Deborah Agus was in college when the landmark Roe V. Wade decision was passed. She did not expect to see the day when the U.S. Supreme Court would overturn the ruling that made abortion a constitutional right.
“It’s really frightening,” said Argus, an attorney from Baltimore, on Friday evening outside Baltimore’s federal courthouse on Lombard Street, where a large crowd gathered in support of abortion rights.
At the “Bans Off Our Bodies” event where several speakers from Planned Parenthood, The Baltimore Abortion Fund, Baltimore Women United and other groups spoke out in opposition to the court’s ruling Friday that already triggered bans in several states. More states are expected to follow.
The speakers discussed the broader effects of the ruling, including how Maryland would be expecting an influx of patients seeking abortion care and how the ruling would affect some communities more than others. Some shared personal stories of how they had abortions and how the ruling has affected their faith negatively.
“It is so deeply hurtful to all us,” Lynn McCann, the co-director of the Baltimore Abortion Fund, told the crowd.
She called abortion bans racist and classist, saying that individuals most affected would be women of color and those with lesser means to travel to get access to abortion care.
Giuliana Valencia-Banks, of Baltimore Women United, spoke about the challenges of the ruling as a Catholic.
“As a practicing Catholic, I am ashamed, I am appalled,” she said, by how the church and others who claim to “love humanity could sit back and allow this to happen.”
Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori expressed support for the ruling Friday.
“I think it is good news for the cause of life and I also think it is a moment for us, as Catholics, as believers, as people of goodwill, now to redouble our efforts to surround women in difficult pregnancies with love and care and services,” he said in a video of his remarks.
The Friday afternoon rally in Baltimore was peaceful, and law enforcement largely remained away from the group. Before the speeches, however, city employees erected metal fencing outside the courthouse where some proceedings where wrapping up for the day.
Baltimore Police said in a statement Friday that the department was prepared for demonstrations in response to the ruling.
“The department has implemented focused patrols at potential sites for demonstrations, is working with our law enforcement partners and will continue to protect individuals’ First Amendment rights in Baltimore,” spokeswoman Lindsey Eldridge said in a statement.
The Baltimore Basilica was closed temporarily Friday as a precaution, said Christian Kendzierski, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Baltimore.
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Both both abortion rights and anti-abortion groups briefly gathered Friday outside Planned Parenthood’s Baltimore office but had left by late afternoon.
At the Lombard Street rally, Dr. Natalie Spicyn, held her 22-month-old son in her arms and a sign with a clothes hanger with a slash though it, waving as passing cars. Many honked in support.
“I really don’t know what else to do,” Spicyn said of her decision to attend the rally with her son and husband, Joe Magar, of Baltimore. She wore a shirt the picture of liberal Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg that read “Dissent is Patriotic.”
The couple said they were able to plan their family and believes everyone should have the right to do so. Spicyn said abortion care should be left to women and their healthcare providers, and should not be up for states to decide.
When Spicyn first heard of the court’s decision Friday, she said she cried at the loss of rights. And she expressed fear for the loss of other rights, such as access to birth control.
Spicyn, a primary care and pediatric physician, said she is concerned about the return of unsafe abortions by individuals without medical training. She said she has gone her career without having to treat patients or look for signs of a septic abortion, or procedures by untrained professionals, but fears she soon will.
“It’s entirely shocking,” she said of the court’s ruling.