Abortion rights supporters take to Atlanta streets on Fourth of July

Some say they won’t celebrate the holiday after Roe v. Wade was overturned

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

Abortion rights activists in Atlanta used this Fourth of July to protest the recent overturning of Roe v. Wade.

A Monday rally, led by Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights, began at the Midtown MARTA station and made its way to Peachtree Street during The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Peachtree Road Race. After the race was over, the group migrated to Piedmont Park and stopped again at the corner of 10th Street and Monroe Drive, where the rally grew to about 200 people.

“I don’t think America deserves a birthday this year,” said Meagan Dyer, a bartender from Savannah.

The crowds on both sides of the street chanted back and forth together, “My body, my choice!” Dozens of cars that drove by honked their horns in support, and the crowd cheered in solidarity.

For Ashton Mincey, the issue of abortion access is personal. After giving birth at age 14 to a baby who later died of pneumonia, Mincey said she became pregnant again at 16. She said she “didn’t want to become a statistic,” so she had an abortion.

“I know what it means to be a teenage mother,” Mincey, now 26, said. “We shouldn’t be celebrating Independence Day while our rights are being stripped away one day at a time.”

The U.S. Supreme Court on June 24 overturned Roe v. Wade, ending constitutional protections for abortion. The matter is now in the hands of the states. An appeals court is expected to rule in the coming weeks on Georgia’s law, which would ban most abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy.

Others at Monday’s rally said they have not had abortions — but loved ones have. Victoria Avery, 28, said that a 15-year-old family member became pregnant by her abusive 19-year-old boyfriend, triggering stress and trauma. She was able to get an abortion, but many women and girls won’t have that choice anymore, Avery said.

“Is it really independence? What are we celebrating?” Avery said. “This country doesn’t care about us.”

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

Activists have gathered at rallies across metro Atlanta and elsewhere around the country since the Supreme Court ruling. In several states across the U.S., trigger laws have gone into effect, limiting or prohibiting abortion access immediately.

For Charles Yelverton III, 25, coming out on Monday was a way to exercise his First Amendment rights to protest. Freedom, including the right to bodily autonomy, is a value Americans are supposed to stand for, he said.

“I just don’t think it’s right to try and force people to give birth, especially because it’s not going to do anything except kill and hurt more people,” Yelverton said. “It’s not ethical.”

Candice Huff, 41, said she is devastated that her daughter will have fewer rights than she and her own mother had.

“We’ve been put back so many years,” she said.

Married couple Courtney Elliott and Amber Harrison said abortion access doesn’t just affect those in heterosexual relationships.

“I actually have PCOS, which makes getting pregnant very difficult and very dangerous,” said Elliott, 27. “So if we choose to have a child, it’s very possible I would need to get a life-saving abortion.”

PCOS, or polycystic ovary syndrome, is a condition affecting hormone levels and the female reproductive system.

She said they will not be celebrating the Fourth of July because, “If people with uteruses don’t have freedom, then no one has freedom.”

Neighbors Crystal Lujan and Anurag Joseph said they came to the rally to stand up for the rights of everyone.

“Protesting is part of the American spirit,” Joseph said.