Baton Rouge, LA – A crowd of about 100 people gathered on Sunday, January 22, at Galvez Plaza in front of Louisiana’s Old State Capitol building in Baton Rouge to march on the current capitol building in protest of Louisiana’s abortion ban.
Although the streets were mostly empty on the quiet Sunday afternoon, marchers refused to go unnoticed, holding signs and chanting. Organizers yelled through megaphones, “When abortion rights are under attack, what do we do?” The crowd roared in response, “Stand up! Fight back!”
Nancy Davis organized the march, with support from women’s rights groups including the National Organization for Women, Planned Parenthood, and Real Name Campaign.
Davis’ personal story became national news last summer when she had to travel to New York state for an abortion. Her doctors determined her pregnancy was unviable due to acrania, a condition where a fetus’ skull and brain would never form. Under Louisiana law, abortion is only legal if doctors determine the mother’s life is at risk. “I was forced to carry my baby to bury my baby,” she would later say on the steps of the capitol, holding back tears.
Once at the capitol building, capitol security flanked the protesters. Speakers made impassioned speeches, asked the crowd to donate to their nonprofits, and urged everyone to vote for Democratic candidates. Few of speakers mentioned abortion rights as a working-class issue, if at all. For example, Democrat State Senator Royce Duplessis told the crowd, “I will fight for affordable healthcare and a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work.”
The final speaker, Serena Sojic-Borne of Real Name Campaign, pushed back against the senator’s vague promises. “We have to demand concrete policies from politicians, even if it means taking to the streets. We have to drag them kicking and screaming over the coals if that’s what it takes!” she shouted. Her words stirred the crowd to cheers and applause, to the senator’s dismay.