SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Two weeks after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, subsequently criminalizing abortion in South Dakota, abortion-rights protesters are beginning to organize.
This weekend the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Planned Parenthood will host a rally and community building event in Sioux Falls. The ACLU will also co-sponsor a march and rally with the National Organization for Women (NOW) in Rapid City.
“We want it to be an opportunity for people who are newly activated because of this historical moment, to come in to meet people who are doing this work, and to plug into that work and support the people who are at those organizations and to meet each other,” ACLU Advocacy Manger Jett Jonelis said.
The event will begin at 12 p.m. at the Minnehaha County Courthouse where advocates and organizations will speak to the crowd. Then, the rally will move down the street to Van Eps Park for a community building event.
“… [It’s] going to be an opportunity for people to connect with those community organizations that are fighting for, you know, reproductive rights, LGBTQ and Two-Spirit rights, and that are in this fight and doing work on the ground to take care of people to help them access the health care that they need,” Jonelis said.
The rally comes a little over a week after a crowd of over 1,000 people protested for abortion rights in downtown Sioux Falls. That event, which was spread through word of mouth and text messages, ended with six arrests.
The event this weekend is hoping to be more educational and focused on community than civil disobedience.
“We’re ready to fight back against any attempt to silence our voices, but we don’t want our message – the fact that we support abortion and want the freedom to access the medical care we need without obstacles, shame, stigma or harassment – to be overshadowed by any acts of civil disobedience,” Janna Farley, communications director for the ACLU, explained.
Sunday’s community building event is meant to be a way for people who support access to abortion to learn how to get involved in South Dakota, according to Jonelis.
“I am so excited to see people being newly activated and showing their passion and speaking out,” Jonelis said. “But it is hard that it comes from such a devastating blow to abortion access, in not just our state, but in like, half the states and just knowing the impact that will have on people who can get pregnant and people who support us is just really devastating.”
In addition to this weekend’s rallies, LEAD South Dakota will be registering voters at McKennan Park on Saturday afternoon as people make signs for Sunday’s rally.
While it’s only been two weeks since the abortion ban in South Dakota went into effect, Jonelis said that the ACLU and other organizations are preparing for the long fight to restore access to abortion in the state. That includes being present at a potential special session that Governor Kristi Noem said the state would hold ‘later this year.’
“I think what we are right now focusing on is like coalition building, getting resources out to people to like, you know, get organized, stay connected, so that when legislative session comes, we can really be engaged with people who are ready to fight,” Jonelis said.