ST. LOUIS — Hundreds showed up Saturday afternoon in downtown St. Louis to demand abortion access for all women.
They joined crowds across the country with the same message after the U.S. Supreme Court draft decision that could overturn Roe v. Wade leaked two weeks ago.
Words like "freedom" and "bans off our bodies" waved heavily across Kiener Plaza for a Abortion Now rally led by Advocates of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri.
Missouri is one of 22 states that have laws that would restrict abortions if Roe v. Wade is overturned.
"I think that, overwhelmingly, Americans believe in the right to abortion as a fundamental part of healthcare access, and I think this crowd reflects that," said Alisha Sonnier, a community leader and a member of the St. Louis Public Schools Board of Education.
Sonnier, also a nursing student, was one of many on the microphone leading a majority and energized abortion rights group.
Leaders including St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones and Rep. Cori Bush, both Democrats, also gave remarks.
"We get to positions of power by telling people to vote like their lives depend on it, but then we don't govern like our lives depend on it. We don't hold those we work with—our colleagues—accountable when they stand in the way of justice and liberation," Sonnier said.
Dr. Colleen McNicholas, the chief medical officer at Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, agreed the decision was much larger than becoming a mother.
“People come to abortion care because they have unfair wages. They have unfair housing,” she said.
Alphonso Romious, with a speaker and a bible across the street from the park, voiced a different message.
“I’m out here today to speak to the murder of embryos and the murder of fetuses. I'm out here to speak against it. I'm out here to speak righteousness and truth from the word of God," the anti-abortion advocate said.
Claire Levinson was in attendance with her mother and sister to fight for the monumental decision that could shape other families.
"This decision is being made on the judges' personal decision and that's not the intent of the court. That's what's just really disappointing," Levinson said.
Advocates of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri also a rally held in Springfield in Park Central Square.