Students and Pittsburghers rally to defend abortion rights in Oakland | News | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Students and Pittsburghers rally to defend abortion rights in Oakland

click to enlarge Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates held a rally in Schenley Plaza for Bans Off Our Bodies Day of Action on Wed., Dec. 1, 2021. - CP PHOTO: JARED WICKERHAM
CP Photo: Jared Wickerham
Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates held a rally in Schenley Plaza for Bans Off Our Bodies Day of Action on Wed., Dec. 1, 2021.
On Dec. 1, about 40 people gathered in Schenley Plaza in Oakland as part of a nationwide event to support the right to access abortions. The event was planned by Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates and was part of Bans Off Our Bodies Day of Action, a nationwide day of action in opposition to the U.S. Supreme Court considering a legal case involving a Mississippi abortion restriction law.

Earlier in the day, the Supreme Court heard arguments in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, a Mississippi law that would ban almost all abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, which would effectively strike down a key provision in the court’s Roe V. Wade decision, which protects the right to access abortions.
click to enlarge Kelsey Leigh speaks during a rally in Schenley Plaza for National Day of Action. - CP PHOTO: JARED WICKERHAM
CP Photo: Jared Wickerham
Kelsey Leigh speaks during a rally in Schenley Plaza for National Day of Action.

According to NBC News, a majority of the court's conservative justices suggested they were prepared to discard the court's previous standard that prevented states from banning abortions before a fetus becomes viable, which is generally considered to be at about 24 weeks into a pregnancy.

At the rally in Oakland, Anushay Chaudhry, a student at the University of Pittsburgh, said that without Roe, the right to an abortion and certain health care wouldn’t exist. “I am scared,” said Chaudhry, referring to the prospect that Roe V. Wade could be overturned.


Chaudhry mentioned that the amount of abortion clinics in Pennsylvania has been declining and that people need to fight to protect those that remain.

If the Supreme Court were to uphold the Mississippi law, it would allow for other states across America to pass similar laws. In Pennsylvania, the Republican-led General Assembly has already showed a willingness to pass abortion-restriction bills, but those efforts were always vetoed by Gov. Tom Wolf (D-York). Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro (D-Montgomery) is running for governor in hopes of replacing Wolf, and said on Dec. 1 that he too would veto any abortion restriction bills.
click to enlarge A rally in Schenley Plaza in support of Bans Off Our Bodies Day of Action - CP PHOTO: JARED WICKERHAM
CP Photo: Jared Wickerham
A rally in Schenley Plaza in support of Bans Off Our Bodies Day of Action
“We're here because extremist Republican legislatures across the country have passed draconian laws that put women's health at risk and take away their choice. And that's exactly what they want to do in Pennsylvania,” tweeted Shapiro. “As Attorney General and as your next Governor, I will not let them take away abortion access. I know what that would mean for women. I have never wavered in defending choice and I never will.”

If a Republican were to win, of which there are several running, it’s likely many of them would support restriction abortion laws in Pennsylvania, as most of them have anti-abortion platforms.
click to enlarge Sofia Sunseri speaks during a rally in Schenley Plaza for National Day of Action. - CP PHOTO: JARED WICKERHAM
CP Photo: Jared Wickerham
Sofia Sunseri speaks during a rally in Schenley Plaza for National Day of Action.
For Sofia Sunseri, the right to have an abortion is extremely personal. Sunseri spoke in front of the crowd and told her personal story of her two abortions. She had her first abortion when she was 19, after her boyfriend abandoned her after learning she was pregnant. And she had another abortion later in her 20s, when she said she wasn’t ready to become a mother.

Twelve years after her second abortion, she did have children. She has been with her husband now for 31 years, and they have two children. Sunseri said that this week her 17-year-old daughter was concerned that Roe V. Wade would be overturned, and she and her husband told her it would be safe, but deep down, they weren’t certain.


Sunseri told the crowd that if they do overturn Roe V. Wade, she won’t go down without a fight.

“They will have to get rid of it over my fucking dead body,” said Sunseri.

A march to defend abortion rights will be held at noon on Sat., Dec. 11 at Penn and Negley avenues in East Liberty, and organizers at the Oakland rally asked people to attend.

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