On July 4, while most of the country was celebrating so-called Independence Day with fireworks and barbecues, more than 500 people gathered in Park Central Square in Springfield, Missouri, to voice their rage over having bodily autonomy stripped from them by an undemocratic, unelected body.
A rally called by an ordinary working-class person in response to PSL Springfield’s initial Decision Day protest quickly sparked massive interest with nearly 1,500 people marking themselves as interested or attending on the Facebook event. The organizer reached out to PSL for logistical help, as well as to have some local members speak at this rally.
The rally included a number of speakers from various progressive organizations, as well as individuals who wished to speak on how the abortion bans in Missouri will affect them personally. Lucy Mayfield of PSL addressed the crowd, calling out the Democrats for using abortion rights as a fundraising tool while letting them get overturned. “Women are here now. They are pregnant now. They are dying now. It is disgusting to dangle our basic rights in front of us like it’s a treat we must drool for. ‘Give us your money and then maybe you will have your basic rights,’” Mayfield said.
After the rally, the protesters marched to the Federal Courthouse. Throngs of outraged Springfield residents, young and old, shouted such slogans as “Abortion is Healthcare!” as well as some improvised slogans that arose spontaneously from the crowd such as “F*** the Supreme Court! F*** the system!”
Once the procession reached the Federal Courthouse, PSL members Ari Patton and Seth Goodwin delivered speeches detailing just what is at stake, what we can do to fight back and what President Biden can do right now. Goodwin called on Senate candidate Spencer Toder, who had spoken at the prior rally, to be proactive on this issue and pressure the government to act. “This is a moment where you can show us how you’re gonna serve the people. This is a moment where you can also put the pressure on Joe Biden with your campaign. That’s what we wanna see from you,” shouted Goodwin.
Patton’s speech focused on the blatant hypocrisy of the “pro-life” movement and the failings of capitalism to even support those that are born: “Reproductive justice is not just the right to have or not have a baby. It is the right to survive pregnancy and birth, to have adequate healthcare and to raise that child decently. Reproductive justice includes access to abortion, but also to guaranteed housing, childcare, healthcare and living wages — none of which can be provided by a for-profit capitalist system.” Patton also called on modern day Janes — in reference to the Chicago-based underground collective who provided illegal abortions in the 1960s — to circumvent these restrictive abortion laws and find ways to help each other survive.
At the end of the speeches, after thanking the crowd, a spontaneous shout of “Thank you, PSL!” and then chants of the party’s name carried on for at least half a minute.