‘A dark day’: Hundreds protest in Lansing after SCOTUS overturns Roe v. Wade

By: - June 25, 2022 9:05 am

A protester attends a June 24, 2022 rally against the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. | Photo by Andrew Roth

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer began her speech at a Lansing rally responding to the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade by describing her feelings of “angrief” – a combination of anger and grief.

But Whitmer urged voters in Michigan to channel those emotions into action by signing a ballot petition that would enshrine reproductive freedoms in the state constitution and voting in the midterms.

“However we personally feel, the vast majority of people support a woman being able to make her own decisions about her body,” Whitmer said at the Friday rally organized by Planned Parenthood. “Today’s ruling strips us of those rights. Now, the state you live in decides what kind of rights you have if you’re a woman in America. You no longer have control over your own body. Are we going to give up, are we going to curl up in a ball of sadness, angry as we feel, or what do we say? LFG. You all can say it out loud, I’m going to use the letters.”

Rep. Laurie Pohutsky (D-Livonia) expressed a similar sentiment, encouraging attendees at the rally to “do what you need to do to take care of yourself in the moment, but please keep fighting and do not give up.”

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer speaks to the crowd gathered outside the Michigan Capitol in Lansing for a protest against the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade on June 24, 2022. | Photo by Andrew Roth

Whitmer also urged the Michigan Supreme Court to expedite ruling on her challenge to Michigan’s 1931 law banning abortions, which is currently not being enforced due to an injunction from a federal court in a separate lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood.

“I cannot promise you that we will win this fight. But what I can promise you is that I will do everything in my power as a woman, as a Michigander, and as your governor to protect women’s reproductive rights in Michigan,” Whitmer said. “Just showing up is an act of defiance. We will turn our angrief into action. We will get out the vote, we will register people to vote, we will collect signatures. Sign up to knock doors, sign up to help us turn out the vote, and my friends, LFG, let’s get it done.”

Whitmer noted that abortion rights were once a bipartisan issue, saying she was raised by a “pro-choice Republican father” who was a “Milliken Republican, which means he’s a Democrat now.”

“When I served here in this chamber, in the House and in the Senate, I served with pro-choice Republicans. They were there,” Whitmer said. “And I suspect in our state, there still are a lot of pro-choice Republicans and independents, because 70% of the people in our state support a woman’s right to make her own decision. Sadly, though, today’s Republican Party doesn’t have a single leader who is willing to stand up for reproductive freedom for women.”

At one point during the rally, which was held while it was over 90-degrees Fahrenheit outside, one protestor needed medical attention.

The rally’s host took the opportunity to point out that “when someone needed care, we didn’t send a legislator over to help them, we sent a doctor.”

Hundreds of people braved the heat to protest the Supreme Court’s decision to remove abortion protections for millions of people, including Angelique DuPhene, who held a sign saying that she had received an abortion just one day earlier because the fetus lacked a detectable heartbeat, making the pregnancy unviable.

Outraged Michiganders gathered at events across Michigan Friday night. During a Friday rally at Detroit’s Palmer Park, about 100 people pushed back against the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling. 

“You’ve had two generations of Americans who have lived in a country where this was a constitutionally-protected right, and you have conservative justices to start rolling back constitutionally-protected rights that puts us at risk,” Michigan Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist said at the rally also attended by U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit), Democratic state lawmakers and community activists.

Across the Capitol plaza in Lansing, at the Michigan Hall of Justice, a few dozen people gathered to celebrate the decision, singing “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus” and praying that “God reveal the error” and “pull back the blinders” for people who want to “take the lives of innocent human beings,” arguing that it “would be a stunning revelation that what they’re fighting for is just patently wrong.”

Speakers at the pro-choice rally had less to celebrate, instead highlighting the stakes that result from the Supreme Court’s decision.

“I want to acknowledge the grim stakes of this moment. Doctors and nurses will be criminalized for doing their jobs. Survivors of rape and incest will be forced to carry pregnancies stemming from a violent attack. Women will die and suffer because of this SCOTUS decision,” Whitmer said.

“My daughters, and generations of women today, have fewer rights than I’ve had  my entire life,” Whitmer added.

However, Democrats such as state Sen. Curtis Hertel (D-East Lansing) did express some optimism after seeing the size of the crowd that showed up despite the heat and the short notice.

“Today is a dark day,” Hertel said. “And while it is dark, I want to remind everybody of one thing: that it is always darkest before dawn. The fact that all of you are here, I feel heartened that we are ready to rise up and take our country back, for good now. We’re not going to fight the same fight that we fought 50 years ago, or 40 years ago. It is time for us to take our country back.”

“It is a dark day, but dawn is coming, and we will bring the light. We will be the ones that take Michigan and America back for those who support basic human rights for all people. We will be the change.”

Reporter Ken Coleman contributed to this story.

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Andrew Roth
Andrew Roth

Andrew Roth is a regular contributor to the Michigan Advance and a former reporting intern. He has been covering Michigan policy and politics for three years across a number of publications and is a graduate of Michigan State University.