MADISON, Wis. A mass march in Madison, Wisconsin, which filled the interior of the state capitol building in an image unseen in nearly 11 years, sparked nationwide women’s marches for abortion rights.
And, as might be expected, there was a political rationale for the concentration on Wisconsin on Jan. 22: Important elections are coming up soon that could determine the future of abortion in the state.
“The GOP thought we’d sit down and shut up when their judicial hacks destroyed Roe-wrong,” the Women’s March tweeted, referring to the Supreme Court’s five-member Republican majority that last June struck down the constitutional right to abortion.
‘They thought we would stay home in November – wrong. Now they are trying to pass a national abortion ban and think we stay home – also wrong. This Sunday we march.”
Rachel O’Leary Carmona, executive director of Women’s March, added to her own Twitter thread: “Had pundits had their way, 2022 would have been a disaster for Dems, but women and young voters showed up and punched the Red Wave off. Our movement is bigger than Roe, and our movement does not end here.”
All of the #BiggerThanRoe marches from coast to coast adopted that theme.
“As we mourn the loss of nearly 50 years of constitutional protection, we are sending another clear message,” the organizers of the women’s marches declared. “We are not going softly. We are taking our fight to every state and every legislature in this country.”
“Less than a month after this march, February 21, is the primary election for the Wisconsin Supreme Court. And on April 4, the state will elect a new Supreme Court justice. If a pro-choice candidate wins this seat, we could overturn Wisconsin’s abortion ban.
“When we come together to fight, we win.”
The result in Madison was a crowded roundabout of the state capitol, including a banner hanging from the balcony promoting not only abortion rights, but workers’ rights too — harking back to the last time people flooded the streets and filled the capital in February 2011.
That was when more than 100,000 workers and their allies, led by the late AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, protested right-wing Republican Governor Scott Walker’s infamous Act 10, his successful attempt to weaken public workers and their unions in the state. where AFSCME was founded.
As workers’ rights joined women’s rights in the Madison march, reclaiming abortion rights from the threats and ravages of the radical and religious right was the main theme of marches and protesters from coast to coast.
D.C., the focal point of past marches, took a backseat in Wisconsin’s capital city. But in direct current. more than 1,000 people lined up behind a large banner to march, overcame the megaphone “murderer!” shouts from a few dozen anti-abortionists on their flanks, and paraded from Freedom Plaza a few blocks to the White House, then circled Lafayette Square. “Political terrorists don’t stop women,” a DC sign replied.
The DC march, like the others, was punctuated by chants of “Hey, hey, ho, ho, the patriarchy must go,” “Our body, our choice,” and the now-common “This is what democracy looks like.”
And the woman who held up a banner on Dec. 7 that said “Scotus is illegitimate” also appeared with the banner. She gave her first name as Nadine and refused to give her last name.
And Nadine placed a flag reading “America is not a Christian nation” on her protest truck — a reference to the unyielding rigid opposition to abortion from white evangelical Protestants and the hierarchy of the Catholic Church — if not from the church’s faithful. A majority does not agree with his position, according to polls.
How rigid are those two religious hierarchies in pushing absolute abortion bans through both states and the new House Republican majority? A DC woman, who refused to give her name for security reasons, made a sign that read “Even the Taliban don’t ban abortion.” The two ‘I’s in that sentence were replaced by drawings of women dressed in head-to-toe blue burkas.
“I googled it,” she explained. “The Koran has nothing about abortion, so Afghanistan has abortion. It means we now take a more extreme stance than the Taliban,” referring to last June’s ruling.
Other signs were also inventive.
One had a coat hanger taped to it, above the words, “Not a surgical instrument.”
“Abortion is health care. Abortion is essential’, read another. “No forced birth,” read a third.
A sign also summed up the agenda of anti-abortionists: “You are ‘pro-life’ until the baby is poor or black or transgender or gay or an immigrant or sick or disabled, in that order.
Polls show that an overwhelming majority of the country supports the right to abortion, with some restrictions, especially in the third trimester. Rachel Bleshman, attorney from Sussex County, Del. — “the reddest county in the state” — said that’s true there, too.
“Women’s marches have been more successful there than in Wilmington,” Delaware’s only metropolitan area, she explained. She came to DC this time “because I’m doing this for my three-year-old daughter.”
One of the hand-drawn signs at the DC march summed up that result by paraphrasing famed progressive folk singer Woody Guthrie.
“This land is my land,” the woman’s sign read.