CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – On Saturday, a plethora of people gathered with loud messages and signs, marching from Charleston City Hall to the U.S. Custom House, sending a clear message to lawmakers to support and defend women’s reproductive rights.
Charleston activists joined in on the national call to action as many gather in the United States standing up for abortion rights in response to the near-ban of abortions in Texas that took effect on September 1.
“We’re all gathered here today in support of freedom of self-determination over our bodies and reproductive rights and reproductive justice,” says Meredith Matthews, Field Organizer for Planned Parenthood.
Matthews is a mother to a seven-year-old child that she gave birth to as a teenager. She expressed that she understands the history and religious implications, but for her, that has nothing to do with her womanhood or her body.
“I see all of this outrage for the people that are counter-protesting, just me personally I wonder where is all their outrage when it comes to protecting the quality of life because it’s not enough, black women are four times more likely to die in pregnancy and childbirth, where’s their outrage for that?”
While the recent Texas law may emphasize to rid of rape, community leader Erica Sampson says “that is not a fact, it is purely opinion.”
Sampson states that activists are gathering to ensure transparency and that needs are met within critical communities such as people of color, low-income communities, and other communities that may be unreachable in seeking help.
“It is not right, it is unequal and it is keeping us separate as well,” Sampson says. “Being here today represents the new way of thinking of a woman, a woman is trans, it’s any person [who] identifies as a feminine pronoun.”
Founder of Voices United, Erica Cokely, further explains the purpose of Saturday’s gathering, saying “it’s not your body, it’s not your choice, it’s our body, our choice, so get your bans up off our bodies.”
“The only thing we want just as women, just as people, as individuals, we want our voices to be heard,” Cokely adds.
Cokely hopes that South Carolina “follows their own rules” and does not “jump on the bandwagon.”