Mississippi abortion rights advocates rally for reproductive justice

Amanda Furdge-Shelby was raised in the Mississippi Delta by preachers.

She is small. Effervescent. With light brown eyes behind trendy clear acetate glasses. Most importantly, Furdge-Shelby is open and honest. The two abortions she suffered while living in Chicago, before returning to Mississippi, were a personal decision.

For women across the country and in the South, she said it should stay exactly that.

“I look back on that time in my life, and there was no way I could have parented the way these kids would have needed,” said the 33-year-old.

Amanda Furdge-Shelby speaks to a crowd about the importance of secure reproductive rights for women in Jackson, Mississippi on Saturday, October 2, 2021.

Furdge-Shelby was among dozens of abortion rights activists joined Saturday at Smith-Wills Stadium in Jackson to advocate for the protection of reproductive rights and rights granted under Roe v. Wade who will soon run up against the Supreme Court of the United States. .

Looking further:U.S. Supreme Court sets hearing date for Mississippi abortion case challenging Roe v. Wade

Activists of the Abortion Freedom Fighters Rally, and thousands of people who gathered in several American cities on Saturday, are fighting to retain the reproductive rights they have been granted for nearly 50 years.

The rallies come a month after Texas enacted the country’s toughest anti-abortion bill, with Senate Bill 8 effectively banning most abortions.

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Abortion rights activists stand alongside Lakeland Drive in Jackson, Mississippi on Saturday, October 2, 2021.

Now, Mississippi’s reproductive rights are up for debate.

The highest court in the land is about to hear oral arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization Dec. 1, Mississippi lawsuit challenging the 1973 court ruling granting women the right to abortion. The case is before a conservatively stacked court, with six judges appointed by Republican presidents and three appointed by Democrats.

The Mississippi case seeks to uphold a state law making abortion illegal after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Mississippi’s 15-week law was enacted in 2018, but was blocked by a federal court challenge.

Mississippi law intends to prohibit abortions for pregnancies when the fetuses are considered viable outside the womb. Viability is approximately 24 weeks. In the United States, the majority of abortions, about 92%, occur within 13 weeks of gestation, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Dig deeper:Mississippi’s last abortion clinic faces Supreme Court challenges

It’s not just about restricting when a woman can have an abortion, it’s about reversing Roe v. Wade, said Michelle Colon, executive director of Sisters Helping Every Woman Rise and Organize.

“It was never about safety for women. It was never about medicine or health,” said the 47-year-old abortion rights activist. “It has always been about making abortion illegal in this country.”

Abortion rights activist Michelle Colon stands next to an anti-abortion protester in Jackson, Mississippi on Saturday, October 2, 2021.

Access to safe abortion is already limited in Mississippi, Colon said, highlighting the state’s only abortion clinic in Fondren, where anti-abortion protesters often stand outside, trying to change women’s minds.

The Jackson Women’s Health Organization offers abortions for pregnancies up to 16 weeks. Clinic director Shannon Brewer said about 10% of her abortions occur after week 15, The Associated Press reported.

Furdge-Shelby knows what it feels like to walk in and out of the pink-painted clinic.

When she returned from Chicago, Mississippi in 2014, she said it was nearly impossible to find access to a safe abortion. The clinic didn’t want her to have an abortion.

She worried throughout her pregnancy if her depression would creep in, if she felt a connection to her baby. Today, she is the mother of three boys whom she adores and an activist for the right to abortion.

But Furdge-Shelby understands what it was like before her boys not to be financially and emotionally prepared for a child.

“You just have to know how much easier things can be when you decide for yourself and don’t have to struggle and rush, and your kids don’t have to go through certain things,” he said. she declared.

Miss brief:The Supreme Court should overturn Roe v. Wade who legalized abortion

Babies born into poor families further propel the cycle of poverty, Javier Valentin said at the rally. Access to safe abortion gives women who are not financially stable a choice.

“The amount of work and effort in raising a child, if you are not ready for it you are preparing a child for a very difficult situation,” he said.

Javier Valentin, left, and Karine DeSouza sit inside Smith-Wills Stadium to show their support for abortion law in Jackson, Mississippi on Saturday, October 2, 2021.

Then there are medical implications.

Karine DeSouza, family medicine resident at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, said women’s health is at risk when access to abortion is restricted.

Limited access to abortion can lead to unsafe abortions. Abortion-related deaths fell from 40 deaths per 1 million live births in 1970 to eight deaths per 1 million in 1976 after Roe v. Wade, according to the Center for American Progress. The center also found that maternal and infant mortality rates are higher in states where access to abortion is restricted and disproportionately affect women of color.

“Abortions aren’t just a choice people make, for some it’s a necessity,” DeSouza said.

The Supreme Court could rule on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization in spring 2022.

A health story? Or advice related to health? Send it to [email protected], on Twitter at @HaselhorstSarah or call 601-331-9307.

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