Roe v. Wade ruling draft draws protest, support

Jason Cantrell, an anti-abortion activist, stands outside Feminist Women’s Health Center in Atlanta on May 3, 2022.  Of the Supreme Court’s leaked draft opinion to overturn Roe v. Wade, Cantrell says, “Who knows what’s going to happen. Even if Roe was overturned… it’d go back to the states, so it’d be up to each individual state to decide whether they wanted abortion to be legal. It wouldn’t just totally make it illegal. So I’m ‘wait and see.’”  (Arvin Temkar / arvin.temkar@ajc.com)

Combined ShapeCaption
Jason Cantrell, an anti-abortion activist, stands outside Feminist Women’s Health Center in Atlanta on May 3, 2022. Of the Supreme Court’s leaked draft opinion to overturn Roe v. Wade, Cantrell says, “Who knows what’s going to happen. Even if Roe was overturned… it’d go back to the states, so it’d be up to each individual state to decide whether they wanted abortion to be legal. It wouldn’t just totally make it illegal. So I’m ‘wait and see.’” (Arvin Temkar / arvin.temkar@ajc.com)

Peggy Desiderio said she’s prayed for years that the high court would one day overturn Roe v. Wade.

“I would love to see an end to all abortions, but I’m a pragmatist,” she said. “I know it’s not going away any time soon.”

She was one of a small handful of people standing outside Marietta Planned Parenthood on Tuesday, following news of a draft opinion indicating the U.S. Supreme Court could strike down the historic ruling.

“It would be great if it finally happens,” said Victor Rodriguez, who stands outside the clinic at least once a week. Motivated by his Catholic faith, Rodriguez said he opposes all abortions, even in cases of rape or incest. “It’s a human being and a human being has to have rights.”

The leaked ruling has mobilized politicians on both sides of the issue, with some Georgia Republicans calling for a special legislative session to enact even stiffer abortion restrictions if Roe is reversed, and senior Georgia Democrats predicting such a ruling would mobilize voters, particularly women.

Several hundred people gathered Tuesday night at the corner of Marietta Street and Centennial Olympic Park Drive to protest the leaked ruling and advocate for reproductive rights.

Combined ShapeCaption
Peggy Desiderio, a Realtor who lives in Kennesaw, said she's prayed for years that the high court would one day overturn Roe v. Wade.

Credit: Shaddi Abusaid

Peggy Desiderio, a Realtor who lives in Kennesaw, said she's prayed for years that the high court would one day overturn Roe v. Wade.

Credit: Shaddi Abusaid

Combined ShapeCaption
Peggy Desiderio, a Realtor who lives in Kennesaw, said she's prayed for years that the high court would one day overturn Roe v. Wade.

Credit: Shaddi Abusaid

Credit: Shaddi Abusaid

MORE: Georgia activists react to leaked Supreme Court abortion draft

“I’ve known women that have had abortions for many different reasons, some out of necessity, some just because it was their choice to do so,” said Ashlee Bruner, who cried when she learned the news, then looked for protest gatherings to join. “This decision won’t stop abortions. It will only stop safe abortions.”

“I thought about going up to Washington D.C. but I thought, we need to make sure that Georgia sees that Georgians won’t stand for this,” she said. “Georgia is not a red state, Georgia is a repressed state. People local to Georgia care about abortion rights.”

The protest, led by the Party for Socialism and Liberation Atlanta, began shortly after 6 p.m. Tee Stern, with the Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights Organization, began protesting an hour earlier. The national organization had protests all over the country scheduled that evening.

“I think it is completely outrageous that you have the highest court in the land making decisions for women’s lives and taking away their humanity and decimating their right to be able to decide when and if they have a child,” Stern said.

Similar gatherings were held across metro Atlanta Tuesday. A group of demonstrators gathered Tuesday evening on the Marietta Square, chanting and holding signs that read “Roe v. Wade Saves Lives” and “Abortion is Healthcare.” One read, “Ruth Sent Me,” with an image of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Nicole Adkins brought her children Isaac, 5, and Zoe, 9. “I’m here for my children’s futures and everyone’s futures,” she said.

Kennesaw State University senior Austin Heller lead the group in chants such as “Pro choice united will never be defeated.”

“This decision affects not only women, it affects everyone,” he said. “The right to privacy is granted to us by multiple amendments.”

Combined ShapeCaption
050322 Atlanta: Dozens of protesters march from Centennial Olympic Park to the Georgia Capitol during a rally to defend the right to abortion on Tuesday, May 3, 2022, in Atlanta. “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

050322 Atlanta: Dozens of protesters march from Centennial Olympic Park to the Georgia Capitol during a rally to defend the right to abortion on Tuesday, May 3, 2022, in Atlanta.    “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Combined ShapeCaption
050322 Atlanta: Dozens of protesters march from Centennial Olympic Park to the Georgia Capitol during a rally to defend the right to abortion on Tuesday, May 3, 2022, in Atlanta. “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

The potential action is sparking numerous gatherings. One, billed as an “emergency rally” to defend the right to abortions, was planned in Athens Wednesday evening. The Georgia Faith & Freedom Coalition plans a “pro-life rally” at noon Friday at Liberty Plaza near the state Capitol.

Georgia NAACP President Gerald Griggs was among the protesters marching toward the state Capitol on Tuesday. He said he attended the downtown protest as an ally and supporter of civil rights.

“Usually, the first rights to go signal other rights that are under attack,” Griggs said. “Now to see Roe being under attack, I’m worried about all civil rights.”

At the Feminist Women’s Health Clinic in Atlanta earlier Tuesday, activist Jason Cantrell said he wasn’t quite sure what to make of the draft ruling.

″Who knows what’s going to happen? Even if Roe was overturned… it’d go back to the states, so it’d be up to each individual state to decide whether they wanted abortion to be legal,” he said. “It wouldn’t just totally make it illegal. So I’m ‘wait and see.’”

- Bob Andres and Jennifer Brett contributed to this article.