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In a 6 to 3 decision on June 24, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court voted to overturn Roe v. Wade, reversing the court's 50-year-old decision that guaranteed a woman's right to obtain an abortion. The court's action also set off trigger laws that banned or severely restricted abortions in some states and prompted protests across the country.

Abortion march set for the night before July 4 showcases more complicated Independence Day

abortion march photo 1
Héctor Vaca Cruz
Demonstrators lead the way in a pro-choice march last Sunday. The march, which started outside of the Charlotte Government Center, was organized by Hannah Dyer, who is also organizing another march on the day before the Fourth of July.

Hannah Dyer was at work when she heard Roe v. Wade was overturned.

“It felt like a huge slap in the face,” Dyer said. “It almost felt like, you know, they were saying we aren't even worthy of these human rights anymore.”

Dyer verifies insurance in the pharmaceutical business. And in her role, she sees patients in places like Texas relying on contraceptives.

“When I sit at my desk every day and I see, you know, there's a demand for contraceptives there,” she said. “And if they're threatening that… it's going to be huge and it's going to be devastating.”

With some states considering restricting access to contraceptives after the Supreme Court’s actions on Roe v. Wade, she thought about those people she sees in the course of her work. So, she decided to organize.

Dyer is putting together a march on Sunday at Romare Bearden Park Sunday in hopes of sending a message that “we will not sit still as our rights are restricted,” Dyer added.

“It worked back when women had to march and protest for our right to vote and we can do it again,” she said. “We as a people have that power. We just have to tap into it and use it and use the rights that we still do have.”

With the Dobbs v. Jackson decision overturning Roe v. Wade a little over a week before the Fourth of July, the march also shows the uneasiness some pro-choice advocates feel about celebrating the holiday this year.

“It's hard to feel patriotic and to want to celebrate that,” Dyer said. “Because it doesn't feel like we have any freedom or independence anymore as women.”

Héctor Vaca Cruz
As the sun sets, protesters gather for a Sunday abortion march. Even though North Carolina's abortion laws are safe for now, the organizers of the march also hope that the demonstrations show solidarity with women in other states where abortion laws are being restricted.

Dyer says that it felt wrong to turn around after that decision and celebrate the Fourth of July.

“Me and my close friends and people around me definitely don't feel like it's appropriate to be celebrating the Fourth of July this time around – not right now,” she said. “The issues we're being faced with are a lot more pressing and important than celebrating the Fourth of July.”

With the March’s proximity to the Fourth, Dyer hopes that people’s decision to take to the streets and protest rather than celebrate the holiday demonstrates the extent of their frustration over abortion rights restrictions.

“This is just the tip of the iceberg for them. So we have to make a statement,” Dyer said. “And I think people marching and protesting rather than celebrating the Fourth of July would definitely make a statement.”

The demonstration set for this Sunday is the second protest Dyer organized. She set up a demonstration the Sunday following last week’s Supreme Court decision which brought about 300 protesters out into the streets. With the success of that protest, she decided to do it again.

“We can't just let it fizzle out and people stop talking about it. It has to be something that we continue to use our voices and we continue to fight until there's some sort of change,” Dyer said. “What they're doing and what they're going to continue to do, the Supreme Court is not okay. It's a violation of our human rights.”

The protest will start at 7 p.m. and feature a number of speakers before hitting the streets and marching.

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Lars Lonnroth is a journalism and political science student at Mercer University in Georgia. He's interning at WFAE.