Hundreds of abortion-rights protesters gather outside Tarrant County Courthouse Saturday

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Chants of “My body, my choice” and “We won’t go back” echoed throughout downtown Fort Worth on Saturday afternoon as hundreds of abortion-rights advocates gathered outside the Tarrant County Courthouse in protest of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

The court’s 6-3 decision, which eliminated the constitutional right to an abortion under the right of privacy, was announced Friday morning — triggering nationwide protests where many argue the decision is the first step to overturning the rights to same-sex marriage, same-sex relationships and access to birth control.

Over 600 people registered for Saturday’s protest in Fort Worth as hundreds of others gathered in neighboring cities including Dallas.

“I feel like my generation has failed you,” Deborah Peoples, who’s running for Tarrant County judge, said to the crowd. “You should be planning your life. You should be planning all the wonderful places you will go and the things you will do. And yesterday, the Supreme Court put a monkey on your back that you will be living with for years to come unless we change it.”

Peoples, joined by other local officials and student advocates, spoke to the crowd prior to a march throughout the downtown area. Counter-protesters stood on sidewalks across the courthouse’s lawn with signs that read “ABORTION IS MURDER.”

“You are offending a Holy God,” a man yelled over a speaker. “The Bible says that God is angry with the wicked every day.”

Peoples, who was speaking as the counter-protesters yelled, responded. “You are talking to a Christian, and my God is a generous, loving God. … The God I serve doesn’t want you here,” she said as the crowd erupted in cheers.

‘It’s the tip of the iceberg’

In Justice Clarence Thomas’ concurring opinion, the judge wrote that the Supreme Court should “reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence and Obergefell,” rulings which protect same-sex relationships, same-sex marriages and access to contraception across the United States.

For Phoenix Berry, 33, who’s a seventh-generation Texan, Thomas’ opinion was alarming.

“I’m a lesbian, married to another pregnant lesbian, so this is a triple-word score on (expletive) us over because not only has Clarence Thomas openly said that he’s coming after everything, … but it’s terrifying because my wife is pregnant and now I’m worried that I’m not going to be able to adopt my son when he’s born,” Berry said. “I’m worried they’re going to nullify our marriage. I’m worried that if something happens to her while she’s pregnant, I could lose them both.”

Berry continued, adding that overturning precedent not only affects abortion, but “there are so many laws argued on the right to privacy from Roe v. Wade that if you take the bottom piece out of the Jenga, the whole thing falls.”

Similar to Berry, Cathryn Lafitte, 43, argued that the decision goes beyond abortion.

“I feel like I’m taking crazy pills,” Lafitte said. “I’m just like, ‘Do y’all not see where this is going, and what this means?’ It just blows my mind. … My main concern is the erosion of the right to privacy and what that’s going to mean.”

But Lafitte, who’s a mother to three children between the ages of 5 and 13, two of whom are girls, also worries about the lack of abortion access. She said that she struggled with difficult pregnancies with her children. Her 13-year-old has already told her she plans to adopt because she doesn’t want to give birth to kids, Lafitte said.

“What happens if she gets raped? I don’t even want to put those words in my mouth, but what happens?” Lafitte said. “Not everyone has the resources to drop everything and go to another state.”

At least 21 states are expected to eliminate or severely restrict access to abortions.

Berry, when asked if she would consider moving to another state where abortion rights are protected, also said that she doesn’t plan to leave.

“My family has been here for generations,” Berry said, calling Texas her home, but adding that many family members have left because of the state’s legislature. “If I don’t like things, why should I move? It’s my right as an American to change things. It’s my right to be loud and angry.”

Mothers advocating for their children

Michelle Vertefeuille, a mother of five, four of whom are girls, helped planned Saturday’s protest, something she called “an emotional response to something that made me really angry.”

“My granddaughters are never going to enjoy the rights I had my entire life until yesterday,” Vertefeuille, 49, said. “It’s unacceptable for anybody to be inside somebody else’s doctor’s appointment.”

Vertefeuille drives what she calls a “vagina van,” which is a vehicle she’s decorated and written on the windows advocating for a woman’s right to choose. She said that she’s driven her van from Texas to Florida to protest for her daughters’ rights.

“I’ve had people try to drive me off the road, and I’ve had people throw things at my car,” Vertefeuille said. “But I’ve also had people take pictures and post it on their Instagram pages and tag me, saying, ‘Thanks for being brave enough to do this.’ ... That’s encouraging for me, because clearly other people out there feel the same way I do.”

Stephanie Cuban, 30, also came to the protest for her 15-year-old daughter, echoing similar sentiments to Vertefeuille that her “community is not going to have the same resources that I had.”

“As a 15-year-old, who was fearful, I had complete power of choice,” Cuban said. “What I wanted to do with my body, did I want to bring the child into this world? And I, of course, made the right choice, but I can’t imagine how more terrifying that would’ve been if I would have known I didn’t have a choice.”

Cuban credited a “good support system” for her decision to have her daughter, but added that it’s “a big decision that every woman should be able to make for themselves.”

“What I was feeling (yesterday) was anger,” Cuban said. “Us having to go through this again, us not having body autonomy, knowing I brought my child into this world where she is going to have less full existence thanks to our government.”

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