LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Hundreds of pro-choice advocates gathered on the State Capitol steps Friday in response to a Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade.
“There’s a sign over there that says abortion is life-saving healthcare,” said Karen Ricketts, who attended the rally on her work break. “It is.”
Some protestors gathered at the front of the supreme court at 5 p.m. and walked to the capitol for the event, which started at 5:30 p.m. Some attended to push for more voter registration, noting the only way to pass legislation legalizing abortion would be through the electoral process.
“Vote them out!” broke out as a chant several times during the protest.
Others said that line of thinking is a type of “victim-blaming,” as enough voters showed up across the country in 2020 to give Democrats majorities in the House and Senate and to elect President Biden. The electoral victories did not codify Roe v. Wade into law, nor did Democratic majorities do so in more than half a century.
“Elections matter, but they aren’t the only thing that matters,” one speaker said.
At least one counter-protester showed up to the event and was approached by police after an initial confrontation soon after the protest started.
“You are fighting today for the right to murder an innocent child in the womb of its mother,” the man said before chanters drowned out his message.
Across the state, many cheered the Supreme Court’s decision. Jerry Cox, the Executive Director for the conservative nonprofit group Family Council, held a press conference earlier Friday to praise justices.
“It’s a day of great victory,” Cox said. “It’s a day of great celebration.”
Ricketts, who is also the President of the Arkansas Coalition for Reproductive Justice, said the next step for pro-choice advocates is determining how to help women immediately.
“We’ll be needing to get people from this state to other states to get access to abortion,” Ricketts said. “Having to jump through all these hurdles is just an unnecessary burden.”
Like many who attended Friday’s rally, the need for a sense of community was a factor in Ricketts’ attendance. She said she hopes others know they are not alone.
“We’re in this together,” Ricketts said. “That’s really what I want people to know.”