Reproductive Rights Freedom Vacationers Journey to Chicago

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On her 15-hour practice trip from Mississippi to Illinois, Valencia Robinson wore a grey T-shirt with white lettering: “Our our bodies, our future, our abortions.” A person on the station threatened to tear her shirt off her.

“His complete rant was centered on genocide and black girls are killing black infants,” Robinson stated. She is the chief director of Mississippi in Motion, a social justice group centered on reproductive justice. Robinson stated she remained calm however responded.

“I obtained his identify and I’ll make a report as a result of that’s violence. You do not imagine in abortion, however you do imagine in violence in opposition to girls,” Robinson stated.

She deliberately wore the abortion shirt as a result of she participates within the Black August Freedom Rides. A coalition of 30 individuals from Mississippi, Tennessee and Louisiana who took the practice this week to Chicago’s Union Station. They highlighted abortion bans of their states after the US Supreme Courtroom overturned Roe v. Wade in June; a clinic in Jackson, Mississippi, was the epicenter of the case. In lots of instances, Illinois, with its strict abortion rights legal guidelines on the books, is the closest state that gives abortion providers.

“Regardless of this new actuality, individuals will proceed to wish and search abortion providers, resulting in the criminalization and surveillance of pregnant individuals. Abortion advocates in Mississippi and different Republican states are resilient. We’re dedicated to combating again,” Robinson stated.

Freedom rides are a reminder of the Nice Migration, when tens of millions of African People left the South for higher alternatives, and the younger individuals who rode buses within the Deep South within the Sixties to problem segregation.

“We acknowledge that with Roe gone, extra Black individuals have even much less entry to abortion care and well being care. Our individuals dwelling within the Deep South must danger their well being and well-being, migrating for reproductive well being and survival,” stated Lakeesha Harris of Elevate Louisiana and lead organizer of the Black August Freedom Rides. “Whereas we deserve entry to abortion the place we stay and work and pay our taxes, we demand protected and uninhibited journey for our care-seeking individuals in northern states.”

Abortion is unlawful in Mississippi, besides if the lifetime of the mom is in peril or rape has been reported to the police. Louisiana The final three abortion clinics depart the state. On August 25, all abortions might be unlawful in tennessee. Abortion rights advocates in Illinois predicted Roe’s downfall and pushed for brand new laws to enshrine the protections. In 2019, Governor JB Pritzker signed the Reproductive Well being Act, which removes abortion from the felony code and ensures abortion as a human proper. Decisions, a clinic in Memphis, is opening a location in Carbondale.

The Freedom Vacationers traveled to point out how cumbersome practice journey may be. A practice is longer than a aircraft trip, uncomfortable for a journey of hours, and takes time away from work. Entry to abortion is simply as essential as the appropriate to have one, they stated, and abortion bans will hit black individuals the toughest as a result of they’re disproportionately much less prone to have entry to reasonably priced well being care and contraception.

The coalition additionally attracts consideration to the federal commerce clause, which permits individuals to journey freely for items, providers and care, together with abortion. However there are abortion-restricted states that do not need girls to journey to a different state for care. Harris stated this clause must be protected.

“This federal legislation has been a bone of competition in talks with Missouri and elsewhere, and we need to defend it in any respect prices, and by any means needed. Something much less can be a reconstitution of slavery within the South,” Harris stated, referring obliquely to the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, a legislation Southern states used to attempt to maintain onto the property of enslaved African People.

natalie moore is a reporter on the WBEZ Race, Class and Communities desk. You’ll be able to comply with her on Twitter at @natalieymoore.

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