UNC students and community members gathered outside the Chapel Hill Courthouse on Franklin Street Tuesday to protest the possible overturning of the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark Roe v. Wade decision.
The protest was one of many that took place across the country in response to a Supreme Court draft opinion obtained and published by Politico. The draft suggested that the case, which established a constitutional right to abortion, would be overturned.
About 20 people attended the protest. Many held up signs, cheered and chanted messages like “abortion is healthcare,” “hands off our bodies” and “we won’t go back.” Drivers on Franklin Street honked in support as they passed.
UNC graduate student Carrington Merritt said she wanted to be at the courthouse to communicate the importance of choice when it comes to women's health and abortion.
“We've been chanting that abortion is healthcare, and I feel like people don't really understand that or think about how much this actually saves lives,” she said.
Samantha Brosso, another UNC graduate student, held up a sign that read, “I demand a separation between vagina + state.”
Brosso explained that she felt sad about the Supreme Court draft but uplifted by the crowd of fellow protestors and those who passed by.
“I feel encouraged by all the people driving by and honking at us,” she said.
UNC graduate student Manuel Galvan said he felt frustrated by the possible overturning of Roe v. Wade. He added that he saw the news coming, even though others disagreed with him at the time.
"So many people were telling us we're overreacting and being hysterical, that that's not really going to happen, and now we're losing a right that we've had for the last fifty years," Galvan said.
Keely Muscatell, an assistant professor of psychology and neuroscience at UNC, said that she and four of her students, including Merritt, Brosso and Galvan, went to the protest together.
Muscatell said she was angry at the possibility of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade and disappointed by the news. She explained that she wished that her students could be doing what they love rather than out protesting.
“This is a lot of female scientists who could be doing science right now, the thing that they are most passionate about, and instead, we are here,” Muscatell said.
UNC student Miranda Black also said she was angry that she felt the need to protest in the first place. She said that while she was protesting for her own rights, she recognized how it would affect others to a greater extent.
“Nobody should have to lose their right to their body, and there are populations that are going to be disproportionately affected by this,” Black said.
UNC graduate student Mallory Feldman said she wants people to know how to take appropriate action, such as voting in the upcoming North Carolina primaries.
“We should be able to be outside and angry and loud,” she said.
Chapel Hill resident Jason Byrley added that he wanted to do anything he could to express that he did not want Roe v. Wade to be overturned.
He said he wanted to protest in front of the courthouse when he saw people gather in town squares and other places across the country.
"I wanted to come out so that way I can at least throw a sign in people's faces to remind them," he said.
Byrley said it was important to him that people know that their voices are heard.
“For this cause that I am behind, it makes me feel like I’m where I’m supposed to be,” he said.
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