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Protestors in Seattle rally, sit-in for abortion rights after Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade

Seattle area protesters turned out in full force on Friday in reaction to the Supreme Court decision that overturned Roe V. Wade. Thousands of protestors rallied and chanted, demanding protection for abortion rights.

They converged at the Jackson Federal Building in downtown Seattle, where a group staged a sit-in on Second Avenue. Risking arrest, protestors sat on the street for 49 minutes, marking 49 years of Roe v. Wade. Another sit-in took place at Pike Place Market, a popular tourist destination.

At the Jackson Federal Building, several carried signs with slogans demanding safe access to reproductive care or objecting to the roll-back of civil liberties. Speakers at the rally expressed even broader concerns.

"Because it needs to be understood that this is a fight not only for reproductive freedom, but also a fight against racism, misogyny, transphobia, homophobia and xenophobia," said Christina Lopez with the Comrades of Color Caucus of Radical Women to the crowd.

"We need to build a strong movement to stand up and fight back."

Organizers call on President Biden and Congress to act

The protest was organized by Puget Sound Mobilization for Reproductive Justice and endorsed by 19 groups; they prepared for this for months. They’re calling on President Biden to issue an immediate executive order, guaranteeing every person the right to an abortion.

A woman with gray hair in an orange vest and yellow hat shares a flyer and talks to another woman with short brown hair wearing a mask.
Bellamy Pailthorp
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KNKX
Helen Gilbert is with the Mobilization for Reproductive Justice that organized the protest. It was endorsed by 19 groups; they prepared for this for months.

Helen Gilbert is with the group that organized the protest. She said abortion rights are under attack, even in states like Washington where it’s still allowed — and where the care will be in higher demand.

"A lot of professionals, clinics are going to be afraid and intimidated. And it's going to be even harder in Washington state, although it's legal. There are huge tracts of this state where it is not accessible. Most of eastern Washington, the counties, do not have abortion clinics," Gilbert said.

She said everyone should be calling on Congress and the President to take actions that restore and strengthen these rights.

Concerns about clinic access, far-right groups

Emma Allen is the local march organizer for Puget Sound Mobilization for Reproductive Justice. She said organizers want to sustain this kind of mobilization and put pressure on politicians.

"To us, it's not enough to just rely on the electoral system to just rely on voting. We don't feel that the the Democrats have delivered on protecting our rights. And so we want to put some pressure on the system to make them, make them actually do something," she said.

A man in a red shirt stands next to a women in a red shirt holding a two-year old.
Bellamy Pailthorp
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KNKX
Adam Tycaster attended the rally with his wife Laura and 2-year old daughter. He said he didn't want his daughter to live in a world like the one anti-abortion advocates envision.

Allen said all states are impacted, even those like Washington where abortion access is legally protected. She is concerned about clinics closing, the strain of supporting more out-of-state patients and being targeted by far-right groups like the Proud Boys.

At the rally with his wife Laura and their 2-year old, Adam Tycaster said he doesn't want his daughter to live in a world like the one anti-abortion advocates envision. He feels the need to be more vocal than in the past.

"I think it's really important too as a white cis man to make sure people know that this is, you know, it's important to support women's rights," Tycaster said.

"It's also important to support all the different elements that underlie this decision, from the right to privacy to all of the others."

He echoed Allen's concerns about far-right groups in the Pacific Northwest motivated by the Supreme Court's decision to push further against access to reproductive health, women's rights and gay rights.

"So I would argue that for us that's even more important, to show our outrage and discontent," he said.

Protestors motivated by personal experiences

Two women stand on a plaza with a crowd behind them. The woman on the left is wearing sunglasses and softly smiles. The woman on the left wears glasses, looking directly at the photographer and holds a sign that reads "Womens rights are human rights"
Bellamy Pailthorp
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KNKX
Kayla Telles, left, and Diane Walter felt motivated to march because of their personal experiences with abortion and desire for others to have the opportunity to make their own choice.

Carrying signs, Diane Walter and Kayla Tellis passionately joined in as the crowd chanted. Both had abortions when they were 19.

Telles said she could have a ten-year-old right now. That is not the path she wanted and she can't imagine not being able to make the choice she did ten years ago.

“I wouldn't be where I am today if I didn't make that choice, and it was for my own reasons. And that should just be respected for whatever choice, religious, non-religious, any, anything.”

Walter says she wants to make sure that everybody has the same opportunity she did, the opportunity to make a choice for themselves.

"Forced motherhood is something no one should ever experience. And I'm here to speak out and to stand strong for everybody," she said.

"I can't believe our rights have been taken away today. It's a very historic day. And I am saying we're not going back."

Bellamy Pailthorp covers the environment beat for KNKX, where she has worked since 1999. From 2000-2012, she covered the business and labor beat. Bellamy has a deep interest in Indigenous affairs and the Salish Sea. She has a masters in journalism from Columbia University.
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