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'Defend Roe' rally sees hundreds of supporters at Michigan State Capitol

Hundreds of protesters stand outside the Michigan State Capitol holding signs in support of rights.
Melorie Begay
Supporters of abortion rights gathered outside the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing on May 15.

Galvanized by the possibility of the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, hundreds turned out in support of abortion rights outside the Michigan State Capitol Sunday.

Michiganders of all ages and backgrounds attended the “Defend Roe" rally, including many young people.

Melorie Begay
Rebecca Rau (right) poses next to Ashlynn Monroe (left) at the May 15 "Defend Roe" rally outside the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing. Rau said she was frustrated to witness the possible downfall of Roe V. Wade, but saw hope in fellow supporters like Monroe whom she just met at the rally.

Ashlynn Moore is 17-years-old. She says she’s worried about what the end of Roe v. Wade could mean for other rights.

“They could change anything. They could take away our rights to vote, our right to bare arms, our right to interracial marriage, gay marriage," she said. "They can’t just change things because they deem it not right, especially if they’re not the one carrying a baby."

Moore said she never thought she’d be at an event fighting for something she thought was already set in stone.

For fellow teen Jessica Herrera, Sunday's rally was the first time she attended a large protest at the state capitol. Though the 16-year-old- isn't new to activism, she recently held a walk out Everett High School.

"I saw everything that was going on in the news with Roe vs. Wade, and it was a big concern to me," she said, "It affects me, and my future in this country because of my overall bodily autonomy."

Herrera said while not everyone in her family agrees with her stance on abortion rights because of their religion, they are supportive of her decision to speak out.

Melorie Begay
Jessica Herrera recently held a protest at Everett High School in Lansing in support of abortion rights. Herrera was invited to speak at the May 15 "Defend Roe" rally at the Michigan State Capitol.

"I, myself, am a Christian as well, which is probably shocking that I'm here today, but although I would personally never get an abortion, I would never want to strip another woman from that right," she said.

The rally included a line up of speakers, including Herrera. Several encouraged others to sign petitions in support of abortion rights, shared personal stories and urged attendees to continue mobilizing efforts.

Melina Brann was one of the speakers. She works for the National Association of Social Workers. The possible overturning of Roe v. Wade impacts everyone, she said, including those in her profession.

“We, as social workers and healthcare professionals, might be prosecuted if we help people get the resources of what they can do, so we’re having conversations about: Do we continue to tell our clients about what’s out there even if it is illegal? So, that’s what we’re grappling with."

A 1931 law in the state would go into effect banning abortion in most cases if the ruling is overturned. Though Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has said her department would not defend the law, and Governor Gretchen Whitmer has a pending lawsuit in the state Supreme Court to protect abortion rights.

Melorie Begay is WKAR-FM's weekend host and a general assignment reporter.
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