GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Hundreds of thousands of people rallied nationwide Saturday for the "Bans off our Bodies" movement supporting a woman's right to choose and reproductive rights. Two of the more than 400 cities that hosted rallies were Grand Rapids and Muskegon.
On the lakeshore, around 100 pro-choice supporters gathered in Hackley Square to hear from speakers, chant, and march down to the farmers market spreading their message. Multiple generations made up the crowd of mostly women.
"We're more than bothered. We're really concerned about this, that this is going to harm women," said Former state legislator Mary Valentine. "It’s women's safety that’s being taken away. Women have had abortions since the beginning of time, and they will continue. Criminalizing or denying access is not going to stop them."
No counter-protesters showed up in Muskegon, but the same can't be said for Grand Rapids. Hundreds of Pro-choice supporters gathered in front of City Hall, and on the opposite side of Calder Plaza sat a group of less than a dozen Pro-Life demonstrators.
Both events featured speakers from the community sharing their experiences as women fearing the repeal of Roe V Wade, as well as elected officials and candidates for office who share the pro-choice view.
"It’s getting people engaged and energized and people are paying attention and we’re going to have a lot of new voters coming to the booth in November," said Attorney General Dana Nessel. She said she will not enforce any law that 'jeopardizes the lives of women,' which includes a Michigan law from 1931 that would trigger if Roe is overturned, making abortion illegal in the state. Nessel is representing Governor Whitmer and Planned Parenthood in lawsuits to overturn that law.
"We have filed a motion and we have filed briefs in both the Governor Whitmer his lawsuit and the Planned Parenthood lawsuit," said Anna Visser, Director of Communication and education with Right to Life Michigan. "We hope that the court system will see where we're coming from and see that there is no ripeness in these lawsuits and that they should be dismissed."
Both pro-life and Pro-choice advocated we spoke to say they are fighting for body autonomy. Demonstrators at Saturday's rallies say a woman should be able to choose for herself regarding abortions, birth control and reproductive health.
Right to Life Michigan believes life begins at feralization and that the unborn deserve rights from that moment. Visser said they don't believe in any exceptions to abortion bans unless the mothers life is at risk. They do not support abortion in cases of rape or incest.
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