facebook post DEAR SCOTUS 02

As BUST reported yesterday, the Supreme Court will hear the most influential abortion case in 25 years tomorrow. Stephanie Toti, a Senior Counsel at the Center for Reproductive Rights, will serve as lead council in Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt and argue that a Texan TARP (targeted regulation of abortion providers) law, HB 2, is not only medically unnecessary but a dangerous impediment to safe, legal abortion.

While Toti and her team of twelve make their opening arguments inside, her coworkers with the nonprofit Center for Reproductive Rights will lead a rally outside from 8 am until noon.

"We are hoping for a thousand [participants]," Kristine Kippins, CRR Federal Policy Counsel tells me. The rally is an opportunity for people to demonstrate their support for Texas women and other genders affected by abortion restrictions. 

"We want to have a moment within our movement where people are excited and have an opportunity to show their support for legal and safe access to abortion. At the same time, we want to show the court that every day, [diverse] Americans are affected by their ruling. We are trans, queer, straight, young and old. Every day [citizens] are fighting and demanding access. We are not going to have [our rights] eroded by state legislatures."

The Center for Reproductive Rights’ partner coalitions united for abortion rights are diverse. Kippins describes The Religious Institute, a multifaith nonprofit that advocates for sexual health, education, and justice, as "an amazing partner." Over 80 congregations across the country are participating in the rally. Bishop Gene Robinson, the first openly gay consecrated bishop in the Episcopalian Church, will offer an invocation Wednesday morning.

The Religious Institute led a weekend of prayer for reproductive justice this past week, as well as the effort behind the Theologian’s Brief presented to the court in the months leading up to the case. The brief states that "Texas House Bill 2 at issue in this case ("HB2") is manifestly unjust and immoral under theological tenets."

CRR submitted 45 briefs to the court. "The amicus briefs paint a picture of just how difficult it is to obtain an abortion in the United States. I think the science brief, [which] begs the court to consider real evidence, will be influential," Kippins explains. She says that brief coauthored by The National Center for Lesbian Rights, the National Black Justice Coalition and other advocates is also key, because it reveals how "draconian restrictions" exacerbate existing gaps in healthcare for marginalized communities. 

"The briefs paint an important picture for the court so that they understand how these laws affect Americans." In other words, the briefs paint a picture of the folks rallying on the Court steps outside, or what Kippins calls the “depth and breadth of the movement.”

Kippins is hopeful about the Court’s ruling. "I am very confident in my colleague Stephanie Toti. I'm very confident in her abilities, and I’m confident that the law is on our side."

"The one concern I have," Kippins says, "is maintaining the peace that morning. We have told our speakers, coalition partners, and volunteers that we expect this to be a peaceful rally. No one is to engage anti-choice protestors, but we can't account for the actions of others. I hope that tomorrow is one of those instances where we all exercise our First Amendment right, respectfully."

No income level or geographic location need preclude participants. If you can travel to DC for the rally, RSVP here and come wearing purple in solidarity! Otherwise you can contribute to the depth and breadth of the movement at home by streaming the rally live at protectabortionrights.org/rally and by connecting with other activists on social media through hashtag #stopthesham.

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Prosper Hedges is a writer and activist living in Athens, Georgia. She writes about reproductive justice and other feminist topics, co-edits a zine, designs a feminist fashion line called Tinkypuss and serves on the board of directors for The Magnolia Fund. In the 2016 she began training as a labor and abortion doula.

Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

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