As abortion-rights activists lined Atlantic Avenue in Delray Beach, holding signs and chanting, passersby honked their horns and waved their arms in approval. It was a few minutes after the featured speakers concluded delivering their messages at Old School Square the during the “Bans Off Our Bodies” rally, but energy and enthusiasm were at a day-long high.
They had signs such as “Against abortion? Don’t have one,” or “We are women, hear us roar,” or “I am adopted and pro-choice,” or “If pregnancy is God’s will then so is impotence. Ban Viagra.”
Jamie and Jonathan Mann of Boynton Beach attended the event with their two children.
“We have a daughter,” Jamie said, adding they attended a similar event in October, “so we feel it’s very important to stand up for her rights.”
That was the sentiment expressed by many of the estimated 500 people that attended Saturday’s rally. It was organized by Women’s March, MoveOn, Planned Parenthood and UltraViolet, was part of a chain of abortion rights demonstrations nationwide, including in Fort Lauderdale and Miami, to go along with anchor events in New York, Austin, Chicago, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.
Organizers said 380 events were planned in the United States on Saturday and they were expecting to attract hundreds of thousands of people. The events are in response to the leaked Supreme Court draft that suggests Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark decision that gave women the choice to have an abortion, will be overturned.
Similar events were held last weekend, including in downtown Fort Lauderdale.
The crowd in Delray Beach was mostly white, unlike the ethnic diversity at the Fort Lauderdale gathering the previous week. But Saturday’s Delray Beach rally had a wide range of ages. And according to at least one participant, this event had more men than the October gathering.
“It’s a really good thing, actually,” said Kate W., a Delray Beach resident who didn’t want to give her last name for fear of reprisals.
The event wasn’t totally rosy. Kate and her friend, Janice Latke of Boca Raton said they got grief from a few anti-abortion supporters.
“We’ve actually got people flipping us the bird,” Latke said as they stood on the sidewalk of Atlantic Avenue between SE 1st Avenue and Swinton Avenue.
“We had a whole carful of women shooting us the bird,” Kate said.
Latke said one reason she attended the rally is because abortion is a human-rights issue.
“I’m also here because I want young women to know they’re not alone,” Kate said.
Abortion-rights activists claim if Roe v. Wade is overturned, as many as 26 states could quickly ban abortions.
Politico, which reported the news of the leaked Supreme Court draft earlier this month, said five Republican-nominated justices – Clarence Thomas (nominated by President George H.W. Bush), Neil Gorsuch (nominated by President Trump), Samuel Alito (nominated by President George W. Bush), Brett Kavanaugh (nominated by President Trump) and Amy Coney Barrett (nominated by President Trump) — are expected favor overturning Roe v. Wade.
Politico said three Democrat-nominated justices – Stephen Breyer (nominated by President Clinton), Sonia Sotomayor (nominated by President Obama) and Elena Kagan (nominated by President Obama) – are expected to favor maintaining Roe v. Wade.
Politico said it’s not known which side Supreme Court chief justice John Roberts (nominated by President George W. Bush) favors.
The Supreme Court could make a decision as early as June.
A host of speakers took the stage Saturday, including Allen Ellison, who is running for Senate and challenging Republican incumbent Marco Rubio. Ellison said he was encouraged by the enthusiasm he saw Saturday.
“These people are fired up,” he said. “These people definitely want to make sure their rights are protected.”
Ellison also said he took another message from Saturday’s gathering. “It lets me know I have a lot of work to do,” he said, “because as big as this crowd is, it should have been even bigger.”
Michelle Oyola McGovern, who is running for Palm Beach County Commission District 6, also liked what she saw Saturday.
“I think it’s encouraging,” she said. “We’ve got to take this energy to elections in November.”
Still, this rally was about citizens. It wasn’t an ideal gathering to some who attended.
“I would like to see more men at this demonstration,” said David Levy, a Kings Point resident who attended with his wife, Lenore, “and I would like to see a more diverse crowd.”
Still, everyone seemed to like what they saw and heard. And they knew the audiences they wanted to hear their message.
“First and foremost,” said Jonathan Mann, “it’s people that are still unsure of whether there are others out there that believe the same thing and are afraid to come out and speak their minds.
“But also the younger generation that hasn’t been impacted by these sorts of issues.”