Special Report

Roe v. Wade on the Edge

On an American Main Street, Women Protest the Fall of Roe v. Wade

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May 8, 2022

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Special Report: Roe v. Wade on the Edge

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(JOPLIN, Mo.) — Around 65 protesters lined both sides of Main Street in Joplin on Friday evening protesting the leaked Supreme Court opinion that outlines plans to overturn Roe vs. Wade. They held up signs and shouted, “my body, my choice” at passing cars.

Joplin, a town of 50,000, lies between the Ozarks and the Great Plains, just minutes away from the borders of Kansas and Oklahoma and less than an hour’s drive from the border of Arkansas. 

The event was organized by Jamie Lindsey, head of online feminist media network, Julie Joplin Media, who told The Click they aim to “mobilize as many people as we can before the final decision in June.” 

If the Supreme Court overturns the law, Missouri and Arkansas have currently unconstitutional abortion bans that could immediately be brought into effect with a court order. Oklahoma has a law that would be triggered if Roe v. Wade is overturned, banning nearly all abortions. The state already has a six-week abortion ban that went into effect on Tuesday, the day after the leaked opinion. It’s similar to a Texas law that deputizes citizens to enforce the ban by suing whoever helps someone obtain an abortion.

The landscape in Kansas is less clear. In 2019, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled that Kansans have a constitutional right to an abortion in the state, and Kansas could be a destination for women seeking abortion in the four-state area. But an amendment approved by the Kansas legislature will be on the ballot for voters in August that would allow the legislature to amend the Kansas constitution to ban abortion there as well.

“I’m here for my sister, who is going off to college, and for the protection of other young women,” said Clarissa Cazares-Martinez, who told The Click she’s a survivor of sexual assault. Cazares-Martinez grew up Catholic, and her family is originally from Mexico. She held a sign featuring symbols used by the activists who gained reproductive rights for women in Mexico in September 2021 when abortion was decriminalized there. 

Cazares-Martinez displays her sign

Clarissa Cazares-Martinez shows sign with symbols from the Mexican abortion fight [Credit: Jenny Bird]

The protesters’ reasons for attending the event were as varied as the signs they held. Taylor Cunningham, whose sign said “No Forced Pregnancy,” is herself expecting for the first time. “It’s inhumane to force people to be pregnant if they don’t want to be. I’m pregnant, I should know,” she said. 

Diana Wiele didn’t bring a sign but was quickly handed one by another protester that said “My Body, My Choice.” She said she came because she doesn’t want to return to a time when abortion was illegal. “Unlike a lot of people, I remember the time before Roe when it was dangerous for women,” she said. “I know people who were rendered infertile from unsafe abortions.”

One protester hid her face behind her sign when cars drove by. Another woman who came with her granddaughter and held up a sign that read “My arms are tired from holding this sign since the 1970s,” asked not to be named. “My husband’s gonna die, he doesn’t know where I’m at,” she said.

Things turned violent at their last reproductive rights rally in October, according to the Joplin Globe. A counter-protester punched a member of their group and was arrested, while another choked her, according to Lindsey. 

“To be honest, I was pretty nervous getting ready for today because of last time,” Lindsey said.

Special Report: Roe v. Wade on the Edge

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