Abortion activists rally during Biden's speech in Philadelphia
A benign but tense confrontation ensued between the activists and a few Trump supporters in the surrounding area.
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Amid President Joe Biden’s most consequential speech in the administration’s history on Thursday, Sept. 1 in Philadelphia, abortion activists for a national coalition gathered with signs to protest the historic Roe v. Wade reversal, demanding Democrats do more to support abortion seekers, as well as returning the court ruling.
Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights is a movement borne of recent SCOTUS activity that struck down legal abortion protections at the federal level, delegating the matter to individual states. In the courtyard next to Independence Mall, activists stood with signs that read “Legal Abortion Nationwide Now!”
Abortion activists could be spotted by the color green that all activists styled in their clothing, signage, and flyers. Koyuki Chen, one of the leading protesters in the courtyard, chanted alongside her colleagues while Trump supporters gathered in a group next to them.
“No Trump, no KKK. No fascist USA,” the activists chanted to a scattered crowd of onlookers hoping to get a glimpse of Biden’s remarks.
Chen engaged with the surrounding crowd as opposing Trump protesters yelled back at them.
“What Biden here is talking about, I don’t know, but I’m pretty sure he’s talking about the growing fascism in our society, and the question is, how do you actually take that on?” Chen told AL DÍA.
The president’s speech follows a recent ramp-up in the administration’s condemning of MAGA Republicans, a group of edge conservatives who support former president Donald Trump and characterized by some of his most radical right-wing views, including a complete ban on immigration and abortion, public health misinformation and deep partisan divides.
“This is what’s at stake here. And right now, the judicial branch is being taken over by Christian fundamentalists. We are so close to fascism,” Chen added as she fended off some Trump protesters who attempted to engage with her in close proximity.
“Back off,” she said to one of the men sporting a MAGA flag on his back.
The Pennsylvania Commonwealth is known as a haven for abortion seekers both in and out of the state, and while Roe’s ruling did not disrupt continuing reproductive medical care, state democrats hold policy hearings across several counties to identify disparities in care that were active in a Roe-protected world.
“People don’t even know they have access in Philadelphia,” Chen noted.
Many low-income communities are often on the sidelines of conversations about access to safe abortions. In Philadelphia alone, Black women are four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes.
“Part of building this movement is making it broader where abotion is not stigmatized. That is every day a part of our life (...) part of destigmatizing it is actually broadening it, and wearing the color green is a part of that,” Chen continued.
Racial disparities play a punishing role when it comes to reproductive health care.
For Black women, access is often a matter of life or death.
“The good people, the decent people, are not rising up. I’m calling on decent people to actually take a stand. To go beyond the voting. We need to change public opinion in our society (...) We are in the majority of actually breaking from this idea that voting is the only way to make change. I’m talking about nonviolent resistance, but being in the street and calling out people to actually heed the call,” Chen noted while she remarked on historical resistance movements that achieved equal rights for marginalized groups.
“How did Black people win the right to vote? How did women win the right to a vote? It wasn’t through voting, and that is a hard thing for people to see. It was struggle in the streets. Of changing public opinion, of transforming what was impossible to possible,” she added.
As the courtyard observed larger crowds ahead of Biden’s speech, police were on the perimeter supervising the surrounding activity. No arrests were reported during the speech.