,000 of them were Democrats.

“A million people are not registered [to vote] in Dallas County,” she said. “We have the numbers right here, and we have 150 precincts where we know those votes are at.”

Democratic candidate for governor Beto O’Rourke also ran for U.S. Senate against Ted Cruz in 2018 but lost by 216,000 votes. Noble told the crowd that having a Democrat in the governor’s office is Texas’ best bet at protecting abortion rights in this state, and repeated that Dallas has the votes necessary to do just that.

After listening to a variety of speakers, including a strong statement on women’s rights by state Sen. Nathan Johnson, the impassioned crowd turned to the streets.

“The first person I called [after the ruling] was my daughter, who will be 17 soon. I’m scared about the environment she’s entering,” Johnson said. “I don’t really understand the environment where some people are more afraid of their daughter competing in a track meet against a transgender kid than they are of their daughter being forced to bear the child of her rapist.”

Fiery chants bounced off the buildings as the protestors wound through the city, drawing out onlookers from surrounding businesses.

“This is what democracy looks like,” they shouted.

Stopping next to a building decorated with a painting of late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a strong advocate for women’s and abortion rights during her time on the court, marchers commented on the seemingly undeniable relationship between the piece of art and current events.

“There is still so much more work to be done than RBG probably ever realized,” community organizer Tiara Cooper said to the crowd. “This country isn’t just not moving forward, it’s moving backward.”

Despite the 98-degree heat and beads of sweat streaking down their faces, the demonstrators continued in a lengthy circle around the city before returning to Main Street Garden Park.

Commenting on the sweltering conditions of the day, Reuben Lael, emcee of the Rising Together Rally, reminded everyone that, “100 degrees is what we feel when oppression is on our necks.”

Photo Gallery: Rising Together rally for abortion rights