Pro-choice protests held Tuesday as more states pass abortion bans

Pro-choice protests planned for Tuesday as more states pass abortion bans

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - States around the country are continuing to push abortion bans, and more protests are planned for Tuesday, including one right here in Savannah.

It was a sea of pink in Johnson Square at noon to speak out against any ban on abortion. They’re part of a national effort. Activists are using the hashtag #stopthebans to organize.

Shouting chants and armed with signs, people opposed to Georgia's just-signed heartbeat bill marched through downtown and rallied in Johnson square.

“If you don’t support abortions, don’t get one, but don’t take away my right to choose what happens with my body,” said one woman.

Abortion rights supporters heard personal stories from sexual assault survivors and talked about how they think the bill Governor Brian Kemp signed earlier this month could put women at greater risk if it becomes law in 2020.

“I believe there are going ot be a lot of needless deaths, a lot of senseless deaths, and I also believe there are going to be a lot of children that are needlessly born into situations of rape, of incest, of horrific other circumstances when choices are taken away from women,” said Lisa Lepofsky, a pro-abortion rights supporter.

They hope this large turnout sends a message to state leadership.

“I think it’ll definitely show that we have a voice and we’re not afraid to use it," said Savannah Armstrong, a pro-abortion rights supporter. "As far as getting it through their heads that we’re not going to stick for this, it might be tough, but we’re going to stick around, and we’re going to fight as hard as we can until the message comes across and we get our way back.”

The two SCAD students who organized this rally say they didn't have any experience doing something like this before.

They just knew they wanted to be part of this nationwide conversation and are amazed so many people came together so quickly.

Despite the crowd at Tuesday’s protest, many Georgians are in favor of the stricter abortion regulations.

Starla Darnell is the director of a grassroots organization called Bound 4 Life that prays for an end to abortion, and says she hopes to see the law enacted.

“I don’t believe you should have the right to murder, and that’s where the problem is and the whole debate," said Darnell. "I am very passionate about women’s rights, and I’m passionate about the rights of a woman who is in the womb of another woman. I think we overlook the rights of that child a lot of times.”

In the past few weeks, several states have passed laws restricting access to abortion and criminalizing those who receive or perform one. That includes here in Georgia.

The so-called "heartbeat bill" was signed earlier this month and will go into effect in January. But the state has been sued by civil rights groups.

Governor Brian Kemp says he's not worried.

"Look, I'm sure people will protest. People protested during the session," said Governor Kemp. "A lot of the folks are the same people that worked against me in the election. They said the same thing after I was sworn in, and now they're saying the same thing after I did what I promised Georgians I would do."

Aside from legal challenges, some Hollywood producers and movie studios have said they'll stop filming in Georgia if the law takes effect.

Other states are already battling legal challenges right now. A federal trial for Mississippi’s "heartbeat bill" begins Tuesday, and Virginia started court hearings on Monday.

In South Carolina, a hearbeat bill did not pass the state house this legislative session. Lawmakers say they’re determined to pass it in 2020, and Governor Henry McMaster says he will sign it.

Dozens packed the steps of the South Carolina State House to protest abortion restrictions passed in other states.

It was hosted and organzied by Planned Parenthood and other organizations in the state.

Pro-choice activists and lawmakers spoke to the crowd of nearly 200 supporters.

Their message: stop the bans.

Melissa-Anne Cunningham-Sereque says she was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder when she was a teenager.

If she were to get pregnant, she could die. She said she’s worried for women in other states that have passed strict anti-abortion laws.

“Abortion was always a possibility if birth control wasn’t a hundred percent effective,” said Cunningham-Serque.

Pro-life groups say these abortion restriction bills were filed in response to a law that protects abortion in New York.

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