On the eve of Independence Day, hundreds congregated at a downtown Boston rally to protest what they said is a loss of freedom to broad abortion access.
Around 200 people gathered outside the John F. Kennedy Federal Building Sunday to protest the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, ending national abortion protections. The demonstration was organized by Socialist Alternative Boston and featured speakers from several local socialist groups who urged Democrats to do more to protect federal abortion access.
“What better way to celebrate our supposed independence than fighting for the actual independence of women and pregnant people across the country?” Toya Chester, a Socialist Alternative organizer, shouted to resounding cheers from the crowd.
Massachusetts is one of 16 states that have laws protecting the right to an abortion, according to the Guttmacher Institute. The state’s House passed a bill to codify abortion access Wednesday. It will now go to the Senate.
Speakers called on President Joe Biden and other Democrats in Washington to approve building abortion clinics on federal land, guarantee access to abortion pills, and repeal the Hyde Amendment, which bars federal funds from being used for abortions, among other actions.
Many criticized Democrats in Congress, saying that they have used reproductive rights as “an issue to gain votes.”
“I’m never voting for them again after they’ve had 50 years to codify Roe and we ended up in this [expletive] position,” said Emilia Morgan, a University of Massachusetts Boston student and Boston Democratic Socialists of America organizer. At one point, she led the crowd in chants of “Voting blue is not enough. Democrats, we call your bluff.”
Party of Socialism and Liberation organizer Gabby Ballard echoed Morgan and told attendees to both attend protests and call for specific action, saying, “The idea that we’re going to roll over and wait until November is appalling.”
Organizers denounced so-called “crisis pregnancy centers,” which are nonprofits that aim to dissuade visitors from getting abortions.
After listening to speakers under the Sunday afternoon sun, those in the crowd briefly marched and chanted while displaying signs with messages like “Keep Your Filthy Laws Off My Silky Drawers” and “Gilead Was Supposed To Be Fiction.”
The crowd then heard from Extinction Rebellion Boston, a group protesting inaction on climate change. Organizer Stevie Downie lambasted the Supreme Court’s decision in West Virginia v. EPA last week that effectively undermined the environmental agency’s ability to regulate carbon emissions from power plants.
“The Supreme Court has absolutely no right to regulate the bodies of its people and has no right to gamble with their lives and futures by allowing fossil fuel companies to dictate the fight against the climate emergency,” Downie said.
Some in the crowd said they came to show their solidarity with groups fighting for abortion access, particularly for those who live in states with new restrictions.
“I am trans, so it does not only affect women, but it affects people who have a uterus,” said Vic Gardner, a 26-year-old biomedical specialist. “If I was to be raped, I wouldn’t want to carry the child or be forced into something like that. I don’t think anyone should be.”
Gardner said he’s from Tennessee, one of 13 states with abortion trigger laws where abortions are now illegal after six weeks. “Even though I’m not there, I still want to show my support for those people I do know in Tennessee that are being threatened with their rights,” he said.
Sophia Beals, an 18-year-old Boston native, said she’ll soon be moving to Florida, where the right to abortion is likely to be restricted, to attend college at the University of Miami.
“Obviously this sucks, and that’s why I’m here, to learn what I can do to help and fix this,” Beals said. “Regulating people’s bodies overall is not acceptable whatsoever.”
Anjali Huynh was a Globe intern in 2022.Follow her on Twitter @anjalihuynh.