After Roe v. Wade is overturned, Connecticut residents gather at rallies to protest
On the steps of the federal courthouse in New Haven Friday night, a representative from the League of Women Voters urged a crowd of abortion-rights supporters to vote.
A voice came from the crowd.
It was Ugonna Nwakudu, a rising senior at Yale University.
Protestors gathered in New Haven to protest the Supreme Court’s ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade, saying the Constitution does not allow for a federal right to abortion.
For Nwakudu, the suggestion to vote felt weak.
“If the leaders aren’t receptive to whatever the citizenry are saying, then what’s the point of voting?”
Nwakudu said she gets why voting still matters but is frustrated by what she called “a louder minority” and complicated government structures, like the filibuster.
“At some point we have to recognize we need more than just voting,” she said.
The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn almost half a century of legal precedent comes as a majority of Americans believe abortion should be legal in “all or most circumstances,” according to the Pew Research Center. Over half of Americans identify as “pro-choice,” a Gallup poll says.
As the sun beamed down on the steps of the New Haven courthouse, Livia Wallick got up to the microphone to introduce the Reach Fund, one of Connecticut’s first and newest abortion funds, to the crowd. It launched June 15.
“Abortion funds raise money for people to access abortion if they can't afford their appointment or need to travel long distances,” Wallick said.
The average cost of the procedure is around $600. But costs will go beyond that for residents who now have to travel out-of-state to access care.
“Think of it like giving to a food bank. It really feeds the needs of the residents of that state,” Wallick said.
The Reach Fund will help people seeking abortions who live in Connecticut or those coming to the state to get one. Connecticut lawmakers passed a first-in-the-nation law law earlier this year protecting patients traveling from states that have outlawed abortion.
Donations came in Friday, Wallick said, and the fund is now at about 10% of a long-term fundraising goal.
“But there's still a long way to go,” Wallick said. “The need for resources to go to abortion funding has existed long before Roe v. Wade was overturned.”
Steph Quainoo took to the microphone on behalf of their local chapter of White Coats for Black Lives. The medical student at the Netter School of Medicine at Quinnipiac University said they want to push the conversation among care providers.
“I believe in the power of the white coat to give an image that the medical community is fighting for the health care rights of everyone,” Quainoo said. Part of that, they said, includes reaching out to medical practitioners and students in the states that will now move to make abortion illegal on the state level, and asking how they can support them.
Quainoo wants to elevate the conversation about maternal mortality outcomes among Black birthing people. Making abortion illegal will not only force some people to give birth, they said, “but pregnancy does a whole bunch of physiological changes to the body that could kill you as evidenced by the mortality rate.”
Nationally, Black birthing people die in pregnancy-related deaths at over three times the rate of white birthing people, according to the CDC. Black babies born to Black mothers in Connecticut are almost twice as likely to die within their first year than the general population, according to the Connecticut Health Foundation.
Protestors flowed into the streets around the New Haven Green, and blocked traffic as they chanted “my body, my choice,” and “Black lives matter.”
Ju Ju Martin was walking with the crowd, and holding a cardboard sign above her head. After hearing the news Friday, she had just one plan in mind.
“Protest,” Martin said. “That’s all I can think of at the moment.”