Kansas City protest emphasizes impact of Roe v. Wade ruling on marginalized bodies

By: - June 25, 2022 9:30 am

Demonstrators gathered at Mill Creek Park on Friday to protest the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade.(Margaret Mellott/Kansas Reflector)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Hundreds of people came to Mill Creek Park on Friday despite the sticky summer heat to support reproductive rights and to protest the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade.

Imije Ninaz, founder of the Nafasi Center, a nonprofit focused on providing resources to the Black queer, transgender, intersex and non-binary community, was the main speaker for Friday’s protest. Ninaz wanted to specifically lift up marginalized bodies and voices.

“When the most marginalized people are affected,” Ninaz said, “We all are affected.”

Black pregnant people are over three times more likely to die from birth-related complications, according to the Population Reference Bureau. This number is expected to rise following the Supreme Court’s ruling, Ninaz said.

Eleven states already have strict anti-abortion laws, 11 more are set to have a ban in place within the next month, according to a report from the Guttmacher Institute. Missouri’s governor declared the state’s trigger law, effectively banning all abortions, was in effect soon after the Supreme Court decision.

Currently, the right to an abortion is protected under the Kansas state Constitution, but that could change if voters approve the “Value Them Both” amendment at the Aug. 2 primary. The amendment would reverse a 2019 state Supreme Court ruling and would most likely lead to legislative restrictions, including an outright ban.

Imije Ninaz, founder of the Nafasi Center in Kansas City, tells protesters to make their voices heard. (Margaret Mellott/Kansas Reflector)

“As a Black birthing person, this entire situation is a personal experience,” Ninaz said. “This country has been born of my ancestors and my ancestors being forced to give birth. This country has been sustained with the blood of my ancestors in the people that were literally forced to be here (and) into labor here under rape culture and under white supremacy.”

Throughout the rally, Ninaz brought people up to the stage to share their thoughts and stories, including one man who acknowledged his privilege and went on to say, “This is a reminder to get a vasectomy.”

Talking of her own experience to the crowd, Kelsey Walker described making one of the hardest decisions in her life. At 18 weeks, Walker terminated her pregnancy.

“My story started in 2017 when I was 17 weeks pregnant,” said Walker, who grew up in Kansas City but now lives in Chicago. “We found out that our daughter I was carrying had osteogenesis imperfecta type two, the lethal version of brittle bones. Every single bone in her body was broken. Every single rib in her body was broken and crushing on her heart and her lungs. If I would have carried her it would have killed me.”

People in the crowd also shared their own stories. Nick Brown, who lives in Missouri, said they believe abortion is health care, and talked about their own abortion and how emotional it was.

“The nurses held my hand the whole entire time,” Brown said. “They patted my head. They gave me resources for therapy afterwards.”

For those who live in Kansas, Brown said to not be scared and to get out to the polls Aug. 2.

“Don’t stop fighting,” Brown said. “Vote.”

After hearing the news Friday morning, Adontis Barber of Kansas City said he knew he wanted to make a stop at the rally. He wants to make sure kids aren’t afraid in light of this ruling, and understand the power that they have.

“Don’t be scared baby,” Barber said. “Fear causes hesitation.”

Protesters gather at Mill Creek Park on Friday after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. (Margaret Mellott/Kansas Reflector)

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Margaret Mellott
Margaret Mellott

Margaret Mellott is a Emporia State University graduate of communication and journalism. During their time at ESU, they spent all four years on the campus paper, The Bulletin. She also spent one year with The Campus Ledger at Johnson County Community College. Outside of collegiate journalism, Mellott has also worked on projects for Vintage KC Magazine and Humanities Kansas.