Hundreds gather in Kansas City as ‘Bans Off Our Bodies’ protests held nationwide

·3 min read

M’Vyonne Payne was 11 weeks pregnant when she collapsed on her bathroom floor and was rushed to a Kansas City hospital in 2018.

She was bleeding internally and lost up to a liter of blood. Doctors told her she had an ectopic pregnancy, which occurs when a fertilized egg implants outside the uterus. The pregnancies are not viable and can threaten a woman’s life.

Payne spoke to more than 300 people gathered Saturday at Mill Creek Park at a rally for abortion rights. “Bans Off Our Bodies” was organized by the Reale Justice Network and numerous other organizations. It was the latest protest in the Kansas City area in the weeks since Politico published a Supreme Court draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade. Rallies were held Saturday in several cities across the country.

Many attendees brought signs in support of reproductive rights. The signs read: “Bodily Autonomy is a Human Right” and “You’re not pro-life, you’re pro-birth, big difference.”

Rallygoers also marched through a portion of the Country Club Plaza, blocking traffic at the intersection between Mill Creek Parkway and Emanuel Cleaver II Blvd.

Mayor Quinton Lucas said the event was the first reproductive rights rally he’s attended since the draft opinion was leaked. He wanted to support his wife, her friends and his mother.

“I was glad to listen and listen to why this is more than just a political issue, a Supreme Court issue,” Lucas said. “It’s really a true issue impacting so many of our families.”

For Payne, her experience with an ectopic pregnancy was important to highlight after the Missouri legislature considered a bill that would have criminalized ending ectopic pregnancies.

“It was my right to be saved,” Payne told the crowd. “It was my doctor’s right to save my life.”

Missouri lawmakers ended up removing the ectopic pregnancy provision in March after condemnation from Democrats, some Republicans and numerous activists. The revised bill failed.

Speakers brought attention to that bill and the importance of voting. Missouri is one of 13 states that has passed a trigger law banning abortions that would go into effect if Roe is overturned. Missouri’s measure would only allow abortions if the pregnant person’s life is in immediate danger. There is not an exception for scenarios like rape or incest.

“Make sure you are staying engaged with us because we’re going to tell you who’s doing the work, we’re going to point you to the right direction,” said Justice Gatson, one of the speakers. “We need to protect what’s going on in Kansas, too.”

On Aug. 2, Kansas voters will decide whether the right to an abortion can remain in the Kansas Constitution. The ballot measure could be the first vote on reproductive rights held in a state if Roe is overturned this summer.

Speakers also wanted to bring attention to the impact of the Supreme Court’s decision on Black women and transgender and other birthing people.

Imije Ninaz is an organizer with the Nafasi Center for QTPOC, an organization aimed at spreading healing for people of color who are transgender, queer, intersex and non-binary. Ninaz wanted attendees to know that women are not the only ones impacted by abortion bans.

Progressive movements in the United States, Ninaz said, have centered on white people and not included marginalized people. Ninaz doesn’t want that to happen with abortion rights.

“It’s more of a testament to say, ‘If this is America, this is what America has to do,’” Ninaz said. “It’s inclusion for everybody.”

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